1On that day the LORD will use his powerful and deadly sword to punish Leviathan, that wriggling, twisting dragon, and to kill the monster that lives in the sea.
2On that day the LORD will say of his pleasant vineyard, 3“I watch over it and water it continually. I guard it night and day so that no one will harm it. 4I am no longer angry with the vineyard. If only there were thorns and briars to fight against, then I would burn them up completely. 5But if the enemies of my people want my protection, let them make peace with me. Yes, let them make peace with me.”
6In days to come the people of Israel, the descendants of Jacob, will take root like a tree, and they will blossom and bud. The earth will be covered with the fruit they produce.
7Israel has not been punished by the LORD as severely as its enemies, nor lost as many people. 8The LORD punished his people by sending them into exile. He took them away with a cruel wind from the east.9But Israel's sins will be forgiven only when the stones of pagan altars are ground up like chalk, and no more incense altars or symbols of the goddess Asherah are left.
10The fortified city lies in ruins. It is deserted like an empty wilderness. It has become a pasture for cattle, where they can rest and graze. 11The branches of the trees are withered and broken, and women gather them for firewood. Because the people have understood nothing, God their Creator will not pity them or show them any mercy.
12On that day, from the Euphrates to the Egyptian border, the LORD will gather his people one by one, like someone separating the wheat from the chaff.
13When that day comes, a trumpet will be blown to call back from Assyria and Egypt all the Israelites who are in exile there. They will come and worship the LORD in Jerusalem, on his sacred hill.
A Warning to the Northern Kingdom
1The kingdom of Israel is doomed! Its glory is fading like the crowns of flowers on the heads of its drunken leaders. Their proud heads are well perfumed, but there they lie, dead drunk. 2The Lord has someone strong and powerful ready to attack them, someone who will come like a hailstorm, like a torrent of rain, like a rushing, overpowering flood, and will overwhelm the land. 3The pride of those drunken leaders will be trampled underfoot. 4The fading glory of those proud leaders will disappear like the first figs of the season, picked and eaten as soon as they are ripe.
5A day is coming when the LORD Almighty will be like a glorious crown of flowers for his people who survive. 6He will give a sense of justice to those who serve as judges, and courage to those who defend the city gates from attack.
Isaiah and the Drunken Prophets of Judah
7Even the prophets and the priests are so drunk that they stagger. They have drunk so much wine and liquor that they stumble in confusion. The prophets are too drunk to understand the visions that God sends, and the priests are too drunk to decide the cases that are brought to them. 8The tables where they sit are all covered with vomit, and not a clean spot is left.
9They complain about me. They say, “Who does that man think he's teaching? Who needs his message? It's only good for babies that have just been weaned! 10He is trying to teach us letter by letter, line by line, lesson by lesson.”
11If you won't listen to me, then God will use foreigners speaking some strange-sounding language to teach you a lesson. 12He offered rest and comfort to all of you, but you refused to listen to him. 13That is why the LORD is going to teach you letter by letter, line by line, lesson by lesson. Then you will stumble with every step you take. You will be wounded, trapped, and taken prisoner.
A Cornerstone for Zion
14Now you arrogant ones who rule here in Jerusalem over this people, listen to what the LORD is saying. 15You boast that you have made a treaty with death and reached an agreement with the world of the dead. You are certain that disaster will spare you when it comes, because you depend on lies and deceit to keep you safe. 16This, now, is what the Sovereign LORD says: “I am placing in Zion a foundation that is firm and strong. In it I am putting a solid cornerstone on which are written the words, ‘Faith that is firm is also patient.’ 17Justice will be the measuring line for the foundation, and honesty will be its plumb line.”
Hailstorms will sweep away all the lies you depend on, and floods will destroy your security. 18The treaty you have made with death will be abolished, and your agreement with the world of the dead will be cancelled. When disaster sweeps down, you will be overcome. 19It will strike you again and again, morning after morning. You will have to bear it day and night. Each new message from God will bring new terror! 20You will be like the person in the proverb, who tries to sleep in a bed too short to stretch out on, with a blanket too narrow to wrap himself in. 21The LORD will fight as he did at Mount Perazim and in the valley of Gibeon, in order to do what he intends to do — strange as his actions may seem. He will complete his work, his mysterious work.
22Don't laugh at the warning I am giving you! If you do, it will be even harder for you to escape. I have heard the LORD Almighty's decision to destroy the whole country.
23Listen to what I am saying; pay attention to what I am telling you. 24No farmer goes on constantly ploughing his fields and getting them ready for sowing. 25Once he has prepared the soil, he sows the seeds of herbs such as dill and cumin. He sows rows of wheat and barley, and at the edges of his fields he sows other grain. 26He knows how to do his work, because God has taught him. 27He never uses a heavy club to beat out dill seeds or cumin seeds; instead he uses light sticks of the proper size. 28He does not ruin the wheat by threshing it endlessly, and he knows how to thresh it by driving a cart over it without bruising the grains. 29All this wisdom comes from the LORD Almighty. The plans God makes are wise, and they always succeed!
The Fate of Jerusalem
1God's altar, Jerusalem itself, is doomed! The city where David camped is doomed! Let another year or two come and go, with its feasts and festivals, 2and then God will bring disaster on the city that is called “God's altar”. There will be weeping and wailing, and the whole city will be like an altar covered with blood. 3God will attack the city, surround it, and besiege it. 4Jerusalem will be like a ghost struggling to speak from under the ground, a muffled voice coming from the dust.
5Jerusalem, all the foreigners who attack you will be blown away like dust, and their terrifying armies will fly away like straw. Suddenly and unexpectedly 6the LORD Almighty will rescue you with violent thunderstorms and earthquakes. He will send tempests and raging fire; 7then all the armies of the nations attacking the city of God's altar, all their weapons and equipment — everything — will vanish like a dream, like something imagined in the night. 8All the nations that assemble to attack Jerusalem will be like a starving person who dreams he is eating and wakes up hungry, or like someone dying of thirst who dreams he is drinking and wakes with a dry throat.
9Go ahead and be stupid! Go ahead and be blind! Get drunk without any wine! Stagger without drinking a drop! 10The LORD has made you drowsy, ready to fall into a deep sleep. The prophets should be the eyes of the people, but God has blindfolded them. 11The meaning of every prophetic vision will be hidden from you; it will be like a sealed scroll. If you take it to someone who knows how to read and ask him to read it to you, he will say he can't because it is sealed. 12If you give it to someone who can't read and ask him to read it to you, he will answer that he doesn't know how.
13The Lord said, “These people claim to worship me, but their words are meaningless, and their hearts are somewhere else. Their religion is nothing but human rules and traditions, which they have simply memorized. 14So I will startle them with one unexpected blow after another. Those who are wise will turn out to be fools, and all their cleverness will be useless.”
Hope for the Future
15Those who try to hide their plans from the LORD are doomed! They carry out their schemes in secret and think no one will see them or know what they are doing. 16They turn everything upside down. Which is more important, the potter or the clay? Can a thing which someone has made say to its maker, “You didn't make me”? Or “You don't know what you are doing”?
17As the saying goes, before long the dense forest will become farmland, and the farmland will go back to forest.
18When that day comes, the deaf will be able to hear a book being read aloud, and the blind, who have been living in darkness, will open their eyes and see. 19Poor and humble people will once again find the happiness which the LORD, the holy God of Israel, gives. 20It will be the end of those who oppress others and show contempt for God. Every sinner will be destroyed. 21God will destroy those who slander others, those who prevent the punishment of criminals, and those who tell lies to keep honest men from getting justice.
22So now the LORD, the God of Israel, who rescued Abraham from trouble, says, “My people, you will not be disgraced any longer, and your faces will no longer be pale with shame. 23When you see the children that I will give you, then you will acknowledge that I am the holy God of Israel. You will honour me and stand in awe of me. 24Foolish people will learn to understand, and those who are always grumbling will be glad to be taught.”