1The LORD has spoken: “Those who rule Judah are doomed because they rebel against me. They follow plans that I did not make, and sign treaties against my will, piling one sin on another. 2They go to Egypt for help without asking for my advice. They want Egypt to protect them, so they put their trust in Egypt's king. 3But the king will be powerless to help them, and Egypt's protection will end in disaster. 4Although their ambassadors have already arrived at the Egyptian cities of Zoan and Hanes, 5the people of Judah will regret that they ever trusted that unreliable nation, a nation that fails them when they expect help.”
6This is God's message about the animals of the southern desert: “The ambassadors travel through dangerous country, where lions live and where there are poisonous snakes and flying dragons. They load their donkeys and camels with expensive gifts for a nation that cannot give them any help. 7The help that Egypt gives is useless. So I have nicknamed Egypt, ‘The Harmless Dragon’ ”.
The Disobedient People
8God told me to write down in a book what the people are like, so that there would be a permanent record of how evil they are. 9They are always rebelling against God, always lying, always refusing to listen to the LORD's teachings. 10They tell the prophets to keep quiet. They say, “Don't talk to us about what's right. Tell us what we want to hear. Let us keep our illusions. 11Get out of our way and stop blocking our path. We don't want to hear about your holy God of Israel.”
12But this is what the holy God of Israel says: “You ignore what I tell you and rely on violence and deceit. 13You are guilty. You are like a high wall with a crack running down it; suddenly you will collapse. 14You will be shattered like a clay pot, so badly broken that there is no piece big enough to pick up hot coals with, or to scoop water from a cistern.”
15The Sovereign LORD, the holy God of Israel, says to the people, “Come back and quietly trust in me. Then you will be strong and secure.” But you refuse to do it! 16Instead, you plan to escape from your enemies by riding fast horses. And you are right — escape is what you will have to do! You think your horses are fast enough, but those who pursue you will be faster! 17A thousand of you will run away when you see one enemy soldier, and five soldiers will be enough to make you all run away. Nothing will be left of your army except a lonely flagstaff on the top of a hill! 18And yet the LORD is waiting to be merciful to you. He is ready to take pity on you because he always does what is right. Happy are those who put their trust in the LORD.
God will Bless his People
19You people who live in Jerusalem will not weep any more. The LORD is compassionate, and when you cry to him for help, he will answer you. 20The Lord will make you go through hard times, but he himself will be there to teach you, and you will not have to search for him any more. 21If you wander off the road to the right or the left, you will hear his voice behind you saying, “Here is the road. Follow it.” 22You will take your idols plated with silver and your idols covered with gold, and will throw them away like filth, shouting, “Out of my sight!” 23Whenever you sow your seeds, the LORD will send rain to make them grow and will give you a rich harvest, and your livestock will have plenty of pasture. 24The oxen and donkeys that plough your fields will eat the finest and best fodder. 25On the day when the forts of your enemies are captured and their people are killed, streams of water will flow from every mountain and every hill. 26The moon will be as bright as the sun, and the sun will be seven times brighter than usual, like the light of seven days in one. This will all happen when the LORD bandages and heals the wounds he has given his people.
God will Punish Assyria
27The LORD's power and glory can be seen in the distance. Fire and smoke show his anger. He speaks, and his words burn like fire. 28He sends the wind in front of him like a flood that carries everything away. It sweeps nations to destruction and puts an end to their evil plans. 29But you, God's people, will be happy and sing as you do on the night of a sacred festival. You will be as happy as those who walk to the music of flutes on their way to the Temple of the LORD, the defender of Israel.
30The LORD will let everyone hear his majestic voice and feel the force of his anger. There will be flames, cloudbursts, hailstones, and torrents of rain. 31The Assyrians will be terrified when they hear the LORD's voice and feel the force of his punishment. 32As the LORD strikes them again and again, his people will keep time with the music of drums and harps. God himself will fight against the Assyrians. 33Long ago a place was prepared where a huge fire will burn the emperor of Assyria. It is deep and wide, and piled high with wood. The LORD will breathe out a stream of flame to set it on fire.
God will Protect Jerusalem
1Those who go to Egypt for help are doomed! They are relying on Egypt's vast military strength — horses, chariots, and soldiers. But they do not rely on the LORD, the holy God of Israel, or ask him for help. 2He knows what he is doing! He sends disaster. He carries out his threats to punish evil men and those who protect them. 3The Egyptians are not gods — they are only human. Their horses are not supernatural. When the LORD acts, the strong nation will crumble, and the weak nation it helped will fall. Both of them will be destroyed.
4The LORD said to me, “No matter how shepherds yell and shout, they can't scare away a lion from an animal that it has killed; in the same way, there is nothing that can keep me, the LORD Almighty, from protecting Mount Zion. 5Just as a bird hovers over its nest to protect its young, so I, the LORD Almighty, will protect Jerusalem and defend it.”
6The LORD said, “People of Israel, you have sinned against me and opposed me. But now, come back to me! 7A time is coming when all of you will throw away the sinful idols you made out of silver and gold. 8Assyria will be destroyed in war, but not by human power. The Assyrians will run from battle, and their young men will be made slaves. 9Their emperor will run away in terror, and the officers will be so frightened that they will abandon their battle flags.” The LORD has spoken — the LORD who is worshipped in Jerusalem and whose fire burns there for sacrifices.
A King with Integrity
1Some day there will be a king who rules with integrity, and national leaders who govern with justice. 2Each of them will be like a shelter from the wind and a place to hide from storms. They will be like streams flowing in a desert, like the shadow of a giant rock in a barren land. 3Their eyes and ears will be open to the needs of the people. 4They will not be impatient any longer, but they will act with understanding and will say what they mean. 5No one will think that a fool is honourable or say that a scoundrel is honest. 6A fool speaks foolishly and thinks up evil things to do. What he does and what he says are an insult to the LORD, and he never feeds the hungry or gives thirsty people anything to drink. 7A stupid person is evil and does evil things; he plots to ruin the poor with lies and to prevent them getting their rights. 8But an honourable person acts honestly and stands firm for what is right.
Judgement and Restoration
9You women who live an easy life, free from worries, listen to what I am saying. 10You may be satisfied now, but this time next year you will be in despair because there will be no grapes for you to gather. 11You have been living an easy life, free from worries; but now, tremble with fear! Strip off your clothes and tie rags round your waist. 12Beat your breasts in grief because the fertile fields and the vineyards have been destroyed, 13and thorn bushes and briars are growing on my people's land. Weep for all the houses where people were happy and for the city that was full of life. 14Even the palace will be abandoned and the capital city totally deserted. Homes and the forts that guarded them will be in ruins for ever. Wild donkeys will roam there, and sheep will find pasture there.
15But once more God will send us his Spirit. The waste land will become fertile, and fields will produce rich crops. 16Everywhere in the land righteousness and justice will be done. 17Because everyone will do what is right, there will be peace and security for ever. 18God's people will be free from worries, and their homes peaceful and safe. 19(But hail will fall on the forests, and the city will be torn down.) 20How happy everyone will be with plenty of water for the crops and safe pasture everywhere for the donkeys and cattle.