Bible Society of South Africa

To The Word – Day 94

Isaiah 16–20, Psalm 144

Bible text(s)

Moab's Hopeless Situation

1From the city of Sela in the desert the people of Moab send a lamb as a present to the one who rules in Jerusalem. 2They wait on the banks of the River Arnon and move aimlessly to and fro, like birds driven from their nest.

3They say to the people of Judah, “Tell us what to do. Protect us like a tree that casts a cool shadow in the heat of noon, and let us rest in your shade. We are refugees; hide us where no one can find us. 4Let us stay in your land. Protect us from those who want to destroy us.”

(Oppression and destruction will end, and those who are devastating the country will be gone. 5Then one of David's descendants will be king, and he will rule the people with faithfulness and love. He will be quick to do what is right, and he will see that justice is done.)

6The people of Judah say, “We have heard how proud the people of Moab are. We know that they are arrogant and conceited, but their boasts are empty.”

7The people of Moab will weep because of the troubles they suffer. They will all weep when they remember the fine food they used to eat in the city of Kir Heres. They will be driven to despair. 8The farms near Heshbon and the vineyards of Sibmah are destroyed — those vineyards whose wine used to make the rulers of the nations drunk. At one time the vines spread as far as the city of Jazer, and eastwards into the desert, and westwards to the other side of the Dead Sea. 9Now I weep for Sibmah's vines as I weep for Jazer. My tears fall for Heshbon and Elealeh, because there is no harvest to make the people glad. 10No one is happy now in the fertile fields. No one shouts or sings in the vineyards. No one tramples grapes to make wine; the shouts of joy are ended. 11I groan with sadness for Moab, with grief for Kir Heres. 12The people of Moab wear themselves out going to their mountain shrines and to their temples to pray, but it will do them no good.

13That is the message the LORD gave earlier about Moab. 14And now the LORD says, “In exactly three years Moab's great wealth will disappear. Of its many people, only a few will survive, and they will be weak.”

God will Punish Syria and Israel

1The LORD said, “Damascus will not be a city any longer; it will be only a pile of ruins. 2The cities of Syria will be deserted for ever. They will be a pasture for sheep and cattle, and no one will drive them away. 3Israel will be defenceless, and Damascus will lose its independence. Those Syrians who survive will be in disgrace like the people of Israel. I, the LORD Almighty, have spoken.”

4The LORD said, “A day is coming when Israel's greatness will come to an end, and its wealth will be replaced by poverty. 5Israel will be like a field where the corn has been cut and harvested, as desolate as a field in the valley of Rephaim when it has been picked bare. 6Only a few people will survive, and Israel will be like an olive tree from which all the olives have been picked except two or three at the very top, or a few that are left on the lower branches. I, the LORD God of Israel, have spoken.”

7When that day comes, people will turn for help to their Creator, the holy God of Israel. 8They will no longer rely on the altars they made with their own hands, or trust in their own handiwork — symbols of the goddess Asherah and altars for burning incense.

9When that day comes, well-defended cities will be deserted and left in ruins like the cities that the Hivites and the Amorites abandoned as they fled from the people of Israel.

10Israel, you have forgotten the God who rescues you and who protects you like a mighty rock. Instead, you plant sacred gardens in order to worship a foreign god. 11But even if they sprouted and blossomed the very morning you planted them, there would still be no harvest. There would be only trouble and incurable pain.

Enemy Nations are Defeated

12Powerful nations are in commotion with a sound like the roar of the sea, like the crashing of huge waves. 13The nations advance like rushing waves, but God reprimands them and they retreat, driven away like dust on a hillside, like straw in a whirlwind. 14In the evening they cause terror, but by morning they are gone. That is the fate of everyone who plunders our land.

God will Punish Ethiopia

1Beyond the rivers of Ethiopia there is a land where the sound of wings is heard. 2From that land ambassadors come down the Nile in boats made of reeds. Go back home, swift messengers! Take a message back to your land divided by rivers, to your strong and powerful nation, to your tall and smooth-skinned people, who are feared all over the world.

3Listen, everyone who lives on earth! Look for a signal flag to be raised on the tops of the mountains! Listen for the blowing of the bugle! 4The LORD said to me, “I will look down from heaven as quietly as the dew forms in the warm nights of harvest time, as serenely as the sun shines in the heat of the day. 5Before the grapes are gathered, when the blossoms have all fallen and the grapes are ripening, the enemy will destroy the Ethiopians as easily as a knife cuts branches from a vine. 6The corpses of their soldiers will be left exposed to the birds and the wild animals. In summer the birds will feed on them, and in winter, the animals.”

7A time is coming when the LORD Almighty will receive offerings from this land divided by rivers, this strong and powerful nation, this tall and smooth-skinned people, who are feared all over the world. They will come to Mount Zion, where the LORD Almighty is worshipped.

God will Punish Egypt

1This is a message about Egypt.

The LORD is coming to Egypt, riding swiftly on a cloud. The Egyptian idols tremble before him, and the people of Egypt lose their courage. 2The LORD says, “I will stir up civil war in Egypt and turn brother against brother and neighbour against neighbour. Rival cities will fight each other, and rival kings will struggle for power. 3I am going to frustrate the plans of the Egyptians and destroy their morale. They will ask their idols to help them, and they will go and consult mediums and ask the spirits of the dead for advice. 4I will hand the Egyptians over to a tyrant, to a cruel king who will rule them. I, the LORD Almighty, have spoken.”

5The water will be low in the Nile, and the river will gradually dry up. 6The channels of the river will stink as they slowly go dry. Reeds and rushes will wither, 7and all the crops sown along the banks of the Nile will dry up and be blown away. 8Everyone who earns his living by fishing in the Nile will groan and cry; their hooks and their nets will be useless. 9Those who make linen cloth will be in despair; 10weavers and skilled workers will be broken and depressed.

11The leaders of the city of Zoan are fools! Egypt's wisest people give stupid advice! How dare they tell the king that they are successors to the ancient scholars and kings? 12King of Egypt, where are those clever advisers of yours? Perhaps they can tell you what plans the LORD Almighty has for Egypt. 13The leaders of Zoan and Memphis are fools. They were supposed to lead the nation, but they have misled it. 14The LORD has made them give confusing advice. As a result, Egypt does everything wrong and staggers like a drunken man slipping on his own vomit. 15No one in Egypt, rich or poor, important or unknown, can offer help.

Egypt will Worship the LORD

16A time is coming when the people of Egypt will be as timid as women. They will tremble in terror when they see that the LORD Almighty has stretched out his hand to punish them. 17The people of Egypt will be terrified of Judah every time they are reminded of the fate that the LORD Almighty has prepared for them.

18When that time comes, the Hebrew language will be spoken in five Egyptian cities. The people there will take their oaths in the name of the LORD Almighty. One of the cities will be called, “City of the Sun”.

19When that time comes, there will be an altar to the LORD in the land of Egypt and a stone pillar dedicated to him at the Egyptian border. 20They will be symbols of the LORD Almighty's presence in Egypt. When the people there are oppressed and call out to the LORD for help, he will send someone to rescue them. 21The LORD will reveal himself to the Egyptian people, and then they will acknowledge and worship him, and bring him sacrifices and offerings. They will make solemn promises to him and do what they promise. 22The LORD will punish the Egyptians, but then he will heal them. They will turn to him, and he will hear their prayers and heal them.

23When that time comes, there will be a highway between Egypt and Assyria. The people of those two countries will travel to and fro between them, and the two nations will worship together. 24When that time comes, Israel will rank with Egypt and Assyria, and these three nations will be a blessing to all the world. 25The LORD Almighty will bless them and say, “I will bless you, Egypt, my people; you, Assyria, whom I created; and you, Israel, my chosen people.”

The Sign of the Naked Prophet

1Under the orders of Sargon, emperor of Assyria, the commander-in-chief of the Assyrian army attacked the Philistine city of Ashdod. 2Three years earlier the LORD had told Isaiah son of Amoz to take off his sandals and the sackcloth he was wearing. He obeyed and went about naked and barefoot. 3When Ashdod was captured, the LORD said, “My servant Isaiah has been going about naked and barefoot for three years. This is a sign of what will happen to Egypt and Ethiopia. 4The emperor of Assyria will lead away naked the prisoners he captures from those two countries. Young and old, they will walk barefoot and naked, with their buttocks exposed, bringing shame on Egypt. 5Those who have put their trust in Ethiopia and have boasted about Egypt will be disillusioned, their hopes shattered. 6When that time comes, the people who live along the coast of Philistia will say, ‘Look at what has happened to the people we relied on to protect us from the emperor of Assyria! How will we ever survive?’ ”

A King Thanks God for Victory

1Praise the LORD, my protector!

He trains me for battle

and prepares me for war.

2He is my protector and defender,

my shelter and saviour,

in whom I trust for safety.

He subdues the nations under me.

3LORD, what are mortals, that you notice them;

mere mortals, that you pay attention to them?

4They are like a puff of wind;

their days are like a passing shadow.

5O LORD, tear the sky apart and come down;

touch the mountains, and they will pour out smoke.

6Send flashes of lightning and scatter your enemies;

shoot your arrows and send them running.

7Reach down from above,

pull me out of the deep water, and rescue me;

save me from the power of foreigners,

8who never tell the truth

and lie even under oath.

9I will sing you a new song, O God;

I will play the harp and sing to you.

10You give victory to kings

and rescue your servant David.

11Save me from my cruel enemies;

rescue me from the power of foreigners,

who never tell the truth

and lie even under oath.

12May our sons in their youth

be like plants that grow up strong.

May our daughters be like stately pillars

which adorn the corners of a palace.

13May our barns be filled

with crops of every kind.

May the sheep in our fields

bear young by the tens of thousands.

14May our cattle reproduce plentifully

without miscarriage or loss.

May there be no cries of distress in our streets.

15Happy is the nation of whom this is true;

happy are the people whose God is the LORD!

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