Bible Society of South Africa

To The Word – Day 96

Isaiah 21–25, Psalm 143

Bible text(s)

A Vision of the Fall of Babylon

1This is a message about Babylonia.

Like a whirlwind sweeping across the desert, disaster will come from a terrifying land. 2I have seen a vision of cruel events, a vision of betrayal and destruction.

Army of Elam, attack! Army of Media, lay siege to the cities! God will put an end to the suffering which Babylon has caused.

3What I saw and heard in the vision has filled me with terror and pain, pain like that of a woman in labour. 4My head is spinning, and I am trembling with fear. I had been longing for evening to come, but it has brought me nothing but terror.

5In the vision a banquet is ready; rugs are spread for the guests to sit on. They are eating and drinking. Suddenly the command rings out: “Officers! Prepare your shields!”

6Then the Lord said to me, “Go and post a sentry, and tell him to report what he sees. 7If he sees men coming on horseback, two by two, and men riding on donkeys and camels, he is to observe them carefully.”

8The sentry calls out, “Sir, I have been standing guard at my post day and night.”

9Suddenly, here they come! Men on horseback, two by two. The sentry gives the news, “Babylon has fallen! All the idols they worshipped lie shattered on the ground.”

10My people Israel, you have been threshed like wheat, but now I have announced to you the good news that I have heard from the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel.

A Message about Edom

11This is a message about Edom.

Someone calls to me from Edom, “Sentry, how soon will the night be over? Tell me how soon it will end.”

12I answer, “Morning is coming, but night will come again. If you want to ask again, come back and ask.”

A Message about Arabia

13This is a message about Arabia.

You people of Dedan, whose caravans camp in the barren country of Arabia, 14give water to the thirsty people who come to you. You people of the land of Tema, give food to the refugees. 15People are fleeing to escape from swords that are ready to kill them, from bows that are ready to shoot, from all the dangers of war.

16Then the Lord said to me, “In exactly one year the greatness of the tribes of Kedar will be at an end. 17The bowmen are the bravest men of Kedar, but few of them will be left. I, the LORD God of Israel, have spoken.”

A Message about Jerusalem

1This is a message about the Valley of Vision.

What is happening? Why are all the people of the city celebrating on the roofs of the houses? 2The whole city is in an uproar, filled with noise and excitement.

Your people who died in this war did not die fighting. 3All your leaders ran away and were captured before they shot a single arrow. 4Now leave me alone to weep bitterly over all those of my people who have died. Don't try to comfort me. 5This is a time of panic, defeat, and confusion in the Valley of Vision, and the Sovereign LORD Almighty has sent it on us. The walls of our city have been battered down, and cries for help have echoed among the hills.

6The soldiers from the land of Elam came riding on horseback, armed with bows and arrows. Soldiers from the land of Kir had their shields ready. 7The fertile valleys of Judah were filled with chariots; soldiers on horseback stood in front of Jerusalem's gates. 8All Judah's defences crumbled.

When that happened, you brought weapons out of the arsenal. 9-10You found the places where the walls of Jerusalem needed repair. You inspected all the houses in Jerusalem and tore some of them down to get stones to repair the city walls. In order to store water, 11you built a reservoir inside the city to hold the water flowing down from the old pool. But you paid no attention to God, who planned all this long ago and who caused it to happen.

12The Sovereign LORD Almighty was calling you then to weep and mourn, to shave your heads and wear sackcloth. 13Instead, you laughed and celebrated. You killed sheep and cattle to eat, and you drank wine. You said, “We might as well eat and drink! Tomorrow we'll be dead.”

14The Sovereign LORD Almighty himself spoke to me and said, “This evil will never be forgiven them as long as they live. I, the Sovereign LORD Almighty, have spoken.”

A Warning to Shebna

15The Sovereign LORD Almighty told me to go to Shebna, the manager of the royal household, and say to him, 16“Who do you think you are? What right have you to carve a tomb for yourself out of the rocky hillside? 17You may be important, but the LORD will pick you up and throw you away. 18He will pick you up like a ball and throw you into a much larger country. You will die there beside the chariots you were so proud of. You are a disgrace to your master's household. 19The LORD will remove you from office and bring you down from your high position.”

20The LORD said to Shebna, “When that happens, I will send for my servant Eliakim son of Hilkiah. 21I will put your official robe and belt on him and give him all the authority you have had. He will be like a father to the people of Jerusalem and Judah. 22I will give him complete authority under the king, the descendant of David. He will have the keys of office; what he opens, no one will shut, and what he shuts, no one will open. 23I will fasten him firmly in place like a peg, and he will be a source of honour to his whole family.

24“But all his relatives and dependants will become a burden to him. They will hang on him like pots and bowls hanging from a peg! 25When that happens, the peg that was firmly fastened will work loose and fall. And that will be the end of everything that was hanging on it.” The LORD has spoken.

A Message about Phoenicia

1This is a message about Tyre.

Howl with grief, you sailors out on the ocean! Your home port of Tyre has been destroyed; its houses and its harbour are in ruins. As your ships return from Cyprus, you learn the news. 2Wail, you merchants of Sidon! You sent men 3across the sea to buy and sell the corn that grew in Egypt and to do business with all the nations.

4City of Sidon, you are disgraced! The sea and the great ocean depths disown you and say, “I never had any children. I never brought up sons or daughters.”

5Even the Egyptians will be shocked and dismayed when they learn that Tyre has been destroyed.

6Howl with grief, you people of Phoenicia! Try to escape to Spain! 7Can this be the joyful city of Tyre, founded so long ago? Is this the city that sent settlers across the sea to establish colonies? 8Who was it that planned to bring all this on Tyre, that imperial city, whose merchant princes were the most honoured men on earth? 9The LORD Almighty planned it. He planned it in order to put an end to their pride in what they had done and to humiliate their honoured ones.

10Go and farm the land, you people in the colonies in Spain! There is no one to protect you any more. 11The LORD has stretched out his hand over the sea and overthrown kingdoms. He has ordered the Phoenician centres of commerce to be destroyed. 12City of Sidon, your happiness has ended, and your people are oppressed. Even if they escape to Cyprus, they will still not be safe.

13(It was the Babylonians, not the Assyrians, who let the wild animals overrun Tyre. It was the Babylonians who put up siege towers, tore down the fortifications of Tyre, and left the city in ruins.)

14Howl with grief, you sailors out on the ocean! The city you relied on has been destroyed.

15A time is coming when Tyre will be forgotten for seventy years, the lifetime of a king. When those years are over, Tyre will be like the prostitute in the song:

16Take your harp, go round the town,

you poor forgotten whore!

Play and sing your songs again

to bring men back once more.

17When the seventy years are over, the LORD will let Tyre go back to her old trade, and she will hire herself out to all the kingdoms of the world. 18The money she earns by commerce will be dedicated to the LORD. She will not store it away, but those who worship the LORD will use her money to buy the food and the clothing they need.

The LORD will Punish the Earth

1The LORD is going to devastate the earth and leave it desolate. He will twist the earth's surface and scatter its people. 2Everyone will meet the same fate — the priests and the people, slaves and masters, buyers and sellers, lenders and borrowers, rich and poor. 3The earth will lie shattered and ruined. The LORD has spoken and it will be done.

4The earth dries up and withers; the whole world grows weak; both earth and sky decay. 5The people have defiled the earth by breaking God's laws and by violating the covenant he made to last for ever. 6So God has pronounced a curse on the earth. Its people are paying for what they have done. Fewer and fewer remain alive. 7The grapevines wither, and wine is becoming scarce. Everyone who was once happy is now sad, 8and the joyful music of their harps and drums has ceased. 9There is no more happy singing over wine; no one enjoys its taste any more. 10In the city everything is in chaos, and people lock themselves in their houses for safety. 11People shout in the streets because there is no more wine. Happiness is gone for ever; it has been banished from the land. 12The city is in ruins, and its gates have been broken down. 13This is what will happen in every nation all over the world. It will be like the end of harvest, when the olives have been beaten off every tree and the last grapes picked from the vines.

14Those who survive will sing for joy. Those in the west will tell how great the LORD is, 15and those in the east will praise him. The people who live along the sea will praise the LORD, the God of Israel. 16From the most distant parts of the world we will hear songs in praise of Israel, the righteous nation.

But there is no hope for me! I am wasting away! Traitors continue to betray, and their treachery grows worse and worse. 17Listen to me, everyone! There are terrors, pits, and traps waiting for you. 18Anyone who tries to escape from the terror will fall into a pit, and anyone who escapes from the pit will be caught in a trap. Torrents of rain will pour from the sky, and earth's foundations will shake. 19The earth will crack and shatter and split open. 20The earth itself will stagger like a drunken man and sway like a hut in a storm. The world is weighed down by its sins; it will collapse and never rise again.

21A time is coming when the LORD will punish the powers above and the rulers of the earth. 22God will crowd kings together like prisoners in a pit. He will shut them in prison until the time of their punishment comes. 23The moon will grow dark, and the sun will no longer shine, for the LORD Almighty will be king. He will rule in Jerusalem on Mount Zion, and the leaders of the people will see his glory.

A Hymn of Praise

1LORD, you are my God;

I will honour you and praise your name.

You have done amazing things;

you have faithfully carried out

the plans you made long ago.

2You have turned cities into ruins

and destroyed their fortifications.

The palaces which our enemies built

are gone for ever.

3The people of powerful nations will praise you;

you will be feared in the cities of cruel nations.

4The poor and the helpless have fled to you

and have been safe in times of trouble.

You give them shelter from storms

and shade from the burning heat.

Cruel enemies attack like a winter storm,

5like drought in a dry land.

But you, LORD, have silenced our enemies;

you silence the shouts of cruel people,

as a cloud cools a hot day.

God Prepares a Banquet

6Here on Mount Zion the LORD Almighty will prepare a banquet for all the nations of the world — a banquet of the richest food and the finest wine. 7Here he will suddenly remove the cloud of sorrow that has been hanging over all the nations. 8The Sovereign LORD will destroy death for ever! He will wipe away the tears from everyone's eyes and take away the disgrace his people have suffered throughout the world. The LORD himself has spoken!

9When it happens, everyone will say, “He is our God! We have put our trust in him, and he has rescued us. He is the LORD! We have put our trust in him, and now we are happy and joyful because he has saved us.”

God will Punish Moab

10The LORD will protect Mount Zion, but the people of Moab will be trampled down, just as straw is trampled in manure. 11They will stretch out their hands as if they were trying to swim, but God will humiliate them, and their hands will sink helplessly. 12He will destroy the fortresses of Moab with their high walls and bring them tumbling down into the dust.

A Prayer for Help

1LORD, hear my prayer!

In your righteousness listen to my plea;

answer me in your faithfulness!

2Don't put me, your servant, on trial;

no one is innocent in your sight.

3My enemies have hunted me down

and completely defeated me.

They have put me in a dark prison,

and I am like those who died long ago.

4So I am ready to give up;

I am in deep despair.

5I remember the days gone by;

I think about all that you have done,

I bring to mind all your deeds.

6I lift up my hands to you in prayer;

like dry ground my soul is thirsty for you.

7Answer me now, LORD!

I have lost all hope.

Don't hide yourself from me,

or I will be among those who go down to the world of the dead.

8Remind me each morning of your constant love,

for I put my trust in you.

My prayers go up to you;

show me the way I should go.

9I go to you for protection, LORD;

rescue me from my enemies.

10You are my God;

teach me to do your will.

Be good to me, and guide me on a safe path.

11Rescue me, LORD, as you have promised;

in your goodness save me from my troubles!

12Because of your love for me, kill my enemies

and destroy all my oppressors,

for I am your servant.

Psalms 143GNBOpen in Bible reader
Bible Society of South Africav.4.13.12
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