The Landscape Will Be a Moonscape

24 1-3 Danger ahead! God’s about to ravish the earth
    and leave it in ruins,
Rip everything out by the roots
    and send everyone scurrying:
        priests and laypeople alike,
        owners and workers alike,
        celebrities and nobodies alike,
        buyers and sellers alike,
        bankers and beggars alike,
        the haves and have-nots alike.
The landscape will be a moonscape,
    totally wasted.
And why? Because God says so.
    He’s issued the orders.

The earth turns gaunt and gray,
    the world silent and sad,
    sky and land lifeless, colorless.

Earth Polluted by Its Very Own People

5-13 Earth is polluted by its very own people,
    who have broken its laws,
Disrupted its order,
    violated the sacred and eternal covenant.
Therefore a curse, like a cancer,
    ravages the earth.
Its people pay the price of their sacrilege.
    They dwindle away, dying out one by one.
No more wine, no more vineyards,
    no more songs or singers.
The laughter of castanets is gone,
    the shouts of celebrants, gone,
    the laughter of fiddles, gone.
No more parties with toasts of champagne.
    Serious drinkers gag on their drinks.
The chaotic cities are unlivable. Anarchy reigns.
    Every house is boarded up, condemned.
People riot in the streets for wine,
    but the good times are gone forever—
    no more joy for this old world.
The city is dead and deserted,
    bulldozed into piles of rubble.
That’s the way it will be on this earth.
    This is the fate of all nations:
An olive tree shaken clean of its olives,
    a grapevine picked clean of its grapes.

14-16 But there are some who will break into glad song.
    Out of the west they’ll shout of God’s majesty.
Yes, from the east God’s glory will ascend.
    Every island of the sea
Will broadcast God’s fame,
    the fame of the God of Israel.
From the four winds and the seven seas we hear the singing:
    “All praise to the Righteous One!”

16-20 But I said, “That’s all well and good for somebody,
    but all I can see is doom, doom, and more doom.”
All of them at one another’s throats,
    yes, all of them at one another’s throats.
Terror and pits and booby traps
    are everywhere, whoever you are.
If you run from the terror,
    you’ll fall into the pit.
If you climb out of the pit,
    you’ll get caught in the trap.
Chaos pours out of the skies.
    The foundations of earth are crumbling.
Earth is smashed to pieces,
    earth is ripped to shreds,
    earth is wobbling out of control,
Earth staggers like a drunk,
    sways like a shack in a high wind.
Its piled-up sins are too much for it.
    It collapses and won’t get up again.

21-23 That’s when God will call on the carpet
    rebel powers in the skies and
Rebel kings on earth.
    They’ll be rounded up like prisoners in a jail,
Corralled and locked up in a jail,
    and then sentenced and put to hard labor.
Shamefaced moon will cower, humiliated,
    red-faced sun will skulk, disgraced,
Because God-of-the-Angel-Armies will take over,
    ruling from Mount Zion and Jerusalem,
Splendid and glorious
    before all his leaders.

God’s Hand Rests on This Mountain

25 1-5 God, you are my God.
    I celebrate you. I praise you.
You’ve done your share of miracle-wonders,
    well-thought-out plans, solid and sure.
Here you’ve reduced the city to rubble,
    the strong city to a pile of stones.
The enemy Big City is a non-city,
    never to be a city again.
Superpowers will see it and honor you,
    brutal oppressors bow in worshipful reverence.
They’ll see that you take care of the poor,
    that you take care of poor people in trouble,
Provide a warm, dry place in bad weather,
    provide a cool place when it’s hot.
Brutal oppressors are like a winter blizzard
    and vicious foreigners like high noon in the desert.
But you, shelter from the storm and shade from the sun,
    shut the mouths of the big-mouthed bullies.

6-8 But here on this mountain, God-of-the-Angel-Armies
    will throw a feast for all the people of the world,
A feast of the finest foods, a feast with vintage wines,
    a feast of seven courses, a feast lavish with gourmet desserts.
And here on this mountain, God will banish
    the pall of doom hanging over all peoples,
The shadow of doom darkening all nations.
    Yes, he’ll banish death forever.
And God will wipe the tears from every face.
    He’ll remove every sign of disgrace
From his people, wherever they are.
    Yes! God says so!

9-10 Also at that time, people will say,
    “Look at what’s happened! This is our God!
We waited for him and he showed up and saved us!
    This God, the one we waited for!
Let’s celebrate, sing the joys of his salvation.
    God’s hand rests on this mountain!”

10-12 As for the Moabites, they’ll be treated like trash,
    waste shoveled into a cesspool.
Thrash away as they will,
    like swimmers trying to stay afloat,
They’ll sink in the sewage.
    Their pride will pull them under.
Their famous fortifications will crumble to nothing,
    those mighty walls reduced to dust.

Stretch the Borders of Life

26 1-6 At that time, this song
    will be sung in the country of Judah:
We have a strong city, Salvation City,
    built and fortified with salvation.
Throw wide the gates
    so good and true people can enter.
People with their minds set on you,
    you keep completely whole,
Steady on their feet,
    because they keep at it and don’t quit.
Depend on God and keep at it
    because in the Lord God you have a sure thing.
Those who lived high and mighty
    he knocked off their high horse.
He used the city built on the hill
    as fill for the marshes.
All the exploited and outcast peoples
    build their lives on the reclaimed land.

7-10 The path of right-living people is level.
    The Leveler evens the road for the right-living.
We’re in no hurry, God. We’re content to linger
    in the path sign-posted with your decisions.
Who you are and what you’ve done
    are all we’ll ever want.
Through the night my soul longs for you.
    Deep from within me my spirit reaches out to you.
When your decisions are on public display,
    everyone learns how to live right.
If the wicked are shown grace,
    they don’t seem to get it.
In the land of right living, they persist in wrong living,
    blind to the splendor of God.

11-15 You hold your hand up high, God,
    but they don’t see it.
Open their eyes to what you do,
    to see your zealous love for your people.
Shame them. Light a fire under them.
    Get the attention of these enemies of yours.
God, order a peaceful and whole life for us
    because everything we’ve done, you’ve done for us.
O God, our God, we’ve had other masters rule us,
    but you’re the only Master we’ve ever known.
The dead don’t talk,
    ghosts don’t walk,
Because you’ve said, “Enough—that’s all for you,”
    and wiped them off the books.
But the living you make larger than life.
    The more life you give, the more glory you display,
    and stretch the borders to accommodate more living!

16-18 O God, they begged you for help when they were in trouble,
    when your discipline was so heavy
    they could barely whisper a prayer.
Like a woman having a baby,
    writhing in distress, screaming her pain
    as the baby is being born,
That’s how we were because of you, O God.
    We were pregnant full-term.
We writhed in labor but bore no baby.
    We gave birth to wind.
Nothing came of our labor.
    We produced nothing living.
    We couldn’t save the world.

19 But friends, your dead will live,
    your corpses will get to their feet.
All you dead and buried,
    wake up! Sing!
Your dew is morning dew
    catching the first rays of sun,
The earth bursting with life,
    giving birth to the dead.

20-21 Come, my people, go home
    and shut yourselves in.
Go into seclusion for a while
    until the punishing wrath is past,
Because God is sure to come from his place
    to punish the wrong of the people on earth.
Earth itself will point out the bloodstains;
    it will show where the murdered have been hidden away.

Selected Grain by Grain

27 At that time God will unsheathe his sword,
    his merciless, massive, mighty sword.
He’ll punish the serpent Leviathan as it flees,
    the serpent Leviathan thrashing in flight.
He’ll kill that old dragon
    that lives in the sea.

2-5 “At that same time, a fine vineyard will appear.
    There’s something to sing about!
I, God, tend it.
    I keep it well-watered.
I keep careful watch over it
    so that no one can damage it.
I’m not angry. I care.
    Even if it gives me thistles and thornbushes,
I’ll just pull them out
    and burn them up.
Let that vine cling to me for safety,
    let it find a good and whole life with me,
    let it hold on for a good and whole life.”

The days are coming when Jacob
    shall put down roots,
Israel blossom and grow fresh branches,
    and fill the world with its fruit.

7-11 Has God knocked them to the ground
    as he knocked down those who hit them? Oh, no.
Were they killed
    as their killers were killed? Again, no.
He was hard on them all right. The exile was a harsh sentence.
    He blew them away on a fierce blast of wind.
But the good news is that through this experience
    Jacob’s guilt was taken away.
    The evidence that his sin is removed will be this:
He will tear down the alien altars,
    take them apart stone by stone,
And then crush the stones into gravel
    and clean out all the sex-and-religion shrines.
For there’s nothing left of that pretentious grandeur.
    Nobody lives there anymore. It’s unlivable.
But animals do just fine,
    browsing and bedding down.
And it’s not a bad place to get firewood.
    Dry twigs and dead branches are plentiful.
It’s the remains of a people with no sense of God.
    So, the God who made them
Will have nothing to do with them.
    He who formed them will turn his back on them.

12-13 At that time God will thresh
    from the River Euphrates to the Brook of Egypt,
And you, people of Israel,
    will be selected grain by grain.
At that same time a great trumpet will be blown,
    calling home the exiles from Assyria,
Welcoming home the refugees from Egypt
    to come and worship God on the holy mountain, Jerusalem.

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