29 “What sorrow awaits Ariel,[a] the City of David. Year after year you celebrate your feasts. 2 Yet I will bring disaster upon you, and there will be much weeping and sorrow. For Jerusalem will become what her name Ariel means— an altar covered with blood. 3 I will be your enemy, surrounding Jerusalem and attacking its walls. I will build siege towers and destroy it. 4 Then deep from the earth you will speak; from low in the dust your words will come. Your voice will whisper from the ground like a ghost conjured up from the grave.
5 “But suddenly, your ruthless enemies will be crushed like the finest of dust. Your many attackers will be driven away like chaff before the wind. Suddenly, in an instant, 6 I, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, will act for you with thunder and earthquake and great noise, with whirlwind and storm and consuming fire. 7 All the nations fighting against Jerusalem[b] will vanish like a dream! Those who are attacking her walls will vanish like a vision in the night. 8 A hungry person dreams of eating but wakes up still hungry. A thirsty person dreams of drinking but is still faint from thirst when morning comes. So it will be with your enemies, with those who attack Mount Zion.”
9 Are you amazed and incredulous? Don’t you believe it? Then go ahead and be blind. You are stupid, but not from wine! You stagger, but not from liquor! 10 For the Lord has poured out on you a spirit of deep sleep. He has closed the eyes of your prophets and visionaries.
11 All the future events in this vision are like a sealed book to them. When you give it to those who can read, they will say, “We can’t read it because it is sealed.”12 When you give it to those who cannot read, they will say, “We don’t know how to read.”
13 And so the Lord says, “These people say they are mine. They honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. And their worship of me is nothing but man-made rules learned by rote.[c] 14 Because of this, I will once again astound these hypocrites with amazing wonders. The wisdom of the wise will pass away, and the intelligence of the intelligent will disappear.”
15 What sorrow awaits those who try to hide their plans from the Lord, who do their evil deeds in the dark! “The Lord can’t see us,” they say. “He doesn’t know what’s going on!” 16 How foolish can you be? He is the Potter, and he is certainly greater than you, the clay! Should the created thing say of the one who made it, “He didn’t make me”? Does a jar ever say, “The potter who made me is stupid”?
17 Soon—and it will not be very long— the forests of Lebanon will become a fertile field, and the fertile field will yield bountiful crops. 18 In that day the deaf will hear words read from a book, and the blind will see through the gloom and darkness. 19 The humble will be filled with fresh joy from the Lord. The poor will rejoice in the Holy One of Israel. 20 The scoffer will be gone, the arrogant will disappear, and those who plot evil will be killed. 21 Those who convict the innocent by their false testimony will disappear. A similar fate awaits those who use trickery to pervert justice and who tell lies to destroy the innocent.
22 That is why the Lord, who redeemed Abraham, says to the people of Israel,[d]
“My people will no longer be ashamed or turn pale with fear. 23 For when they see their many children and all the blessings I have given them, they will recognize the holiness of the Holy One of Jacob. They will stand in awe of the God of Israel. 24 Then the wayward will gain understanding, and complainers will accept instruction.
Judah’s Worthless Treaty with Egypt
30 “What sorrow awaits my rebellious children,” says the Lord. “You make plans that are contrary to mine. You make alliances not directed by my Spirit, thus piling up your sins. 2 For without consulting me, you have gone down to Egypt for help. You have put your trust in Pharaoh’s protection. You have tried to hide in his shade. 3 But by trusting Pharaoh, you will be humiliated, and by depending on him, you will be disgraced. 4 For though his power extends to Zoan and his officials have arrived in Hanes, 5 all who trust in him will be ashamed. He will not help you. Instead, he will disgrace you.”
6 This message came to me concerning the animals in the Negev:
The caravan moves slowly across the terrible desert to Egypt— donkeys weighed down with riches and camels loaded with treasure— all to pay for Egypt’s protection. They travel through the wilderness, a place of lionesses and lions, a place where vipers and poisonous snakes live. All this, and Egypt will give you nothing in return. 7 Egypt’s promises are worthless! Therefore, I call her Rahab— the Harmless Dragon.[e]
A Warning for Rebellious Judah
8 Now go and write down these words. Write them in a book. They will stand until the end of time as a witness 9 that these people are stubborn rebels who refuse to pay attention to the Lord’s instructions. 10 They tell the seers, “Stop seeing visions!” They tell the prophets, “Don’t tell us what is right. Tell us nice things. Tell us lies. 11 Forget all this gloom. Get off your narrow path. Stop telling us about your ‘Holy One of Israel.’”
12 This is the reply of the Holy One of Israel:
“Because you despise what I tell you and trust instead in oppression and lies, 13 calamity will come upon you suddenly— like a bulging wall that bursts and falls. In an instant it will collapse and come crashing down. 14 You will be smashed like a piece of pottery— shattered so completely that there won’t be a piece big enough to carry coals from a fireplace or a little water from the well.”
15 This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: “Only in returning to me and resting in me will you be saved. In quietness and confidence is your strength. But you would have none of it. 16 You said, ‘No, we will get our help from Egypt. They will give us swift horses for riding into battle.’ But the only swiftness you are going to see is the swiftness of your enemies chasing you! 17 One of them will chase a thousand of you. Five of them will make all of you flee. You will be left like a lonely flagpole on a hill or a tattered banner on a distant mountaintop.”
Blessings for the Lord’s People
18 So the Lord must wait for you to come to him so he can show you his love and compassion. For the Lord is a faithful God. Blessed are those who wait for his help.
19 O people of Zion, who live in Jerusalem, you will weep no more. He will be gracious if you ask for help. He will surely respond to the sound of your cries. 20 Though the Lord gave you adversity for food and suffering for drink, he will still be with you to teach you. You will see your teacher with your own eyes. 21 Your own ears will hear him. Right behind you a voice will say, “This is the way you should go,” whether to the right or to the left. 22 Then you will destroy all your silver idols and your precious gold images. You will throw them out like filthy rags, saying to them, “Good riddance!”
23 Then the Lord will bless you with rain at planting time. There will be wonderful harvests and plenty of pastureland for your livestock.24 The oxen and donkeys that till the ground will eat good grain, its chaff blown away by the wind.25 In that day, when your enemies are slaughtered and the towers fall, there will be streams of water flowing down every mountain and hill.26 The moon will be as bright as the sun, and the sun will be seven times brighter—like the light of seven days in one! So it will be when the Lord begins to heal his people and cure the wounds he gave them.
27 Look! The Lord is coming from far away, burning with anger, surrounded by thick, rising smoke. His lips are filled with fury; his words consume like fire. 28 His hot breath pours out like a flood up to the neck of his enemies. He will sift out the proud nations for destruction. He will bridle them and lead them away to ruin.
29 But the people of God will sing a song of joy, like the songs at the holy festivals. You will be filled with joy, as when a flutist leads a group of pilgrims to Jerusalem, the mountain of the Lord— to the Rock of Israel. 30 And the Lord will make his majestic voice heard. He will display the strength of his mighty arm. It will descend with devouring flames, with cloudbursts, thunderstorms, and huge hailstones. 31 At the Lord’s command, the Assyrians will be shattered. He will strike them down with his royal scepter. 32 And as the Lord strikes them with his rod of punishment,[f] his people will celebrate with tambourines and harps. Lifting his mighty arm, he will fight the Assyrians. 33 Topheth—the place of burning— has long been ready for the Assyrian king; the pyre is piled high with wood. The breath of the Lord, like fire from a volcano, will set it ablaze.
The Futility of Relying on Egypt
31 What sorrow awaits those who look to Egypt for help, trusting their horses, chariots, and charioteers and depending on the strength of human armies instead of looking to the Lord, the Holy One of Israel. 2 In his wisdom, the Lord will send great disaster; he will not change his mind. He will rise against the wicked and against their helpers. 3 For these Egyptians are mere humans, not God! Their horses are puny flesh, not mighty spirits! When the Lord raises his fist against them, those who help will stumble, and those being helped will fall. They will all fall down and die together.
4 But this is what the Lord has told me:
“When a strong young lion stands growling over a sheep it has killed, it is not frightened by the shouts and noise of a whole crowd of shepherds. In the same way, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies will come down and fight on Mount Zion. 5 The Lord of Heaven’s Armies will hover over Jerusalem and protect it like a bird protecting its nest. He will defend and save the city; he will pass over it and rescue it.”
6 Though you are such wicked rebels, my people, come and return to the Lord.7 I know the glorious day will come when each of you will throw away the gold idols and silver images your sinful hands have made.
8 “The Assyrians will be destroyed, but not by the swords of men. The sword of God will strike them, and they will panic and flee. The strong young Assyrians will be taken away as captives. 9 Even the strongest will quake with terror, and princes will flee when they see your battle flags,” says the Lord, whose fire burns in Zion, whose flame blazes from Jerusalem.
Israel’s Ultimate Deliverance
32 Look, a righteous king is coming! And honest princes will rule under him. 2 Each one will be like a shelter from the wind and a refuge from the storm, like streams of water in the desert and the shadow of a great rock in a parched land.
3 Then everyone who has eyes will be able to see the truth, and everyone who has ears will be able to hear it. 4 Even the hotheads will be full of sense and understanding. Those who stammer will speak out plainly. 5 In that day ungodly fools will not be heroes. Scoundrels will not be respected. 6 For fools speak foolishness and make evil plans. They practice ungodliness and spread false teachings about the Lord. They deprive the hungry of food and give no water to the thirsty. 7 The smooth tricks of scoundrels are evil. They plot crooked schemes. They lie to convict the poor, even when the cause of the poor is just. 8 But generous people plan to do what is generous, and they stand firm in their generosity.
9 Listen, you women who lie around in ease. Listen to me, you who are so smug. 10 In a short time—just a little more than a year— you careless ones will suddenly begin to care. For your fruit crops will fail, and the harvest will never take place. 11 Tremble, you women of ease; throw off your complacency. Strip off your pretty clothes, and put on burlap to show your grief. 12 Beat your breasts in sorrow for your bountiful farms and your fruitful grapevines. 13 For your land will be overgrown with thorns and briers. Your joyful homes and happy towns will be gone. 14 The palace and the city will be deserted, and busy towns will be empty. Wild donkeys will frolic and flocks will graze in the empty forts[g] and watchtowers 15 until at last the Spirit is poured out on us from heaven. Then the wilderness will become a fertile field, and the fertile field will yield bountiful crops.
16 Justice will rule in the wilderness and righteousness in the fertile field. 17 And this righteousness will bring peace. Yes, it will bring quietness and confidence forever. 18 My people will live in safety, quietly at home. They will be at rest. 19 Even if the forest should be destroyed and the city torn down, 20 the Lord will greatly bless his people. Wherever they plant seed, bountiful crops will spring up. Their cattle and donkeys will graze freely.
A Message about Assyria
33 What sorrow awaits you Assyrians, who have destroyed others[h] but have never been destroyed yourselves. You betray others, but you have never been betrayed. When you are done destroying, you will be destroyed. When you are done betraying, you will be betrayed. 2 But Lord, be merciful to us, for we have waited for you. Be our strong arm each day and our salvation in times of trouble. 3 The enemy runs at the sound of your voice. When you stand up, the nations flee! 4 Just as caterpillars and locusts strip the fields and vines, so the fallen army of Assyria will be stripped!
5 Though the Lord is very great and lives in heaven, he will make Jerusalem[i] his home of justice and righteousness. 6 In that day he will be your sure foundation, providing a rich store of salvation, wisdom, and knowledge. The fear of the Lord will be your treasure.
7 But now your brave warriors weep in public. Your ambassadors of peace cry in bitter disappointment. 8 Your roads are deserted; no one travels them anymore. The Assyrians have broken their peace treaty and care nothing for the promises they made before witnesses.[j] They have no respect for anyone. 9 The land of Israel wilts in mourning. Lebanon withers with shame. The plain of Sharon is now a wilderness. Bashan and Carmel have been plundered.
10 But the Lord says: “Now I will stand up. Now I will show my power and might. 11 You Assyrians produce nothing but dry grass and stubble. Your own breath will turn to fire and consume you. 12 Your people will be burned up completely, like thornbushes cut down and tossed in a fire. 13 Listen to what I have done, you nations far away! And you that are near, acknowledge my might!”
14 The sinners in Jerusalem shake with fear. Terror seizes the godless. “Who can live with this devouring fire?” they cry. “Who can survive this all-consuming fire?” 15 Those who are honest and fair, who refuse to profit by fraud, who stay far away from bribes, who refuse to listen to those who plot murder, who shut their eyes to all enticement to do wrong— 16 these are the ones who will dwell on high. The rocks of the mountains will be their fortress. Food will be supplied to them, and they will have water in abundance.
17 Your eyes will see the king in all his splendor, and you will see a land that stretches into the distance. 18 You will think back to this time of terror, asking, “Where are the Assyrian officers who counted our towers? Where are the bookkeepers who recorded the plunder taken from our fallen city?” 19 You will no longer see these fierce, violent people with their strange, unknown language.
20 Instead, you will see Zion as a place of holy festivals. You will see Jerusalem, a city quiet and secure. It will be like a tent whose ropes are taut and whose stakes are firmly fixed. 21 The Lord will be our Mighty One. He will be like a wide river of protection that no enemy can cross, that no enemy ship can sail upon. 22 For the Lord is our judge, our lawgiver, and our king. He will care for us and save us. 23 The enemies’ sails hang loose on broken masts with useless tackle. Their treasure will be divided by the people of God. Even the lame will take their share! 24 The people of Israel will no longer say, “We are sick and helpless,” for the Lord will forgive their sins.
29:1Ariel sounds like a Hebrew term that means “hearth” or “altar.”
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