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[a] 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[b] 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[c] 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.[d] 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.
A Message for the Nations
34 Come here and listen, O nations of the earth. Let the world and everything in it hear my words. 2 For the Lord is enraged against the nations. His fury is against all their armies. He will completely destroy[e] them, dooming them to slaughter. 3 Their dead will be left unburied, and the stench of rotting bodies will fill the land. The mountains will flow with their blood. 4 The heavens above will melt away and disappear like a rolled-up scroll. The stars will fall from the sky like withered leaves from a grapevine, or shriveled figs from a fig tree.
5 And when my sword has finished its work in the heavens, it will fall upon Edom, the nation I have marked for destruction. 6 The sword of the Lord is drenched with blood and covered with fat— with the blood of lambs and goats, with the fat of rams prepared for sacrifice. Yes, the Lord will offer a sacrifice in the city of Bozrah. He will make a mighty slaughter in Edom. 7 Even men as strong as wild oxen will die— the young men alongside the veterans. The land will be soaked with blood and the soil enriched with fat.
8 For it is the day of the Lord’s revenge, the year when Edom will be paid back for all it did to Israel.[f] 9 The streams of Edom will be filled with burning pitch, and the ground will be covered with fire. 10 This judgment on Edom will never end; the smoke of its burning will rise forever. The land will lie deserted from generation to generation. No one will live there anymore. 11 It will be haunted by the desert owl and the screech owl, the great owl and the raven.[g] For God will measure that land carefully; he will measure it for chaos and destruction. 12 It will be called the Land of Nothing, and all its nobles will soon be gone.[h] 13 Thorns will overrun its palaces; nettles and thistles will grow in its forts. The ruins will become a haunt for jackals and a home for owls. 14 Desert animals will mingle there with hyenas, their howls filling the night. Wild goats will bleat at one another among the ruins, and night creatures[i] will come there to rest. 15 There the owl will make her nest and lay her eggs. She will hatch her young and cover them with her wings. And the buzzards will come, each one with its mate.
16 Search the book of the Lord, and see what he will do. Not one of these birds and animals will be missing, and none will lack a mate, for the Lord has promised this. His Spirit will make it all come true. 17 He has surveyed and divided the land and deeded it over to those creatures. They will possess it forever, from generation to generation.
Hope for Restoration
35 Even the wilderness and desert will be glad in those days. The wasteland will rejoice and blossom with spring crocuses. 2 Yes, there will be an abundance of flowers and singing and joy! The deserts will become as green as the mountains of Lebanon, as lovely as Mount Carmel or the plain of Sharon. There the Lord will display his glory, the splendor of our God. 3 With this news, strengthen those who have tired hands, and encourage those who have weak knees. 4 Say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, and do not fear, for your God is coming to destroy your enemies. He is coming to save you.”
5 And when he comes, he will open the eyes of the blind and unplug the ears of the deaf. 6 The lame will leap like a deer, and those who cannot speak will sing for joy! Springs will gush forth in the wilderness, and streams will water the wasteland. 7 The parched ground will become a pool, and springs of water will satisfy the thirsty land. Marsh grass and reeds and rushes will flourish where desert jackals once lived.
8 And a great road will go through that once deserted land. It will be named the Highway of Holiness. Evil-minded people will never travel on it. It will be only for those who walk in God’s ways; fools will never walk there. 9 Lions will not lurk along its course, nor any other ferocious beasts. There will be no other dangers. Only the redeemed will walk on it. 10 Those who have been ransomed by the Lord will return. They will enter Jerusalem[j] singing, crowned with everlasting joy. Sorrow and mourning will disappear, and they will be filled with joy and gladness.
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