Damascus: A Pile of Dust and Rubble
17 1-3 A Message concerning Damascus:
“Watch this: Damascus undone as a city,
a pile of dust and rubble!
Her towns emptied of people.
The sheep and goats will move in
And take over the towns
as if they owned them—which they will!
Not a sign of a fort is left in Ephraim,
not a trace of government left in Damascus.
What’s left of Aram?
The same as what’s left of Israel—not much.”
Decree of God-of-the-Angel-Armies.
The Day Is Coming
4-6 “The Day is coming when Jacob’s robust splendor goes pale
and his well-fed body turns skinny.
The country will be left empty, picked clean
as a field harvested by field hands.
She’ll be like a few stalks of barley left standing
in the lush Valley of Rephaim after harvest,
Or like the couple of ripe olives overlooked
in the top of the olive tree,
Or the four or five apples
that the pickers couldn’t reach in the orchard.”
Decree of the God of Israel.
7-8 Yes, the Day is coming when people will notice The One Who Made Them, take a long hard look at The Holy of Israel. They’ll lose interest in all the stuff they’ve made—altars and monuments and rituals, their homemade, handmade religion—however impressive it is.
9 And yes, the Day is coming when their fortress cities will be abandoned—the very same cities that the Hivites and Amorites abandoned when Israel invaded! And the country will be empty, desolate.
You Have Forgotten God
10-11 And why? Because you have forgotten God-Your-Salvation,
not remembered your Rock-of-Refuge.
And so, even though you are very religious,
planting all sorts of bushes and herbs and trees
to honor and influence your fertility gods,
And even though you make them grow so well,
bursting with buds and sprouts and blossoms,
Nothing will come of them. Instead of a harvest
you’ll get nothing but grief and pain, pain, pain.
12-13 Oh my! Thunder! A thundering herd of people!
Thunder like the crashing of ocean waves!
Nations roaring, roaring,
like the roar of a massive waterfall,
Roaring like a deafening Niagara!
But God will silence them with a word,
And then he’ll blow them away like dead leaves off a tree,
like down from a thistle.
14 At bedtime, terror fills the air.
By morning it’s gone—not a sign of it anywhere!
This is what happens to those who would ruin us,
this is the fate of those out to get us.
People Mighty and Merciless
18 1-2 Doom to the land of flies and mosquitoes
beyond the Ethiopian rivers,
Shipping emissaries all over the world,
down rivers and across seas.
Go, swift messengers,
go to this people tall and handsome,
This people held in respect everywhere,
this people mighty and merciless,
from the land crisscrossed with rivers.
3 Everybody everywhere,
When you see a flag flying on the mountain, look!
When you hear the trumpet blown, listen!
4-6 For here’s what God told me:
“I’m not going to say anything,
but simply look on from where I live,
Quiet as warmth that comes from the sun,
silent as dew during harvest.”
And then, just before harvest, after the blossom
has turned into a maturing grape,
He’ll step in and prune back the new shoots,
ruthlessly hack off all the growing branches.
He’ll leave them piled on the ground
for birds and animals to feed on—
Fodder for the summering birds,
fodder for the wintering animals.
7 Then tribute will be brought to God-of-the-Angel-Armies,
brought from this people tall and handsome,
This people once held in respect everywhere,
this people once mighty and merciless,
From the land crisscrossed with rivers,
to Mount Zion, God’s place.