18 O land abuzz with the whirring of wings,
far away past the Ethiopian rivers,
2 With papyrus-reed boats shuttling ambassadors back and forth!
Go quickly, you messengers, to those impressive people,
Those fearsome and terrifying people so lank and smooth.
Theirs is a powerful nation divided by rivers.
3 All citizens of the world, every last inhabitant of the earth, pay attention!
When you see a signal raised on the mountains, look!
When the trumpets sound the alarm, listen!
4 Because the Eternal told me,
Eternal One: I am in control—calm and serene.
I am watching quietly from where I dwell
Just as surely as the heat shimmers in the blazing sun
and the dewy mists cool the warmth of a harvest day.
5 For even before the harvest begins, when the buds blossom
and the flowers make way for the ripening grapes,
God will cut back their shoots with pruning shears,
lop off and clear away the spreading branches.
6 He will leave the trimmings for the birds of prey
and the wild animals on the mountain.
The vultures will feed on their flesh during the summer,
and the wild animals will be nourished on their bones through the winter.
At times God watches “behind the scenes” quietly, calmly. But when it is the right time, God knows where and how to act. Throughout history nations rise and fall, but God is as constant as the summer heat and the cool fall breezes. Many nations such as Ethiopia look for diplomatic solutions and alliances in the face of the Assyrian threat. But Isaiah counsels them to stand back and watch, for he knows what God is about to do. Before the harvest, that is, before the armed rebellion against Assyria is set to begin, God moves in, pruning, lopping, clearing, and preparing the world for a better day.
7 Then those terrifying peoples—the lank and smooth from far away,
from the land divided by rivers, powerful and domineering—
Will honor the Eternal, Commander of heavenly armies, with gifts.
These proud people will bring them to Mount Zion,
Where the Eternal, Commander of heavenly armies, has placed His special name.