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Isaiah 19-21 The Message (MSG)

Anarchy and Chaos and Killing!

19 A Message concerning Egypt:

Watch this! God riding on a fast-moving cloud,
    moving in on Egypt!
The god-idols of Egypt shudder and shake,
    Egyptians paralyzed by panic.

2-4 God says, “I’ll make Egyptian fight Egyptian,
    brother fight brother, neighbor fight neighbor,
City fight city, kingdom fight kingdom—
    anarchy and chaos and killing!
I’ll knock the wind out of the Egyptians.
    They won’t know coming from going.
They’ll go to their god-idols for answers;
    they’ll conjure ghosts and hold séances, desperate for answers.
But I’ll turn the Egyptians
    over to a tyrant most cruel.
I’ll put them under the rule of a mean, merciless king.”
    Decree of the Master, God-of-the-Angel-Armies.

5-10 The River Nile will dry up,
    the riverbed baked dry in the sun.
The canals will become stagnant and stink,
    every stream touching the Nile dry up.
River vegetation will rot away
    the banks of the Nile-baked clay,
The riverbed hard and smooth,
    river grasses dried up and gone with the wind.
Fishermen will complain
    that the fishing’s been ruined.
Textile workers will be out of work, all weavers
    and workers in linen and cotton and wool
Dispirited, depressed in their forced idleness—
    everyone who works for a living, jobless.

11-15 The princes of Zoan are fools,
    the advisors of Pharaoh stupid.
How could any of you dare tell Pharaoh,
    “Trust me: I’m wise. I know what’s going on.
    Why, I’m descended from the old wisdom of Egypt”?
There’s not a wise man or woman left in the country.
    If there were, one of them would tell you
    what God-of-the-Angel-Armies has in mind for Egypt.
As it is, the princes of Zoan are all fools
    and the princes of Memphis, dunces.
The honored pillars of your society
    have led Egypt into detours and dead ends.
God has scrambled their brains,
    Egypt’s become a falling-down-in-his-own-vomit drunk.
Egypt’s hopeless, past helping,
    a senile, doddering old fool.

16-17 On that Day, Egyptians will be like hysterical schoolgirls, screaming at the first hint of action from God-of-the-Angel-Armies. Little Judah will strike terror in Egyptians! Say “Judah” to an Egyptian and see panic. The word triggers fear of the God-of-the-Angel-Armies’ plan against Egypt.

18 On that Day, more than one city in Egypt will learn to speak the language of faith and promise to follow God-of-the-Angel-Armies. One of these cities will be honored with the title “City of the Sun.”

19-22 On that Day, there will be a place of worship to God in the center of Egypt and a monument to God at its border. It will show how the God-of-the-Angel-Armies has helped the Egyptians. When they cry out in prayer to God because of oppressors, he’ll send them help, a savior who will keep them safe and take care of them. God will openly show himself to the Egyptians and they’ll get to know him on that Day. They’ll worship him seriously with sacrifices and burnt offerings. They’ll make vows and keep them. God will wound Egypt, first hit and then heal. Egypt will come back to God, and God will listen to their prayers and heal them, heal them from head to toe.

23 On that Day, there will be a highway all the way from Egypt to Assyria: Assyrians will have free range in Egypt and Egyptians in Assyria. No longer rivals, they’ll worship together, Egyptians and Assyrians!

24-25 On that Day, Israel will take its place alongside Egypt and Assyria, sharing the blessing from the center. God-of-the-Angel-Armies, who blessed Israel, will generously bless them all: “Blessed be Egypt, my people! . . . Blessed be Assyria, work of my hands! . . . Blessed be Israel, my heritage!”

Exposed to Mockery and Jeers

20 1-2 In the year the field commander, sent by King Sargon of Assyria, came to Ashdod and fought and took it, God told Isaiah son of Amoz, “Go, take off your clothes and sandals,” and Isaiah did it, going about naked and barefooted.

3-6 Then God said, “Just as my servant Isaiah has walked around town naked and barefooted for three years as a warning sign to Egypt and Ethiopia, so the king of Assyria is going to come and take the Egyptians as captives and the Ethiopians as exiles. He’ll take young and old alike and march them out of there naked and barefooted, exposed to mockery and jeers—the bared buttocks of Egypt on parade! Everyone who has put hope in Ethiopia and expected help from Egypt will be thrown into confusion. Everyone who lives along this coast will say, ‘Look at them! Naked and barefooted, shuffling off to exile! And we thought they were our best hope, that they’d rescue us from the king of Assyria. Now what’s going to happen to us? How are we going to get out of this?’”

The Betrayer Betrayed

21 1-4 A Message concerning the desert at the sea:

As tempests drive through the Negev Desert,
    coming out of the desert, that terror-filled place,
A hard vision is given me:
    The betrayer betrayed, the plunderer plundered.
Attack, Elam!
    Lay siege, Media!
Persians, attack!
    Attack, Babylon!
I’ll put an end to
    all the moaning and groaning.
Because of this news I’m doubled up in pain,
    writhing in pain like a woman having a baby,
Baffled by what I hear,
    undone by what I see.
Absolutely stunned,
    horror-stricken,
I had hoped for a relaxed evening,
    but it has turned into a nightmare.

The banquet is spread,
    the guests reclining in luxurious ease,
Eating and drinking, having a good time,
    and then, “To arms, princes! The fight is on!”

6-9 The Master told me, “Go, post a lookout.
    Have him report whatever he spots.
When he sees horses and wagons in battle formation,
    lines of donkeys and columns of camels,
Tell him to keep his ear to the ground,
    note every whisper, every rumor.”
Just then, the lookout shouted,
    “I’m at my post, Master,
Sticking to my post day after day
    and all through the night!
I watched them come,
    the horses and wagons in battle formation.
I heard them call out the war news in headlines:
    ‘Babylon fallen! Fallen!
And all its precious god-idols
    smashed to pieces on the ground.’”

10 Dear Israel, you’ve been through a lot,
    you’ve been put through the mill.
The good news I get from God-of-the-Angel-Armies,
    the God of Israel, I now pass on to you.

11-12 A Message concerning Edom:

A voice calls to me
    from the Seir mountains in Edom,
“Night watchman! How long till daybreak?
    How long will this night last?”
The night watchman calls back,
    “Morning’s coming,
But for now it’s still night.
    If you ask me again, I’ll give the same answer.”

13-15 A Message concerning Arabia:

You’ll have to camp out in the desert badlands,
    you caravans of Dedanites.
Haul water to the thirsty,
    greet fugitives with bread.
Show your desert hospitality,
    you who live in Tema.
The desert’s swarming with refugees
    escaping the horrors of war.

16-17 The Master told me, “Hang on. Within one year—I’ll sign a contract on it!—the arrogant brutality of Kedar, those hooligans of the desert, will be over, nothing much left of the Kedar toughs.” The God of Israel says so.

The Message (MSG)

Copyright © 1993, 2002, 2018 by Eugene H. Peterson

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