Stretch the Borders of Life

26 1-6 At that time, this song
    will be sung in the country of Judah:
We have a strong city, Salvation City,
    built and fortified with salvation.
Throw wide the gates
    so good and true people can enter.
People with their minds set on you,
    you keep completely whole,
Steady on their feet,
    because they keep at it and don’t quit.
Depend on God and keep at it
    because in the Lord God you have a sure thing.
Those who lived high and mighty
    he knocked off their high horse.
He used the city built on the hill
    as fill for the marshes.
All the exploited and outcast peoples
    build their lives on the reclaimed land.

7-10 The path of right-living people is level.
    The Leveler evens the road for the right-living.
We’re in no hurry, God. We’re content to linger
    in the path sign-posted with your decisions.
Who you are and what you’ve done
    are all we’ll ever want.
Through the night my soul longs for you.
    Deep from within me my spirit reaches out to you.
When your decisions are on public display,
    everyone learns how to live right.
If the wicked are shown grace,
    they don’t seem to get it.
In the land of right living, they persist in wrong living,
    blind to the splendor of God.

11-15 You hold your hand up high, God,
    but they don’t see it.
Open their eyes to what you do,
    to see your zealous love for your people.
Shame them. Light a fire under them.
    Get the attention of these enemies of yours.
God, order a peaceful and whole life for us
    because everything we’ve done, you’ve done for us.
O God, our God, we’ve had other masters rule us,
    but you’re the only Master we’ve ever known.
The dead don’t talk,
    ghosts don’t walk,
Because you’ve said, “Enough—that’s all for you,”
    and wiped them off the books.
But the living you make larger than life.
    The more life you give, the more glory you display,
    and stretch the borders to accommodate more living!

16-18 O God, they begged you for help when they were in trouble,
    when your discipline was so heavy
    they could barely whisper a prayer.
Like a woman having a baby,
    writhing in distress, screaming her pain
    as the baby is being born,
That’s how we were because of you, O God.
    We were pregnant full-term.
We writhed in labor but bore no baby.
    We gave birth to wind.
Nothing came of our labor.
    We produced nothing living.
    We couldn’t save the world.

19 But friends, your dead will live,
    your corpses will get to their feet.
All you dead and buried,
    wake up! Sing!
Your dew is morning dew
    catching the first rays of sun,
The earth bursting with life,
    giving birth to the dead.

20-21 Come, my people, go home
    and shut yourselves in.
Go into seclusion for a while
    until the punishing wrath is past,
Because God is sure to come from his place
    to punish the wrong of the people on earth.
Earth itself will point out the bloodstains;
    it will show where the murdered have been hidden away.

Selected Grain by Grain

27 At that time God will unsheathe his sword,
    his merciless, massive, mighty sword.
He’ll punish the serpent Leviathan as it flees,
    the serpent Leviathan thrashing in flight.
He’ll kill that old dragon
    that lives in the sea.

2-5 “At that same time, a fine vineyard will appear.
    There’s something to sing about!
I, God, tend it.
    I keep it well-watered.
I keep careful watch over it
    so that no one can damage it.
I’m not angry. I care.
    Even if it gives me thistles and thornbushes,
I’ll just pull them out
    and burn them up.
Let that vine cling to me for safety,
    let it find a good and whole life with me,
    let it hold on for a good and whole life.”

The days are coming when Jacob
    shall put down roots,
Israel blossom and grow fresh branches,
    and fill the world with its fruit.

7-11 Has God knocked them to the ground
    as he knocked down those who hit them? Oh, no.
Were they killed
    as their killers were killed? Again, no.
He was hard on them all right. The exile was a harsh sentence.
    He blew them away on a fierce blast of wind.
But the good news is that through this experience
    Jacob’s guilt was taken away.
    The evidence that his sin is removed will be this:
He will tear down the alien altars,
    take them apart stone by stone,
And then crush the stones into gravel
    and clean out all the sex-and-religion shrines.
For there’s nothing left of that pretentious grandeur.
    Nobody lives there anymore. It’s unlivable.
But animals do just fine,
    browsing and bedding down.
And it’s not a bad place to get firewood.
    Dry twigs and dead branches are plentiful.
It’s the remains of a people with no sense of God.
    So, the God who made them
Will have nothing to do with them.
    He who formed them will turn his back on them.

12-13 At that time God will thresh
    from the River Euphrates to the Brook of Egypt,
And you, people of Israel,
    will be selected grain by grain.
At that same time a great trumpet will be blown,
    calling home the exiles from Assyria,
Welcoming home the refugees from Egypt
    to come and worship God on the holy mountain, Jerusalem.

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