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Warnings to North Israel

28 How terrible it will be for Samaria, the pride of Israel’s drunken people!
    That beautiful crown of flowers is just a dying plant.
It sits on a hill above a rich valley where drunkards live.
Look, the Lord has someone who is strong and full of power.
    That person will come like a storm of hail and strong wind.
He will come like a sudden flood of water pouring over the country.
    He will throw Samaria down to the ground.
That city, the pride of Israel’s drunken people,
    will be trampled underfoot.
That beautiful crown of flowers is just a dying plant.
    It sits on a hill above a rich valley.
That city will be like the first fig of summer.
    When a person sees it,
    he quickly picks it and eats it.

At that time the Lord of heaven’s armies
    will be like a beautiful crown.
He will be like a wonderful crown of flowers
    for his people who are left alive.
Then the Lord will give wisdom
    to the judges who rule his people.
The Lord will give strength
    to those who battle at the city gate.
But now those leaders are drunk with wine.
    They stumble from drinking too much beer.
The priests and prophets are drunk with beer.
    They are filled with wine.
They stumble from too much beer.
    The prophets are drunk when they see their visions.
    The judges stumble when they make their decisions.
Every table is covered with vomit.
    There is not a clean place anywhere.

The Lord is trying to teach the people a lesson.
    He is trying to make them understand his teachings.
But the people are like little babies.
    They are like babies who just nursed at their mother’s breast.
10 So they make fun of the Lord’s prophet and say:
    “A command here, a command there.
    A rule here, a rule there.
    A lesson here, a lesson there.”
11 So the Lord will use strange words and foreign languages
    to speak to these people.
12 God said to them,
    “Here is a place of rest.
Let the tired people come and rest.
    This is the place of peace.”
But the people would not listen.
13 So the words of the Lord will be,
    “A command here, a command there.
    A rule here, a rule there.
    A lesson here, a lesson there.”
They will fall back and will be defeated.
    They will be trapped and captured.

14 You who brag should listen to the Lord’s message.
    Pay attention, you leaders in Jerusalem.
15 You say, “We have made an agreement with death.
    We have a contract with death.
When punishment passes by,
    it won’t hurt us.
We will be safe with our lies.
    We will hide behind our tricks.”

16 Because of these things, this is what the Lord God says:

“I will put a stone in the ground in Jerusalem.
    This will be a tested stone.
Everything will be built on this important and precious rock.
    Anyone who trusts in it will never be disappointed.
17 I will use justice as a measuring line.
    I will use goodness to measure by.
The lies you hide behind will be destroyed as if by hail.
    They will be washed away as if in a flood.
18 Your agreement with death will be erased.
    Your contract with death will not help you.
When punishment comes,
    you will be crushed by it.
19 Whenever punishment comes, it will take you away.
    It will come morning after morning.
    It will defeat you by day and by night.
Those who hear of this punishment will be terrified.”
20 You will be like the man who tried to sleep
    on a bed that was too short for him.
And his blanket was too narrow
    to wrap around himself.
21 The Lord will fight as he did at Mount Perazim.
    He will be angry as he was in the Valley of Gibeon.
Then the Lord will do his work, his strange work.
    He will finish his job, his strange job.
22 Now, you must not make fun of these things.
    If you do, the ropes around you will become tighter.
The Lord of heaven’s armies has told me these things.
    He has told me how the whole earth will be destroyed.

The Lord Punishes Fairly

23 Listen closely to what I tell you.
    Listen carefully to what I say.
24 A farmer does not plow his field all the time.
    He does not go on working the soil.
25 He prepares the ground.
    Then he plants the dill seed and scatters the cummin seed.
He plants the wheat in rows.
    He plants barley in its special place,
    and other wheat in its own field.
26 His God teaches him
    and shows him the right way.
27 A farmer doesn’t use heavy boards to crush dill.
    He doesn’t use a wagon to crush cummin.
He uses a small stick to break open the dill.
    With a stick he opens the cummin.
28 The grain is ground to make bread.
    People do not ruin it by crushing it forever.
The farmer separates the wheat from the chaff with his cart.
    But he does not let his horses grind it.
29 This lesson comes from the Lord of heaven’s armies.
    He gives wonderful advice. He is very wise.

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