28 How terrible it will be for that arrogant garland— the drunks of Ephraim! How terrible it will be for that fading flower of his glorious beauty, which sits on the heads of people bloated with food,[a] of people overcome with wine! 2 Look! The Lord[b] has one who is mighty and strong, like a hailstorm and destructive tempest, like a storm of mighty, overflowing water— and[c] he will give rest to the land. 3 With hands[d] and feet, that proud garland[e]— those drunks of Ephraim—will be trampled. 4 And that fading flower, his glorious beauty, which sits on the heads of people bloated with food, will be like an early fig before summer— whenever someone sees it, he swallows it as soon as it’s in his hand.
5 At that time,[f] the Lord of the Heavenly Armies will become a glorious crown, a beautiful diadem for the remnant of his people, 6 and a spirit of justice to the one who sits in judgment, a source of strength to those who turn back the battle at the gate.
7 These people also[g] stagger from wine and reel from strong drink. Priests and prophets stagger from strong drink; they’re drunk from[h] wine; they reel from strong drink, waver when seeing visions, and stumble when rendering decisions. 8 For all the tables are covered in vomit and filth, with no clean[i] space left.
Misuse of God’s Word
9 To whom will he teach knowledge, and to whom will he explain the message? To children just weaned from milk? To those just taken from the breast? 10 For it is: “Do this and do that, do this and do that, Line upon line, line upon line, a little here, a little there.”
11 Very well, then, through the mouths of foreigners[j] and foreign languages the Lord will speak to this people 12 to whom he said, “This is the resting place, so give rest to the weary”’ and, “This is the place of repose”— but they would not listen. 13 So, then, the message from the Lord to them will become: “Do this and do that, do this and do that, line upon line, line upon line, a little here, a little there,” so that they will go, but fall backward, and be injured, snared, and captured.
God’s Precious Cornerstone
14 “Therefore hear[k] the message from the Lord, you scoffers who rule this people that are in Jerusalem. 15 Because you said: ‘We have entered into a covenant with death, and we have an agreement with Sheol,[l] so when the overwhelming scourge makes its choice,[m] it cannot reach us, since we have made lies our refuge and have concealed ourselves inside falsehood,’ 16 therefore this is what the Lord God[n] says: “Look! I am laying[o] a foundation stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure[p] foundation: Whoever believes firmly will not act hastily. 17 And I will make justice the measuring line, and righteousness the plumb line; hail will sweep away your refuge of lies, and floods[q] will overflow your hiding place.
18 “Then your covenant with death will be annulled, and your agreement with Sheol[r] will not stand; when the overwhelming scourge sweeps by, you will be trampled by it. 19 As often as it sweeps through, it will carry you away, for it will sweep by morning after morning in the day; but understanding this message will bring sheer terror at night,[s] 20 because the bed is too short to stretch out on, and its blankets too narrow to wrap around oneself!
God is on Mount Perazim
21 For the Lord will stand upon[t] Mount Perazim,[u] he will rouse himself in[v] the Valley of Gibeon; to carry out his work— his strange deed, and to perform his task— his alien task! 22 But as for you,[w] don’t start mocking, or your chains will become tighter; for I have heard from the Lord[x] of the Heavenly Armies about destruction, and it is decreed against the whole land.
The God who Plows and Harvests
23 “Pay attention! Listen to what I have to say; Pay attention, and hear my speech. 24 Does he who plows for sowing plow all the time? Does he keep on breaking up and harrowing his field? 25 When he has leveled its surface, he scatters caraway[y] and sows cumin, doesn’t he? He plants wheat in rows, barley in its designated place, and feed for livestock[z] around its borders,[aa] doesn’t he? 26 His God instructs him regarding the correct way, directing him how to plant.[ab]
27 For caraway is not threshed with a sharp sledge, nor is a cart wheel rolled over cumin. Instead, caraway is winnowed with a stick, and cumin with a rod. 28 It[ac] must be ground;[ad] one cannot keep threshing it forever. Even if he drives his cart[ae] and horses over it, he cannot crush it. 29 This insight also comes from the Lord of the Heavenly Armies, who is distinguished[af] in practical advice and[ag] magnificent in sound wisdom.”
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