28 Oh, it will be bad for you drunkards of Ephraim.
That once proud elegance of yours
Now droops and falls like a fading flower.
You leaders of the fertile valley are now drowning in your own wine.
Samaria overlooks the finest land in Israel. But these are the last days for this fading flower because God has selected Assyria as His agent of judgment.
2 Look well—the Eternal has called up one who is fierce and mighty.
Like a powerful hailstorm followed by destructive winds,
Like a storm that spawns devastating floods,
God’s agent will drive Ephraim down and smash him to earth.
3 Then the tarnished elegance of intoxicated Ephraim
will lie trampled in the dirt.
4 And the fading flower of its glorious beauty
that crowned Ephraim’s fertile valley
Will be snatched up and consumed as soon as someone sees it,
like the first ripened fig before summer.
5 In that day the Eternal, Commander of heavenly armies, will be a beautiful crown,
a glorious diadem, for His people who survive.
6 He will be a spirit of justice to those who sit in judgment
and a source of strength to those who battle at the gate.
7 Ah, what contrast to the drunken and bumbling priests and prophets
who can’t even see straight, whose minds are addled,
Whose steps wobble, whose visions mislead,
whose judgments waver, because of all their drinking.
8 There’s vomit on all of the tables,
filth all over the place.
9 The priests and prophets mock:
“Who is left for God to instruct in knowledge?
Who will listen and understand His message?
Maybe those infants just weaned off of milk,
those innocents just taken from the breast?
10 For here is how it goes: Command after command. Command on top of command.
Rule after rule. Rule on top of rule. A little here, A little there.”
11 For now that God’s people reject His message,
He will speak to them through the stammering lips
And foreign language of an invader.[a]
Eternal One: 12 This is the way: here is rest for the weary.
I am showing you rest.
But they wouldn’t listen to Him.[b]
13 And so the word of the Eternal One to them will be just as they said:
“Command after command. Command on top of command.
Rule after rule. Rule on top of rule. A little here, a little there.”
But they’ll go and fail. They’ll fall back, broken and trapped,
and be taken away by another people.
14 Let this be a warning, the Eternal’s word to you sarcastic jokesters,
you leaders in Jerusalem.
15 For you have made an audacious claim:
Leaders: We have made a pact with death; we’ve made a deal with the grave.
When the scourge of disease and doom comes our way, they won’t touch us.
Death and the grave will pass us by
for our fraud disguises us, and deception is our shield.
16 So the Lord, the Eternal, has this to say:
Eternal One: See here, I am laying in Zion a stone, a tested stone—
a cornerstone, chosen and precious—for a firm foundation.
Whoever trusts in it will never be disgraced.[c]
17 Justice will be the line by which I lay out its floor plan,
and righteousness will be My leveling tool.
A hailstorm will pulverize and wash away the fraud and deception behind which people hide,
and floodwaters will overrun their hiding place.
18 Then your pact with death and the grave will be annulled.
When the scourge that you fear comes along,
It will find you and pummel you down.
19 Whenever it does come your way, it will grab you.
It could be anytime—morning, noon, or night.
To fathom its message will be sheer terror.
20 The bed is too short to stretch out and the blanket is too small
for you to hide in or pretend you are not here.
21 For the Eternal will stand as He did at Mount Perazim
and shake it all up as He did in Gibeon Valley,
To accomplish whatever it is that God wills to accomplish—
strange deeds indeed.
22 So don’t keep laughing it off,
or your chains will be made even stronger.
For I heard from the Lord, the Eternal, Commander of heavenly armies,
that an absolute end has been determined for the whole earth.
23 Pay attention! Listen well;
take care to hear my words.
24 Does a farmer constantly plow and turn the soil to plant his seed?
No, of course not.
25 When he’s leveled and tilled the soil,
doesn’t he plant each seed according to its specifications?
He scatters the dill, sows the cummin, plants the wheat in rows,
puts barley and spelt where they grow best.
26 God instructs and directs the farmer
in how best to manage the land.
27 For dill isn’t threshed with a sledge,
and you don’t roll a cart over the cummin.
Dill is properly beaten free with one kind of stick,
and cummin with another.
28 Similarly, you have to grind grain to have flour for bread,
but you don’t grind it endlessly.
When the wheel on the cart and the horses go over the grain,
you must be careful not to crush it.
29 The Eternal, Commander of heavenly armies,
is the source of such wisdom.
His advice is wonderful.