28 What sorrow awaits the proud city of Samaria— the glorious crown of the drunks of Israel.[a] It sits at the head of a fertile valley, but its glorious beauty will fade like a flower. It is the pride of a people brought down by wine. 2 For the Lord will send a mighty army against it. Like a mighty hailstorm and a torrential rain, they will burst upon it like a surging flood and smash it to the ground. 3 The proud city of Samaria— the glorious crown of the drunks of Israel[b]— will be trampled beneath its enemies’ feet. 4 It sits at the head of a fertile valley, but its glorious beauty will fade like a flower. Whoever sees it will snatch it up, as an early fig is quickly picked and eaten.
5 Then at last the Lord of Heaven’s Armies will himself be Israel’s glorious crown. He will be the pride and joy of the remnant of his people. 6 He will give a longing for justice to their judges. He will give great courage to their warriors who stand at the gates.
7 Now, however, Israel is led by drunks who reel with wine and stagger with alcohol. The priests and prophets stagger with alcohol and lose themselves in wine. They reel when they see visions and stagger as they render decisions. 8 Their tables are covered with vomit; filth is everywhere. 9 “Who does the Lord think we are?” they ask. “Why does he speak to us like this? Are we little children, just recently weaned? 10 He tells us everything over and over— one line at a time, one line at a time, a little here, and a little there!”
11 So now God will have to speak to his people through foreign oppressors who speak a strange language! 12 God has told his people, “Here is a place of rest; let the weary rest here. This is a place of quiet rest.” But they would not listen. 13 So the Lord will spell out his message for them again, one line at a time, one line at a time, a little here, and a little there, so that they will stumble and fall. They will be injured, trapped, and captured.
14 Therefore, listen to this message from the Lord, you scoffing rulers in Jerusalem. 15 You boast, “We have struck a bargain to cheat death and have made a deal to dodge the grave.[c] The coming destruction can never touch us, for we have built a strong refuge made of lies and deception.”
16 Therefore, this is what the Sovereign Lord says: “Look! I am placing a foundation stone in Jerusalem,[d] a firm and tested stone. It is a precious cornerstone that is safe to build on. Whoever believes need never be shaken.[e] 17 I will test you with the measuring line of justice and the plumb line of righteousness. Since your refuge is made of lies, a hailstorm will knock it down. Since it is made of deception, a flood will sweep it away. 18 I will cancel the bargain you made to cheat death, and I will overturn your deal to dodge the grave. When the terrible enemy sweeps through, you will be trampled into the ground. 19 Again and again that flood will come, morning after morning, day and night, until you are carried away.”
This message will bring terror to your people. 20 The bed you have made is too short to lie on. The blankets are too narrow to cover you. 21 The Lord will come as he did against the Philistines at Mount Perazim and against the Amorites at Gibeon. He will come to do a strange thing; he will come to do an unusual deed: 22 For the Lord, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, has plainly said that he is determined to crush the whole land. So scoff no more, or your punishment will be even greater.
23 Listen to me; listen, and pay close attention. 24 Does a farmer always plow and never sow? Is he forever cultivating the soil and never planting? 25 Does he not finally plant his seeds— black cumin, cumin, wheat, barley, and emmer wheat— each in its proper way, and each in its proper place? 26 The farmer knows just what to do, for God has given him understanding. 27 A heavy sledge is never used to thresh black cumin; rather, it is beaten with a light stick. A threshing wheel is never rolled on cumin; instead, it is beaten lightly with a flail. 28 Grain for bread is easily crushed, so he doesn’t keep on pounding it. He threshes it under the wheels of a cart, but he doesn’t pulverize it. 29 The Lord of Heaven’s Armies is a wonderful teacher, and he gives the farmer great wisdom.
A Message about Jerusalem
29 “What sorrow awaits Ariel,[f] the City of David. Year after year you celebrate your feasts. 2 Yet I will bring disaster upon you, and there will be much weeping and sorrow. For Jerusalem will become what her name Ariel means— an altar covered with blood. 3 I will be your enemy, surrounding Jerusalem and attacking its walls. I will build siege towers and destroy it. 4 Then deep from the earth you will speak; from low in the dust your words will come. Your voice will whisper from the ground like a ghost conjured up from the grave.
5 “But suddenly, your ruthless enemies will be crushed like the finest of dust. Your many attackers will be driven away like chaff before the wind. Suddenly, in an instant, 6 I, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, will act for you with thunder and earthquake and great noise, with whirlwind and storm and consuming fire. 7 All the nations fighting against Jerusalem[g] will vanish like a dream! Those who are attacking her walls will vanish like a vision in the night. 8 A hungry person dreams of eating but wakes up still hungry. A thirsty person dreams of drinking but is still faint from thirst when morning comes. So it will be with your enemies, with those who attack Mount Zion.”
9 Are you amazed and incredulous? Don’t you believe it? Then go ahead and be blind. You are stupid, but not from wine! You stagger, but not from liquor! 10 For the Lord has poured out on you a spirit of deep sleep. He has closed the eyes of your prophets and visionaries.
11 All the future events in this vision are like a sealed book to them. When you give it to those who can read, they will say, “We can’t read it because it is sealed.”12 When you give it to those who cannot read, they will say, “We don’t know how to read.”
13 And so the Lord says, “These people say they are mine. They honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. And their worship of me is nothing but man-made rules learned by rote.[h] 14 Because of this, I will once again astound these hypocrites with amazing wonders. The wisdom of the wise will pass away, and the intelligence of the intelligent will disappear.”
15 What sorrow awaits those who try to hide their plans from the Lord, who do their evil deeds in the dark! “The Lord can’t see us,” they say. “He doesn’t know what’s going on!” 16 How foolish can you be? He is the Potter, and he is certainly greater than you, the clay! Should the created thing say of the one who made it, “He didn’t make me”? Does a jar ever say, “The potter who made me is stupid”?
17 Soon—and it will not be very long— the forests of Lebanon will become a fertile field, and the fertile field will yield bountiful crops. 18 In that day the deaf will hear words read from a book, and the blind will see through the gloom and darkness. 19 The humble will be filled with fresh joy from the Lord. The poor will rejoice in the Holy One of Israel. 20 The scoffer will be gone, the arrogant will disappear, and those who plot evil will be killed. 21 Those who convict the innocent by their false testimony will disappear. A similar fate awaits those who use trickery to pervert justice and who tell lies to destroy the innocent.
22 That is why the Lord, who redeemed Abraham, says to the people of Israel,[i]
“My people will no longer be ashamed or turn pale with fear. 23 For when they see their many children and all the blessings I have given them, they will recognize the holiness of the Holy One of Jacob. They will stand in awe of the God of Israel. 24 Then the wayward will gain understanding, and complainers will accept instruction.
28:1Hebrew What sorrow awaits the crowning glory of the drunks of Ephraim, referring to Samaria, capital of the northern kingdom of Israel.
28:3Hebrew The crowning glory of the drunks of Ephraim; see note on 28:1.
28:16bGreek version reads Look! I am placing a stone in the foundation of Jerusalem [literally Zion], / a precious cornerstone for its foundation, chosen for great honor. / Anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced. Compare Rom 9:33; 1 Pet 2:6.
29:1Ariel sounds like a Hebrew term that means “hearth” or “altar.”
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