When God’s people haven’t seen a hint of light or hope of day, God will do something new.
9 But there will be no more gloom for those who knew such hardship. In times past, God humbled the land of Zebulun and Naphtali; later, He will restore the honor and glory to the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee, home of the nations.
2 The people who had been living in darkness have seen a great light. The light of life has shined on those who dwelt in the shadowy darkness of death. 3 And You, God, will make it happen. You bolstered the nation, making it great again. You have saturated it with joy. Everyone in it is full of delight in Your presence, like the joy they experience at the harvest, like the thrill of dividing up the spoils of war. 4 For as You did back in the day when Midian oppressed us, You will shatter the yoke that burdens them, You will lift the load that weighs them down, You will break the rod of their oppressor. 5 It’s true. All the fabric of war will go up in flames: the troops’ heavy boots that stamped us down and their blood-soaked garb Will all be burned beyond recognition or use. There will be a new time, a fresh start. 6 Hope of all hopes, dream of our dreams, a child is born, sweet-breathed; a son is given to us: a living gift. And even now, with tiny features and dewy hair, He is great. The power of leadership, and the weight of authority, will rest on His shoulders. His name? His name we’ll know in many ways— He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Dear Father everlasting, ever-present never-failing, Master of Wholeness, Prince of Peace. 7 His leadership will bring such prosperity as you’ve never seen before— sustainable peace for all time. This child: God’s promise to David—a throne forever, among us, to restore sound leadership that cannot be perverted or shaken. He will ensure justice without fail and absolute equity. Always. The intense passion of the Eternal, Commander of heavenly armies, will carry this to completion.
8 The Lord has dispatched a word against Jacob; it will come down hard on Israel. 9 All the people of Ephraim and the citizens of its capital Samaria will know. In their pride and arrogance they say: 10 “Hey! The walls have collapsed, but this gives us a chance to rebuild better than it was before with the best stones instead of brick. The invaders may have chopped down the sycamores, but we will plant cedars in their place.” 11 But the Eternal stirs up Rezin’s enemies to move against Israel and arouses all their foes to join them. 12 They come, these enemies, from both sides (Syrians on the east and Philistines on the west) and consume Israel, swallowing it whole. Still, God’s anger smolders. His hand is raised; there’s more to come.
13 But the people don’t return to God after all His punishment. They don’t change their ways and right their paths To seek the Eternal, the Commander of heavenly armies. 14 Therefore, He will take them to task. In a single day He’ll cut off from Israel the head and the tail; He’ll cut down the noble palm and lowly reed. 15 The head are those charged with leadership—political and religious— who used their power in the worst possible ways; And the tail are the prophets who slur their lies. 16 These misguided leaders have misled this people; and those who follow have become swallowed up in their deceit. 17-18 Even now the Lord takes no joy in a single one, not even the young. Mercy has run out for even those without power—the widows and orphans. For every single person is at fault and behaves badly. No one thinks or acts as God would have them do. Every mouth utters foolishness like a wildfire, out of control; wickedness rages, leveling and clearing briars and thorns; Forests and thickets burn, leaving the whole a smoking heap. Still, God’s anger smolders. His hand is raised; there’s more to come. 19 The Eternal, the Commander of heavenly armies, sets our world on fire in His fury. The rotten people become kindling for the fire, turning against one another until no one is spared. 20 They slice off what’s on the right and are still hungry; they eat what’s on the left and still aren’t satisfied. And in their voracity, they consume their own.
Ravenous in their greed, no one is spared—not brothers or sisters, not allies or kin.
21 Manasseh and Ephraim devour each other and turn their covetous eye south, toward Judah. Still, God’s anger smolders. His hand is raised; there’s more to come.
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