The Birth and Reign of the Prince of Peace
9 1 But there'll be no darkness for those who were in trouble. Earlier he did bring the lands of Zebulun and Naphtali into disrepute, but the time is coming when he'll make that whole area glorious - the road along the Sea, the country past the Jordan, international Galilee. 2 The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light. For those who lived in a land of deep shadows - light! sunbursts of light! 3 You repopulated the nation, you expanded its joy. Oh, they're so glad in your presence! Festival joy! The joy of a great celebration, sharing rich gifts and warm greetings. 4 The abuse of oppressors and cruelty of tyrants - all their whips and cudgels and curses - Is gone, done away with, a deliverance as surprising and sudden as Gideon's old victory over Midian. 5 The boots of all those invading troops, along with their shirts soaked with innocent blood, Will be piled in a heap and burned, a fire that will burn for days! 6 For a child has been born - for us! the gift of a son - for us! He'll take over the running of the world. His names will be: Amazing Counselor, Strong God, Eternal Father, Prince of Wholeness. 7 His ruling authority will grow, and there'll be no limits to the wholeness he brings. He'll rule from the historic David throne over that promised kingdom. He'll put that kingdom on a firm footing and keep it going With fair dealing and right living, beginning now and lasting always. The zeal of God-of-the-Angel-Armies will do all this. God Answered Fire with Fire
The LORD's Anger against Israel
8 The Master sent a message against Jacob. It landed right on Israel's doorstep. 9 All the people soon heard the message, Ephraim and the citizens of Samaria. But they were a proud and arrogant bunch. They dismissed the message, saying, 10 "Things aren't that bad. We can handle anything that comes. If our buildings are knocked down, we'll rebuild them bigger and finer. If our forests are cut down, we'll replant them with finer trees." 11 So God incited their adversaries against them, stirred up their enemies to attack: 12 From the east, Arameans; from the west, Philistines. They made hash of Israel. But even after that, he was still angry, his fist still raised, ready to hit them again. 13 But the people paid no mind to him who hit them, didn't seek God-of-the-Angel-Armies. 14 So God hacked off Israel's head and tail, palm branch and reed, both on the same day. 15 The big-head elders were the head, the lying prophets were the tail. 16 Those who were supposed to lead this people led them down blind alleys, And those who followed the leaders ended up lost and confused. 17 That's why the Master lost interest in the young men, had no feeling for their orphans and widows. All of them were godless and evil, talking filth and folly. And even after that, he was still angry, his fist still raised, ready to hit them again. 18 Their wicked lives raged like an out-of-control fire, the kind that burns everything in its path - Trees and bushes, weeds and grasses - filling the skies with smoke. 19 God-of-the-Angel-Armies answered fire with fire, set the whole country on fire, Turned the people into consuming fires, consuming one another in their lusts - 20 Appetites insatiable, stuffing and gorging themselves left and right with people and things. But still they starved. Not even their children were safe from their rapacious hunger. 21 Manasseh ate Ephraim, and Ephraim Manasseh, and then the two ganged up against Judah. And after that, he was still angry, his fist still raised, ready to hit them again.
10 1 Doom to you who legislate evil, who make laws that make victims - 2 Laws that make misery for the poor, that rob my destitute people of dignity, Exploiting defenseless widows, taking advantage of homeless children. 3 What will you have to say on Judgment Day, when Doomsday arrives out of the blue? Who will you get to help you? What good will your money do you? 4 A sorry sight you'll be then, huddled with the prisoners, or just some corpses stacked in the street. Even after all this, God is still angry, his fist still raised, ready to hit them again. Doom to Assyria!
The LORD's Use of Assyria
5 "Doom to Assyria, weapon of my anger. My wrath is a cudgel in his hands! 6 I send him against a godless nation, against the people I'm angry with. I command him to strip them clean, rob them blind, and then push their faces in the mud and leave them. 7 But Assyria has another agenda; he has something else in mind. He's out to destroy utterly, to stamp out as many nations as he can. 8 Assyria says, 'Aren't my commanders all kings? Can't they do whatever they like? 9 Didn't I destroy Calno as well as Carchemish? Hamath as well as Arpad? Level Samaria as I did Damascus? 10 I've eliminated kingdoms full of gods far more impressive than anything in Jerusalem and Samaria. 11 So what's to keep me from destroying Jerusalem in the same way I destroyed Samaria and all her god-idols?'" 12 When the Master has finished dealing with Mount Zion and Jerusalem, he'll say, "Now it's Assyria's turn. I'll punish the bragging arrogance of the king of Assyria, his high and mighty posturing, 13 the way he goes around saying, "'I've done all this by myself. I know more than anyone. I've wiped out the boundaries of whole countries. I've walked in and taken anything I wanted. I charged in like a bull and toppled their kings from their thrones. 14 I reached out my hand and took all that they treasured as easily as a boy taking a bird's eggs from a nest. Like a farmer gathering eggs from the henhouse, I gathered the world in my basket, And no one so much as fluttered a wing or squawked or even chirped.'" 15 Does an ax take over from the one who swings it? Does a saw act more important than the sawyer? As if a shovel did its shoveling by using a ditch digger! As if a hammer used the carpenter to pound nails! 16 Therefore the Master, God-of-the-Angel-Armies, will send a debilitating disease on his robust Assyrian fighters. Under the canopy of God's bright glory a fierce fire will break out. 17 Israel's Light will burst into a conflagration. The Holy will explode into a firestorm, And in one day burn to cinders every last Assyrian thornbush. 18 God will destroy the splendid trees and lush gardens. The Assyrian body and soul will waste away to nothing like a disease-ridden invalid. 19 A child could count what's left of the trees on the fingers of his two hands.
20 And on that Day also, what's left of Israel, the ragtag survivors of Jacob, will no longer be fascinated by abusive, battering Assyria. They'll lean on God, The Holy - yes, truly. 21 The ragtag remnant - what's left of Jacob - will come back to the Strong God. 22 Your people Israel were once like the sand on the seashore, but only a scattered few will return. Destruction is ordered, brimming over with righteousness. 23 For the Master, God-of-the-Angel-Armies, will finish here what he started all over the globe.
24 Therefore the Master, God-of-the-Angel-Armies, says: "My dear, dear people who live in Zion, don't be terrorized by the Assyrians when they beat you with clubs and threaten you with rods like the Egyptians once did. 25 In just a short time my anger against you will be spent and I'll turn my destroying anger on them. 26 I, God-of-the-Angel-Armies, will go after them with a cat-o'-nine-tails and finish them off decisively - as Gideon downed Midian at the rock Oreb, as Moses turned the tables on Egypt. 27 On that day, Assyria will be pulled off your back, and the yoke of slavery lifted from your neck." Assyria's on the move: up from Rimmon, 28 on to Aiath, through Migron, with a bivouac at Micmash. 29 They've crossed the pass, set camp at Geba for the night. Ramah trembles with fright. Gibeah of Saul has run off. 30 Cry for help, daughter of Gallim! Listen to her, Laishah! Do something, Anathoth! 31 Madmenah takes to the hills. The people of Gebim flee in panic. 32 The enemy's soon at Nob - nearly there! In sight of the city he shakes his fist At the mount of dear daughter Zion, the hill of Jerusalem. 33 But now watch this: The Master, God-of-the-Angel-Armies, swings his ax and lops the branches, Chops down the giant trees, lays flat the towering forest-on-the-march. 34 His ax will make toothpicks of that forest, that Lebanon-like army reduced to kindling.
The Righteous Reign of the Branch of Jesse
11 1 A green Shoot will sprout from Jesse's stump, from his roots a budding Branch. 2 The life-giving Spirit of God will hover over him, the Spirit that brings wisdom and understanding, The Spirit that gives direction and builds strength, the Spirit that instills knowledge and Fear-of-God. 3 Fear-of-God will be all his joy and delight. He won't judge by appearances, won't decide on the basis of hearsay. 4 He'll judge the needy by what is right, render decisions on earth's poor with justice. His words will bring everyone to awed attention. A mere breath from his lips will topple the wicked. 5 Each morning he'll pull on sturdy work clothes and boots, and build righteousness and faithfulness in the land. A Living Knowledge of God 6 The wolf will romp with the lamb, the leopard sleep with the kid. Calf and lion will eat from the same trough, and a little child will tend them. 7 Cow and bear will graze the same pasture, their calves and cubs grow up together, and the lion eat straw like the ox. 8 The nursing child will crawl over rattlesnake dens, the toddler stick his hand down the hole of a serpent. 9 Neither animal nor human will hurt or kill on my holy mountain. The whole earth will be brimming with knowing God-Alive, a living knowledge of God ocean-deep, ocean-wide.
10 On that day, Jesse's Root will be raised high, posted as a rallying banner for the peoples. The nations will all come to him. His headquarters will be glorious. 11 Also on that day, the Master for the second time will reach out to bring back what's left of his scattered people. He'll bring them back from Assyria, Egypt, Pathros, Ethiopia, Elam, Sinar, Hamath, and the ocean islands. 12 And he'll raise that rallying banner high, visible to all nations, gather in all the scattered exiles of Israel, Pull in all the dispersed refugees of Judah from the four winds and the seven seas. 13 The jealousy of Ephraim will dissolve, the hostility of Judah will vanish - Ephraim no longer the jealous rival of Judah, Judah no longer the hostile rival of Ephraim! 14 Blood brothers united, they'll pounce on the Philistines in the west, join forces to plunder the people in the east. They'll attack Edom and Moab. The Ammonites will fall into line. 15 God will once again dry up Egypt's Red Sea, making for an easy crossing. He'll send a blistering wind down on the great River Euphrates, Reduce it to seven mere trickles. None even need get their feet wet! 16 In the end there'll be a highway all the way from Assyria, easy traveling for what's left of God's people - A highway just like the one Israel had when he marched up out of Egypt.
The LORD to Be Praised in That Day
12 1 And you will say in that day, "I thank you, God. You were angry but your anger wasn't forever. You withdrew your anger and moved in and comforted me. 2 "Yes, indeed - God is my salvation. I trust, I won't be afraid. God - yes God! - is my strength and song, best of all, my salvation!" 3 Joyfully you'll pull up buckets of water from the wells of salvation.
4 And as you do it, you'll say, "Give thanks to God. Call out his name. Ask him anything! Shout to the nations, tell them what he's done, spread the news of his great reputation! 5 "Sing praise-songs to God. He's done it all! Let the whole earth know what he's done! 6 Raise the roof! Sing your hearts out, O Zion! The Greatest lives among you: The Holy of Israel."