Isaiah 1-4 The Message Bible

A Sinful Nation

1 1  The vision that Isaiah son of Amoz saw regarding Judah and Jerusalem during the times of the kings of Judah: Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah.

2  Heaven and earth, you're the jury. Listen to God's case: "I had children and raised them well, and they turned on me. 3  The ox knows who's boss, the mule knows the hand that feeds him, But not Israel. My people don't know up from down. 4  Shame! Misguided God-dropouts, staggering under their guilt-baggage, Gang of miscreants, band of vandals - My people have walked out on me, their God, turned their backs on The Holy of Israel, walked off and never looked back. 5  "Why bother even trying to do anything with you when you just keep to your bullheaded ways? You keep beating your heads against brick walls. Everything within you protests against you. 6  From the bottom of your feet to the top of your head, nothing's working right. Wounds and bruises and running sores - untended, unwashed, unbandaged. 7  Your country is laid waste, your cities burned down. Your land is destroyed by outsiders while you watch, reduced to rubble by barbarians. 8  Daughter Zion is deserted - like a tumbledown shack on a dead-end street, Like a tarpaper shanty on the wrong side of the tracks, like a sinking ship abandoned by the rats. 9  If God-of-the-Angel-Armies hadn't left us a few survivors, we'd be as desolate as Sodom, doomed just like Gomorrah.

A Call to True Repentance

10  "Listen to my Message, you Sodom-schooled leaders. Receive God's revelation, you Gomorrah-schooled people. 11  "Why this frenzy of sacrifices?" God's asking. "Don't you think I've had my fill of burnt sacrifices, rams and plump grain-fed calves? Don't you think I've had my fill of blood from bulls, lambs, and goats? 12  When you come before me, who ever gave you the idea of acting like this, Running here and there, doing this and that - all this sheer commotion in the place provided for worship? 13  "Quit your worship charades. I can't stand your trivial religious games: Monthly conferences, weekly Sabbaths, special meetings - meetings, meetings, meetings - I can't stand one more! 14  Meetings for this, meetings for that. I hate them! You've worn me out! I'm sick of your religion, religion, religion, while you go right on sinning. 15  When you put on your next prayer-performance, I'll be looking the other way. No matter how long or loud or often you pray, I'll not be listening. And do you know why? Because you've been tearing people to pieces, and your hands are bloody.

16  Go home and wash up. Clean up your act. Sweep your lives clean of your evildoings so I don't have to look at them any longer. Say no to wrong. 17  Learn to do good. Work for justice. Help the down-and-out. Stand up for the homeless. Go to bat for the defenseless. Let's Argue This Out 18  "Come. Sit down. Let's argue this out." This is God's Message: "If your sins are blood-red, they'll be snow-white. If they're red like crimson, they'll be like wool. 19  If you'll willingly obey, you'll feast like kings. 20  But if you're willful and stubborn, you'll die like dogs." That's right. God says so. Those Who Walk Out on God

The Judgment and Redemption of Zion

21  Oh! Can you believe it? The chaste city has become a whore! She was once all justice, everyone living as good neighbors, And now they're all at one another's throats. 22  Your coins are all counterfeits. Your wine is watered down. 23  Your leaders are turncoats who keep company with crooks. They sell themselves to the highest bidder and grab anything not nailed down. They never stand up for the homeless, never stick up for the defenseless. 24  This Decree, therefore, of the Master, God-of-the-Angel-Armies, the Strong One of Israel: "This is it! I'll get my oppressors off my back. I'll get back at my enemies. 25  I'll give you the back of my hand, purge the junk from your life, clean you up. 26  I'll set honest judges and wise counselors among you just like it was back in the beginning. Then you'll be renamed City-That-Treats-People-Right, the True-Blue City." 27  God's right ways will put Zion right again. God's right actions will restore her penitents. 28  But it's curtains for rebels and God-traitors, a dead end for those who walk out on God. 29  "Your dalliances in those oak grove shrines will leave you looking mighty foolish, All that fooling around in god and goddess gardens that you thought was the latest thing. 30  You'll end up like an oak tree with all its leaves falling off, Like an unwatered garden, withered and brown. 31  'The Big Man' will turn out to be dead bark and twigs, and his 'work,' the spark that starts the fire That exposes man and work both as nothing but cinders and smoke."

The LORD's Universal Reign of Peace

2 1  The Message Isaiah got regarding Judah and Jerusalem: 2  There's a day coming when the mountain of God's House Will be The Mountain - solid, towering over all mountains. All nations will river toward it, people from all over set out for it. 3  They'll say, "Come, let's climb God's Mountain, go to the House of the God of Jacob. He'll show us the way he works so we can live the way we're made." Zion's the source of the revelation. God's Message comes from Jerusalem. 4  He'll settle things fairly between nations. He'll make things right between many peoples. They'll turn their swords into shovels, their spears into hoes. No more will nation fight nation; they won't play war anymore.

The LORD's Judgment on the Proud

5  Come, family of Jacob, let's live in the light of God.

6  God, you've walked out on your family Jacob because their world is full of hokey religion, Philistine witchcraft, and pagan hocus-pocus, 7  a world rolling in wealth, Stuffed with things, no end to its machines and gadgets, 8  And gods - gods of all sorts and sizes. These people make their own gods and worship what they make. 9  A degenerate race, facedown in the gutter. Don't bother with them! They're not worth forgiving! Pretentious Egos Brought Down to Earth

10  Head for the hills, hide in the caves From the terror of God, from his dazzling presence. 11  People with a big head are headed for a fall, pretentious egos brought down a peg. It's God alone at front-and-center on the Day we're talking about, 12  The Day that God-of-the-Angel-Armies is matched against all big-talking rivals, against all swaggering big names; 13  Against all giant sequoias hugely towering, and against the expansive chestnut; 14  Against Kilimanjaro and Annapurna, against the ranges of Alps and Andes; 15  Against every soaring skyscraper, against all proud obelisks and statues; 16  Against ocean-going luxury liners, against elegant three-masted schooners. 17  The swelled big heads will be punctured bladders, the pretentious egos brought down to earth, Leaving God alone at front-and-center on the Day we're talking about. 18  And all those sticks and stones dressed up to look like gods will be gone for good. 19  Clamber into caves in the cliffs, duck into any hole you can find. Hide from the terror of God, from his dazzling presence, When he assumes his full stature on earth, towering and terrifying. 20  On that Day men and women will take the sticks and stones They've decked out in gold and silver to look like gods and then worshiped, And they will dump them in any ditch or gully, 21  Then run for rock caves and cliff hideouts To hide from the terror of God, from his dazzling presence, When he assumes his full stature on earth, towering and terrifying. 22  Quit scraping and fawning over mere humans, so full of themselves, so full of hot air! Can't you see there's nothing to them?

The LORD's Judgment on Judah and Jerusalem

3 1  The Master, God-of-the-Angel-Armies, is emptying Jerusalem and Judah Of all the basic necessities, plain bread and water to begin with. 2  He's withdrawing police and protection, judges and courts, pastors and teachers, 3  captains and generals, doctors and nurses, and, yes, even the repairmen and jacks-of-all-trades. 4  He says, "I'll put little kids in charge of the city. Schoolboys and schoolgirls will order everyone around. 5  People will be at each other's throats, stabbing one another in the back: Neighbor against neighbor, young against old, the no-account against the well-respected. 6  One brother will grab another and say, 'You look like you've got a head on your shoulders. Do something! Get us out of this mess.' 7  And he'll say, 'Me? Not me! I don't have a clue. Don't put me in charge of anything.' 8  "Jerusalem's on its last legs. Judah is soon down for the count. Everything people say and do is at cross-purposes with God, a slap in my face.

9  Brazen in their depravity, they flout their sins like degenerate Sodom. Doom to their eternal souls! They've made their bed; now they'll sleep in it. 10  "Reassure the righteous that their good living will pay off. 11  But doom to the wicked! Disaster! Everything they did will be done to them. 12  "Skinny kids terrorize my people. Silly girls bully them around. My dear people! Your leaders are taking you down a blind alley. They're sending you off on a wild goose chase." A City Brought to Her Knees by Her Sorrows 13  God enters the courtroom. He takes his place at the bench to judge his people. 14  God calls for order in the court, hauls the leaders of his people into the dock: "You've played havoc with this country. Your houses are stuffed with what you've stolen from the poor. 15  What is this anyway? Stomping on my people, grinding the faces of the poor into the dirt?" That's what the Master, God-of-the-Angel-Armies, says.

Judgment on the Daughters of Zion

16  God says, "Zion women are stuck-up, prancing around in their high heels, Making eyes at all the men in the street, swinging their hips, Tossing their hair, gaudy and garish in cheap jewelry." 17  The Master will fix it so those Zion women will all turn bald - Scabby, bald-headed women. The Master will do it. 18  The time is coming when the Master will strip them of their fancy baubles - 19  the dangling earrings, anklets and bracelets, 20  combs and mirrors and silk scarves, diamond brooches and pearl necklaces, 21  the rings on their fingers and the rings on their toes, 22  the latest fashions in hats, exotic perfumes and aphrodisiacs, gowns and capes, 23  all the world's finest in fabrics and design. 24  Instead of wearing seductive scents, these women are going to smell like rotting cabbages; Instead of modeling flowing gowns, they'll be sporting rags; Instead of their stylish hairdos, scruffy heads; Instead of beauty marks, scabs and scars. 25  Your finest fighting men will be killed, your soldiers left dead on the battlefield. 26  The entrance gate to Zion will be clotted with people mourning their dead - A city stooped under the weight of her loss, brought to her knees by her sorrows.

4 1  That will be the day when seven women will gang up on one man, saying, "We'll take care of ourselves, get our own food and clothes. Just give us a child. Make us pregnant so we'll have something to live for!" God's Branch

Jerusalem's Glorious Future

2  And that's when God's Branch will sprout green and lush. The produce of the country will give Israel's survivors something to be proud of again. Oh, they'll hold their heads high! 3  Everyone left behind in Zion, all the discards and rejects in Jerusalem, will be reclassified as "holy" - alive and therefore precious. 4  God will give Zion's women a good bath. He'll scrub the bloodstained city of its violence and brutality, purge the place with a firestorm of judgment. 5  Then God will bring back the ancient pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night and mark Mount Zion and everyone in it with his glorious presence, his immense, protective presence, 6  shade from the burning sun and shelter from the driving rain.

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