Isaiah 13-17 The Message Bible

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The Oracle concerning Babylon

13 1  The Message on Babylon. Isaiah son of Amoz saw it: 2  "Run up a flag on an open hill. Yell loud. Get their attention. Wave them into formation. Direct them to the nerve center of power. 3  I've taken charge of my special forces, called up my crack troops. They're bursting with pride and passion to carry out my angry judgment." 4  Thunder rolls off the mountains like a mob huge and noisy - Thunder of kingdoms in an uproar, nations assembling for war. God-of-the-Angel-Armies is calling his army into battle formation. 5  They come from far-off countries, they pour in across the horizon. It's God on the move with the weapons of his wrath, ready to destroy the whole country.

6  Wail! God's Day of Judgment is near - an avalanche crashing down from the Strong God! 7  Everyone paralyzed in the panic, 8  and unstrung, Doubled up in pain like a woman giving birth to a baby. Horrified - everyone they see is like a face out of a nightmare. 9  "Watch now. God's Judgment Day comes. Cruel it is, a day of wrath and anger, A day to waste the earth and clean out all the sinners. 10  The stars in the sky, the great parade of constellations, will be nothing but black holes. The sun will come up as a black disk, and the moon a blank nothing. 11  I'll put a full stop to the evil on earth, terminate the dark acts of the wicked. I'll gag all braggarts and boasters - not a peep anymore from them - and trip strutting tyrants, leave them flat on their faces. 12  Proud humanity will disappear from the earth. I'll make mortals rarer than hens' teeth. 13  And yes, I'll even make the sky shake, and the earth quake to its roots Under the wrath of God-of-the-Angel-Armies, the Judgment Day of his raging anger. 14  Like a hunted white-tailed deer, like lost sheep with no shepherd, People will huddle with a few of their own kind, run off to some makeshift shelter. 15  But tough luck to stragglers - they'll be killed on the spot, throats cut, bellies ripped open, 16  Babies smashed on the rocks while mothers and fathers watch, Houses looted, wives raped. 17  "And now watch this: Against Babylon, I'm inciting the Medes, A ruthless bunch indifferent to bribes, the kind of brutality that no one can blunt. 18  They massacre the young, wantonly kick and kill even babies.

19  And Babylon, most glorious of all kingdoms, the pride and joy of Chaldeans, Will end up smoking and stinking like Sodom, and, yes, like Gomorrah, when God had finished with them. 20  No one will live there anymore, generation after generation a ghost town. Not even Bedouins will pitch tents there. Shepherds will give it a wide berth. 21  But strange and wild animals will like it just fine, filling the vacant houses with eerie night sounds. Skunks will make it their home, and unspeakable night hags will haunt it. 22  Hyenas will curdle your blood with their laughing, and the howling of coyotes will give you the shivers. "Babylon is doomed. It won't be long now."

The Proverb against the King of Babylon

14 1  But not so with Jacob. God will have compassion on Jacob. Once again he'll choose Israel. He'll establish them in their own country. Outsiders will be attracted and throw their lot in with Jacob. 2  The nations among whom they lived will actually escort them back home, and then Israel will pay them back by making slaves of them, men and women alike, possessing them as slaves in God's country, capturing those who had captured them, ruling over those who had abused them. 3  When God has given you time to recover from the abuse and trouble and harsh servitude that you had to endure,

4  you can amuse yourselves by taking up this satire, a taunt against the king of Babylon: Can you believe it? The tyrant is gone! The tyranny is over! 5  God has broken the rule of the wicked, the power of the bully-rulers 6  That crushed many people. A relentless rain of cruel outrage Established a violent rule of anger rife with torture and persecution. 7  And now it's over, the whole earth quietly at rest. Burst into song! Make the rafters ring! 8  Ponderosa pine trees are happy, giant Lebanon cedars are relieved, saying, "Since you've been cut down, there's no one around to cut us down." 9  And the underworld dead are all excited, preparing to welcome you when you come. Getting ready to greet you are the ghostly dead, all the famous names of earth. All the buried kings of the nations will stand up on their thrones 10  With well-prepared speeches, royal invitations to death: "Now you are as nothing as we are! Make yourselves at home with us dead folks!" 11  This is where your pomp and fine music led you, Babylon, to your underworld private chambers, A king-size mattress of maggots for repose and a quilt of crawling worms for warmth. 12  What a comedown this, O Babylon! Daystar! Son of Dawn! Flat on your face in the underworld mud, you, famous for flattening nations! 13  You said to yourself, "I'll climb to heaven. I'll set my throne over the stars of God. I'll run the assembly of angels that meets on sacred Mount Zaphon. 14  I'll climb to the top of the clouds. I'll take over as King of the Universe!" 15  But you didn't make it, did you? Instead of climbing up, you came down - Down with the underground dead, down to the abyss of the Pit. 16  People will stare and muse: "Can this be the one Who terrorized earth and its kingdoms, 17  turned earth to a moonscape, Wasted its cities, shut up his prisoners to a living death?" 18  Other kings get a decent burial, honored with eulogies and placed in a tomb. 19  But you're dumped in a ditch unburied, like a stray dog or cat, Covered with rotting bodies, murdered and indigent corpses. Your dead body desecrated, mutilated - 20  no state funeral for you! You've left your land in ruins, left a legacy of massacre. The progeny of your evil life will never be named. Oblivion! 21  Get a place ready to slaughter the sons of the wicked and wipe out their father's line. Unthinkable that they should own a square foot of land or desecrate the face of the world with their cities! 22  "I will confront them" - Decree of God-of-the-Angel-Armies - "and strip Babylon of name and survivors, children and grandchildren. 23  " God's Decree. "I'll make it a worthless swamp and give it as a prize to the hedgehog. And then I'll bulldoze it out of existence." Decree of God-of-the-Angel-Armies. Who Could Ever Cancel Such Plans?

Assyria to Be Destroyed

24  God-of-the-Angel-Armies speaks: "Exactly as I planned, it will happen. Following my blueprints, it will take shape. 25  I will shatter the Assyrian who trespasses my land and stomp him into the dirt on my mountains. I will ban his taking and making of slaves and lift the weight of oppression from all shoulders." 26  This is the plan, planned for the whole earth, And this is the hand that will do it, reaching into every nation. 27  God-of-the-Angel-Armies has planned it. Who could ever cancel such plans? His is the hand that's reached out. Who could brush it aside?

The Oracle concerning Philistia

28  In the year King Ahaz died, this Message came: 29  Hold it, Philistines! It's too soon to celebrate the defeat of your cruel oppressor. From the death throes of that snake a worse snake will come, and from that, one even worse. 30  The poor won't have to worry. The needy will escape the terror. But you Philistines will be plunged into famine, and those who don't starve, God will kill. 31  Wail and howl, proud city! Fall prostrate in fear, Philistia! On the northern horizon, smoke from burned cities, the wake of a brutal, disciplined destroyer. 32  What does one say to outsiders who ask questions? Tell them, "God has established Zion. Those in need and in trouble find refuge in her."

The Oracle concerning Moab

15 1  A Message concerning Moab: Village Ar of Moab is in ruins, destroyed in a night raid. Village Kir of Moab is in ruins, destroyed in a night raid. 2  Village Dibon climbs to its chapel in the hills, goes up to lament. Moab weeps and wails over Nebo and Medba. Every head is shaved bald, every beard shaved clean. 3  They pour into the streets wearing black, go up on the roofs, take to the town square, Everyone in tears, everyone in grief. 4  Towns Heshbon and Elealeh cry long and loud. The sound carries as far as Jahaz. Moab sobs, shaking in grief. The soul of Moab trembles. 5  Oh, how I grieve for Moab! Refugees stream to Zoar and then on to Eglath-shelishiyah. Up the slopes of Luhith they weep; on the road to Horonaim they cry their loss.

6  The springs of Nimrim are dried up - grass brown, buds stunted, nothing grows. 7  They leave, carrying all their possessions on their backs, everything they own, Making their way as best they can across Willow Creek to safety. 8  Poignant cries reverberate all through Moab, Gut-wrenching sobs as far as Eglaim, heart-racking sobs all the way to Beer-elim. 9  The banks of the Dibon crest with blood, but God has worse in store for Dibon: A lion - a lion to finish off the fugitives, to clean up whoever's left in the land.

16 1  "Dispatch a gift of lambs," says Moab, "to the leaders in Jerusalem - Lambs from Sela sent across the desert to buy the goodwill of Jerusalem. 2  The towns and people of Moab are at a loss, New-hatched birds knocked from the nest, fluttering helplessly At the banks of the Arnon River, unable to cross: 3  'Tell us what to do, help us out! Protect us, hide us! 4  Give the refugees from Moab sanctuary with you. Be a safe place for those on the run from the killing fields.'" "When this is all over," Judah answers, "the tyrant toppled, The killing at an end, all signs of these cruelties long gone, 5  A new government of love will be established in the venerable David tradition. A Ruler you can depend upon will head this government, A Ruler passionate for justice, a Ruler quick to set things right."

6  We've heard - everyone's heard! - of Moab's pride, world-famous for pride - Arrogant, self-important, insufferable, full of hot air. 7  So now let Moab lament for a change, with antiphonal mock-laments from the neighbors! What a shame! How terrible! No more fine fruitcakes and Kir-hareseth candies! 8  All those lush Heshbon fields dried up, the rich Sibmah vineyards withered! Foreign thugs have crushed and torn out the famous grapevines That once reached all the way to Jazer, right to the edge of the desert, Ripped out the crops in every direction as far as the eye can see. 9  I'll join the weeping. I'll weep right along with Jazer, weep for the Sibmah vineyards. And yes, Heshbon and Elealeh, I'll mingle my tears with your tears! The joyful shouting at harvest is gone. Instead of song and celebration, dead silence. 10  No more boisterous laughter in the orchards, no more hearty work songs in the vineyards. Instead of the bustle and sound of good work in the fields, silence - deathly and deadening silence. 11  My heartstrings throb like harp strings for Moab, my soul in sympathy for sad Kir-heres. 12  When Moab trudges to the shrine to pray, he wastes both time and energy. Going to the sanctuary and praying for relief is useless. Nothing ever happens. 13  This is God's earlier Message on Moab. 14  God's updated Message is, "In three years, no longer than the term of an enlisted soldier, Moab's impressive presence will be gone, that splendid hot-air balloon will be punctured, and instead of a vigorous population, just a few shuffling bums cadging handouts."

The Oracle concerning Damascus

17 1  A Message concerning Damascus: "Watch this: Damascus undone as a city, a pile of dust and rubble! 2  Her towns emptied of people. The sheep and goats will move in And take over the towns as if they owned them - which they will! 3  Not a sign of a fort is left in Ephraim, not a trace of government left in Damascus. What's left of Aram? The same as what's left of Israel - not much." Decree of God-of-the-Angel-Armies. The Day Is Coming

The Judgment on Israel

4  "The Day is coming when Jacob's robust splendor goes pale and his well-fed body turns skinny. 5  The country will be left empty, picked clean as a field harvested by field hands. She'll be like a few stalks of barley left standing in the lush Valley of Rephaim after harvest,

6  Or like the couple of ripe olives overlooked in the top of the olive tree, Or the four or five apples that the pickers couldn't reach in the orchard." Decree of the God of Israel. 7  Yes, the Day is coming when people will notice The One Who Made Them, take a long hard look at The Holy of Israel. 8  They'll lose interest in all the stuff they've made - altars and monuments and rituals, their homemade, handmade religion - however impressive it is.

9  And yes, the Day is coming when their fortress cities will be abandoned - the very same cities that the Hivites and Amorites abandoned when Israel invaded! And the country will be empty, desolate. You Have Forgotten God 10  And why? Because you have forgotten God-Your-Salvation, not remembered your Rock-of-Refuge. And so, even though you are very religious, planting all sorts of bushes and herbs and trees to honor and influence your fertility gods, 11  And even though you make them grow so well, bursting with buds and sprouts and blossoms, Nothing will come of them. Instead of a harvest you'll get nothing but grief and pain, pain, pain.

12  Oh my! Thunder! A thundering herd of people! Thunder like the crashing of ocean waves! Nations roaring, roaring, like the roar of a massive waterfall, 13  Roaring like a deafening Niagara! But God will silence them with a word, And then he'll blow them away like dead leaves off a tree, like down from a thistle. 14  At bedtime, terror fills the air. By morning it's gone - not a sign of it anywhere! This is what happens to those who would ruin us, this is the fate of those out to get us.

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