Isaiah 18-22 The Message Bible

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A Prophecy concerning Ethiopia

18 1  Doom to the land of flies and mosquitoes beyond the Ethiopian rivers, 2  Shipping emissaries all over the world, down rivers and across seas. Go, swift messengers, go to this people tall and handsome, This people held in respect everywhere, this people mighty and merciless, from the land crisscrossed with rivers. 3  Everybody everywhere, all earth-dwellers: When you see a flag flying on the mountain, look! When you hear the trumpet blown, listen! 4  For here's what God told me: "I'm not going to say anything, but simply look on from where I live, Quiet as warmth that comes from the sun, silent as dew during harvest." 5  And then, just before harvest, after the blossom has turned into a maturing grape, He'll step in and prune back the new shoots, ruthlessly hack off all the growing branches. 6  He'll leave them piled on the ground for birds and animals to feed on - Fodder for the summering birds, fodder for the wintering animals. 7  Then tribute will be brought to God-of-the-Angel-Armies, brought from this people tall and handsome, This people once held in respect everywhere, this people once mighty and merciless, From the land crisscrossed with rivers, to Mount Zion, God's place.

The Oracle concerning Egypt

19 1  A Message concerning Egypt: Watch this! God riding on a fast-moving cloud, moving in on Egypt! The god-idols of Egypt shudder and shake, Egyptians paralyzed by panic. 2  God says, "I'll make Egyptian fight Egyptian, brother fight brother, neighbor fight neighbor, City fight city, kingdom fight kingdom - anarchy and chaos and killing! 3  I'll knock the wind out of the Egyptians. They won't know coming from going. They'll go to their god-idols for answers; they'll conjure ghosts and hold sZances, desperate for answers. 4  But I'll turn the Egyptians over to a tyrant most cruel. I'll put them under the rule of a mean, merciless king." Decree of the Master, God-of-the-Angel-Armies. 5  The River Nile will dry up, the riverbed baked dry in the sun. 6  The canals will become stagnant and stink, every stream touching the Nile dry up. River vegetation will rot away 7  the banks of the Nile-baked clay, The riverbed hard and smooth, river grasses dried up and gone with the wind. 8  Fishermen will complain that the fishing's been ruined. 9  Textile workers will be out of work, all weavers and workers in linen and cotton and wool 10  Dispirited, depressed in their forced idleness - everyone who works for a living, jobless. 11  The princes of Zoan are fools, the advisors of Pharaoh stupid. How could any of you dare tell Pharaoh, "Trust me: I'm wise. I know what's going on. Why, I'm descended from the old wisdom of Egypt"? 12  There's not a wise man or woman left in the country. If there were, one of them would tell you what God-of-the-Angel-Armies has in mind for Egypt. 13  As it is, the princes of Zoan are all fools and the princes of Memphis, dunces. The honored pillars of your society have led Egypt into detours and dead ends. 14  God has scrambled their brains, Egypt's become a falling-down-in-his-own-vomit drunk. 15  Egypt's hopeless, past helping, a senile, doddering old fool. 16  On that Day, Egyptians will be like hysterical schoolgirls, screaming at the first hint of action from God-of-the-Angel-Armies. 17  Little Judah will strike terror in Egyptians! Say "Judah" to an Egyptian and see panic. The word triggers fear of the God-of-the-Angel-Armies' plan against Egypt.

18  On that Day, more than one city in Egypt will learn to speak the language of faith and promise to follow God-of-the-Angel-Armies. One of these cities will be honored with the title "City of the Sun." 19  On that Day, there will be a place of worship to God in the center of Egypt and a monument to God at its border. 20  It will show how the God-of-the-Angel-Armies has helped the Egyptians. When they cry out in prayer to God because of oppressors, he'll send them help, a savior who will keep them safe and take care of them. 21  God will openly show himself to the Egyptians and they'll get to know him on that Day. They'll worship him seriously with sacrifices and burnt offerings. They'll make vows and keep them. 22  God will wound Egypt, first hit and then heal. Egypt will come back to God, and God will listen to their prayers and heal them, heal them from head to toe. 23  On that Day, there will be a highway all the way from Egypt to Assyria: Assyrians will have free range in Egypt and Egyptians in Assyria. No longer rivals, they'll worship together, Egyptians and Assyrians! 24  On that Day, Israel will take its place alongside Egypt and Assyria, sharing the blessing from the center. 25  God-of-the-Angel-Armies, who blessed Israel, will generously bless them all: "Blessed be Egypt, my people! . . . Blessed be Assyria, work of my hands! . . . Blessed be Israel, my heritage!"

Assyria to Conquer Egypt and Ethiopia

20 1  In the year the field commander, sent by King Sargon of Assyria, came to Ashdod and fought and took it, 2  God told Isaiah son of Amoz, "Go, take off your clothes and sandals," and Isaiah did it, going about naked and barefooted. 3  Then God said, "Just as my servant Isaiah has walked around town naked and barefooted for three years as a warning sign to Egypt and Ethiopia, 4  so the king of Assyria is going to come and take the Egyptians as captives and the Ethiopians as exiles. He'll take young and old alike and march them out of there naked and barefooted, exposed to mockery and jeers - the bared buttocks of Egypt on parade! 5  Everyone who has put hope in Ethiopia and expected help from Egypt will be thrown into confusion. 6  Everyone who lives along this coast will say, 'Look at them! Naked and barefooted, shuffling off to exile! And we thought they were our best hope, that they'd rescue us from the king of Assyria. Now what's going to happen to us? How are we going to get out of this?'"

The Oracle concerning the Desert of the Sea

21 1  A Message concerning the desert at the sea: As tempests drive through the Negev Desert, coming out of the desert, that terror-filled place, 2  A hard vision is given me: The betrayer betrayed, the plunderer plundered. Attack, Elam! Lay siege, Media! Persians, attack! Attack, Babylon! I'll put an end to all the moaning and groaning. 3  Because of this news I'm doubled up in pain, writhing in pain like a woman having a baby, Baffled by what I hear, undone by what I see. 4  Absolutely stunned, horror-stricken, I had hoped for a relaxed evening, but it has turned into a nightmare. 5  The banquet is spread, the guests reclining in luxurious ease, Eating and drinking, having a good time, and then, "To arms, princes! The fight is on!" 6  The Master told me, "Go, post a lookout. Have him report whatever he spots. 7  When he sees horses and wagons in battle formation, lines of donkeys and columns of camels, Tell him to keep his ear to the ground, note every whisper, every rumor." 8  Just then, the lookout shouted, "I'm at my post, Master, Sticking to my post day after day and all through the night! 9  I watched them come, the horses and wagons in battle formation. I heard them call out the war news in headlines: 'Babylon fallen! Fallen! And all its precious god-idols smashed to pieces on the ground.'" 10  Dear Israel, you've been through a lot, you've been put through the mill. The good news I get from God-of-the-Angel-Armies, the God of Israel, I now pass on to you.

The Oracle concerning Dumah

11  A Message concerning Edom: A voice calls to me from the Seir mountains in Edom, "Night watchman! How long till daybreak? How long will this night last?" 12  The night watchman calls back, "Morning's coming, But for now it's still night. If you ask me again, I'll give the same answer."

The Oracle concerning Arabia

13  A Message concerning Arabia: You'll have to camp out in the desert badlands, you caravans of Dedanites. 14  Haul water to the thirsty, greet fugitives with bread. Show your desert hospitality, you who live in Tema. 15  The desert's swarming with refugees escaping the horrors of war. 16  The Master told me, "Hang on. Within one year - I'll sign a contract on it! - the arrogant brutality of Kedar, those hooligans of the desert, will be over, 17  nothing much left of the Kedar toughs." The God of Israel says so.

The Oracle concerning the Valley of Vision

22 1  A Message concerning the Valley of Vision: What's going on here anyway? All this partying and noisemaking, 2  Shouting and cheering in the streets, the city noisy with celebrations! 3  You have no brave soldiers to honor, no combat heroes to be proud of. Your leaders were all cowards, captured without even lifting a sword, A country of cowards captured escaping the battle. You Looked, but You Never Looked to Him 4  In the midst of the shouting, I said, "Let me alone. Let me grieve by myself. Don't tell me it's going to be all right. These people are doomed. It's not all right." 5  For the Master, God-of-the-Angel-Armies, is bringing a day noisy with mobs of people, Jostling and stampeding in the Valley of Vision, knocking down walls and hollering to the mountains, "Attack! Attack!" 6  Old enemies Elam and Kir arrive armed to the teeth - weapons and chariots and cavalry. 7  Your fine valleys are noisy with war, chariots and cavalry charging this way and that.

8  God has left Judah exposed and defenseless. 9  You found the weak places in the city walls that needed repair. You secured the water supply at the Lower Pool. 10  You took an inventory of the houses in Jerusalem and tore down some to get bricks to fortify the city wall. 11  You built a large cistern to ensure plenty of water. You looked and looked and looked, but you never looked to him who gave you this city, never once consulted the One who has long had plans for this city. 12  The Master, God-of-the-Angel-Armies, called out on that Day, Called for a day of repentant tears, called you to dress in somber clothes of mourning. 13  But what do you do? You throw a party! Eating and drinking and dancing in the streets! You barbecue bulls and sheep, and throw a huge feast - slabs of meat, kegs of beer. "Seize the day! Eat and drink! Tomorrow we die!" 14  God-of-the-Angel-Armies whispered to me his verdict on this frivolity: "You'll pay for this outrage until the day you die." The Master, God-of-the-Angel-Armies, says so. The Key of the Davidic Heritage

Shebna to Be Replaced by Eliakim

15  The Master, God-of-the-Angel-Armies, spoke: "Come. Go to this steward, Shebna, who is in charge of all the king's affairs, and tell him: 16  What's going on here? You're an outsider here and yet you act like you own the place, make a big, fancy tomb for yourself where everyone can see it, making sure everyone will think you're important. 17  God is about to sack you, to throw you to the dogs. He'll grab you by the hair, 18  swing you round and round dizzyingly, and then let you go, sailing through the air like a ball, until you're out of sight. Where you'll land, nobody knows. And there you'll die, and all the stuff you've collected heaped on your grave. You've disgraced your master's house! 19  You're fired - and good riddance! 20  "On that Day I'll replace Shebna. I will call my servant Eliakim son of Hilkiah. 21  I'll dress him in your robe. I'll put your belt on him. I'll give him your authority. He'll be a father-leader to Jerusalem and the government of Judah. 22  I'll give him the key of the Davidic heritage. He'll have the run of the place - open any door and keep it open, lock any door and keep it locked. 23  I'll pound him like a nail into a solid wall. He'll secure the Davidic tradition. 24  Everything will hang on him - not only the fate of Davidic descendants but also the detailed daily operations of the house, including cups and cutlery. 25  "And then the Day will come," says God-of-the-Angel-Armies, "when that nail will come loose and fall out, break loose from that solid wall - and everything hanging on it will go with it." That's what will happen. God says so.

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