God Punishes Jerusalem
1 God says,
“Look at Ariel,*
the city where David camped. Keep on having your festivals, year after year. 2
But I will punish Ariel. The city will be filled with sadness and crying, but it will always be my Ariel.
3 “I will put armies all around you, Ariel. I will raise war towers against you. 4 You will be pulled to the ground. Your voice will rise from the ground like the voice of a ghost. Your words come like a whisper from the dirt.”
5 There will be so many foreigners that they will be like dust. Cruel people will be like the chaff blowing in the wind. Then suddenly, 6 the LORD All-Powerful will punish you with earthquakes, thunder, and loud noises. There will be storms, strong winds, and a burning, destructive fire. 7 Many nations will fight against Ariel. It will be a nightmare. Armies will surround Ariel and punish her. 8 But it will also be like a dream to those armies. They will not get what they want. It will be like a hungry man dreaming about food. When the man wakes up, he is still hungry. It will be like a thirsty man dreaming about water. When the man wakes up, he is still thirsty. The same thing is true about all the nations fighting against Zion. Those nations will not get what they want.
9 Be surprised and amazed!
You will become drunk, but not from wine.
Look and be amazed!
You will stumble and fall, but not from beer.
10 The LORD will make you sleepy.
He will close your eyes. (The prophets are your eyes.)
He will cover your heads. (The prophets are your heads.)
To you my words are like the words in a book that is closed and sealed.†
You can give the book to someone who can read and tell that person to read it. But that person will say, “I cannot read the book. It is closed and I cannot open it.” 12
Or you can give the book to someone who cannot read and tell that person to read it. That person will say, “I cannot read the book because I don’t know how to read.”
13 The Lord says, “These people come to honor me with words, but I am not really important to them. The worship they give me is nothing but human rules they have memorized. 14 So I will continue to amaze them by doing powerful and amazing things. Their wise men will lose their wisdom. Even the most intelligent among them will not be able to understand.”
15 Look at them! They try to hide things from the LORD. They think he will not understand. They do their evil things in darkness. They tell themselves: “No one can see us. No one will know who we are.”
16 You turn things upside down. You think the clay is equal to the potter. You think that something that is made can tell the one who made it, “You did not make me!” This is like a pot telling its maker, “You know nothing.”
A Better Time Is Coming
17 This is the truth: After a very short time, Lebanon will become rich farmland, and the farmland will be like thick forests. 18 The deaf will hear the words in the book. The blind will see through the darkness and fog. 19 The LORD will make poor people happy. The poorest people will rejoice in the Holy One of Israel.
20 This will happen when the people who are mean and cruel have come to an end. It will happen when those who enjoy doing bad things are gone. 21 (They lie about good people. They try to trap people in court. They try to destroy innocent people.)
So the LORD, who made Abraham free, speaks to Jacob’s family. He says, “Now the people of Jacob will not be embarrassed and ashamed. 23
They will look around at all the children they have I made with my hands, and they will say that my name is holy. They will honor‡
the Holy One of Jacob. They will respect the God of Israel. 24
Many of these people did not understand, so they did what was wrong. They complained, but now they will learn their lesson.”