July 24-25, Isaiah 31-36

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31 Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help
and who depend on horses!
They trust in the abundance of chariots
and in the large number of horsemen.
They do not look to the Holy One of Israel,
and they do not seek the Lord.
But he also is wise and brings disaster.
He does not go back on what he says;
he will rise up against the house of the wicked
and against the allies of evildoers.
Egyptians are men, not God;
their horses are flesh, not spirit.
When the Lord raises his hand to strike,
the helper will stumble
and the one who is helped will fall;
both will perish together.

For this is what the Lord said to me:

As a lion or young lion growls over its prey
when a band of shepherds is called out against it,
and it is not terrified by their shouting
or subdued by their noise,
so the Lord of Armies will come down
to fight on Mount Zion
and on its hill.

Like hovering birds,
so the Lord of Armies will protect Jerusalem;
by protecting it, he will rescue it;
by passing over it, he will deliver it.

Return to the one the Israelites have greatly rebelled against. For on that day, every one of you will reject the worthless idols of silver and gold that your own hands have sinfully made.

Then Assyria will fall,
but not by human sword;
a sword will devour him,
but not one made by man.
He will flee from the sword;
his young men will be put to forced labor.

His rock[a] will pass away because of fear,
and his officers will be afraid because of the signal flag.

This is the Lord’s declaration—whose fire is in Zion and whose furnace is in Jerusalem.

The Righteous Kingdom Announced

32 Indeed, a king will reign righteously,
and rulers will rule justly.

Each will be like a shelter from the wind,
a refuge from the rain,
like flowing streams in a dry land
and the shade of a massive rock in an arid land.
Then the eyes of those who see will not be closed,
and the ears of those who hear will listen.
The reckless mind will gain knowledge,
and the stammering tongue will speak clearly and fluently.
A fool will no longer be called a noble,
nor a scoundrel said to be important.
For a fool speaks foolishness
and his mind plots iniquity.
He lives in a godless way
and speaks falsely about the Lord.
He leaves the hungry empty
and deprives the thirsty of drink.

The scoundrel’s weapons are destructive;
he hatches plots to destroy the needy with lies,
even when the poor person says what is right.
But a noble person plans noble things;
he stands up for noble causes.
Stand up, you complacent women;
listen to me.
Pay attention to what I say,
you overconfident daughters.
10 In a little more than a year
you overconfident ones will shudder,
for the grapes will fail
and the harvest will not come.
11 Shudder, you complacent ones;
tremble, you overconfident ones!
Strip yourselves bare
and put sackcloth around your waists.
12 Beat your breasts in mourning
for the delightful fields and the fruitful vines,
13 for the ground of my people
growing thorns and briers,
indeed, for every joyous house in the jubilant city.

14 For the palace will be deserted,
the busy city abandoned.
The hill and the watchtower will become
barren places forever,
the joy of wild donkeys,
and a pasture for flocks,
15 until the Spirit[b] from on high is poured out on us.
Then the desert will become an orchard,
and the orchard will seem like a forest.
16 Then justice will inhabit the wilderness,
and righteousness will dwell in the orchard.

17 The result of righteousness will be peace;
the effect of righteousness
will be quiet confidence forever.
18 Then my people will dwell in a peaceful place,
in safe and secure dwellings.
19 But hail will level the forest,[c]
and the city will sink into the depths.
20 You will be happy as you sow seed
beside abundant water,
and as you let oxen and donkeys range freely.

The Lord Rises Up

33 Woe, you destroyer never destroyed,
you traitor never betrayed!
When you have finished destroying,
you will be destroyed.
When you have finished betraying,
they will betray you.
Lord, be gracious to us! We wait for you.
Be our strength every morning
and our salvation in time of trouble.
The peoples flee at the thunderous noise;
the nations scatter when you rise in your majesty.
Your spoil will be gathered as locusts are gathered;
people will swarm over it like an infestation of locusts.
The Lord is exalted, for he dwells on high;
he has filled Zion with justice and righteousness.
There will be times of security for you—
a storehouse of salvation, wisdom, and knowledge.
The fear of the Lord is Zion’s treasure.
Listen! Their warriors cry loudly in the streets;
the messengers of peace weep bitterly.

The highways are deserted;
travel has ceased.
An agreement has been broken,
cities[d] despised,
and human life disregarded.
The land mourns and withers;
Lebanon is ashamed and wilted.
Sharon is like a desert;
Bashan and Carmel shake off their leaves.
10 “Now I will rise up,” says the Lord.
“Now I will lift myself up.
Now I will be exalted.
11 You will conceive chaff;
you will give birth to stubble.
Your breath is fire that will consume you.
12 The peoples will be burned to ashes,
like thorns cut down and burned in a fire.
13 You who are far off, hear what I have done;
you who are near, know my strength.”
14 The sinners in Zion are afraid;
trembling seizes the ungodly:
“Who among us can dwell with a consuming fire?
Who among us can dwell with ever-burning flames?”
15 The one who lives righteously
and speaks rightly,
who refuses profit from extortion,
whose hand never takes a bribe,
who stops his ears from listening to murderous plots
and shuts his eyes against evil schemes—
16 he will dwell on the heights;
his refuge will be the rocky fortresses,
his food provided, his water assured.
17 Your eyes will see the King in his beauty;
you will see a vast land.
18 Your mind will meditate on the past terror:
“Where is the accountant?[e]
Where is the tribute collector?[f]
Where is the one who spied out our defenses?” [g]
19 You will no longer see the barbarians,
a people whose speech is difficult to comprehend—
who stammer in a language that is not understood.
20 Look at Zion, the city of our festival times.
Your eyes will see Jerusalem,
a peaceful pasture, a tent that does not wander;
its tent pegs will not be pulled up
nor will any of its cords be loosened.
21 For the majestic one, our Lord, will be there,
a place of rivers and broad streams
where ships that are rowed will not go,
and majestic vessels will not pass.
22 For the Lord is our Judge,
the Lord is our Lawgiver,
the Lord is our King.
He will save us.
23 Your ropes are slack;
they cannot hold the base of the mast
or spread out the flag.
Then abundant spoil will be divided,
the lame will plunder it,
24 and none there will say, “I am sick.”
The people who dwell there
will be forgiven their iniquity.

The Judgment of the Nations

34 You nations, come here and listen;
you peoples, pay attention!
Let the earth and all that fills it hear,
the world and all that comes from it.
The Lord is angry with all the nations,
furious with all their armies.
He will set them apart for destruction,
giving them over to slaughter.
Their slain will be thrown out,
and the stench of their corpses will rise;
the mountains will flow[h] with their blood.
All[i] the stars in the sky will dissolve.
The sky will roll up like a scroll,
and its stars will all wither
as leaves wither on the vine,
and foliage on the fig tree.

The Judgment of Edom

When my sword has drunk its fill[j] in the heavens,
it will then come down on Edom
and on the people I have set apart for destruction.
The Lord’s sword is covered with blood.
It drips with fat,
with the blood of lambs and goats,
with the fat of the kidneys of rams.
For the Lord has a sacrifice in Bozrah,
a great slaughter in the land of Edom.
The wild oxen will be struck[k] down with them,
and young bulls with the mighty bulls.
Their land will be soaked with[l] blood,
and their soil will be saturated with fat.
For the Lord has a day of vengeance,
a time of paying back Edom
for its hostility against Zion.
Edom’s streams will be turned into pitch,
her soil into sulfur;
her land will become burning pitch.
10 It will never go out—day or night.
Its smoke will go up forever.
It will be desolate, from generation to generation;
no one will pass through it forever and ever.
11 Eagle owls[m] and herons[n] will possess it,
and long-eared owls and ravens will dwell there.
The Lord will stretch out a measuring line
and a plumb line over her
for her destruction and chaos.
12 No nobles will be left to proclaim a king,
and all her princes will come to nothing.
13 Her palaces will be overgrown with thorns;
her fortified cities, with thistles and briers.
She will become a dwelling for jackals,
an abode[o] for ostriches.
14 The desert creatures will meet hyenas,
and one wild goat will call to another.
Indeed, the night birds will stay there
and will find a resting place.
15 Sand partridges[p] will make their nests there;
they will lay and hatch their eggs
and will gather their broods under their shadows.
Indeed, the birds of prey will gather there,
each with its mate.
16 Search and read the scroll of the Lord:
Not one of them will be missing,
none will be lacking its mate,
because he has ordered it by my[q] mouth,
and he will gather them by his Spirit.
17 He has cast the lot for them;
his hand allotted their portion with a measuring line.
They will possess it forever;
they will dwell in it from generation to generation.

The Ransomed Return to Zion

35 The wilderness and the dry land will be glad;
the desert will rejoice and blossom like a wildflower.[r]
It will blossom abundantly
and will also rejoice with joy and singing.
The glory of Lebanon will be given to it,
the splendor of Carmel and Sharon.
They will see the glory of the Lord,
the splendor of our God.
Strengthen the weak hands,
steady the shaking knees!
Say to the cowardly:
“Be strong; do not fear!
Here is your God; vengeance is coming.
God’s retribution is coming; he will save you.”
Then the eyes of the blind will be opened,
and the ears of the deaf unstopped.
Then the lame will leap like a deer,
and the tongue of the mute will sing for joy,
for water will gush in the wilderness,
and streams in the desert;
the parched ground will become a pool,
and the thirsty land, springs.
In the haunt of jackals, in their lairs,
there will be grass, reeds, and papyrus.
A road will be there and a way;
it will be called the Holy Way.
The unclean will not travel on it,
but it will be for the one who walks the path.
Fools will not wander on it.
There will be no lion there,
and no vicious beast will go up on it;
they will not be found there.
But the redeemed will walk on it,
10 and the ransomed of the Lord will return
and come to Zion with singing,
crowned with unending joy.
Joy and gladness will overtake them,
and sorrow and sighing will flee.

Sennacherib’s Invasion

36 In the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah, King Sennacherib of Assyria attacked all the fortified cities of Judah and captured them. Then the king of Assyria sent his royal spokesman, along with a massive army, from Lachish to King Hezekiah at Jerusalem. The Assyrian stood near the conduit of the upper pool, by the road to Launderer’s Field. Eliakim son of Hilkiah, who was in charge of the palace, Shebna the court secretary, and Joah son of Asaph, the court historian, came out to him.

The royal spokesman said to them, “Tell Hezekiah:

The great king, the king of Assyria, says this: What are you relying on? You[s] think mere words are strategy and strength for war. Who are you now relying on that you have rebelled against me? Look, you are relying on Egypt, that splintered reed of a staff that will pierce the hand of anyone who grabs it and leans on it. This is how Pharaoh king of Egypt is to all who rely on him. Suppose you say to me, ‘We rely on the Lord our God.’ Isn’t he the one whose high places and altars Hezekiah has removed, saying to Judah and Jerusalem, ‘You are to worship at this altar’?

“Now make a deal with my master, the king of Assyria. I’ll give you two thousand horses if you’re able to supply riders for them! How then can you drive back a single officer among the least of my master’s servants? How can you rely on Egypt for chariots and horsemen? 10 Have I attacked this land to destroy it without the Lord’s approval? The Lord said to me, ‘Attack this land and destroy it.’”

11 Then Eliakim, Shebna, and Joah said to the royal spokesman, “Please speak to your servants in Aramaic, since we understand it. Don’t speak to us in Hebrew[t] within earshot of the people who are on the wall.”

12 But the royal spokesman replied, “Has my master sent me to speak these words to your master and to you, and not to the men who are sitting on the wall, who are destined with you to eat their own excrement and drink their own urine?”

13 Then the royal spokesman stood and called out loudly in Hebrew:

Listen to the words of the great king, the king of Assyria! 14 This is what the king says: “Don’t let Hezekiah deceive you, for he cannot rescue you. 15 Don’t let Hezekiah persuade you to rely on the Lord, saying, ‘The Lord will certainly rescue us! This city will not be handed over to the king of Assyria.’”

16 Don’t listen to Hezekiah, for this is what the king of Assyria says: “Make peace[u] with me and surrender to me. Then every one of you may eat from his own vine and his own fig tree and drink water from his own cistern 17 until I come and take you away to a land like your own land—a land of grain and new wine, a land of bread and vineyards. 18 Beware that Hezekiah does not mislead you by saying, ‘The Lord will rescue us.’ Has any one of the gods of the nations rescued his land from the power of the king of Assyria? 19 Where are the gods of Hamath and Arpad? Where are the gods of Sepharvaim? Have they rescued Samaria from my power? 20 Who among all the gods of these lands ever rescued his land from my power? So will the Lord rescue Jerusalem from my power?”

21 But they kept silent; they didn’t say anything, for the king’s command was, “Don’t answer him.” 22 Then Eliakim son of Hilkiah, who was in charge of the palace, Shebna the court secretary, and Joah son of Asaph, the court historian, came to Hezekiah with their clothes torn and reported to him the words of the royal spokesman.

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