The Fate of Jerusalem
1God's altar, Jerusalem itself, is doomed! The city where David camped is doomed! Let another year or two come and go, with its feasts and festivals, 2and then God will bring disaster on the city that is called “God's altar.” There will be weeping and wailing, and the whole city will be like an altar covered with blood. 3God will attack the city, surround it, and besiege it. 4Jerusalem will be like a ghost struggling to speak from under the ground, a muffled voice coming from the dust.
5Jerusalem, all the foreigners who attack you will be blown away like dust, and their terrifying armies will fly away like straw. Suddenly and unexpectedly 6the Lord Almighty will rescue you with violent thunderstorms and earthquakes. He will send windstorms and raging fire; 7then all the armies of the nations attacking the city of God's altar, all their weapons and equipment—everything—will vanish like a dream, like something imagined in the night. 8All the nations that assemble to attack Jerusalem will be like a starving person who dreams he is eating and wakes up hungry, or like someone dying of thirst who dreams he is drinking and wakes with a dry throat.
9Go ahead and be stupid! Go ahead and be blind! Get drunk without any wine! Stagger without drinking a drop! 10 The Lord has made you drowsy, ready to fall into a deep sleep. The prophets should be the eyes of the people, but God has blindfolded them. 11The meaning of every prophetic vision will be hidden from you; it will be like a sealed scroll. If you take it to someone who knows how to read and ask him to read it to you, he will say he can't because it is sealed. 12If you give it to someone who can't read and ask him to read it to you, he will answer that he doesn't know how.
13 The Lord said, “These people claim to worship me, but their words are meaningless, and their hearts are somewhere else. Their religion is nothing but human rules and traditions, which they have simply memorized. 14 So I will startle them with one unexpected blow after another. Those who are wise will turn out to be fools, and all their cleverness will be useless.”
Hope for the Future
15Those who try to hide their plans from the Lord are doomed! They carry out their schemes in secret and think no one will see them or know what they are doing. 16 They turn everything upside down. Which is more important, the potter or the clay? Can something you have made say, “You didn't make me”? Or can it say, “You don't know what you are doing”?
17As the saying goes, before long the dense forest will become farmland, and the farmland will go back to forest.
18When that day comes, the deaf will be able to hear a book being read aloud, and the blind, who have been living in darkness, will open their eyes and see. 19Poor and humble people will once again find the happiness which the Lord, the holy God of Israel, gives. 20It will be the end of those who oppress others and show contempt for God. Every sinner will be destroyed. 21God will destroy those who slander others, those who prevent the punishment of criminals, and those who tell lies to keep honest people from getting justice.
22So now the Lord, the God of Israel, who rescued Abraham from trouble, says, “My people, you will not be disgraced any longer, and your faces will no longer be pale with shame. 23When you see the children that I will give you, then you will acknowledge that I am the holy God of Israel. You will honor me and stand in awe of me. 24Foolish people will learn to understand, and those who are always grumbling will be glad to be taught.”