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The Vision Isaiah Saw

1.

The vision of Isaiah son of Amoz, which he saw about Judah and Jerusalem in the days when Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah were kings of Judah  

Hear, heavens; earth, lend your ears:
God makes his Proclamation.
‘I made my sons grow, raised them up, and they — they revolted against me.  

An ox knows his herdsman; a donkey knows his master’s paddock — Israel doesn’t know. My people don’t understand.  

Oh, doom! Sinful nation, population heavy with corruption, offspring of the evil ones, destroyer sons . . . They abandoned God. They disdained Israel’s Sacred One. Their backs are turned.  

To what end? You still get pummeled; again and again you mutiny. Your whole head is in a fever; your whole heart is faint.  

From pad of heel to crown of head, the whole structure is unsound: gashes and bruises and wounds oozing. They’re not staunched, not bandaged, not eased with oil.  

Your land — laid waste. Your cities — burned in fire. Your soil and substance — right in front of you there are invaders eating it, and it’s laid waste – like a ruin toppled by invaders.  

But Zion's daughter is left behind: like a tent in a vineyard, like a shack in a patch of cucumbers, like a city under siege.  

If the God of Legions hadn’t left stragglers for us – just a few – we would be like Sodom; we would look like Gomorrah.  

Hear God’s Proclamation, you elites of Sodom. Lend your ears to our god’s teaching, people of Gomorrah.  

What good are all your sacrifices to me?’ says God. ‘I’m stuffed full. Offerings of goats; milk from fat cows; bull’s blood; sheep and rams: I take no pleasure in them.  

When you come to show yourselves before me — who asked for that from you? To trample my courtyards?  

No more: stop bringing worthless gifts, sweet-smelling incense . . . it’s vile to me. New moons and sabbaths, assemblies called together: I can’t bear corruption and pious congregations.

Your new moons and your meeting days: my soul deplores them; they’re a heavy load on me and I’m tired of carrying it.  

So when you stretch out your palms I’ll hide my eyes from you. Even when you multiply your prayers, you’ll get no audience from me. Your hands are full of blood.  

Wash. Get pure. Get the evil of the things you do out of my sight. Let go of evil.  

Learn how to make good. Hunt after justice. Give relief to victims and justice to orphans. Plead the widow’s case.  

Come here,’ says God; ‘let’s talk this out together. If your sins are like scarlet, they’ll turn white like snow. If they flush like crimson, they’ll be like wool.  

If you’re content to listen, the goodness of the earth will be your food.  

But if you refuse in defiance, then you will be food for the sword. God’s mouth makes this Proclamation.  

How did she whore herself out, this city stronghold secure in belief? She was full of justice; righteousness used to spend nights in her. But now killers do.  

Your silver’s become trash; your wine’s diluted with water.  

Your leaders are mutinous. Accomplices to thieves – all of them relishing bribes, hunting out graft. They give no justice to orphans; the widow’s plea never reaches them.  

And so the Master, God of Legions, Israel’s Juggernaut, declares: ‘Oh, I’ll get relief from the persecution pressing on me, get revenge on my enemies.

I’ll put my hand back on you, and like lye I’ll scour your filth away, extract all your impurities.

I’ll put your judges back, like at the beginning, and your mentors, like at the start. After that they’ll call you city of righteousness, stronghold secure in belief.  

Zion will be ransomed in justice, her homecomers in righteousness.  

But the shattering of the rebels and of the sinners is one and the same: those who desert God will be eaten alive.  

The brawny trunks you lusted after will put them to shame in the end. The gardens you chose will bring you reproach,  

Because you’ll be like a tree trunk with withering leaves; like a garden with no water.  

The powerful are for kindling now, and the things they do become sparks. They’re engulfed, both of them together, with no one to extinguish the flame.  

2.

What Isaiah, son of Amoz, Saw Proclaimed about Judah and Jerusalem.

It happens in the final days:
The mountain of God’s house will be established at the head of the mountains, lifted above the hills.
The nations will all come flooding to it.

Then peoples come en masse.
They say, ‘come, and we’ll ascend to God’s mountain, to the house of Jacob’s god –
He’ll teach us his ways and we’ll walk on his paths.
Because what he teaches will emanate from Zion,
and God’s proclamation from Jerusalem.

And he gives justice to the nations, and adjudicates between the many peoples;
They hammer out their swords into blades for their ploughs, and their spears into pruning hooks.
No nation will wield a sword against another, and from then on they won’t teach the art of war.

House of Jacob! Come walk; let’s walk in the light of God.

Because you cast away your people, Jacob's house: they’re filled with the East, with fortune-tellers, like the Philistines. They simper over foreign children.

And their territory is packed full of silver and gold – there’s no end to their treasure troves.
And their territory is packed full of horses – there’s no end to their riding gear.

And their territory is packed full of empty gods. They’re prostrating themselves to things their own hands made – things their fingers did.

Men grovel in the dirt; humanity degrades itself – you shall not bear with them.

Come squeeze into this crevice – get hidden in the dust; keep from facing the terror of God and his awful magnificence.

Men’s arrogant eyes will be cast down; the height of humanity will grovel; then God is set apart in exaltation
On That Day.

Yes: there’s a Day that belongs to the God of Legions, over every self-important and high-minded thing, and over everything exalted: it will be cast down.

And over every cedar from Lebanon, lofty and uplifted,
And over every oak from Bashan.

And over all exalted mountains,
And over all uplifted hills.

And over every towering citadel,
And over every fortressed wall.

And over all the fleets from Tarshish.
And over all the sumptuous artwork.

Men’s arrogance will grovel in the dirt; the height of humanity will be degraded; then God is set apart in exaltation
On That Day.

He will obliterate every one of the empty gods.

And they’ll go into cliffside hollows, into holes they claw in the dust, to keep from facing the terror of God and his awful magnificence, when he stands to rock Earth to its core.

On That Day,
Men will toss their empty gods of silver, their empty gods of gold – which they made for themselves, to grovel in front of – toss them aside to the burrowing rodents and bats,

To go into the cut cliffside, the fissures and crags of the rock. To keep from facing the terror of God and his awful magnificence, when he stands to rock Earth to its core.

Cut yourselves off from men. Their life is exhaled from their nostrils; on what grounds should they be given any thought?

3.

Yes – Look: see the Master, God with his Legions, taking Jerusalem’s sustenance away, taking the staff Judah leans on. All the sustenance of bread and all the sustenance of water.

Taking away the war hero, fighting man, judge and prophet, fortune teller and elder statesman,

Captain of squadrons, man of high rank, mentor, wise man, conjurer, silver-tongued scholar.

I give them boys for rulers, and infants will be sovereign over them.

And then the people tyrannise each other, man against man and neighbor against neighbor. Children will disdain their elders, and lowlifes disdain the men of consequence.

To the point that a man will grab hold of his brother in their father’s house: ‘The mantle is yours — you be our captain, with this crisis on your hands.’

He’ll take up an oath On That Day, saying, ‘I won’t be the one to patch this up: there’s no bread in my house, and no mantle. You won’t appoint me the people’s captain.’

Because Jerusalem has collapsed and Judah is fallen: their tongues and the things they do are against God, to embitter the eyes of his majesty.

The looks on their faces bear witness against them. Their sin! Like Sodom they tell all about it. They don’t keep it hidden. Oh their souls, their souls! They’ve lavished evil upon themselves.

Say this for the righteous: that it is good. That the fruit of the things they do will be their food.

Doom, oh, for the guilty man, this evil: what his own hand accomplishes is what will be done to him.

My people! Infants tyrannise them, and women lord it over them. My people, your guides lead you astray; they destroy the paths you travel on.

God rises to argue his case, then stands to bring judgment upon the nations.

God will advance in justice upon the elder statesmen of his people, and their leaders. ‘You were the ones who devoured the vineyard; the plunder from the poor is in your houses.

What do you get out of beating down my people, and grinding down the faces of the poor?’ declares my Master, the God of Legions,

And God says, ‘because of how Zion's daughters put on airs and strut around with necks outstretched, batting their eyes, sashaying as they go with bangles jangling on their feet,

The Master will disfigure their scalps, these daughters of Zion, and God will lay their cavities bare.

On That Day my Master will sweep away the elegance of the bangles, and the ribbons in their hair, and the gems around their necks,

The chokers and the bracelets and the veils,

The wigs and the anklets and the girdles, the corsets and the charm-stones,

The rings and nose-piercings,

The changes of outfit, and the cloaks, and the capes, and the purses,

And the pocket mirrors, and the linen, and the turbans, and the gauze.

Then it happens: where there were perfumed exhalations a stench will arise,
and a gash where there was a girdle,
and bald heads where there was coiffed hair,
and burlap garments where there was fine attire.
Where there was beauty, burn wounds.

Your grown men will fall by the sword, and your war heroes will fall in battle.

Then her gates will wail and weep. Emptied, she'll sit on the earth.

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