Israel, God’s Special Field
1Now I will sing a song to my friend. This song is about his vineyard.
My friend had a vineyard
on a hill with very rich soil.
2He dug and cleared the field of stones.
He planted the best grapevines there.
And he built a tower in the middle of it.
He cut out a winepress as well.
He hoped good grapes would grow there.
But only bad grapes grew.
3My friend says, “You people living in Jerusalem,
and you men of Judah,
judge between me and my vineyard.
4What more could I have done for my vineyard?
I did everything I could.
I hoped for good grapes to grow.
But why were there only bad grapes?
5Now I will tell you
what I will do to my vineyard:
I will remove the hedge,
and it will be burned.
I will break down the stone wall,
and it will be walked on.
6I will ruin my field.
It will not be trimmed or hoed.
Weeds and thorns will grow there.
I will command the clouds
not to rain on it.”
7The vineyard belonging to the Lord of heaven’s armies
is the nation of Israel.
The garden that the Lord loves
is the men of Judah.
The Lord looked for justice, but there was only killing.
The Lord hoped for right living, but there were only cries of pain.
8How terrible it will be for you who add more houses to your houses
and more fields to your fields.
Finally there is no room left for other people.
Then you are left alone in the land.
9The Lord of heaven’s armies said this to me:
“The fine houses will be destroyed.
The large and beautiful houses will be left empty.
10At that time a ten-acre vineyard will make only six gallons of wine.
And ten bushels of seed will grow only half a bushel of grain.”
11How terrible it will be for people who rise early in the morning
to look for strong drink.
They stay awake late at night,
becoming drunk with wine.
12At their parties they have lyres, harps,
tambourines, flutes and wine.
They don’t see what the Lord has done.
They don’t notice the work of his hands.
13So my people will be captured and taken away
because they don’t really know me.
All the great men will die of hunger.
The common people will die of thirst.
14So the place where the dead are wants more and more people.
It opens its mouth wide.
Jerusalem’s important men will go down into it.
And the common people will go down into it.
15So the common people and the great people will be humbled.
Those who are proud will be humbled.
16The Lord of heaven’s armies will receive glory by judging fairly.
The holy God will show himself holy by doing what is right.
17Then the sheep will go anywhere they want.
Lambs will feed on the land that rich people once owned.
18How terrible it will be for those people!
They pull their guilt and sins behind them
as people pull wagons with ropes.
19They say, “Let’s see God hurry.
Let’s see him do his work soon.
We want to see it.
Let’s see the plan of the Holy One of Israel happen soon.
Then we would know what it really is.”
20How terrible it will be for people who call good things bad
and bad things good.
They think darkness is light
and light is darkness.
They think sour is sweet
and sweet is sour.
21How terrible it will be for people who think they are wise.
They think they are clever.
22How terrible it will be for people who are famous for drinking wine.
They are champions at mixing drinks.
23They take money to set the guilty free.
But they don’t allow good people to be judged fairly.
24They will be destroyed
just as fire burns straw or dry grass.
They will be destroyed
like a plant whose roots rot
and whose flower dies and blows away like dust.
They have refused to obey the teachings of the Lord of heaven’s armies.
They hated the message from the Holy God of Israel.
25So the Lord has become very angry with his people.
And he has raised his hand to punish them.
Even the mountains are frightened.
Dead bodies lie in the streets like garbage.
But the Lord is still angry.
His hand is still raised to strike down the people.
26God raises a banner for the nations far away.
He is whistling to call those people.
The enemy comes quickly!
27Not one of them becomes tired or falls down.
Not one of them gets sleepy and falls asleep.
Their weapons are close at hand.
Their sandal straps are not broken.
28Their arrows are sharp.
All of their bows are ready to shoot.
The horses’ hooves are hard as rock.
Their chariot wheels move like a whirlwind.
29Their shout is like the roar of a lion.
It is loud like a young lion.
The enemy growls as they grab their captives.
There is no one to stop them from taking their captives away.
30On that day they will roar
like the waves of the sea.
And when people look at the land,
they will see only darkness and pain.
All light will become dark in this thick cloud.