All Show, No Substance
1-5“Doom, rebel children!”
“You make plans, but not mine.
You make deals, but not in my Spirit.
You pile sin on sin,
one sin on top of another,
Going off to Egypt
without so much as asking me,
Running off to Pharaoh for protection,
expecting to hide out in Egypt.
Well, some protection Pharaoh will be!
Some hideout, Egypt!
They look big and important, true,
with officials strategically established in
Zoan in the north and Hanes in the south,
but there’s nothing to them.
Anyone stupid enough to trust them
will end up looking stupid—
All show, no substance,
an embarrassing farce.”
6-7And this note on the animals of the Negev
encountered on the road to Egypt:
A most dangerous, treacherous route,
menaced by lions and deadly snakes.
And you’re going to lug all your stuff down there,
your donkeys and camels loaded down with bribes,
Thinking you can buy protection
from that hollow farce of a nation?
Egypt is all show, no substance.
My name for her is Toothless Dragon.
This Is a Rebel Generation
8-11So, go now and write all this down.
Put it in a book
So that the record will be there
to instruct the coming generations,
Because this is a rebel generation,
a people who lie,
A people unwilling to listen
to anything God tells them.
They tell their spiritual leaders,
“Don’t bother us with irrelevancies.”
They tell their preachers,
“Don’t waste our time on impracticalities.
Tell us what makes us feel better.
Don’t bore us with obsolete religion.
That stuff means nothing to us.
Quit hounding us with The Holy of Israel.”
12-14Therefore, The Holy of Israel says this:
“Because you scorn this Message,
Preferring to live by injustice
and shape your lives on lies,
This perverse way of life
will be like a towering, badly built wall
That slowly, slowly tilts and shifts,
and then one day, without warning, collapses—
Smashed to bits like a piece of pottery,
smashed beyond recognition or repair,
Useless, a pile of debris
to be swept up and thrown in the trash.”
God Takes the Time to Do Everything Right
15-17 God, the Master, The Holy of Israel,
has this solemn counsel:
“Your salvation requires you to turn back to me
and stop your silly efforts to save yourselves.
Your strength will come from settling down
in complete dependence on me—
The very thing
you’ve been unwilling to do.
You’ve said, ‘No way! We’ll rush off on horseback!’
You’ll rush off, all right! Just not far enough!
You’ve said, ‘We’ll ride off on fast horses!’
Do you think your pursuers ride old nags?
Think again: A thousand of you will scatter before one attacker.
Before a mere five you’ll all run off.
There’ll be nothing left of you—
a flagpole on a hill with no flag,
a signpost on a roadside with the sign torn off.”
18But God’s not finished. He’s waiting around to be gracious to you.
He’s gathering strength to show mercy to you.
God takes the time to do everything right—everything.
Those who wait around for him are the lucky ones.
19-22Oh yes, people of Zion, citizens of Jerusalem, your time of tears is over. Cry for help and you’ll find it’s grace and more grace. The moment he hears, he’ll answer. Just as the Master kept you alive during the hard times, he’ll keep your teacher alive and present among you. Your teacher will be right there, local and on the job, urging you on whenever you wander left or right: “This is the right road. Walk down this road.” You’ll scrap your expensive and fashionable god-images. You’ll throw them in the trash as so much garbage, saying, “Good riddance!”
23-26God will provide rain for the seeds you sow. The grain that grows will be abundant. Your cattle will range far and wide. Oblivious to war and earthquake, the oxen and donkeys you use for hauling and plowing will be fed well near running brooks that flow freely from mountains and hills. Better yet, on the Day God heals his people of the wounds and bruises from the time of punishment, moonlight will flare into sunlight, and sunlight, like a whole week of sunshine at once, will flood the land.
* * *
27-28Look, God’s on his way,
and from a long way off!
Smoking with anger,
immense as he comes into view,
Words steaming from his mouth,
searing, indicting words!
A torrent of words, a flash flood of words
sweeping everyone into the vortex of his words.
He’ll shake down the nations in a sieve of destruction,
herd them into a dead end.
29-33But you will sing,
sing through an all-night holy feast!
Your hearts will burst with song,
make music like the sound of flutes on parade,
En route to the mountain of God,
on the way to the Rock of Israel.
God will sound out in grandiose thunder,
display his hammering arm,
Furiously angry, showering sparks—
cloudburst, storm, hail!
Oh yes, at God’s thunder
Assyria will cower under the clubbing.
Every blow God lands on them with his club
is in time to the music of drums and pipes,
God in all-out, two-fisted battle,
fighting against them.
Topheth’s fierce fires are well prepared,
ready for the Assyrian king.
The Topheth furnace is deep and wide,
well stoked with hot-burning wood.
God’s breath, like a river of burning pitch,
starts the fire.