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SCRIPTURE REFERENCES FOR THIS SERMON:

Isaiah 28:1-35:10

28:1 The splendid crown of Ephraim’s drunkards is doomed,

the withering flower, its beautiful splendor,

situated at the head of a rich valley,

the crown of those overcome with wine.

2 Look, the Lord sends a strong, powerful one.

With the force of a hailstorm or a destructive windstorm,

with the might of a driving, torrential rainstorm,

he will knock that crown to the ground with his hand.

3 The splendid crown of Ephraim’s drunkards

will be trampled underfoot.

4 The withering flower, its beautiful splendor,

situated at the head of a rich valley,

will be like an early fig before harvest—

as soon as someone notices it,

he grabs it and swallows it.

5 At that time the Lord of Heaven’s Armies will become a beautiful crown

and a splendid diadem for the remnant of his people.

6 He will give discernment to the one who makes judicial decisions

and strength to those who defend the city from attackers.

7 Even these men stagger because of wine;

they stumble around because of beer—

priests and prophets stagger because of beer,

they are confused because of wine,

they stumble around because of beer;

they stagger while seeing prophetic visions,

they totter while making legal decisions.

8 Indeed, all the tables

are covered with vomit,

with filth, leaving no clean place.

9 Who is the Lord trying to teach?

To whom is he explaining a message?

To those just weaned from milk!

To those just taken from their mother’s breast!

10 Indeed, they will hear meaningless gibberish,

senseless babbling,

a syllable here, a syllable there.

11 For with mocking lips and a foreign tongue

he will speak to these people.

12 In the past he said to them,

“This is where security can be found.

Provide security for the one who is exhausted.

This is where rest can be found.”

But they refused to listen.

13 So the Lord’s message to them will sound like

meaningless gibberish,

senseless babbling,

a syllable here, a syllable there.

As a result, they will fall on their backsides when they try to walk,

and be injured, ensnared, and captured.

14 Therefore, listen to the Lord’s message,

you who mock,

you rulers of these people

who reside in Jerusalem.

15 For you say,

“We have made a treaty with death,

with Sheol we have made an agreement.

When the overwhelming judgment sweeps by

it will not reach us.

For we have made a lie our refuge,

we have hidden ourselves in a deceitful word.”

16 Therefore, this is what the Sovereign Lord, says:

“Look, I am laying a stone in Zion,

an approved stone,

set in place as a precious cornerstone for the foundation.

The one who maintains his faith will not panic.

17 I will make justice the measuring line,

fairness the plumb line;

hail will sweep away the unreliable refuge,

the floodwaters will overwhelm the hiding place.

18 Your treaty with death will be dissolved;

your agreement with Sheol will not last.

When the overwhelming judgment sweeps by,

you will be overrun by it.

19 Whenever it sweeps by, it will overtake you;

indeed, every morning it will sweep by,

it will come through during the day and the night.”

When this announcement is understood,

it will cause nothing but terror.

20 For the bed is too short to stretch out on,

and the blanket is too narrow to wrap around oneself.

21 For the Lord will rise up, as he did at Mount Perazim;

he will rouse himself, as he did in the Valley of Gibeon,

to accomplish his work,

his peculiar work,

to perform his task,

his strange task.

22 So now, do not mock,

or your chains will become heavier!

For I have heard a message about decreed destruction,

from the Sovereign Lord of Heaven’s Armies against the entire land.

23 Pay attention and listen to my message.

Be attentive and listen to what I have to say!

24 Does a farmer just keep on plowing at planting time?

Does he keep breaking up and harrowing his ground?

25 Once he has leveled its surface,

does he not scatter the seed of the caraway plant,

sow the seed of the cumin plant,

and plant the wheat, barley, and grain in their designated places?

26 His God instructs him;

he teaches him the principles of agriculture.

27 Certainly caraway seed is not threshed with a sledge,

nor is the wheel of a cart rolled over cumin seed.

Certainly caraway seed is beaten with a stick

and cumin seed with a flail.

28 Grain is crushed,

though one certainly does not thresh it forever.

The wheel of one’s wagon rolls over it,

but his horses do not crush it.

29 This also comes from the Lord of Heaven’s Armies,

who gives supernatural guidance and imparts great wisdom.

29:1 Ariel is as good as dead—

Ariel, the town David besieged!

Keep observing your annual rituals;

celebrate your festivals on schedule.

2 I will threaten Ariel,

and she will mourn intensely

and become like an altar hearth before me.

3 I will lay siege to you on all sides;

I will besiege you with troops;

I will raise siege works against you.

4 You will fall;

while lying on the ground you will speak;

from the dust where you lie, your words will be heard.

Your voice will sound like a spirit speaking from the underworld;

from the dust you will chirp as if muttering an incantation.

5 But the horde of invaders will be like fine dust,

the horde of tyrants like chaff that is blown away.

It will happen suddenly, in a flash.

6 Judgment will come from the Lord of Heaven’s Armies,

accompanied by thunder, earthquake, and a loud noise,

by a strong gale, a windstorm, and a consuming flame of fire.

7 It will be like a dream, a night vision.

There will be a horde from all the nations that fight against Ariel,

those who attack her and her stronghold and besiege her.

8 It will be like a hungry man dreaming that he is eating,

only to awaken and find that his stomach is empty.

It will be like a thirsty man dreaming that he is drinking,

only to awaken and find that he is still weak and his thirst unquenched.

So it will be for the horde from all the nations

that fight against Mount Zion.

9 You will be shocked and amazed!

You are totally blind!

They are drunk, but not because of wine;

they stagger, but not because of beer.

10 For the Lord has poured out on you

a strong urge to sleep deeply.

He has shut your eyes (you prophets),

and covered your heads (you seers).

11 To you this entire prophetic revelation is like words in a sealed scroll. When they hand it to one who can read and say, “Read this,” he responds, “I can’t, because it is sealed.” 12 Or when they hand the scroll to one who can’t read and say, “Read this,” he says, “I can’t read.”

13 The Lord says,

“These people say they are loyal to me;

they say wonderful things about me,

but they are not really loyal to me.

Their worship consists of

nothing but man-made ritual.

14 Therefore I will again do an amazing thing for these people—

an absolutely extraordinary deed.

Wise men will have nothing to say,

the sages will have no explanations.”

15 Those who try to hide their plans from the Lord are as good as dead,

who do their work in secret and boast,

“Who sees us? Who knows what we’re doing?”

16 Your thinking is perverse!

Should the potter be regarded as clay?

Should the thing made say about its maker, “He didn’t make me”?

Or should the pottery say about the potter, “He doesn’t understand”?

17 In just a very short time

Lebanon will turn into an orchard,

and the orchard will be considered a forest.

18 At that time the deaf will be able to hear words read from a scroll,

and the eyes of the blind will be able to see through deep darkness.

19 The downtrodden will again rejoice in the Lord;

the poor among humankind will take delight in the Holy One of Israel.

20 For tyrants will disappear,

those who taunt will vanish,

and all those who love to do wrong will be eliminated—

21 those who bear false testimony against a person,

who entrap the one who arbitrates at the city gate

and deprive the innocent of justice by making false charges.

22 So this is what the Lord, the one who delivered Abraham, has said to the family of Jacob:

“Jacob will no longer be ashamed;

their faces will no longer show their embarrassment.

23 For when they see their children,

whom I will produce among them,

they will honor my name.

They will honor the Holy One of Jacob;

they will respect the God of Israel.

24 Those who stray morally will gain understanding;

those who complain will acquire insight.

30:1 “The rebellious children are as good as dead,” says the Lord,

“those who make plans without consulting me,

who form alliances without consulting my Spirit,

and thereby compound their sin.

2 They travel down to Egypt

without seeking my will,

seeking Pharaoh’s protection,

and looking for safety in Egypt’s protective shade.

3 But Pharaoh’s protection will bring you nothing but shame

and the safety of Egypt’s protective shade nothing but humiliation.

4 Though his officials are in Zoan

and his messengers arrive at Hanes,

5 all will be put to shame

because of a nation that cannot help them,

who cannot give them aid or help,

but only shame and disgrace.”

6 This is an oracle about the animals in the Negev:

Through a land of distress and danger,

inhabited by lionesses and roaring lions,

by snakes and darting adders,

they transport their wealth on the backs of donkeys,

their riches on the humps of camels,

to a nation that cannot help them.

7 Egypt is totally incapable of helping.

For this reason I call her

“Proud one who is silenced.”

8 Now go, write it down on a tablet in their presence

inscribe it on a scroll

so that it might be preserved for a future time

as an enduring witness.

9 For these are rebellious people—

they are lying children,

children unwilling to obey the Lord’s law.

10 They say to the visionaries, “See no more visions!”

and to the seers, “Don’t relate messages to us about what is right!

Tell us nice things;

relate deceptive messages.

11 Turn aside from the way;

stray off the path.

Remove from our presence the Holy One of Israel.”

12 For this reason this is what the Holy One of Israel says:

“You have rejected this message;

you trust instead in your ability to oppress and trick,

and rely on that kind of behavior.

13 So this sin will become your downfall.

You will be like a high wall

that bulges and cracks and is ready to collapse;

it crumbles suddenly, in a flash.

14 It shatters in pieces like a clay jar,

so shattered to bits that none of it can be salvaged.

Among its fragments one cannot find a shard large enough

to scoop a hot coal from a fire

or to skim off water from a cistern.”

15 For this is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel says:

“If you repented and patiently waited for me, you would be delivered;

if you calmly trusted in me, you would find strength,

but you are unwilling.

16 You say, ‘No, we will flee on horses,’

so you will indeed flee.

You say, ‘We will ride on fast horses,’

so your pursuers will be fast.

17 One thousand will scurry at the battle cry of one enemy soldier;

at the battle cry of five enemy soldiers you will all run away,

until the remaining few are as isolated

as a flagpole on a mountaintop

or a signal flag on a hill.”

18 For this reason the Lord is ready to show you mercy;

he sits on his throne, ready to have compassion on you.

Indeed, the Lord is a just God;

all who wait for him in faith will be blessed.

19 For people will live in Zion;

in Jerusalem you will weep no more.

When he hears your cry of despair, he will indeed show you mercy;

when he hears it, he will respond to you.

20 The Lord will give you distress to eat

and suffering to drink;

but your teachers will no longer be hidden;

your eyes will see them.

21 You will hear a word spoken behind you, saying,

“This is the correct way, walk in it,”

whether you are heading to the right or the left.

22 You will desecrate your silver-plated idols

and your gold-plated images.

You will throw them away as if they were a menstrual rag,

saying to them, “Get out!”

23 He will water the seed you plant in the ground,

and the ground will produce crops in abundance.

At that time your cattle will graze in wide pastures.

24 The oxen and donkeys used in plowing

will eat seasoned feed winnowed with a shovel and pitchfork.

25 On every high mountain

and every high hill

there will be streams flowing with water,

at the time of great slaughter when the fortified towers collapse.

26 The light of the full moon will be like the sun’s glare,

and the sun’s glare will be seven times brighter,

like the light of seven days,

when the Lord binds up his people’s fractured bones

and heals their severe wound.

27 Look, the name of the Lord comes from a distant place

in raging anger and awesome splendor.

He speaks angrily,

and his word is like destructive fire.

28 His battle cry overwhelms like a flooding river

that reaches one’s neck.

He shakes the nations in a sieve that isolates the chaff;

he puts a bit into the mouth of the nations and leads them to destruction.

29 You will sing

as you do in the evening when you are celebrating a festival.

You will be happy like one who plays a flute

as he goes to the mountain of the Lord, the Rock who shelters Israel.

30 The Lord will give a mighty shout

and intervene in power,

with furious anger and flaming, destructive fire,

with a driving rainstorm and hailstones.

31 Indeed, the Lord’s shout will shatter Assyria;

he will beat them with a club.

32 Every blow from his punishing cudgel

with which the Lord will beat them

will be accompanied by music from the tambourine and harp,

and he will attack them with his weapons.

33 For the burial place is already prepared;

it has been made deep and wide for the king.

The firewood is piled high on it.

The Lord’s breath, like a stream flowing with brimstone,

will ignite it.

31:1 Those who go down to Egypt for help are as good as dead;

those who rely on war horses

and trust in Egypt’s many chariots

and in their many, many horsemen.

But they do not rely on the Holy One of Israel

and do not seek help from the Lord.

2 Yet he too is wise and he will bring disaster;

he does not retract his decree.

He will attack the wicked nation

and the nation that helps those who commit sin.

3 The Egyptians are mere humans, not God;

their horses are made of flesh, not spirit.

The Lord will strike with his hand;

the one who helps will stumble

and the one being helped will fall.

Together they will perish.

4 Indeed, this is what the Lord has said to me:

“The Lord will be like a growling lion,

like a young lion growling over its prey.

Though a whole group of shepherds gathers against it,

it is not afraid of their shouts

or intimidated by their yelling.

In this same way the Lord of Heaven’s Armies will descend

to do battle on Mount Zion and on its hill.

5 Just as birds hover over a nest,

so the Lord of Heaven’s Armies will protect Jerusalem.

He will protect and deliver it;

as he passes over he will rescue it.”

6 You Israelites! Return to the one you have so blatantly rebelled against! 7 For at that time every one will get rid of the silver and gold idols your hands sinfully made.

8 “Assyria will fall by a sword, but not one human made;

a sword not made by humankind will destroy them.

They will run away from this sword

and their young men will be forced to do hard labor.

9 They will surrender their stronghold because of fear;

their officers will be afraid of the Lord’s battle flag.”

This is what the Lord says—

the one whose fire is in Zion,

whose firepot is in Jerusalem.

32:1 Look, a king will promote fairness;

officials will promote justice.

2 Each of them will be like a shelter from the wind

and a refuge from a rainstorm;

like streams of water in a dry region

and like the shade of a large cliff in a parched land.

3 Eyes will no longer be blind

and ears will be attentive.

4 The mind that acts rashly will possess discernment,

and the tongue that stutters will speak with ease and clarity.

5 A fool will no longer be called honorable;

a deceiver will no longer be called principled.

6 For a fool speaks disgraceful things;

his mind plans out sinful deeds.

He commits godless deeds

and says misleading things about the Lord;

he gives the hungry nothing to satisfy their appetite

and gives the thirsty nothing to drink.

7 A deceiver’s methods are evil;

he dreams up evil plans

to ruin the poor with lies,

even when the needy are in the right.

8 An honorable man makes honorable plans;

his honorable character gives him security.

9 You complacent women,

get up and listen to me!

You carefree daughters,

pay attention to what I say!

10 In a year’s time

you carefree ones will shake with fear,

for the grape harvest will fail,

and the fruit harvest will not arrive.

11 Tremble, you complacent ones!

Shake with fear, you carefree ones!

Strip off your clothes and expose yourselves—

put sackcloth around your waists.

12 Mourn over the field,

over the delightful fields

and the fruitful vine.

13 Mourn over the land of my people,

which is overgrown with thorns and briers,

and over all the once-happy houses

in the city filled with revelry.

14 For the fortress is neglected;

the once-crowded city is abandoned.

Hill and watchtower

are permanently uninhabited.

Wild donkeys love to go there,

and flocks graze there.

15 This desolation will continue until new life is poured out on us from heaven.

Then the wilderness will become an orchard

and the orchard will be considered a forest.

16 Justice will settle down in the wilderness

and fairness will live in the orchard.

17 Fairness will produce peace

and result in lasting security.

18 My people will live in peaceful settlements,

in secure homes,

and in safe, quiet places.

19 Even if the forest is destroyed

and the city is annihilated,

20 you will be blessed,

you who plant seed by all the banks of the streams,

you who let your ox and donkey graze.

33:1 The destroyer is as good as dead,

you who have not been destroyed!

The deceitful one is as good as dead,

the one whom others have not deceived!

When you are through destroying, you will be destroyed;

when you finish deceiving, others will deceive you!

2 Lord, be merciful to us! We wait for you.

Give us strength each morning.

Deliver us when distress comes.

3 The nations run away when they hear a loud noise;

the nations scatter when you spring into action!

4 Your plunder disappears as if locusts were eating it;

they swarm over it like locusts.

5 The Lord is exalted,

indeed, he lives in heaven;

he fills Zion with justice and fairness.

6 He is your constant source of stability;

he abundantly provides safety and great wisdom;

he gives all this to those who fear him.

7 Look, ambassadors cry out in the streets;

messengers sent to make peace weep bitterly.

8 Highways are empty;

there are no travelers.

Treaties are broken;

witnesses are despised,

human life is treated with disrespect.

9 The land dries up and withers away;

the forest of Lebanon shrivels up and decays.

Sharon is like the arid rift valley;

Bashan and Carmel are parched.

10 “Now I will rise up,” says the Lord.

“Now I will exalt myself;

now I will magnify myself.

11 You conceive straw,

you give birth to chaff;

your breath is a fire that destroys you.

12 The nations will be burned to ashes;

like thornbushes that have been cut down, they will be set on fire.

13 You who are far away, listen to what I have done!

You who are close by, recognize my strength.”

14 Sinners are afraid in Zion;

panic grips the godless.

They say, “Who among us can coexist with destructive fire?

Who among us can coexist with unquenchable fire?”

15 The one who lives uprightly

and speaks honestly,

the one who refuses to profit from oppressive measures

and rejects a bribe,

the one who does not plot violent crimes

and does not seek to harm others—

16 this is the person who will live in a secure place;

he will find safety in the rocky, mountain strongholds;

he will have food

and a constant supply of water.

17 You will see a king in his splendor;

you will see a wide land.

18 Your mind will recall the terror you experienced,

and you will ask yourselves, “Where is the scribe?

Where is the one who weighs the money?

Where is the one who counts the towers?”

19 You will no longer see a defiant people

whose language you do not comprehend,

whose derisive speech you do not understand.

20 Look at Zion, the city where we hold religious festivals!

You will see Jerusalem,

a peaceful settlement,

a tent that stays put;

its stakes will never be pulled up;

none of its ropes will snap in two.

21 Instead the Lord will rule there as our mighty king.

Rivers and wide streams will flow through it;

no war galley will enter;

no large ships will sail through.

22 For the Lord, our ruler,

the Lord, our commander,

the Lord, our king—

he will deliver us.

23 Though at this time your ropes are slack,

the mast is not secured,

and the sail is not unfurled,

at that time you will divide up a great quantity of loot;

even the lame will drag off plunder.

24 No resident of Zion will say, “I am ill”;

the people who live there will have their sin forgiven.

34:1 Come near, you nations, and listen!

Pay attention, you people!

The earth and everything it contains must listen,

the world and everything that lives in it.

2 For the Lord is angry at all the nations

and furious with all their armies.

He will annihilate them and slaughter them.

3 Their slain will be left unburied,

their corpses will stink;

the hills will soak up their blood.

4 All the stars in the sky will fade away,

the sky will roll up like a scroll;

all its stars will wither,

like a leaf withers and falls from a vine

or a fig withers and falls from a tree.

5 He says, “Indeed, my sword has slaughtered heavenly powers.

Look, it now descends on Edom,

on the people I will annihilate in judgment.”

6 The Lord’s sword is dripping with blood,

it is covered with fat;

it drips with the blood of young rams and goats

and is covered with the fat of rams’ kidneys.

For the Lord is holding a sacrifice in Bozrah,

a bloody slaughter in the land of Edom.

7 Wild oxen will be slaughtered along with them,

as well as strong bulls.

Their land is drenched with blood,

their soil is covered with fat.

8 For the Lord has planned a day of revenge,

a time when he will repay Edom for her hostility toward Zion.

9 Edom’s streams will be turned into pitch

and her soil into brimstone;

her land will become burning pitch.

10 Night and day it will burn;

its smoke will ascend continually.

Generation after generation it will be a wasteland,

and no one will ever pass through it again.

11 Owls and wild animals will live there,

all kinds of wild birds will settle in it.

The Lord will stretch out over her

the measuring line of ruin

and the plumb line of destruction.

12 Her nobles will have nothing left to call a kingdom,

and all her officials will disappear.

13 Her fortresses will be overgrown with thorns;

thickets and weeds will grow in her fortified cities.

Jackals will settle there;

ostriches will live there.

14 Wild animals and wild dogs will congregate there;

wild goats will bleat to one another.

Yes, nocturnal animals will rest there

and make for themselves a nest.

15 Owls will make nests and lay eggs there;

they will hatch them and protect them.

Yes, hawks will gather there,

each with its mate.

16 Carefully read the scroll of the Lord!

Not one of these creatures will be missing,

none will lack a mate.

For the Lord has issued the decree,

and his own Spirit gathers them.

17 He assigns them their allotment;

he measures out their assigned place.

They will live there permanently;

they will settle in it through successive generations.

35:1 Let the wilderness and desert be happy;

let the arid rift valley rejoice and bloom like a lily!

2 Let it richly bloom;

let it rejoice and shout with delight!

It is given the grandeur of Lebanon,

the splendor of Carmel and Sharon.

They will see the grandeur of the Lord,

the splendor of our God.

3 Strengthen the hands that have gone limp,

steady the knees that shake.

4 Tell those who panic,

“Be strong! Do not fear!

Look, your God comes to avenge;

with divine retribution he comes to deliver you.”

5 Then blind eyes will open,

deaf ears will hear.

6 Then the lame will leap like a deer,

the mute tongue will shout for joy;

for water will burst forth in the wilderness,

streams in the arid rift valley.

7 The dry soil will become a pool of water,

the parched ground springs of water.

Where jackals once lived and sprawled out,

grass, reeds, and papyrus will grow.

8 A thoroughfare will be there—

it will be called the Way of Holiness.

The unclean will not travel on it;

it is reserved for those authorized to use it—

fools will not stray into it.

9 No lions will be there,

no ferocious wild animals will be on it—

they will not be found there.

Those delivered from bondage will travel on it,

10 those whom the Lord has ransomed will return that way.

They will enter Zion with a happy shout.

Unending joy will crown them,

happiness and joy will overwhelm them;

grief and suffering will disappear.