My words will be italicized wherever they appear. Should the Bible be italicized near my words, I’ll do something to differentiate them.
People Mighty and Merciless
1-2 Doom to the land of flies and mosquitoes
beyond the Ethiopian rivers,
Shipping emissaries all over the world,
down rivers and across seas.
Go, swift messengers,
go to this people tall and handsome,
This people held in respect everywhere,
this people mighty and merciless,
from the land crisscrossed with rivers.
3 Everybody everywhere,
When you see a flag flying on the mountain, look!
When you hear the trumpet blown, listen!
4-6 For here’s what God told me:
“I’m not going to say anything,
but simply look on from where I live,
Quiet as warmth that comes from the sun,
silent as dew during harvest.”
And then, just before harvest, after the blossom
has turned into a maturing grape,
He’ll step in and prune back the new shoots,
ruthlessly hack off all the growing branches.
He’ll leave them piled on the ground
for birds and animals to feed on—
Fodder for the summering birds,
fodder for the wintering animals.
7 Then tribute will be brought to God-of-the-Angel-Armies,
brought from this people tall and handsome,
This people once held in respect everywhere,
this people once mighty and merciless,
From the land crisscrossed with rivers,
to Mount Zion, God’s place.
Anarchy and Chaos and Killing!
1 A Message concerning Egypt:
Watch this! God riding on a fast-moving cloud,
moving in on Egypt!
The god-idols of Egypt shudder and shake,
Egyptians paralyzed by panic.
2-4 God says, “I’ll make Egyptian fight Egyptian,
brother fight brother, neighbor fight neighbor,
City fight city, kingdom fight kingdom—
anarchy and chaos and killing!
I’ll knock the wind out of the Egyptians.
They won’t know coming from going.
They’ll go to their god-idols for answers;
they’ll conjure ghosts and hold séances, desperate for answers.
But I’ll turn the Egyptians
over to a tyrant most cruel.
I’ll put them under the rule of a mean, merciless king.”
Decree of the Master, God-of-the-Angel-Armies.
5-10 The River Nile will dry up,
the riverbed baked dry in the sun.
The canals will become stagnant and stink,
every stream touching the Nile dry up.
River vegetation will rot away
the banks of the Nile-baked clay,
The riverbed hard and smooth,
river grasses dried up and gone with the wind.
Fishermen will complain
that the fishing’s been ruined.
Textile workers will be out of work, all weavers
and workers in linen and cotton and wool
Dispirited, depressed in their forced idleness—
everyone who works for a living, jobless.
11-15 The princes of Zoan are fools,
the advisors of Pharaoh stupid.
How could any of you dare tell Pharaoh,
“Trust me: I’m wise. I know what’s going on.
Why, I’m descended from the old wisdom of Egypt”?
There’s not a wise man or woman left in the country.
If there were, one of them would tell you
what God-of-the-Angel-Armies has in mind for Egypt.
As it is, the princes of Zoan are all fools
and the princes of Memphis, idiots.
The honored pillars of your society
have led Egypt into detours and dead ends.
God has scrambled their brains,
Egypt’s become a falling-down-in-his-own-vomit drunk.
Egypt’s hopeless, past helping,
a senile, doddering old fool.
16-17 On that Day, Egyptians will be like hysterical schoolgirls, screaming at the first hint of action from God-of-the-Angel-Armies. Little Judah will strike terror in Egyptians! Say “Judah” to an Egyptian and see panic. The word triggers fear of the God-of-the-Angel-Armies’ plan against Egypt.
18 On that Day, more than one city in Egypt will learn to speak the language of faith and promise to follow God-of-the-Angel-Armies. One of these cities will be honored with the title “City of the Sun.”
19-22 On that Day, there will be a place of worship to God in the center of Egypt and a monument to God at its border. It will show how the God-of-the-Angel-Armies has helped the Egyptians. When they cry out in prayer to God because of oppressors, he’ll send them help, a savior who will keep them safe and take care of them. God will openly show himself to the Egyptians and they’ll get to know him on that Day. They’ll worship him seriously with sacrifices and burnt offerings. They’ll make vows and keep them. God will wound Egypt, first hit and then heal. Egypt will come back to God, and God will listen to their prayers and heal them, heal them from head to toe.
23 On that Day, there will be a highway all the way from Egypt to Assyria: Assyrians will have free range in Egypt and Egyptians in Assyria. No longer rivals, they’ll worship together, Egyptians and Assyrians!
24-25 On that Day, Israel will take its place alongside Egypt and Assyria, sharing the blessing from the center. God-of-the-Angel-Armies, who blessed Israel, will generously bless them all: “Blessed be Egypt, my people! . . . Blessed be Assyria, work of my hands! . . . Blessed be Israel, my heritage!”
God was O-V-E-R it. And them. The imagery. The word choice. Sheesh. But God is gonna God. He STILL planned on giving mercy and restoring them. He had to correct them and allow them to suffer the consequences of their actions. But, He gave them hope. Hope of a better future and their return to Him. God is the GREATEST!