A sad song about Ephraim
28:1Ephraim was the Israelite kingdom in the north. Its capital city was Samaria.
1 It will be very bad for Ephraim's beautiful city, Samaria! The people who live there drink too much wine and they become drunk. They are proud of their great city. It is on a hill above a valley where many good things grow. It is like a beautiful flower, but it will be beautiful no more and it will die.
2 Look! The Lord God is sending a strong and powerful army to attack it. It comes like a strong storm of ice. Its wind destroys everything. It is like rain that pours down and causes a flood. He will knock down Ephraim's great city to the ground with his great power!
28:2This was probably the Assyrian army.
3 The drunk people of Samaria think that their city is great. But their enemies will knock it down and walk all over it. 4 The city is like a beautiful flower that will soon die. It is on a hill above a valley where many good things grow. But it will be like a fig on a tree. It is ready to eat before the harvest time. When someone sees it, he will quickly pick it. And he will eat it!
5 At that time. the Lord Almighty will be a great leader of his people. He will be like a beautiful crown for his people who still remain alive. 6 He will help judges to decide what is right. He will give strength to the people who keep the city safe from those who attack it.
7 But now wine causes the leaders in Ephraim to become drunk. They cannot walk in a straight line because they drink too much beer. Beer causes the priests and the prophets to fall over. Wine confuses their minds. When they see visions, they cannot understand them. When they judge people, they cannot decide what is right.
8 They are sick over all their tables. Everywhere is covered with dirt.
9 They say, ‘Why does the Lord try to teach us like that? Who does he think that we are? He speaks to us as if we are babies! He thinks that we have just left our mother's breast! 10 He teaches us one rule at a time, one line at a time. He says it several times, a little bit here, a little bit there.’
11 So now the Lord will use foreign enemies to speak to these people. He will speak to them in a strange language.
12 In the past, he said to them, ‘This is a place where you can rest when you are tired. It is a place where you can be safe.’ But his people refused to listen. 13 So the Lord's message will seem to them like, ‘One rule at a time, one line at a time, a little bit here, a little bit there.’ So as they try to move forward, they will fall over. An enemy will hurt them, and he will catch them in a trap.
A message about Jerusalem
14 So listen to the Lord's message, you leaders in Jerusalem who rule these people. Do not laugh at what the Lord is doing.
15 You boast, ‘We have made a covenant with death. Yes, we have made an agreement with Sheol. When trouble comes to our city like a deep flood of water, we will be safe. We trust in our lies to keep us safe.’
16 So the Almighty Lord says this:
‘Look! I am putting a special stone in Zion. It is a valuable stone, because it makes a strong foundation at the corner of my building. Anyone who trusts in that foundation will never be disappointed.
17 Justice and righteousness will make that foundation strong and true. But if you trust in lies, a storm of ice will destroy your safe place. A flood of water will destroy the place where you are hiding. 18 I will stop your covenant with death. Your agreement with Sheol will not continue. When trouble comes like a deep flood of water, it will drown you. 19 A flood of punishment will come again and again, and it will carry you away. It will come every morning, and all through the day and the night.’
When you understand this message from the Lord, you will be very afraid. 20 You will not be able to rest, like a tall person who tries to sleep on a short bed. Your blanket will not cover your whole body.
21 But the Lord will do a great thing, like he did at Mount Perazim. He will be very angry, as he was in the Gibeon Valley. He will do something that is very wonderful and strange.
22 So do not laugh at me when I warn you. If you do not listen, your punishment will become even worse. The Lord Almighty has told me what he has decided. He has decided to destroy the whole land.
23 So listen carefully to my message. Hear what I am saying!
24 A farmer ploughs the ground because he wants to plant seeds in it. He does not continue to plough for ever. 25 When he has prepared the ground, he plants many different seeds. He plants dill and cummin. He plants wheat, barley and different grains in their proper places.
26 God teaches the farmer and he tells him the right thing to do. 27 After the harvest, the farmer knows how to remove seeds from dill or from cummin. He will not pull a heavy iron weight over dill. He will not run the wheels of a cart over cummin. Instead, he will hit them with a light stick.
28 When he crushes grain to make flour for bread, he does not do it for a long time. He drives the wheels of his cart over the grain, but he does not let his horses crush it.
29 The Lord Almighty causes farmers to know all that. His ideas are very wise, and he shows us how to live in a wise way.