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Chapter 28

A sad song about Ephraim

1 There will be a very sad day in Ephraim! The leaders of Ephraim are very proud, but they are drunks. Ephraim is like a beautiful flower, but it will die. It will not always be beautiful. Ephraim is at the top of a valley where there are good plants. But wine causes its people to fall over.

2 Look! The Lord has somebody who is powerful and strong. He is like a storm of ice. And he is like a wind that destroys things. He is like a storm of rain with a lot of water. He will throw Ephraim's people to the ground with his hands!

28:2We think that ‘somebody’ and ‘he’ in this verse means the country called Assyria or its army.

3 His feet will walk on the proud leaders. Those leaders are the drunks of Ephraim.

4 And Ephraim will be like (a fruit called) a fig. It is ready to eat. It is ready when they pick it. When someone sees it, he will pick it. And he will eat it! This Ephraim is like a beautiful flower. But it will die, and it will not be beautiful. It is at the top of a valley. Good plants are there.

5 In that day the LORD of Many Armies will be a wonderful leader. And he will be a beautiful ruler for his people who remain in their country.

6 The LORD will help people to judge in the right way. He will make the people who guard their city strong.

7 But wine also causes most people in Ephraim to fall down. And beer makes them into drunks. Beer causes priests and prophets to fall over. And wine confuses their minds. Beer causes them to fall over. And when they see visions they cannot understand them. They judge in the wrong way.

8 They are sick over all their tables. And there is nowhere that is not dirty.

9 (They say,) ‘He is teaching what he knows to us! He is explaining his message to us! He thinks that we are babies! And he thinks that we have just stopped drinking milk! He thinks that we have just come from our mother's breast!

10 His message is like this: “One rule after another rule. One rule after another rule. One group of words after another group of words. One group of words after another group of words. A little here, a little there.” ’

11 So, with foreign lips and a strange language the LORD will speak to these people.

12 He said to these people, ‘This is a place to rest. Let the tired people rest.’ And he said, ‘This is a place to be quiet in.’ But they would not listen.

13 So then, the LORD's message will seem to them like, ‘One rule after another rule. One rule after another rule. One group of words after another group of words. One group of words after another group of words. A little here, a little there.’ So they will go, but they will fall over. An enemy will hurt them, and he will catch them in a trap.

14 So, listen to the LORD's message. Hear it, you people who laugh in a bad way at me. And obey it, you rulers of these people in Jerusalem.

15 What you are really saying is this. ‘We have made a covenant with death and we have agreed with Sheol. When the waters rise, they cannot touch us. That is because we believe in lies. And what is not true will keep us safe.’

16 So the LORD God says, ‘Look! I have put (someone who is like) a stone in Zion. People now know that this is a good stone. It is a valuable stone, because it makes the corners of buildings. It is a strong stone to build on. The person who believes in him will never be sorry.

17 Do what is right and fair. If you do those things, I will help you. But if not, the rain of ice will carry away the lies that you believe. And water will come into your safe place.

18 I will stop your covenant with death. What you agree with Sheol will not continue. When the water rises, it will come over you. It will drown you.

19 Every time that it comes to you, it will carry you away. Certainly, every morning, any day and any night, it might come over you. And, if you understand the message, then you will be very much afraid.’

20 (You know what people say.) ‘The bed is so short that you cannot lie in it. The blanket is so narrow that you cannot put it round yourself.’

21 But the LORD will do something, like he did at Mount Perazim. He will be very angry, as he was in the Valley of Gibeon. He will do something that is very strange. He will do something that is not usual.

22 So, do not laugh in a bad way at me. If you do laugh at me, your chains will be even heavier. The LORD God of Many Armies, told me what he has decided. He has decided to destroy all the land.

23 Listen. And hear me when I speak! Listen to me. And hear what I am saying!

24 The farmer ploughs because he wants to plant seeds. But he does not plough every day. He does not always break his ground into small pieces.

25 When he has made the ground flat, he plants dill and cummin. He plants all the different seeds of grain in their own places in his field.

26 His God teaches him. And his God tells him the right thing to do.

27 Farmers do not remove dill seeds with a special machine. Nor do they get cummin seeds like that. They hit dill seeds and cummin seeds with a stick.

28 But they do use a special machine to get grain for bread. But they do not do it for too long. The farmer does not drive the wheels of the special machine over the grain. And his horses do not walk on it.

29 The LORD of Many Armies causes them to know all that. He is a wonderful advisor to them. And he does things in that wise way.