The song of the vineyard
1 Now I will sing a song for the person that I love. I will sing to him about his vineyard.
‘The one that I love had a vineyard.
It was on a hill where the soil is good.
2 He dug the ground and he removed the stones.
He planted the best vines in it.
He built a tower in the middle of the vineyard
so that he could watch it.
He built a place to squeeze the grapes
to make wine.
Then he waited for the vines to make sweet grapes.
But the vines made only bitter grapes.’
3 So now, listen to me, you people who live in Jerusalem and in Judah. You must be the judge! Who did what was right? Was it me or my vineyard? You decide!
4 I did everything that I could to help my vineyard. I could have done no more! But when I waited to get sweet grapes from the vines, there were only bitter ones! Why was that?
5 Now I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard. I will break down its walls, so that it becomes an open field. Then wild animals will go in and they will destroy the vines.
6 I will make the land become useless. Nobody will take care of the vines. Nobody will dig the ground. Weeds and thorn bushes will grow there. I will command the clouds, ‘Do not drop any rain on it.’
7 Israel's nation is like the vineyard of the Lord Almighty. Judah's people are his beautiful garden. But when the Lord looked there for justice, he found only murder! When he looked for people who were righteous, he saw that they were cruel.
Bad trouble will come
8 It will be very bad for you people who buy many houses for yourselves. You also buy land to join to the land that you already have. Then there is no more land left for anyone else. You are the only people who remain on the land.
9 I have heard the Lord Almighty promise this: ‘All these great, beautiful houses will certainly become empty. There will be nobody to live in them.
10 Large vineyards will give only a few bottles of wine. If you plant ten bags of seed, you will only get one bag of grain as your harvest.’
11 It will be bad for you people who like to get up early to start drinking. You continue to drink late into the night, until you are very drunk.
12 You have wild parties with plenty of music and wine. You make music with your lyres, harps, tambourines and flutes. But you do not understand the things that the Lord is doing. You do not see the things that he has made.
13 Because of that, my people will go into exile in countries far away. They do not know God. Their leaders will die because they have nothing to eat. All the other people will have nothing to drink.
14 So the deep hole of death will be hungry! It will open wide to eat the people of Jerusalem. The leaders and the people will go down into it. It will eat up those who are happy at their wild parties in Jerusalem.
15 So the Lord will bring its people down low. Its proud people will become ashamed.
16 But the Lord Almighty will be lifted up high by his justice. People will know that he is holy when he comes as judge.
17 Then lambs will find good grass to eat, as they do in their own fields. Fat sheep will find food to eat among the stones of the old houses.
18 It will be very bad for you people who are always deceiving others. You cannot leave your sins behind, like someone who pulls a cart with a rope.
19 People like that laugh at God. They say, ‘The Lord should do something quickly! We want to see what he can do. The holy God of Israel should do what he has decided to do. Then we will really know what that is!’
20 It will be very bad for people who call evil things good. And they call good things evil. They say, ‘It is light’, when it is dark. And they say, ‘It is dark’, when it is light. They say that bitter things are sweet. And they say that sweet things are bitter.
21 It will be very bad for people who think that they are wise. They think that they are very clever.
22 It will be very bad for people who think that they are famous because they can drink a lot of wine. They think that they are very brave to mix strong drinks together.
23 If people like that receive a bribe, they will not say that wicked people are guilty. They also refuse to say that righteous people are not guilty.
24 Because of that, they will come to a bad end. It will be for them like a hot fire that destroys dry grass. Their roots will die and their flowers will blow away like dust. They have refused to obey the laws of the Lord Almighty. They have not listened to the message that the holy God of Israel has taught them.
25 So the Lord has become angry with his people. He is ready to punish them. He has lifted up his hand, so that the mountains shake. Dead bodies of people are lying all over the streets. But that is not enough! The Lord is still angry with them. His hand is ready to punish them even more.
26 The Lord will send a message to foreign nations to come and attack. He calls to nations that are far away, and now they are already coming! Their armies march quickly to Jerusalem.
27 None of their soldiers are tired. They do not fall down. Nobody rests. Nobody sleeps. They have tied their belts strongly. Their shoes do not break in pieces. 28 Their arrows are sharp. Their bows are ready to shoot. Their horses' feet are as hard as stones. The wheels of their chariots go round very fast.
29 As they march to fight, they roar like lions. They are like strong young lions that catch other animals to eat. They carry their prisoners away to places where nobody can rescue them.
30 On the day that they attack, the enemy will roar over the people that they catch. They will make a noise like a rough sea. If anyone looks across the land, it will be completely dark because of all the trouble. Clouds will make the light of day become dark.