The song of the vineyard
1 Now I will sing for the person that I love. I will sing a song of love about his vineyard.
‘The person that I love has a vineyard. It is on a hill where plants grow well.
2 He dug the ground and he removed the stones. He planted the best vines in it.
He made a tall building in the middle of the vineyard where he could watch the vineyard.
He also made a place to make wine in it. Then he waited for the vineyard to give good grapes to him.
But bad grapes grew in it.’
3 And now, listen to me, you people who live in Jerusalem. And listen, all you people who live in Judah. You decide who was wrong. Decide whether I or my vineyard was wrong.
4 There was nothing else that I ought to have done for my vineyard. I had done everything for it! I waited for good grapes. But it gave bad grapes to me. I do not think that you can explain that!
5 And now I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard. I will take away its wall. Then animals will eat all the grapes. I will knock down its wall and the animals will walk all over the vineyard.
6 I will make the land so that nobody can use it. Nobody will prune the vines or dig the ground round them. So weeds and plants with thorns will grow there. I will say to the clouds, ‘Do not drop rain on it.’
7 Now the vineyard of the LORD of Many Armies is like a picture of Israel. The plants in it that he likes are like the people in Judah. The LORD looked for justice, but he saw only the opposite. He wanted people to be very good. But he only heard people who were crying for help.
The wrong things that the people in Jerusalem and Judah have done
8 The people who build one house next to another house will be very sad. Also, they join one field to another field. They do that until there is no more room. So you people live alone on the land.
9 I have heard the LORD of Many Armies promise this: ‘Many houses will certainly be empty. There will be large and beautiful houses that nobody lives in.
10 Also, large parts of the vineyard will give only a small amount of wine. Very large amounts of seed will cause only a few plants to grow.’
11 There will be trouble for the people who get up early in the morning. They do that so that they can get a drink of alcohol. They go to bed late in the evening, so that wine can cause them to become drunks.
12 At their parties there is music from lyre and harp, tambourine and flute. And there is wine. But they do not think about the things that the LORD has done. They do not really like what he has made.
13 So my people will go into exile, because they do not understand God. Their leaders will die because they do not have enough food. And very many people will not have anything to drink.
14 So Sheol will open its mouth very much to eat more people. The leaders and the people will go into it. It will take in the crowds that make a lot of noise. Also, it will take in the people who have parties in Jerusalem.
15 So the LORD will make people humble. Then God will make everybody low! He will take away their proud faces.
16 But his justice will make the LORD of Many Armies great! The Holy God is holy because he is very, very good. And he will show that that is true.
17 Then the sheep will eat grass as they do in their own fields. Young sheep will eat in the rich people's houses that the enemy destroyed.
18 Some people do very bad things everywhere that they go. They are like someone who pulls something behind him with pieces of string. Some people take sin with them as a horse pulls a cart with ropes. There will be trouble for those people.
19 Those people who say, ‘The LORD must hurry!’ will be very sad. They say ‘He must do his work quickly, so that we can see it. We want to hear the ideas of the Holy God of Israel. We want them to happen! Then we will really know that they are true!’
20 There are people who call wrong things right. And they call right things wrong. 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. But soon they will be sad.
21 Some people think that they are wise. They think that they are clever. But God will punish them and then they will be very sad.
22 Some people think that they are great. They think that because they drink a lot of wine. Those people will be very sad. Also, some people are strong when they mix strong drink. Those people will be very sad.
23 They do not punish guilty people, if the guilty people give money to them. But there is no justice for people who are not guilty.
24 So as certainly as fire burns dry plants, parts of them will fall into pieces. And as fire burns away dry grass, their flowers will blow away like small pieces of dirt. That will happen because they refused to obey the LORD of Many Armies. He said what they should do. But they did not do it. And they thought that the words of the Holy God of Israel were silly.
25 So the LORD became angry with his people. He punished them, as if someone had hit them with his hand. And the mountains moved and his people's dead bodies became like dirt in the streets. The LORD has done all that but he is still angry with them. And his hand is still ready to hit them again.
God will send a message to another nation from a long way away to punish his people
26 Also, the LORD will send a message to nations that are a long way from here. And he will use his whistle so that a nation at the ends of the earth hears it. And look! Here that nation's soldiers come, very quickly!
27 Nobody is tired; nobody falls down. Nobody rests; nobody sleeps. Nobody has a belt that they have not fastened. And nobody has broken a part of a shoe.
28 Their arrows are sharp. And their bows are ready to shoot. Their horses' feet are as hard as stones. And the wheels on their chariots go as fast as a very strong wind.
29 They roar like a lion; they make a noise like a young lion. Lions roar while they catch an animal. They want to eat it. They carry it away and nobody can save it. These soldiers make a noise like that.
30 On that day, the enemy will roar over what they catch. Their roar will be like the sea. And if anybody looks to the land they will see darkness. And they will see people who are very much afraid. Also, clouds will hide the light of the sun.