A Message about Assyria
33 What sorrow awaits you Assyrians, who have destroyed others[a]
but have never been destroyed yourselves.
You betray others,
but you have never been betrayed.
When you are done destroying,
you will be destroyed.
When you are done betraying,
you will be betrayed.
2 But Lord, be merciful to us,
for we have waited for you.
Be our strong arm each day
and our salvation in times of trouble.
3 The enemy runs at the sound of your voice.
When you stand up, the nations flee!
4 Just as caterpillars and locusts strip the fields and vines,
so the fallen army of Assyria will be stripped!
5 Though the Lord is very great and lives in heaven,
he will make Jerusalem[b] his home of justice and righteousness.
6 In that day he will be your sure foundation,
providing a rich store of salvation, wisdom, and knowledge.
The fear of the Lord will be your treasure.
7 But now your brave warriors weep in public.
Your ambassadors of peace cry in bitter disappointment.
8 Your roads are deserted;
no one travels them anymore.
The Assyrians have broken their peace treaty
and care nothing for the promises they made before witnesses.[c]
They have no respect for anyone.
9 The land of Israel wilts in mourning.
Lebanon withers with shame.
The plain of Sharon is now a wilderness.
Bashan and Carmel have been plundered.
10 But the Lord says: “Now I will stand up.
Now I will show my power and might.
11 You Assyrians produce nothing but dry grass and stubble.
Your own breath will turn to fire and consume you.
12 Your people will be burned up completely,
like thornbushes cut down and tossed in a fire.
13 Listen to what I have done, you nations far away!
And you that are near, acknowledge my might!”
14 The sinners in Jerusalem shake with fear.
Terror seizes the godless.
“Who can live with this devouring fire?” they cry.
“Who can survive this all-consuming fire?”
15 Those who are honest and fair,
who refuse to profit by fraud,
who stay far away from bribes,
who refuse to listen to those who plot murder,
who shut their eyes to all enticement to do wrong—
16 these are the ones who will dwell on high.
The rocks of the mountains will be their fortress.
Food will be supplied to them,
and they will have water in abundance.
17 Your eyes will see the king in all his splendor,
and you will see a land that stretches into the distance.
18 You will think back to this time of terror, asking,
“Where are the Assyrian officers
who counted our towers?
Where are the bookkeepers
who recorded the plunder taken from our fallen city?”
19 You will no longer see these fierce, violent people
with their strange, unknown language.
20 Instead, you will see Zion as a place of holy festivals.
You will see Jerusalem, a city quiet and secure.
It will be like a tent whose ropes are taut
and whose stakes are firmly fixed.
21 The Lord will be our Mighty One.
He will be like a wide river of protection
that no enemy can cross,
that no enemy ship can sail upon.
22 For the Lord is our judge,
our lawgiver, and our king.
He will care for us and save us.
23 The enemies’ sails hang loose
on broken masts with useless tackle.
Their treasure will be divided by the people of God.
Even the lame will take their share!
24 The people of Israel will no longer say,
“We are sick and helpless,”
for the Lord will forgive their sins.
A Message for the Nations
34 Come here and listen, O nations of the earth.
Let the world and everything in it hear my words.
2 For the Lord is enraged against the nations.
His fury is against all their armies.
He will completely destroy[d] them,
dooming them to slaughter.
3 Their dead will be left unburied,
and the stench of rotting bodies will fill the land.
The mountains will flow with their blood.
4 The heavens above will melt away
and disappear like a rolled-up scroll.
The stars will fall from the sky
like withered leaves from a grapevine,
or shriveled figs from a fig tree.
5 And when my sword has finished its work in the heavens,
it will fall upon Edom,
the nation I have marked for destruction.
6 The sword of the Lord is drenched with blood
and covered with fat—
with the blood of lambs and goats,
with the fat of rams prepared for sacrifice.
Yes, the Lord will offer a sacrifice in the city of Bozrah.
He will make a mighty slaughter in Edom.
7 Even men as strong as wild oxen will die—
the young men alongside the veterans.
The land will be soaked with blood
and the soil enriched with fat.
8 For it is the day of the Lord’s revenge,
the year when Edom will be paid back for all it did to Israel.[e]
9 The streams of Edom will be filled with burning pitch,
and the ground will be covered with fire.
10 This judgment on Edom will never end;
the smoke of its burning will rise forever.
The land will lie deserted from generation to generation.
No one will live there anymore.
11 It will be haunted by the desert owl and the screech owl,
the great owl and the raven.[f]
For God will measure that land carefully;
he will measure it for chaos and destruction.
12 It will be called the Land of Nothing,
and all its nobles will soon be gone.[g]
13 Thorns will overrun its palaces;
nettles and thistles will grow in its forts.
The ruins will become a haunt for jackals
and a home for owls.
14 Desert animals will mingle there with hyenas,
their howls filling the night.
Wild goats will bleat at one another among the ruins,
and night creatures[h] will come there to rest.
15 There the owl will make her nest and lay her eggs.
She will hatch her young and cover them with her wings.
And the buzzards will come,
each one with its mate.
16 Search the book of the Lord,
and see what he will do.
Not one of these birds and animals will be missing,
and none will lack a mate,
for the Lord has promised this.
His Spirit will make it all come true.
17 He has surveyed and divided the land
and deeded it over to those creatures.
They will possess it forever,
from generation to generation.
Hope for Restoration
35 Even the wilderness and desert will be glad in those days.
The wasteland will rejoice and blossom with spring crocuses.
2 Yes, there will be an abundance of flowers
and singing and joy!
The deserts will become as green as the mountains of Lebanon,
as lovely as Mount Carmel or the plain of Sharon.
There the Lord will display his glory,
the splendor of our God.
3 With this news, strengthen those who have tired hands,
and encourage those who have weak knees.
4 Say to those with fearful hearts,
“Be strong, and do not fear,
for your God is coming to destroy your enemies.
He is coming to save you.”
5 And when he comes, he will open the eyes of the blind
and unplug the ears of the deaf.
6 The lame will leap like a deer,
and those who cannot speak will sing for joy!
Springs will gush forth in the wilderness,
and streams will water the wasteland.
7 The parched ground will become a pool,
and springs of water will satisfy the thirsty land.
Marsh grass and reeds and rushes will flourish
where desert jackals once lived.
8 And a great road will go through that once deserted land.
It will be named the Highway of Holiness.
Evil-minded people will never travel on it.
It will be only for those who walk in God’s ways;
fools will never walk there.
9 Lions will not lurk along its course,
nor any other ferocious beasts.
There will be no other dangers.
Only the redeemed will walk on it.
10 Those who have been ransomed by the Lord will return.
They will enter Jerusalem[i] singing,
crowned with everlasting joy.
Sorrow and mourning will disappear,
and they will be filled with joy and gladness.
33:1 Hebrew What sorrow awaits you, O destroyer. The Hebrew text does not specifically name Assyria as the object of the prophecy in this chapter.
33:5 Hebrew Zion; also in 33:14.
33:8 As in Dead Sea Scrolls; Masoretic Text reads care nothing for the cities.
34:2 The Hebrew term used here refers to the complete consecration of things or people to the Lord, either by destroying them or by giving them as an offering; similarly in 34:5.
34:8 Hebrew to Zion.
34:11 The identification of some of these birds is uncertain.
34:12 The meaning of the Hebrew is uncertain.
34:14 Hebrew Lilith, possibly a reference to a mythical demon of the night.
35:10 Hebrew Zion.
Trusting in the Lord
3 My child,[a] never forget the things I have taught you.
Store my commands in your heart.
2 If you do this, you will live many years,
and your life will be satisfying.
3 Never let loyalty and kindness leave you!
Tie them around your neck as a reminder.
Write them deep within your heart.
4 Then you will find favor with both God and people,
and you will earn a good reputation.
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
do not depend on your own understanding.
6 Seek his will in all you do,
and he will show you which path to take.
7 Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom.
Instead, fear the Lord and turn away from evil.
8 Then you will have healing for your body
and strength for your bones.
9 Honor the Lord with your wealth
and with the best part of everything you produce.
10 Then he will fill your barns with grain,
and your vats will overflow with good wine.
11 My child, don’t reject the Lord’s discipline,
and don’t be upset when he corrects you.
12 For the Lord corrects those he loves,
just as a father corrects a child in whom he delights.[b]
3:1 Hebrew My son; also in 3:11, 21.
3:12 Greek version reads loves, / and he punishes those he accepts as his children. Compare Heb 12:6.
4 Masters, be just and fair to your slaves. Remember that you also have a Master—in heaven.
An Encouragement for Prayer
2 Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart. 3 Pray for us, too, that God will give us many opportunities to speak about his mysterious plan concerning Christ. That is why I am here in chains. 4 Pray that I will proclaim this message as clearly as I should.
5 Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity. 6 Let your conversation be gracious and attractive[a] so that you will have the right response for everyone.
Paul’s Final Instructions and Greetings
7 Tychicus will give you a full report about how I am getting along. He is a beloved brother and faithful helper who serves with me in the Lord’s work. 8 I have sent him to you for this very purpose—to let you know how we are doing and to encourage you. 9 I am also sending Onesimus, a faithful and beloved brother, one of your own people. He and Tychicus will tell you everything that’s happening here.
10 Aristarchus, who is in prison with me, sends you his greetings, and so does Mark, Barnabas’s cousin. As you were instructed before, make Mark welcome if he comes your way. 11 Jesus (the one we call Justus) also sends his greetings. These are the only Jewish believers among my co-workers; they are working with me here for the Kingdom of God. And what a comfort they have been!
12 Epaphras, a member of your own fellowship and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends you his greetings. He always prays earnestly for you, asking God to make you strong and perfect, fully confident that you are following the whole will of God. 13 I can assure you that he prays hard for you and also for the believers in Laodicea and Hierapolis.
14 Luke, the beloved doctor, sends his greetings, and so does Demas. 15 Please give my greetings to our brothers and sisters[b] at Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church that meets in her house.
16 After you have read this letter, pass it on to the church at Laodicea so they can read it, too. And you should read the letter I wrote to them.
17 And say to Archippus, “Be sure to carry out the ministry the Lord gave you.”
18 HERE IS MY GREETING IN MY OWN HANDWRITING—PAUL.
Remember my chains.
May God’s grace be with you.
4:6 Greek and seasoned with salt.
4:15 Greek brothers.
19 Long ago you spoke in a vision to your faithful people.
You said, “I have raised up a warrior.
I have selected him from the common people to be king.
20 I have found my servant David.
I have anointed him with my holy oil.
21 I will steady him with my hand;
with my powerful arm I will make him strong.
22 His enemies will not defeat him,
nor will the wicked overpower him.
23 I will beat down his adversaries before him
and destroy those who hate him.
24 My faithfulness and unfailing love will be with him,
and by my authority he will grow in power.
25 I will extend his rule over the sea,
his dominion over the rivers.
26 And he will call out to me, ‘You are my Father,
my God, and the Rock of my salvation.’
27 I will make him my firstborn son,
the mightiest king on earth.
28 I will love him and be kind to him forever;
my covenant with him will never end.
29 I will preserve an heir for him;
his throne will be as endless as the days of heaven.
30 But if his descendants forsake my instructions
and fail to obey my regulations,
31 if they do not obey my decrees
and fail to keep my commands,
32 then I will punish their sin with the rod,
and their disobedience with beating.
33 But I will never stop loving him
nor fail to keep my promise to him.
34 No, I will not break my covenant;
I will not take back a single word I said.
35 I have sworn an oath to David,
and in my holiness I cannot lie:
36 His dynasty will go on forever;
his kingdom will endure as the sun.
37 It will be as eternal as the moon,
my faithful witness in the sky!” Interlude