Looking for a Crop of Justice
1-2I’ll sing a ballad to the one I love,
a love ballad about his vineyard:
The one I love had a vineyard,
a fine, well-placed vineyard.
He hoed the soil and pulled the weeds,
and planted the very best vines.
He built a lookout, built a winepress,
a vineyard to be proud of.
He looked for a vintage yield of grapes,
but for all his pains he got garbage grapes.

3-4“Now listen to what I’m telling you,
you who live in Jerusalem and Judah.
What do you think is going on
between me and my vineyard?
Can you think of anything I could have done
to my vineyard that I didn’t do?
When I expected good grapes,
why did I get bitter grapes?

5-6“Well now, let me tell you
what I’ll do to my vineyard:
I’ll tear down its fence
and let it go to ruin.
I’ll knock down the gate
and let it be trampled.
I’ll turn it into a patch of weeds, untended, uncared for—
thistles and thorns will take over.
I’ll give orders to the clouds:
‘Don’t rain on that vineyard, ever!’”

7Do you get it? The vineyard of God-of-the-Angel-Armies
is the country of Israel.
All the men and women of Judah
are the garden he was so proud of.
He looked for a crop of justice
and saw them murdering each other.
He looked for a harvest of righteousness
and heard only the moans of victims.
You Who Call Evil Good and Good Evil
8-10Doom to you who buy up all the houses
and grab all the land for yourselves—
Evicting the old owners,
posting no trespassing signs,
Taking over the country,
leaving everyone homeless and landless.
I overheard God-of-the-Angel-Armies say:
“Those mighty houses will end up empty.
Those extravagant estates will be deserted.
A ten-acre vineyard will produce a pint of wine,
a fifty-pound sack of seed, a quart of grain.”

11-17Doom to those who get up early
and start drinking booze before breakfast,
Who stay up all hours of the night
drinking themselves into a stupor.
They make sure their banquets are well-furnished
with harps and flutes and plenty of wine,
But they’ll have nothing to do with the work of God,
pay no mind to what he is doing.
Therefore my people will end up in exile
because they don’t know the score.
Their “honored men” will starve to death
and the common people die of thirst.
Sheol developed a huge appetite,
swallowing people nonstop!
Big people and little people alike
down that gullet, to say nothing of all the drunks.
The down-and-out on a par
with the high-and-mighty,
Windbag boasters crumpled,
flaccid as a punctured bladder.
But by working justice,
God-of-the-Angel-Armies will be a mountain.
By working righteousness,
Holy God will show what “holy” is.
And lambs will graze
as if they owned the place,
Kids and calves
right at home in the ruins.

18-19Doom to you who use lies to sell evil,
who haul sin to market by the truckload,
Who say, “What’s God waiting for?
Let him get a move on so we can see it.
Whatever The Holy of Israel has cooked up,
we’d like to check it out.”

20Doom to you who call evil good
and good evil,
Who put darkness in place of light
and light in place of darkness,
Who substitute bitter for sweet
and sweet for bitter!

21-23Doom to you who think you’re so smart,
who hold such a high opinion of yourselves!
All you’re good at is drinking—champion boozers
who collect trophies from drinking bouts
And then line your pockets with bribes from the guilty
while you violate the rights of the innocent.

24But they won’t get by with it. As fire eats stubble
and dry grass goes up in smoke,
Their souls will atrophy,
their achievements crumble into dust,
Because they said no to the revelation
of God-of-the-Angel-Armies,
Would have nothing to do
with The Holy of Israel.

25-30That’s why God flamed out in anger against his people,
reached out and knocked them down.
The mountains trembled
as their dead bodies piled up in the streets.
But even after that, he was still angry,
his fist still raised, ready to hit them again.
He raises a flag, signaling a distant nation,
whistles for people at the ends of the earth.
And here they come—
on the run!
None drag their feet, no one stumbles,
no one sleeps or dawdles.
Shirts are on and pants buckled,
every boot is spit-polished and tied.
Their arrows are sharp,
bows strung,
The hooves of their horses shod,
chariot wheels greased.
Roaring like a pride of lions,
the full-throated roars of young lions,
They growl and seize their prey,
dragging it off—no rescue for that one!
They’ll roar and roar and roar on that Day,
like the roar of ocean billows.
Look as long and hard as you like at that land,
you’ll see nothing but darkness and trouble.
Every light in the sky
will be blacked out by the clouds.