The Word Made Fresh
1On that day the LORD’s sword,
cruel and great and powerful,
will punish Leviathan, the fleeing, twisting serpent,
along with the dragon that dwells in the sea.
2On that day you will sing about a lovely vineyard.
3I, the LORD, am its caretaker;
I water it continually and guard it night and day,
and no one can do any harm to it.
4I am not angry with the vineyard.
If there were thorns and briers against me
I would fight and burn them away.
5Let them hold on to me for protection.
Let them make peace with me.
Yes, let them make peace with me.
6In the future Jacob will be rooted.
Israel will bud and produce blossoms
and fill the earth with its fruits.
7Did the LORD punish them
as those who wounded them were punished?
Were they destroyed as their killers were destroyed?
8You struggled with them and exiled them;
You had them removed with the east wind.
9This is how Jacob’s guilt will be atoned for,
and this will be the full extent of the removal of their sin
when the pagan altars are crushed
and no Asherim or incense altars remain.
10The fortified city will be abandoned like the wilderness.
The calves graze there. They lie down and strip the branches,
11and when the limbs are dry, they are broken
and women come and make a fire with them.
These people have no understanding,
and the One who made them will have no compassion on them.
They will be given no favor.
12When that day comes the LORD will gather the people of Israel one by one, from the valley of the Euphrates to the wadi of Egypt. 13On that day a great trumpet will be sounded. Then those who were lost in Assyria and those who were driven out to the land of Egypt will come together and worship the LORD on the sacred mountain in Jerusalem.
1: Leviathan, remember, is the ancient symbol of the watery chaos out of which God brought forth creation.
2-6: The metaphor of Israel as God’s vineyard is again evoked (see 5:1-7).
7-11: The prophecy seems to be going backwards at this point: now we have God striking down sinful Jacob. A period of exile is foreseen, and Jerusalem is deserted. They have lost God’s favor.
12-13: But suddenly the prophet returns to their restoration. God’s people will be gathered in from Egypt where Jacob and his sons fled to escape the famine and from the Euphrates where Abraham was born.
No matter how far Israel strayed, God sought to bring them back. No matter how far we stray, God will seek to bring us back. That is God’s nature, and because of God’s nature we can never be lost irrevocably. All day long God is with us and for us. God grieves over our waywardness, but never gives up on us.