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The Oxford Study Bible Study Bible supplemented with commentary from scholars of various religions.

Chapter 16

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1Woe to you, Babylon and Asia! Woe to you, Egypt and Syria! 2Put on sackcloth and hair shirt and raise a cry of lamentation over your people, for destruction is close at hand. 3The sword is let loose against you, and who will turn it aside? 4Fire is let loose upon you, and who will extinguish it? 5Calamities have been let loose against you, and who is to avert them? 6Can anyone drive off a hungry lion in the forest, or put out a fire among stubble once it has begun to blaze? 7Can anyone ward off an arrow shot by a strong archer? 8When the Lord God sends calamities, who can avert them? 9When his anger bursts into flame, who can extinguish it? 10When the lightning flashes, who will not tremble? When it thunders, who will not quake with dread? 11When the Lord threatens, is there anyone who will not be crushed to the ground at his approach? 12The earth is shaken to its very foundations, and the sea is churned up from the depths; its waves and all the fish are in turmoil before the presence of the Lord and the majesty of his power. 13Strong is his arm that bends the bow, and sharp the arrows he shoots; once they are on their way, nothing will stop them until they reach the ends of the earth. 14Calamities are let loose, and will not turn back before they fetch up on earth. 15The fire is alight and will not be put out until it has consumed earth's foundations. 16An arrow shot by a powerful archer does not turn back; no more will the calamities let loose against the earth be recalled.

17Alas, alas for me! Who will rescue me in those days? 18At the onset of troubles, many will groan; at the onset of famine, many will die; at the onset of wars, empires will tremble; at the onset of bad times, all will be filled with terror. What will men do in the face of calamity? 19Famine, plague, suffering, and hardship are scourges sent to teach them better ways; 20but even so, they will not abandon their crimes or always keep the scourging in mind. 21A time will come when food is so cheap that people will imagine peace and prosperity have arrived; but at that very moment the earth will become a hotbed of disasters—sword, famine, and anarchy. 22Most of the inhabitants will die in the famine, while those who survive will be destroyed by the sword. 23The dead will be thrown out like dung, and there will be no one to give them the last rites. The forsaken land will go to waste, and its cities to ruin; 24no one will be left to cultivate the ground. 25Trees will bear their fruits, but who will pick them? 26Grapes will ripen, but who will tread them? There will be vast desolation everywhere. 27A man will long to see a human face or hear a human voice, 28for out of a whole city, only ten will survive, and in the countryside, only two will be left, hiding in the forest or in holes in the rocks. 29As in an olive grove three or four olives might be left on each tree, 30or as in a vineyard a few grapes might be overlooked by the sharp-eyed pickers, 31so also in those days three or four will be overlooked by those who with sword in hand are searching the houses. 32The forsaken land will go to waste and its fields be overrun with briars; thorns will grow over all the roads and paths, because there are no sheep to tread them. 33Maidens will live in mourning with none to marry them; women will mourn because they have no husbands; their daughters will mourn because they have no one to support them. 34The young men who should have been bridegrooms will have been killed in the war, and the men who were married will have been wiped out by the famine.

35 BUT you servants of the Lord, listen and learn. 36This is the word of the Lord; take it to heart, and do not doubt what he says: 37Calamities are close at hand, and will not be delayed. 38When a woman is in the ninth month of her pregnancy and the moment of her child's birth is drawing near, there are two or three hours in which her womb suffers pangs of agony, and then the child comes from the womb without any further delay; 39similarly, calamities will not defer their coming on the earth, and the world will groan under the pangs that beset it.

40My people, listen to my words; get ready for battle, and when the calamities surround you, behave as though you were strangers on earth. 41The seller must expect to have to run for his life, the buyer to lose what he buys; 42the merchant must expect to make no profit, the builder never to live in the house he builds. 43The sower must not expect to reap, nor should he who prunes the vine expect to harvest the grapes. 44Those who marry must not look for children; the unmarried must think of themselves as widowed. 45For all who labour, labour in vain. 46Their fruits will be gathered by foreigners, who will plunder their goods, pull down their houses, and take their sons captive, because only for captivity and famine will they bear children. 47Any who make money do so only to have it plundered. The more care they lavish on their cities, houses, and property, and on their own persons, 48the fiercer will be my indignation against their sins, says the Lord. 49Like the indignation of a virtuous woman towards a prostitute, 50so will be the indignation of justice towards wickedness decked out in finery; she will accuse her to her face, when the champion arrives to expose every sin on earth. 51Therefore, do not imitate wickedness or her deeds; 52in a very short time she will be swept away from the earth, and the reign of justice over us will begin.

53Let not the sinner deny that he has sinned; he will only bring burning coals on his own head if he says, ‘I have committed no sin against the majesty of God.’ 54Everything that men do is known to the Lord; he knows their plans, their schemes, their inmost thoughts. 55He said, ‘Let the earth be made,’ and it was made; ‘Let the heavens be made,’ and they were made. 56The stars were fixed in their places by his word, and he knows the number of the stars. 57He looks into the depths with their treasures; he has measured the sea and everything it contains. 58By his word he confined the sea within the bounds of the waters and suspended the land above the water. 59He spread out the sky like a vault, and fixed it firmly over the waters. 60He provided springs in the desert, and pools on the mountaintops as the source of rivers flowing down to water the earth. 61He created man, and put a heart in the middle of his body; he gave him breath, life, understanding, 62and the very spirit of Almighty God who created all things and searches out secrets in secret places. 63He knows well your plans and your inmost thoughts. Woe to sinners who try to conceal their sins! 64The Lord will scrutinize all their deeds; he will call you all to account. 65You will be covered with confusion, when your sins are brought into the open and your wicked deeds stand up to accuse you on that day. 66What can you do? How will you hide your sins in the presence of God and his angels? 67God is the judge; fear him! Abandon your sins, and have done with your wicked deeds for ever! Then God will set you free from all distress.

68Fierce flames are being kindled to consume you. A great horde will descend on you; they will seize some of you and compel you to eat food sacrificed to idols. 69Those who give in to them will be derided, taunted, and humiliated. 70In place after place and throughout the neighbouring cities there will be a violent attack on those who fear the Lord. 71Their enemies will be like maniacs, plundering and destroying without mercy all who still fear the Lord, 72destroying and plundering their possessions, and ejecting them from their homes. 73Then it will be seen that my chosen ones have stood the test like gold in the assayer's fire.

74Listen, you whom I have chosen, says the Lord: the days of harsh suffering are close at hand, but I shall rescue you from them. 75Have done with fears and doubts! God is your guide. 76As followers of my commandments and instructions, says the Lord God, you must not let your sins weigh you down or your wicked deeds gain the ascendancy. 77Woe to those who are entangled in their sins and overrun with their wicked deeds! They are like a field where the path is entwined with bushes and brambles and there is no way through; 78it is separated off in readiness for destruction by fire.

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