1This is the sad message for Damascus. The Lord says these things will happen to Damascus: “Damascus is now a city. But Damascus will be destroyed. Only destroyed buildings will be left in Damascus. 2People will leave the cities of Aroer. Flocks of sheep will wander freely in those empty towns; There will be no person to bother them. 3The fort cities of Ephraim ˻(Israel)˼ will be destroyed. The government in Damascus will be finished. The same thing that happens to Israel, will happen to Aram. All the important people will be taken away.” The Lord All-Powerful said those things would happen. 4At that time, Jacob’s ˻(Israel’s)˼ wealth will all be gone. Jacob will be like a man who was sick and became weak and thin. 5That time will be like grain harvest in Rephaim Valley. The workers gather plants that grow in the field. Then they cut the heads of grain from the plants. And they collect the grain. 6That time will also be like the time people harvest olives. People knock olives from olive trees. But a few olives are usually left at the top of the tree. Four or five olives are left on some of the top branches. It will be the same for those cities. The Lord All-Powerful said those things. 7At that time, people will look up to ˻God˼, the One who made them. Their eyes will see the Holy One of Israel. 8The people will not trust the great things they have made. They will not go to the special gardens and altars ˻they made for false gods˼. 9At that time, all the fort cities will be empty. Those cities will be like the mountains and the forests in the land before the people of Israel came. ˻In the past,˼ all the people ran away because the people of Israel were coming. ˻In the future,˼ the country will be empty again. 10This will happen because you have forgotten the God who saves you. You have not remembered that God is your place of safety. You brought some very good grapevines from faraway places. You can plant those grapevines, but those plants will not grow. 11You will plant your grapevines one day and try to make them grow. The next day the plants will begin to grow. But at harvest time, you will go to gather the fruit from the plants, and you will see that everything is dead. A sickness will kill all the plants. 12Listen to the many, many people! They are crying loud like the noise from the sea. Listen to the noise. It is like the crashing and crashing of waves in the sea. 13˻And the people will be like those waves—˼ God will speak harshly to the people, and they will run away. The people will be like chaff being chased by the wind. The people will be like tumbleweeds being chased by a storm. The wind blows and the weeds go far away. 14That night, the people will be frightened. Before morning, nothing will be left. So our enemies will get nothing. They will come to our land, but nothing will be there.