Tested in the Furnace of Affliction
48 1-11 “And now listen to this, family of Jacob,
you who are called by the name Israel:
Who got you started in the loins of Judah,
you who use God’s name to back up your promises
and pray to the God of Israel?
But do you mean it?
Do you live like it?
You claim to be citizens of the Holy City;
you act as though you lean on the God of Israel,
For a long time now, I’ve let you in on the way I work:
I told you what I was going to do beforehand,
then I did it and it was done, and that’s that.
I know you’re a bunch of hardheads,
obstinate and flint-faced,
So I got a running start and began telling you
what was going on before it even happened.
That is why you can’t say,
‘My god-idol did this.’
‘My favorite god-carving commanded this.’
You have all this evidence
confirmed by your own eyes and ears.
Shouldn’t you be talking about it?
And that was just the beginning.
I have a lot more to tell you,
things you never knew existed.
This isn’t a variation on the same old thing.
This is new, brand-new,
something you’d never guess or dream up.
When you hear this you won’t be able to say,
‘I knew that all along.’
You’ve never been good listeners to me.
You have a history of ignoring me,
A sorry track record of fickle attachments—
rebels from the womb.
But out of the sheer goodness of my heart,
because of who I am,
I keep a tight rein on my anger and hold my temper.
I don’t wash my hands of you.
Do you see what I’ve done?
I’ve refined you, but not without fire.
I’ve tested you like silver in the furnace of affliction.
Out of myself, simply because of who I am, I do what I do.
I have my reputation to keep up.
I’m not playing second fiddle to either gods or people.
12-13 “Listen, Jacob. Listen, Israel—
I’m the One who named you!
I’m the One.
I got things started and, yes, I’ll wrap them up.
Earth is my work, handmade.
And the skies—I made them, too, horizon to horizon.
When I speak, they’re on their feet, at attention.
14-16 “Come everybody, gather around, listen:
Who among the gods has delivered the news?
I, God, love this man Cyrus, and I’m using him
to do what I want with Babylon.
I, yes I, have spoken. I’ve called him.
I’ve brought him here. He’ll be successful.
Come close, listen carefully:
I’ve never kept secrets from you.
I’ve always been present with you.”
Your Progeny, Like Grains of Sand
16-19 And now, the Master, God, sends me and his Spirit
with this Message from God,
your Redeemer, The Holy of Israel:
“I am God, your God,
who teaches you how to live right and well.
I show you what to do, where to go.
If you had listened all along to what I told you,
your life would have flowed full like a river,
blessings rolling in like waves from the sea.
Children and grandchildren are like sand,
your progeny like grains of sand.
There would be no end of them,
no danger of losing touch with me.”
20 Get out of Babylon! Run from the Babylonians!
Shout the news. Broadcast it.
Let the world know, the whole world.
Tell them, “God redeemed his dear servant Jacob!”
21 They weren’t thirsty when he led them through the deserts.
He made water pour out of the rock;
he split the rock and the water gushed.
22 “There is no peace,” says God, “for the wicked.”