Isaiah 57:14-59:21Contemporary English Version (CEV)
The Lord Helps the Helpless
14 The Lord says, “Clear the road! Get it ready for my people.”
15 Our holy God lives forever in the highest heavens, and this is what he says: Though I live high above in the holy place, I am here to help those who are humble and depend only on me.
16 My people, I won’t stay angry and keep on accusing you. After all, I am your Creator. I don’t want you to give up in complete despair. 17 Your greed made me furious. That’s why I punished you and refused to be found, while you kept returning to your old sinful ways.
18 I know what you are like! But I will heal you, lead you, and give you comfort, until those who are mourning 19 start singing my praises.[a] No matter where you are, I, the Lord, will heal you[b] and give you peace.
20 The wicked are a restless sea tossing up mud. 21 But I, the Lord, have promised that none who are evil will live in peace.
58 Shout the message! Don’t hold back. Say to my people Israel: You’ve sinned! You’ve turned against the Lord. 2 Day after day, you worship him and seem eager to learn his teachings. You act like a nation that wants to do right by obeying his laws. You ask him about justice, and say you enjoy worshiping the Lord.
3 You wonder why the Lord pays no attention when you go without eating and act humble. But on those same days that you give up eating, you think only of yourselves[c] and abuse your workers. 4 You even get angry and ready to fight. No wonder God won’t listen to your prayers!
5 Do you think the Lord wants you to give up eating and to act as humble as a bent-over bush? Or to dress in sackcloth and sit in ashes? Is this really what he wants on a day of worship?
6 I’ll tell you what it really means to worship the Lord. Remove the chains of prisoners who are chained unjustly. Free those who are abused! 7 Share your food with everyone who is hungry; share your home with the poor and homeless. Give clothes to those in need; don’t turn away your relatives.
8 Then your light will shine like the dawning sun, and you will quickly be healed. Your honesty[d] will protect you as you advance, and the glory of the Lord will defend you from behind. 9 When you beg the Lord for help, he will answer, “Here I am!”
Don’t mistreat others or falsely accuse them or say something cruel. 10 Give your food to the hungry and care for the homeless. Then your light will shine in the dark; your darkest hour will be like the noonday sun.
11 The Lord will always guide you and provide good things to eat when you are in the desert. He will make you healthy. You will be like a garden that has plenty of water or like a stream that never runs dry. 12 You will rebuild those houses left in ruins for years; you will be known as a builder and repairer of city walls and streets.
13 But first, you must start respecting the Sabbath as a joyful day of worship. You must stop doing and saying whatever you please on this special day. 14 Then you will truly enjoy knowing the Lord. He will let you rule from the highest mountains and bless you with the land of your ancestor Jacob. The Lord has spoken!
Social Injustice Is Condemned
59 The Lord hasn’t lost his powerful strength; he can still hear and answer prayers. 2 Your sins are the roadblock between you and your God. That’s why he doesn’t answer your prayers or let you see his face.
3 Your talk is filled with lies and plans for violence; every finger on your hands is covered with blood. 4 You falsely accuse others and tell lies in court; sin and trouble are the names of your children. 5 You eat the deadly eggs of poisonous snakes, and more snakes crawl out from the eggs left to hatch. You weave spider webs, 6 but you can’t make clothes with those webs or hide behind them.
You’re sinful and brutal. 7 You hurry off to do wrong or murder innocent victims. All you think about is sin; you leave ruin and destruction wherever you go. 8 You don’t know how to live in peace or to be fair with others. The roads you make are crooked; your followers cannot find peace.
The People Confess Their Sins
9 No one has come to defend us or to bring about justice. We hoped for a day of sunshine, but all we found was a dark, gloomy night. 10 We feel our way along, as if we were blind; we stumble at noon, as if it were night. We can see no better than someone dead.[e]
11 We growl like bears and mourn like doves. We hope for justice and victory, but they escape us. 12 How often have we sinned and turned against you, the Lord God? Our sins condemn us! We have done wrong. 13 We have rebelled and refused to follow you. Our hearts were deceitful, and so we lied; we planned to abuse others and turn our backs on you.
14 Injustice is everywhere; justice seems far away. Truth is chased out of court; honesty is shoved aside. 15 Everyone tells lies; those who turn from crime end up ruined.
The Lord Will Rescue His People
When the Lord noticed that justice had disappeared, he became very displeased. 16 It disgusted him even more to learn that no one would do a thing about it. So with his own powerful arm, he won victories for truth. 17 Justice was the Lord’s armor; saving power was his helmet; anger and revenge were his clothes.
18 Now the Lord will get furious and do to his enemies, both near and far, what they did to his people. 19 He will attack like a flood in a mighty windstorm. Nations in the west and the east will then honor and praise his wonderful name. 20 The Lord has promised to rescue the city of Zion and Jacob’s descendants who turn from sin.
21 The Lord says: “My people, I promise to give you my Spirit and my message. These will be my gifts to you and your families forever. I, the Lord, have spoken.”
57.18,19until. . . praises: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
57.19heal you: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
58.3you think. . . yourselves: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
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