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Isaiah 40-44 Common English Bible (CEB)

Comfort for God’s people

40 Comfort, comfort my people!
    says your God.
Speak compassionately to Jerusalem,
        and proclaim to her that her compulsory service has ended,
    that her penalty has been paid,
    that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins!

A voice is crying out:
“Clear the Lord’s way in the desert!
    Make a level highway in the wilderness for our God!
Every valley will be raised up,
    and every mountain and hill will be flattened.
    Uneven ground will become level,
    and rough terrain a valley plain.
The Lord’s glory will appear,
    and all humanity will see it together;
    the Lord’s mouth has commanded it.”

A voice was saying:
    “Call out!”
And another[a] said,
    “What should I call out?”
All flesh is grass;
    all its loyalty is like the flowers of the field.
The grass dries up
    and the flower withers
    when the Lord’s breath blows on it.
    Surely the people are grass.
The grass dries up;
    the flower withers,
    but our God’s word will exist forever.

Go up on a high mountain,
    messenger Zion!
Raise your voice and shout,
    messenger Jerusalem!
Raise it; don’t be afraid;
    say to the cities of Judah,
    “Here is your God!”
10 Here is the Lord God,
    coming with strength,
    with a triumphant arm,
    bringing his reward with him
    and his payment before him.
11 Like a shepherd, God will tend the flock;
    he will gather lambs in his arms
    and lift them onto his lap.
    He will gently guide the nursing ewes.

The incomparable God

12 Who has measured the waters in the palm of a hand
    or gauged the heavens with a ruler
    or scooped the earth’s dust up in a measuring cup
    or weighed the mountains on a scale
    and the hills in a balance?
13 Who directed the Lord’s spirit
    and acted as God’s advisor?
14 Whom did he consult for enlightenment?
    Who taught him the path of justice and knowledge
    and explained to him the way of understanding?
15 Look, the nations are like a drop in a bucket,
    and valued as dust on a scale.
    Look, God weighs the islands like fine dust.
16 Lebanon doesn’t have enough fuel;
    its animals aren’t enough for an entirely burned offering.
17 All the nations are like nothing before God.
    They are viewed as less than nothing and emptiness.

18 So to whom will you equate God;
    to what likeness will you compare him?
19 An idol? A craftsman pours it,
    a metalworker covers it with gold,
    and fashions silver chains.
20 The one who sets up an image chooses wood that won’t rot[b]
    and then seeks a skilled artisan
    to set up an idol that won’t move.
21 Don’t you know? Haven’t you heard?
    Wasn’t it announced to you from the beginning?
    Haven’t you understood since the earth was founded?
22 God inhabits the earth’s horizon—
    its inhabitants are like locusts—
    stretches out the skies like a curtain
    and spreads it out like a tent for dwelling.
23     God makes dignitaries useless
    and the earth’s judges into nothing.
24 Scarcely are they planted, scarcely sown,
    scarcely is their shoot rooted in the earth
    when God breathes on them, and they dry up;
    the windstorm carries them off like straw.
25 So to whom will you compare me,
    and who is my equal? says the holy one.

Power for the weary

26 Look up at the sky and consider:
    Who created these?
    The one who brings out their attendants one by one,
    summoning each of them by name.
Because of God’s great strength
    and mighty power, not one is missing.
27 Why do you say, Jacob,
    and declare, Israel,
    “My way is hidden from the Lord
    my God ignores my predicament”?
28 Don’t you know? Haven’t you heard?
    The Lord is the everlasting God,
    the creator of the ends of the earth.
    He doesn’t grow tired or weary.
His understanding is beyond human reach,
29     giving power to the tired
    and reviving the exhausted.
30 Youths will become tired and weary,
    young men will certainly stumble;
31     but those who hope in the Lord
    will renew their strength;
    they will fly up on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not be tired;
    they will walk and not be weary.

Victor from the east

41 Be quiet before me, coastlands.
    Let the nations renew their strength.
    Let them approach and speak.
    Let’s draw near for a judgment.
Who has awakened one from the east
    and has authority to summon him to serve—
    giving him nations,
    conquering kings,
    making them like dust with his sword,
    like scattered straw with his bow?
He pursues them and passes untouched,
    needing no path for his feet.
Who has acted and who has done this,
    calling upon generation after generation since the beginning?
        I, the Lord, was first,
        and I will be the last!

The coastlands see and fear;
    the ends of the earth tremble;
    they draw near and arrive.
Each helps the other,
    each saying to the other, “Take courage!”
The craftsman encourages the metalworker;
    the one who smoothes with the hammer
    encourages the one who strikes the anvil,
    saying of the welding, “That’s good,”
    and strengthening it with nails so it won’t move.

Israel as God’s servant

But you, Israel my servant,
    Jacob, whom I have chosen,
    offspring of Abraham, whom I love,
    you whom I took from the ends of the earth
        and called from its farthest corners,
    saying to you, “You are my servant;
    I chose you and didn’t reject you”:
10     Don’t fear, because I am with you;
    don’t be afraid, for I am your God.
    I will strengthen you,
    I will surely help you;
    I will hold you
    with my righteous strong hand.
11 All who rage against you will be shamed and disgraced.
    Those who contend with you
    will be as nothing and will perish.
12 You will look for your opponents,
    and won’t find them.
    Those who fight you will be of no account and will die.
13 I am the Lord your God,
    who grasps your strong hand,
    who says to you,
    Don’t fear; I will help you.
14 Don’t fear, worm of Jacob,
    people of Israel!
I will help you, says the Lord.
    The holy one of Israel is your redeemer.
15 Look, I’ve made you
    into a new threshing tool with sharp teeth.
You will thresh mountains and pulverize them;
    you will reduce hills to straw.
16 When you winnow them,
    the wind will carry them off;
    the tempest will scatter them.
You will rejoice in the Lord
    and take pride in the holy one of Israel.

17 The poor and the needy seek water, and there is none;
    their tongues are parched with thirst.
I, the Lord, will respond to them;
    I, the God of Israel, won’t abandon them.
18 I will open streams on treeless hilltops
    and springs in valleys.
I will make the desert into ponds
    and dry land into cascades of water.
19 I will plant in the desert cedar, acacia, myrtle, and olive trees;
    I will put in the wilderness cypress, elm, and pine as well,
20     so that they will see and know
    and observe and comprehend
    that the Lord’s hand has done this,
    and the holy one of Israel has created it.

Other gods challenged

21 Present your case, says the Lord.
    Bring forward your evidence, says Jacob’s king.
22 Let the idols[c] approach
    and tell us what will happen.
The prior things—what are they?
    Announce them, and we’ll think about them
    and know their significance.
    Or proclaim to us what is to come!
23 Report things that will happen in the future,
    then we’ll know that you are gods.
Do good! Or do bad!
    Then we will all be afraid and fearful.
24 Look! You are nobody, and your deeds are nothing.
    Whoever chooses you is disgusting.
25 I woke up one from the north and he came;
    from the east, one who calls my name.
He tramples governors like mud,
    as a potter treads clay.
26 Who announced this from the start
        so that we would know;
    from an earlier time
        so we would say, “That’s right”?
Truly, no one announced it,
    no one proclaimed it,
    and no one heard your words.
27 I first said it to Zion, “Look, here they are”;
    to Jerusalem I now send a herald.
28 But I look, and there’s no one
    among them, no counselor;
    and when I ask,
    no one can answer.
29 Look, all of them are frauds;
    their deeds amount to nothing;
    their images are a total delusion.

God’s servant described

42 But here is my servant, the one I uphold;
    my chosen, who brings me delight.
I’ve put my spirit upon him;
    he will bring justice to the nations.
He won’t cry out or shout aloud
    or make his voice heard in public.
He won’t break a bruised reed;
    he won’t extinguish a faint wick,
    but he will surely bring justice.
He won’t be extinguished or broken
    until he has established justice in the land.
The coastlands await his teaching.

God the Lord says—
    the one who created the heavens,
    the one who stretched them out,
    the one who spread out the earth and its offspring,
    the one who gave breath to its people
    and life to those who walk on it—
I, the Lord, have called you for a good reason.
    I will grasp your hand and guard you,
    and give you as a covenant to the people,
    as a light to the nations,
    to open blind eyes, to lead the prisoners from prison,
    and those who sit in darkness from the dungeon.
I am the Lord;
    that is my name;
    I don’t hand out my glory to others
        or my praise to idols.
The things announced in the past—look—they’ve already happened,
    but I’m declaring new things.
    Before they even appear,
    I tell you about them.

Warrior and mother

10 Sing to the Lord a new song!
    Sing his praise from the ends of the earth!
You who sail the sea and all that fills it,
    the coastlands and their residents.
11 Let the desert and its towns shout aloud,
    the villages that Kedar inhabits.
Let the cliff dwellers sing;
    from the top of the mountains let them shout.
12 Let them give the Lord glory
    and declare God’s praise in the coastlands.
13 The Lord will go out like a soldier;
    like a warrior God will stir up rage.
God will shout, will roar;
    over enemies he will prevail.
14 I’ve kept still for a very long time.
    I’ve been silent and restrained myself.
Like a woman in labor I will moan;
    I will pant, I will gasp.
15 I will wither mountains and valleys,
    and I will dry up all their vegetation.
I will turn rivers into deserts,[d]
    and I will dry up pools.
16 I will make the blind walk a road they don’t know,
    and I will guide them in paths they don’t know.
But I will make darkness before them into light
    and rough places into level ground.
These things I will do;
    I won’t abandon them.

Blindness and deafness

17 Turned backward, utterly shamed
    are those who trust in idols,
    who say to a cast image,
    “You are our god!”
18 Hear, deaf ones,
    and blind ones, look and see!
19 Who is blind if not my servant
    and deaf like my messenger whom I send?
Who is blind like the restored one,[e]
    blind like the servant of the Lord?
20 You have seen many things, but don’t keep watch.
    With ears open, you don’t hear.[f]
21 The Lord desired for the sake of his righteousness
    to expand and glorify the Instruction.
22 But this is a people plundered and looted,
    everyone trapped in holes and hidden in dungeons.
They have become plunder with no one to rescue,
    loot with no one to say, “Give it back.”

23 Which of you will listen to this,
    will pay attention and respond from now on?
24 Who gave Jacob to the looter,
    and Israel to the plunderers?
Wasn’t it the Lord,
    the one we sinned against?
They were not willing to walk in God’s ways,
    and wouldn’t listen to his teaching.
25 So God poured out on Jacob the heat of his anger
    and the fury of battle.
It scorched him, and he didn’t know it;
    it burned him, but he didn’t give it much thought.

Don’t fear

43 But now, says the Lord
the one who created you, Jacob,
    the one who formed you, Israel:
Don’t fear, for I have redeemed you;
    I have called you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
    when through the rivers, they won’t sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire, you won’t be scorched
    and flame won’t burn you.
I am the Lord your God,
    the holy one of Israel, your savior.
I have given Egypt as your ransom,
    Cush and Seba in your place.
Because you are precious in my eyes,
    you are honored, and I love you.
    I give people in your place,
        and nations in exchange for your life.
Don’t fear,
    I am with you.
From the east I’ll bring your children;
    from the west I’ll gather you.
I’ll say to the north, “Give them back!”
    and to the south, “Don’t detain them.”
Bring my sons from far away,
    and my daughters from the end of the earth,
    everyone who is called by my name
    and whom I created for my glory,
    whom I have formed and made.

Bring out the blind people who have eyes,
    the deaf ones who have ears.
All the nations are gathered together;
    the peoples are assembled.
Which of them announced this?
    Who predicted to us the past events?
Let them bring their witnesses as a defense;
    let them hear and say, “It’s true!”
10 You are my witnesses, says the Lord,
    my servant, whom I chose,
    so that you would know and believe me
    and understand that I am the one.
Before me no god was formed;
    after me there has been no other.
11 I, I am the Lord,
    and there is no savior besides me.
12 I announced, I saved, I proclaimed,
not some stranger among you.
You are my witnesses, says the Lord,
    and I am God.
13 From the dawn of time, I am the one.
    No one can escape my power.
    I act, and who can undo it?

Don’t remember

14 The Lord your redeemer,
    the holy one of Israel, says,
For your sake, I have sent an army[g] to Babylon,
    and brought down all the bars,
    turning the Chaldeans’ singing into a lament.[h]
15 I am the Lord, your holy one,
    Israel’s creator, your king!
16 The Lord says—who makes a way in the sea
    and a path in the mighty waters,
17     who brings out chariot and horse,
    army and battalion;
    they will lie down together and will not rise;
    they will be extinguished, extinguished like a wick.
18 Don’t remember the prior things;
    don’t ponder ancient history.
19 Look! I’m doing a new thing;
    now it sprouts up; don’t you recognize it?
I’m making a way in the desert,
    paths[i] in the wilderness.
20 The beasts of the field,
        the jackals and ostriches, will honor me,
    because I have put water in the desert
    and streams in the wilderness
    to give water to my people,
    my chosen ones,
21     this people whom I formed for myself,
        who will recount my praise.

22 But you didn’t call out to me, Jacob;
    you were tired of me, Israel.
23 You didn’t bring me lambs for your entirely burned offering;
    you didn’t honor me with your sacrifices.
I didn’t make you worship with offerings;
    I didn’t weary you with frankincense.
24 You didn’t buy spices for me with your money,
    or satisfy me with the fat of your sacrifices.
Instead, you have burdened me with your sins
    and wearied me with your evil actions.
25 I, I am the one who wipes out your rebellious behavior for my sake. I won’t remember your sin.
26 Summon me, and let’s go to trial together;
    you tell your story so that you may be vindicated!
27 Your first ancestor sinned,
    and your officials rebelled against me.
28 So I made the holy officials impure,
    handed over Jacob to destruction and Israel to abuse.

You are my witnesses

44 But now hear this, Jacob my servant,
    and Israel, whom I have chosen.
The Lord your maker,
    who formed you in the womb and will help you, says:
    Don’t fear, my servant Jacob,
    Jeshurun, whom I have chosen.
I will pour out water upon thirsty ground
    and streams upon dry land.
I will pour out my spirit upon your descendants
    and my blessing upon your offspring.
They will spring up from among the reeds
    like willows by flowing streams.
This one will say, “I am the Lord’s,”
        and that one will be named after Jacob.
    Another will write on his hand, “The Lord’s”
        and will take the name Israel.

The Lord, Israel’s king and redeemer,
    the Lord of heavenly forces, says:
I am the first, and I am the last,
    and besides me there are no gods.
Who is like me?
    Let them speak up, explain it, and lay it out for me.
Who announced long ago what is to be?[j]
    Let them tell us[k] what is to come.
Don’t tremble; have no fear!
    Didn’t I proclaim it?
    Didn’t I inform you long ago?
You are my witnesses!
    Is there a God besides me?
    There is no other rock; I know of none.

Idol-makers mocked

Idol-makers are all as nothing;
    their playthings do no good.
Their promoters neither see nor know anything,
    so they ought to be ashamed.
10 Who would form a god or cast an idol
    that does no good?
11 All its worshippers will be ashamed,
    and its artisans, who are only human.
They will all gather and stand,
    tremble and be ashamed together.
12 A blacksmith with his tools
    works it over coals,
    and shapes it with hammers,
    and works it with his strong arm.
He even becomes hungry and weak.
    If he didn’t drink water, he’d pass out.
13 A carpenter stretches out a string,
    marks it out with a stylus,
    fashions it with carving tools,
    and marks it with a compass.
He makes it into a human form,
    like a splendid human,
    to live in a temple.
14 He cuts down cedars for himself,
    or chooses a cypress[l] or oak,
    selecting from all the trees of the forest.
    He plants a pine,[m] and the rain makes it grow.
15     It becomes suitable to burn for humans,
        so he takes some of the wood and warms himself.
    He kindles fire and bakes bread.
He fashions a god and worships it;
    he makes an idol and bows down to it.
16 Half of it he burns in the fire;
    on that half he roasts and eats meat, and he is satisfied.
He warms himself and says,
    “Ah, I’m warm, watching the fire!”
17 And the rest of it he makes into a god,
    into his idol,
    and he bows down, worships, and prays to it, saying, “Save me, for you are my god!”
18 They don’t know or comprehend,
    for their eyes can’t see
    and their minds can’t comprehend.
19 He doesn’t think,
    and has no knowledge or understanding to think:
Half of it I burned in the fire,
    and I baked bread on its coals,
    and roasted meat and ate.
Should I make the rest into something detestable?
    Should I bow down to a block of wood?
20 He’s feeding on ashes;
    his deluded mind has led him astray.
He can’t save himself and say,
    “Isn’t this thing in my hand a lie?”

Promises to Jacob and Jerusalem

21 Remember these things, Jacob;
    Israel, for you are my servant.
I formed you; you are my servant!
    I won’t forget you, Israel.
22 I swept away your rebellions like a cloud,
    and your sins like fog.
Return to me,
    because I have redeemed you.

23 Sing, heavens, for the Lord has acted;
    shout, depths of the earth!
Burst out with a ringing cry,
you mountains, forest, and every tree in it.
The Lord has redeemed Jacob,
    and will glorify himself through Israel.

24 The Lord your redeemer
    who formed you in the womb says:
I am the Lord, the maker of all,
    who alone stretched out the heavens,
    who spread out the earth by myself,
25     who frustrates the omens of diviners
        and makes a mockery of magicians,
    who turns back the wise
        and turns their knowledge into folly.
26     But who confirms the word of my[n] servant,
        and fulfills the predictions of my messengers;
    who says about Jerusalem, “It will be resettled”;
        and who says about the cities of Judah, “They will be rebuilt,
        and I will restore their ruins”;
27         who says to the ocean depths,
    “Dry up; I will dry your streams”;
28     who says about Cyrus, “My shepherd—
        he will do all that I want”;
    who says about Jerusalem,
        “She will be rebuilt”;
    and who says about the temple,
        “You will be founded once again.”

Footnotes:

  1. Isaiah 40:6 MT; DSS (1QIsaa), LXX I
  2. Isaiah 40:20 Heb uncertain
  3. Isaiah 41:22 Or them
  4. Isaiah 42:15 Or islands
  5. Isaiah 42:19 Heb Meshullam, possibly a proper name
  6. Isaiah 42:20 Or he does not hear
  7. Isaiah 43:14 Heb lacks an army.
  8. Isaiah 43:14 Heb uncertain
  9. Isaiah 43:19 DSS (1QIsaa); MT streams
  10. Isaiah 44:7 Or Since I placed an ancient people and coming things
  11. Isaiah 44:7 Or them
  12. Isaiah 44:14 Species uncertain
  13. Isaiah 44:14 Species uncertain
  14. Isaiah 44:26 Or his; also in next line
Common English Bible (CEB)

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