When You’re Between a Rock and a Hard Place
43 1-4 But now, God’s Message,
the God who made you in the first place, Jacob,
the One who got you started, Israel:
“Don’t be afraid, I’ve redeemed you.
I’ve called your name. You’re mine.
When you’re in over your head, I’ll be there with you.
When you’re in rough waters, you will not go down.
When you’re between a rock and a hard place,
it won’t be a dead end—
Because I am God, your personal God,
The Holy of Israel, your Savior.
I paid a huge price for you:
all of Egypt, with rich Cush and Seba thrown in!
That’s how much you mean to me!
That’s how much I love you!
I’d sell off the whole world to get you back,
trade the creation just for you.
5-7 “So don’t be afraid: I’m with you.
I’ll round up all your scattered children,
pull them in from east and west.
I’ll send orders north and south:
‘Send them back.
Return my sons from distant lands,
my daughters from faraway places.
I want them back, every last one who bears my name,
every man, woman, and child
Whom I created for my glory,
yes, personally formed and made each one.’”
8-13 Get the blind and deaf out here and ready—
the blind (though there’s nothing wrong with their eyes)
and the deaf (though there’s nothing wrong with their ears).
Then get the other nations out here and ready.
Let’s see what they have to say about this,
how they account for what’s happened.
Let them present their expert witnesses
and make their case;
let them try to convince us what they say is true.
“But you are my witnesses.” God’s Decree.
“You’re my handpicked servant
So that you’ll come to know and trust me,
understand both that I am and who I am.
Previous to me there was no such thing as a god,
nor will there be after me.
I, yes I, am God.
I’m the only Savior there is.
I spoke, I saved, I told you what existed
long before these upstart gods appeared on the scene.
And you know it, you’re my witnesses,
you’re the evidence.” God’s Decree.
“Yes, I am God.
I’ve always been God
and I always will be God.
No one can take anything from me.
I make; who can unmake it?”
You Didn’t Even Do the Minimum
14-15 God, your Redeemer,
The Holy of Israel, says:
“Just for you, I will march on Babylon.
I’ll turn the tables on the Babylonians.
Instead of whooping it up,
they’ll be wailing.
I am God, your Holy One,
Creator of Israel, your King.”
16-21 This is what God says,
the God who builds a road right through the ocean,
who carves a path through pounding waves,
The God who summons horses and chariots and armies—
they lie down and then can’t get up;
they’re snuffed out like so many candles:
“Forget about what’s happened;
don’t keep going over old history.
Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new.
It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it?
There it is! I’m making a road through the desert,
rivers in the badlands.
Wild animals will say ‘Thank you!’
—the coyotes and the buzzards—
Because I provided water in the desert,
rivers through the sun-baked earth,
Drinking water for the people I chose,
the people I made especially for myself,
a people custom-made to praise me.
22-24 “But you didn’t pay a bit of attention to me, Jacob.
You so quickly tired of me, Israel.
You wouldn’t even bring sheep for offerings in worship.
You couldn’t be bothered with sacrifices.
It wasn’t that I asked that much from you.
I didn’t expect expensive presents.
But you didn’t even do the minimum—
so stingy with me, so closefisted.
Yet you haven’t been stingy with your sins.
You’ve been plenty generous with them—and I’m fed up.
25 “But I, yes I, am the one
who takes care of your sins—that’s what I do.
I don’t keep a list of your sins.
26-28 “So, make your case against me. Let’s have this out.
Make your arguments. Prove you’re in the right.
Your original ancestor started the sinning,
and everyone since has joined in.
That’s why I had to disqualify the Temple leaders,
repudiate Jacob and discredit Israel.”