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.”

Israel’s Only Savior

43 But now, this is what the Lord says—
    he who created(A) you, Jacob,
    he who formed(B) you, Israel:(C)
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed(D) you;
    I have summoned you by name;(E) you are mine.(F)
When you pass through the waters,(G)
    I will be with you;(H)
and when you pass through the rivers,
    they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,(I)
    you will not be burned;
    the flames will not set you ablaze.(J)
For I am the Lord your God,(K)
    the Holy One(L) of Israel, your Savior;(M)
I give Egypt(N) for your ransom,
    Cush[a](O) and Seba(P) in your stead.(Q)
Since you are precious and honored(R) in my sight,
    and because I love(S) you,
I will give people in exchange for you,
    nations in exchange for your life.
Do not be afraid,(T) for I am with you;(U)
    I will bring your children(V) from the east
    and gather(W) you from the west.(X)
I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’
    and to the south,(Y) ‘Do not hold them back.’
Bring my sons from afar
    and my daughters(Z) from the ends of the earth(AA)
everyone who is called by my name,(AB)
    whom I created(AC) for my glory,(AD)
    whom I formed and made.(AE)

Lead out those who have eyes but are blind,(AF)
    who have ears but are deaf.(AG)
All the nations gather together(AH)
    and the peoples assemble.
Which of their gods foretold(AI) this
    and proclaimed to us the former things?
Let them bring in their witnesses to prove they were right,
    so that others may hear and say, “It is true.”
10 “You are my witnesses,(AJ)” declares the Lord,
    “and my servant(AK) whom I have chosen,
so that you may know(AL) and believe me
    and understand that I am he.
Before me no god(AM) was formed,
    nor will there be one after me.(AN)
11 I, even I, am the Lord,(AO)
    and apart from me there is no savior.(AP)
12 I have revealed and saved and proclaimed—
    I, and not some foreign god(AQ) among you.
You are my witnesses,(AR)” declares the Lord, “that I am God.
13     Yes, and from ancient days(AS) I am he.(AT)
No one can deliver out of my hand.
    When I act, who can reverse it?”(AU)

God’s Mercy and Israel’s Unfaithfulness

14 This is what the Lord says—
    your Redeemer,(AV) the Holy One(AW) of Israel:
“For your sake I will send to Babylon
    and bring down as fugitives(AX) all the Babylonians,[b](AY)
    in the ships in which they took pride.
15 I am the Lord,(AZ) your Holy One,
    Israel’s Creator,(BA) your King.(BB)

16 This is what the Lord says—
    he who made a way through the sea,
    a path through the mighty waters,(BC)
17 who drew out(BD) the chariots and horses,(BE)
    the army and reinforcements together,(BF)
and they lay(BG) there, never to rise again,
    extinguished, snuffed out like a wick:(BH)
18 “Forget the former things;(BI)
    do not dwell on the past.
19 See, I am doing a new thing!(BJ)
    Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness(BK)
    and streams in the wasteland.(BL)
20 The wild animals(BM) honor me,
    the jackals(BN) and the owls,
because I provide water(BO) in the wilderness
    and streams in the wasteland,
to give drink to my people, my chosen,
21     the people I formed(BP) for myself(BQ)
    that they may proclaim my praise.(BR)

22 “Yet you have not called on me, Jacob,
    you have not wearied(BS) yourselves for[c] me, Israel.(BT)
23 You have not brought me sheep for burnt offerings,(BU)
    nor honored(BV) me with your sacrifices.(BW)
I have not burdened(BX) you with grain offerings
    nor wearied you with demands(BY) for incense.(BZ)
24 You have not bought any fragrant calamus(CA) for me,
    or lavished on me the fat(CB) of your sacrifices.
But you have burdened me with your sins
    and wearied(CC) me with your offenses.(CD)

25 “I, even I, am he who blots out
    your transgressions,(CE) for my own sake,(CF)
    and remembers your sins(CG) no more.(CH)
26 Review the past for me,
    let us argue the matter together;(CI)
    state the case(CJ) for your innocence.
27 Your first father(CK) sinned;
    those I sent to teach(CL) you rebelled(CM) against me.
28 So I disgraced the dignitaries of your temple;
    I consigned Jacob to destruction[d](CN)
    and Israel to scorn.(CO)

Footnotes

  1. Isaiah 43:3 That is, the upper Nile region
  2. Isaiah 43:14 Or Chaldeans
  3. Isaiah 43:22 Or Jacob; / surely you have grown weary of
  4. Isaiah 43:28 The Hebrew term refers to the irrevocable giving over of things or persons to the Lord, often by totally destroying them.

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