43 But now, O Jacob, listen to the Lord who created you. O Israel, the one who formed you says, “Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine. 2 When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. 3 For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. I gave Egypt as a ransom for your freedom; I gave Ethiopia[a] and Seba in your place. 4 Others were given in exchange for you. I traded their lives for yours because you are precious to me. You are honored, and I love you.
5 “Do not be afraid, for I am with you. I will gather you and your children from east and west. 6 I will say to the north and south, ‘Bring my sons and daughters back to Israel from the distant corners of the earth. 7 Bring all who claim me as their God, for I have made them for my glory. It was I who created them.’”
8 Bring out the people who have eyes but are blind, who have ears but are deaf. 9 Gather the nations together! Assemble the peoples of the world! Which of their idols has ever foretold such things? Which can predict what will happen tomorrow? Where are the witnesses of such predictions? Who can verify that they spoke the truth?
10 “But you are my witnesses, O Israel!” says the Lord. “You are my servant. You have been chosen to know me, believe in me, and understand that I alone am God. There is no other God— there never has been, and there never will be. 11 I, yes I, am the Lord, and there is no other Savior. 12 First I predicted your rescue, then I saved you and proclaimed it to the world. No foreign god has ever done this. You are witnesses that I am the only God,” says the Lord. 13 “From eternity to eternity I am God. No one can snatch anyone out of my hand. No one can undo what I have done.”
The Lord’s Promise of Victory
14 This is what the Lord says—your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel:
“For your sakes I will send an army against Babylon, forcing the Babylonians[b] to flee in those ships they are so proud of. 15 I am the Lord, your Holy One, Israel’s Creator and King. 16 I am the Lord, who opened a way through the waters, making a dry path through the sea. 17 I called forth the mighty army of Egypt with all its chariots and horses. I drew them beneath the waves, and they drowned, their lives snuffed out like a smoldering candlewick.
18 “But forget all that— it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. 19 For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland. 20 The wild animals in the fields will thank me, the jackals and owls, too, for giving them water in the desert. Yes, I will make rivers in the dry wasteland so my chosen people can be refreshed. 21 I have made Israel for myself, and they will someday honor me before the whole world.
22 “But, dear family of Jacob, you refuse to ask for my help. You have grown tired of me, O Israel! 23 You have not brought me sheep or goats for burnt offerings. You have not honored me with sacrifices, though I have not burdened and wearied you with requests for grain offerings and frankincense. 24 You have not brought me fragrant calamus or pleased me with the fat from sacrifices. Instead, you have burdened me with your sins and wearied me with your faults.
25 “I—yes, I alone—will blot out your sins for my own sake and will never think of them again. 26 Let us review the situation together, and you can present your case to prove your innocence. 27 From the very beginning, your first ancestor sinned against me; all your leaders broke my laws. 28 That is why I have disgraced your priests; I have decreed complete destruction[c] for Jacob and shame for Israel.
44 “But now, listen to me, Jacob my servant, Israel my chosen one. 2 The Lord who made you and helps you says: Do not be afraid, O Jacob, my servant, O dear Israel,[d] my chosen one. 3 For I will pour out water to quench your thirst and to irrigate your parched fields. And I will pour out my Spirit on your descendants, and my blessing on your children. 4 They will thrive like watered grass, like willows on a riverbank. 5 Some will proudly claim, ‘I belong to the Lord.’ Others will say, ‘I am a descendant of Jacob.’ Some will write the Lord’s name on their hands and will take the name of Israel as their own.”
The Foolishness of Idols
6 This is what the Lord says—Israel’s King and Redeemer, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies:
“I am the First and the Last; there is no other God. 7 Who is like me? Let him step forward and prove to you his power. Let him do as I have done since ancient times when I established a people and explained its future. 8 Do not tremble; do not be afraid. Did I not proclaim my purposes for you long ago? You are my witnesses—is there any other God? No! There is no other Rock—not one!”
9 How foolish are those who manufacture idols. These prized objects are really worthless. The people who worship idols don’t know this, so they are all put to shame. 10 Who but a fool would make his own god— an idol that cannot help him one bit? 11 All who worship idols will be disgraced along with all these craftsmen—mere humans— who claim they can make a god. They may all stand together, but they will stand in terror and shame.
12 The blacksmith stands at his forge to make a sharp tool, pounding and shaping it with all his might. His work makes him hungry and weak. It makes him thirsty and faint. 13 Then the wood-carver measures a block of wood and draws a pattern on it. He works with chisel and plane and carves it into a human figure. He gives it human beauty and puts it in a little shrine. 14 He cuts down cedars; he selects the cypress and the oak; he plants the pine in the forest to be nourished by the rain. 15 Then he uses part of the wood to make a fire. With it he warms himself and bakes his bread. Then—yes, it’s true—he takes the rest of it and makes himself a god to worship! He makes an idol and bows down in front of it! 16 He burns part of the tree to roast his meat and to keep himself warm. He says, “Ah, that fire feels good.” 17 Then he takes what’s left and makes his god: a carved idol! He falls down in front of it, worshiping and praying to it. “Rescue me!” he says. “You are my god!”
18 Such stupidity and ignorance! Their eyes are closed, and they cannot see. Their minds are shut, and they cannot think. 19 The person who made the idol never stops to reflect, “Why, it’s just a block of wood! I burned half of it for heat and used it to bake my bread and roast my meat. How can the rest of it be a god? Should I bow down to worship a piece of wood?” 20 The poor, deluded fool feeds on ashes. He trusts something that can’t help him at all. Yet he cannot bring himself to ask, “Is this idol that I’m holding in my hand a lie?”
Restoration for Jerusalem
21 “Pay attention, O Jacob, for you are my servant, O Israel. I, the Lord, made you, and I will not forget you. 22 I have swept away your sins like a cloud. I have scattered your offenses like the morning mist. Oh, return to me, for I have paid the price to set you free.”
23 Sing, O heavens, for the Lord has done this wondrous thing. Shout for joy, O depths of the earth! Break into song, O mountains and forests and every tree! For the Lord has redeemed Jacob and is glorified in Israel.
24 This is what the Lord says— your Redeemer and Creator: “I am the Lord, who made all things. I alone stretched out the heavens. Who was with me when I made the earth? 25 I expose the false prophets as liars and make fools of fortune-tellers. I cause the wise to give bad advice, thus proving them to be fools. 26 But I carry out the predictions of my prophets! By them I say to Jerusalem, ‘People will live here again,’ and to the towns of Judah, ‘You will be rebuilt; I will restore all your ruins!’ 27 When I speak to the rivers and say, ‘Dry up!’ they will be dry. 28 When I say of Cyrus, ‘He is my shepherd,’ he will certainly do as I say. He will command, ‘Rebuild Jerusalem’; he will say, ‘Restore the Temple.’”
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