44 People of Israel, I have chosen you as my servant. 2 I am your Creator. You were in my care even before you were born. Israel, don’t be terrified! You are my chosen servant, my very favorite.[a]
3 I will bless the thirsty land by sending streams of water; I will bless your descendants by giving them my Spirit. 4 They will spring up like grass[b] or like willow trees near flowing streams. 5 They will worship me and become my people. They will write my name on the back of their hands.[c]
6 I am the Lord All-Powerful, the first and the last, the one and only God. Israel, I have rescued you! I am your King. 7 Can anyone compare with me? If so, let them speak up and tell me now. Let them say what has happened since I made my nation long ago, and let them tell what is going to happen.[d] 8 Don’t tremble with fear! Didn’t I tell you long ago? Didn’t you hear me? I alone am God— no one else is a mighty rock.[e]
Idols Can’t Do a Thing
The Lord said:
9 Those people who make idols are nothing themselves, and the idols they treasure are just as worthless. Worshipers of idols are blind, stupid, and foolish. 10 Why make an idol or an image that can’t do a thing? 11 Everyone who makes idols and all who worship them are mere humans, who will end up sadly disappointed. Let them face me in court and be terrified.
Idols and Firewood
12 A metalworker shapes an idol by using a hammer[f] and heat from the fire. In his powerful hand he holds a hammer, as he pounds the metal into the proper shape. But he gets hungry and thirsty and loses his strength.
13 Some woodcarver measures a piece of wood, then draws an outline. The idol is carefully carved with each detail exact. At last it looks like a person and is placed in a temple. 14 Either cedar, cypress, oak, or any tree from the forest may be chosen. Or even a pine tree planted by the woodcarver and watered by the rain.
15 Some of the wood is used to make a fire for heating or for cooking. One piece is made into an idol, then the woodcarver bows down and worships it. 16 He enjoys the warm fire and the meat that was roasted over the burning coals. 17 Afterwards, he bows down to worship the wooden idol. “Protect me!” he says. “You are my god.”
18 Those who worship idols are stupid and blind! 19 They don’t have enough sense to say to themselves, “I made a fire with half of the wood and cooked my bread and meat on it. Then I made something worthless with the other half. Why worship a block of wood?”
20 How can anyone be stupid enough to trust something that can be burned to ashes?[g] No one can save themselves like that. Don’t they realize that the idols they hold in their hands are not really gods?
The Lord Won’t Forget His People
21 People of Israel, you are my servant, so remember all of this. Israel, I created you, and you are my servant. I won’t forget you.[h] 22 Turn back to me! I have rescued you and swept away your sins as though they were clouds.
Sing Praises to the Lord
23 Tell the heavens and the earth to start singing! Tell the mountains and every tree in the forest to join in the song! The Lord has rescued his people; now they will worship him.
The Lord Created Everything
24 Israel, I am your Lord. I am your source of life, and I have rescued you. I created everything from the sky above to the earth below.
25 I make liars of false prophets and fools of fortunetellers. I take human wisdom and turn it into nonsense. 26 I will make the message of my prophets come true. They are saying, “Jerusalem will be filled with people, and the Lord will rebuild the towns of Judah.”
27 I am the one who commands the sea and its streams to run dry. 28 I am also the one who says, “Cyrus will lead my people and obey my orders. Jerusalem and the temple will be rebuilt.”
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