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Dead Idols and the Living God

46 Bel (A)bows down, Nebo stoops;
Their idols were on the beasts and on the cattle.
Your carriages were heavily loaded,
(B)A burden to the weary beast.
They stoop, they bow down together;
They could not deliver the burden,
(C)But have themselves gone into captivity.

“Listen to Me, O house of Jacob,
And all the remnant of the house of Israel,
(D)Who have been upheld by Me from [a]birth,
Who have been carried from the womb:
Even to your old age, (E)I am He,
And even to gray hairs (F)I will carry you!
I have made, and I will bear;
Even I will carry, and will deliver you.

“To(G) whom will you liken Me, and make Me equal
And compare Me, that we should be alike?
(H)They lavish gold out of the bag,
And weigh silver on the scales;
They hire a (I)goldsmith, and he makes it a god;
They prostrate themselves, yes, they worship.
(J)They bear it on the shoulder, they carry it
And set it in its place, and it stands;
From its place it shall not move.
Though (K)one cries out to it, yet it cannot answer
Nor save him out of his trouble.

“Remember this, and [b]show yourselves men;
(L)Recall to mind, O you transgressors.
(M)Remember the former things of old,
For I am God, and (N)there is no other;
I am God, and there is none like Me,
10 (O)Declaring the end from the beginning,
And from ancient times things that are not yet done,
Saying, (P)‘My counsel shall stand,
And I will do all My pleasure,’
11 Calling a bird of prey (Q)from the east,
The man (R)who executes My counsel, from a far country.
Indeed (S)I have spoken it;
I will also bring it to pass.
I have purposed it;
I will also do it.

12 “Listen to Me, you (T)stubborn-hearted,
(U)Who are far from righteousness:
13 (V)I bring My righteousness near, it shall not be far off;
My salvation (W)shall not [c]linger.
And I will place (X)salvation in Zion,
For Israel My glory.

Footnotes

  1. Isaiah 46:3 Lit. the belly
  2. Isaiah 46:8 be men, take courage
  3. Isaiah 46:13 delay

Babylon’s Idols and the True God

46 Bel has bowed down, Nebo stoops over;
Their idols are on the beasts [of burden] and on the cattle.
Your burdens [of idols] are loaded [on them],
Burdens on the weary animals.

They stooped over, they have bowed down together;
They could not rescue the burden [of their own idols],
But have themselves gone into captivity.


“Listen to Me,” [says the Lord], “O house of Jacob,
And all the remnant of the house of Israel,
You who have been carried by Me from your birth
And have been carried [in My arms] from the womb,

Even to your old age I am He,
And even to your advanced old age I will carry you!
I have made you, and I will carry you;
Be assured I will carry you and I will save you.


“To whom would you liken Me
And make Me equal and compare Me,
That we may be alike?(A)

“Those who lavish gold from the bag
And weigh out silver on the scales
Hire a goldsmith, and he makes it into a god;
They bow down, indeed they worship it.

“They lift it on their shoulders [in religious processions or into battle] and carry it;
They set it in its place and there it remains standing.
It cannot move from its place.
Even if one cries to it [for help], the idol cannot answer;
It cannot save him from his distress.


“Remember this, and take courage;
Take it to heart, you rebellious and disloyal people.

“Remember [carefully] the former things [which I did] from ages past;
For I am God, and there is no one else;
I am God, and there is no one like Me,
10 
Declaring the end and the result from the beginning,
And from ancient times the things which have not [yet] been done,
Saying, ‘My purpose will be established,
And I will do all that pleases Me and fulfills My purpose,’
11 
Calling a bird of prey from the east,
From a far country, the man (Cyrus) of My purpose.
Truly I have spoken; truly I will bring it to pass.
I have planned it, be assured I will do it.

12 
“Listen to Me, you stiff-necked people,
You who are far from righteousness (right standing with God).
13 
“I bring near My righteousness [in the salvation of Israel], it is not far away;
And My salvation will not delay.
And I will grant salvation in Zion,
And My glory for Israel.

This Is Serious Business, Rebels

46 1-2 The god Bel falls down, god Nebo slumps.
    The no-god hunks of wood are loaded on mules
And have to be hauled off,
    wearing out the poor mules—
Dead weight, burdens who can’t bear burdens,
    hauled off to captivity.

3-4 “Listen to me, family of Jacob,
    everyone that’s left of the family of Israel.
I’ve been carrying you on my back
    from the day you were born,
And I’ll keep on carrying you when you’re old.
    I’ll be there, bearing you when you’re old and gray.
I’ve done it and will keep on doing it,
    carrying you on my back, saving you.

5-7 “So to whom will you compare me, the Incomparable?
    Can you picture me without reducing me?
People with a lot of money
    hire craftsmen to make them gods.
The artisan delivers the god,
    and they kneel and worship it!
They carry it around in holy parades,
    then take it home and put it on a shelf.
And there it sits, day in and day out,
    a dependable god, always right where you put it.
Say anything you want to it, it never talks back.
    Of course, it never does anything either!

8-11 “Think about this. Wrap your minds around it.
    This is serious business, rebels. Take it to heart.
Remember your history,
    your long and rich history.
I am God, the only God you’ve had or ever will have—
    incomparable, irreplaceable—
From the very beginning
    telling you what the ending will be,
All along letting you in
    on what is going to happen,
Assuring you, ‘I’m in this for the long haul,
    I’ll do exactly what I set out to do,’
Calling that eagle, Cyrus, out of the east,
    from a far country the man I chose to help me.
I’ve said it, and I’ll most certainly do it.
    I’ve planned it, so it’s as good as done.

12-13 “Now listen to me:
    You’re a hardheaded bunch and hard to help.
I’m ready to help you right now.
    Deliverance is not a long-range plan.
    Salvation isn’t on hold.
I’m putting salvation to work in Zion now,
    and glory in Israel.”

Babylon’s False Gods

46 Bel and Nebo, the gods of Babylon,
    bow as they are lowered to the ground.
They are being hauled away on ox carts.
    The poor beasts stagger under the weight.
Both the idols and their owners are bowed down.
    The gods cannot protect the people,
and the people cannot protect the gods.
    They go off into captivity together.

“Listen to me, descendants of Jacob,
    all you who remain in Israel.
I have cared for you since you were born.
    Yes, I carried you before you were born.
I will be your God throughout your lifetime—
    until your hair is white with age.
I made you, and I will care for you.
    I will carry you along and save you.

“To whom will you compare me?
    Who is my equal?
Some people pour out their silver and gold
    and hire a craftsman to make a god from it.
    Then they bow down and worship it!
They carry it around on their shoulders,
    and when they set it down, it stays there.
    It can’t even move!
And when someone prays to it, there is no answer.
    It can’t rescue anyone from trouble.

“Do not forget this! Keep it in mind!
    Remember this, you guilty ones.
Remember the things I have done in the past.
    For I alone am God!
    I am God, and there is none like me.
10 Only I can tell you the future
    before it even happens.
Everything I plan will come to pass,
    for I do whatever I wish.
11 I will call a swift bird of prey from the east—
    a leader from a distant land to come and do my bidding.
I have said what I would do,
    and I will do it.

12 “Listen to me, you stubborn people
    who are so far from doing right.
13 For I am ready to set things right,
    not in the distant future, but right now!
I am ready to save Jerusalem[a]
    and show my glory to Israel.

Footnotes

  1. 46:13 Hebrew Zion.

The Overthrow of Babylon

46 The gods of Babylon, Bel,[a] and Nebo[b]

    are bowed down and lowered to the ground.
    They haul away on ox carts their wobbling idols.[c]
They both stoop and bow down,
    and they are powerless to rescue their own images.
    There they[d] go—carried off into captivity![e]
“Listen to me, O Jacob’s tribes, all the remnant of Israel.
    You never had to carry me, but I have carried you from birth.
    I supported you from the moment you left the womb.[f]
Even as you grow old and your hair turns gray,
    I’ll keep carrying you!
    I am your Maker and your Caregiver.
    I will carry you and be your Savior.
To whom can you compare me, the incomparable God?
    Have you found someone else like me?
The wealthy pour out their gold,[g]
    weigh out their silver in the scales,
    and hire a goldsmith who crafts it into a “god.”
    Then they bow down before it to worship it.
They lift it up to their shoulders and have to carry it.
    They set it on a stand, and there it sits,
    unable to move from its place.
    When someone cries out to it,
    it never answers nor saves anyone from trouble.
Keep this in mind and don’t forget it!
    Take this to heart, you rebels!
Remember the miracles of long ago.
    Acknowledge that I am God, and there is no other.
    I am God, and there is none like me.
10 I declare from the beginning how it will end
    and foretell from the start what has not yet happened.
    I decree that my purpose will stand,
    and I will fulfill my every plan.
11 “I called that bird of prey[h] Cyrus, swooping in from the east;
    from a distant land he came, the man of my purpose.
    I have spoken, and yes, I will bring it to pass.
    I have formed my plan, and yes, I will do it.
12 “Listen to me, you stubborn ones
    who are far from righteousness.
13 I am bringing my righteousness closer to you;
    it is not far off.
    My deliverance will not be delayed,
    for I will set my salvation in Zion
    for Israel my glory!

Footnotes

  1. Isaiah 46:1 Bel means “lord,” a title that was associated with the god Enlil, known in Babylon as the chief of the gods. The Greeks called him Zeus and the Romans, Jupiter. Eventually, the title Bel was transferred to Marduk. See Jer. 50:2.
  2. Isaiah 46:1 Or Nabu or Celestial Scribe, known as the god of intellectualism (literacy, wisdom). The Greeks called him Hermes; the Romans, Mercury; the Egyptians, Anubis.
  3. Isaiah 46:1 Or “Their idols are beasts and cattle.”
  4. Isaiah 46:2 Or “their souls.”
  5. Isaiah 46:2 These false gods and their idols are like captives carried off by their conquerors.
  6. Isaiah 46:3 See Ex. 19:4; Deut. 1:31; 32:11; Ps. 28:9.
  7. Isaiah 46:6 Or “those who pour out gold from their purses.”
  8. Isaiah 46:11 See Isa. 41:2-3; 44:28-45:1.