51 Listen closely, you who diligently work for justice
and look for the Eternal One, for what is fair and true.
It would be good for you to look back, look to the place from where you came,
the rock out of which you were shaped and the quarry from where you were mined.
2 Look to your spiritual ancestors—
Abraham, your father, and Sarah, who birthed you.
Abraham was only one person when I called him.
But with generous goodness, I made from him a numerous people.
3 The Eternal One will relieve the troubles and worries of Zion
and bring comfort to the rubble of its destruction.
God will turn deserted places into a flourishing garden like Eden of old;
happy voices will ring out in the Eternal’s garden;
Buoyant music and thanksgiving will fill the air.
4 Eternal One: Listen closely, you who are Mine; lend an ear, My nation;
for My instruction will go straight out into all the world
And My justice will illuminate all people wherever they are.
5 My justice is coming closer. My rescue is on the way.
My strong arm will extend justice to the nations.
Distant shores are looking to Me with hope that I will accomplish it.
6 Don’t worry—look up at the sky and down at the earth.
The sky will disappear like smoke; the earth will wear out like a well-used garment;
Every last thing may perish and dissolve, but My salvation is for all time.
My justice will not end.
7 Listen to Me, you who already live out what is true and right,
who treasure My instruction within your hearts:
Don’t be afraid of people’s scorn.
Don’t let their dismissive criticism, bitter anger, or hatred get you down.
8 For they’ll come to nothing; they’ll be eaten up as a moth eats a shirt;
they’ll be consumed as a worm feeds on wool.
But My justice will endure. I will extend My saving action to every generation.
This sounds too good to be true. God’s people fear He is asleep, so they attempt to rouse Him to action. They remind Him—and themselves—of when God rescued His people long ago and defeated Egypt. Rahab, a monster of mythic character, is linked to Egypt, a nation of legendary power and cruelty. The prophet assures his discouraged audience that God will come through again for His people. It will be for them like it was when God rescued the Hebrew slaves. The exiled people of God will be freed from Babylon, and God will smooth out and level off the perilous desert highway that leads from Mesopotamia to the promised land.
9 Get up, power of God! Rise up and strengthen Yourself, arm of God.
Get up and do like in the olden days, when You saved Your special people—
Like when You cut Rahab, that dragon-monster of chaos, in two.
10 And remember when You made the sea dry up
and the waters of the deep retreated for Moses and company;
Then You laid down a road right through for the people You saved to cross over?
11 It’ll be like that for those the Eternal One ransomed from captivity
to return to Zion, Jerusalem. And they’ll come singing with joy.
Overwhelming, never-ending joy will crown their heads with happiness and delight
while desperation and depression melt away.
12 Eternal One: I am the One who comforts you and gives you peace.
So why are you afraid of human beings?
The children of men are only grass; they’ll wither and die.
13 Have you forgotten Me, the One who made you and the whole world,
who stretched out the skies and made sure the earth’s foundations?
Yet you constantly worry about others—how they hate and might harm you.
But their anger counts for nothing.
14 In an instant, those who cower in fear and trepidation will be free to go in confidence;
they won’t die in chains or suffer from hunger.
15 Because I, the Eternal, am your God,
I can make the oceans roil with storm and roll with great waves.
They call Me, the Eternal, Commander of heavenly armies.
16 I have given you My words to speak and protected you with the shadow of My hand.
I am the One who pulled the skies tight and made the earth rock solid.
And I am the same who said to Zion, “You are indeed Mine!”
17 Get up. Get up, and get moving! Stand up, Jerusalem,
you who have experienced firsthand the punishing anger of God.
You have drunk that terrible cup to the last gritty drop,
and it left you reeling, drunk on distress.
18 Ah, poor Jerusalem! No one comes to guide her along.
Of all her people, all the ones whom the city nurtured and raised to adulthood,
None take her hand now in her stupor of pain.
19 Twin disasters have befallen you:
devastation and destruction, famine and war.
Who can relieve your anguish and pain?
Who is left to provide comfort?
20 Her people are lying around on every corner,
weary and faint, like an antelope trapped in a net.
Each is overcome with the Eternal’s anger; each suffers His rebuke.
21 But now, listen! Listen, you who are miserable,
you who are intoxicated, but not on wine.
22 The Lord, your God, the Eternal, who pleads for His people, has this to say:
Eternal One: Look! I have taken away the cup that left you reeling—the cup of My anger—
and sobered you up; I will never make you drink it again.
23 And I will give that drink to those who abused and oppressed you—
who ordered you, “Get down so we can walk all over you.”
And your backs became the ground they walked on, the streets they passed by.