Committed to Seeking God
51 1-3 “Listen to me, all you who are serious about right living
and committed to seeking God.
Ponder the rock from which you were cut,
the quarry from which you were dug.
Yes, ponder Abraham, your father,
and Sarah, who bore you.
Think of it! One solitary man when I called him,
but once I blessed him, he multiplied.
Likewise I, God, will comfort Zion,
comfort all her mounds of ruins.
I’ll transform her dead ground into Eden,
her moonscape into the garden of God,
A place filled with exuberance and laughter,
thankful voices and melodic songs.
4-6 “Pay attention, my people.
Listen to me, nations.
Revelation flows from me.
My decisions light up the world.
My deliverance arrives on the run,
my salvation right on time.
I’ll bring justice to the peoples.
Even faraway islands will look to me
and take hope in my saving power.
Look up at the skies,
ponder the earth under your feet.
The skies will fade out like smoke,
the earth will wear out like work pants,
and the people will die off like flies.
But my salvation will last forever,
my setting-things-right will never be obsolete.
7-8 “Listen now, you who know right from wrong,
you who hold my teaching inside you:
Pay no attention to insults, and when mocked
don’t let it get you down.
Those insults and mockeries are moth-eaten,
from brains that are termite-ridden,
But my setting-things-right lasts,
my salvation goes on and on and on.”
9-11 Wake up, wake up, flex your muscles, God!
Wake up as in the old days, in the long ago.
Didn’t you once make mincemeat of Rahab,
dispatch the old chaos-dragon?
And didn’t you once dry up the sea,
the powerful waters of the deep,
And then made the bottom of the ocean a road
for the redeemed to walk across?
In the same way God’s ransomed will come back,
come back to Zion cheering, shouting,
Joy eternal wreathing their heads,
exuberant ecstasies transporting them—
and not a sign of moans or groans.
What Are You Afraid of—or Who?
12-16 “I, I’m the One comforting you.
What are you afraid of—or who?
Some man or woman who’ll soon be dead?
Some poor wretch destined for dust?
You’ve forgotten me, God, who made you,
who unfurled the skies, who founded the earth.
And here you are, quaking like an aspen
before the tantrums of a tyrant
who thinks he can kick down the world.
But what will come of the tantrums?
The victims will be released before you know it.
They’re not going to die.
They’re not even going to go hungry.
For I am God, your very own God,
who stirs up the sea and whips up the waves,
I teach you how to talk, word by word,
and personally watch over you,
Even while I’m unfurling the skies,
setting earth on solid foundations,
and greeting Zion: ‘Welcome, my people!’”
17-20 So wake up! Rub the sleep from your eyes!
Up on your feet, Jerusalem!
You’ve drunk the cup God handed you,
the strong drink of his anger.
You drank it down to the last drop,
staggered and collapsed, dead-drunk.
And nobody to help you home,
no one among your friends or children
to take you by the hand and put you in bed.
You’ve been hit with a double dose of trouble
—does anyone care?
Assault and battery, hunger and death
—will anyone comfort?
Your sons and daughters have passed out,
strewn in the streets like stunned rabbits,
Sleeping off the strong drink of God’s anger,
the rage of your God.
21-23 Therefore listen, please,
you with your splitting headaches,
You who are nursing the hangovers
that didn’t come from drinking wine.
Your Master, your God, has something to say,
your God has taken up his people’s case:
“Look, I’ve taken back the drink that sent you reeling.
No more drinking from that jug of my anger!
I’ve passed it over to your abusers to drink, those who ordered you,
‘Down on the ground so we can walk all over you!’
And you had to do it. Flat on the ground,
you were the dirt under their feet.”
God Is Leading You Out of Here
52 1-2 Wake up, wake up! Pull on your boots, Zion!
Dress up in your Sunday best, Jerusalem, holy city!
Those who want no part of God have been culled out.
They won’t be coming along.
Brush off the dust and get to your feet, captive Jerusalem!
Throw off your chains, captive daughter of Zion!
3 God says, “You were sold for nothing. You’re being bought back for nothing.”
4-6 Again, the Master, God, says, “Early on, my people went to Egypt and lived, strangers in the land. At the other end, Assyria oppressed them. And now, what have I here?” God’s Decree. “My people are hauled off again for no reason at all. Tyrants on the warpath, whooping it up, and day after day, incessantly, my reputation blackened. Now it’s time that my people know who I am, what I’m made of—yes, that I have something to say. Here I am!”
7-10 How beautiful on the mountains
are the feet of the messenger bringing good news,
Breaking the news that all’s well,
proclaiming good times, announcing salvation,
telling Zion, “Your God reigns!”
Voices! Listen! Your scouts are shouting, thunderclap shouts,
shouting in joyful unison.
They see with their own eyes
God coming back to Zion.
Break into song! Boom it out, ruins of Jerusalem:
“God has comforted his people!
He’s redeemed Jerusalem!”
God has rolled up his sleeves.
All the nations can see his holy, muscled arm.
Everyone, from one end of the earth to the other,
sees him at work, doing his salvation work.
11-12 Out of here! Out of here! Leave this place!
Don’t look back. Don’t contaminate yourselves with plunder.
Just leave, but leave clean. Purify yourselves
in the process of worship, carrying the holy vessels of God.
But you don’t have to be in a hurry.
You’re not running from anybody!
God is leading you out of here,
and the God of Israel is also your rear guard.
It Was Our Pains He Carried
13-15 “Just watch my servant blossom!
Exalted, tall, head and shoulders above the crowd!
But he didn’t begin that way.
At first everyone was appalled.
He didn’t even look human—
a ruined face, disfigured past recognition.
Nations all over the world will be in awe, taken aback,
kings shocked into silence when they see him.
For what was unheard of they’ll see with their own eyes,
what was unthinkable they’ll have right before them.”