1 Remember when the Eternal brought back the exiles to Zion? It was as if we were dreaming— 2 Our mouths were filled with laughter; our tongues were spilling over into song. The word went out across the prairies and deserts, across the hills, over the oceans wide, from nation to nation: “The Eternal has done remarkable things for them.” 3 We shook our heads. All of us were stunned—the Eternal has done remarkable things for us. We were beyond happy, beyond joyful.
4 And now, Eternal One, some are held captive and poor. Release them, and restore our fortunes as the dry riverbeds of the South spring to life when the rains come at last. 5 Those who walk the fields to sow, casting their seed in tears, will one day tread those same long rows, amazed by what’s appeared. 6 Those who weep as they walk and plant with sighs Will return singing with joy, when they bring home the harvest.
8 Even though they fail and seem blind and deaf (and not for lack of eyes or ears), bring them out.
9 All the nations gather together; peoples from all over the world assemble. Who among them could have forseen this? Let them call their witnesses to make their case, prove they are in the right— that it is the truth.
10 Eternal One: You are My witnesses; You are My proof.
You whom I chose for special purpose, My servant, in order that you would know Me, trust Me, be faithful to Me, Understand that I alone am God; no god was formed before Me, and there will be no god after Me. 11 I, I am the Eternal; there is no Savior except for Me, 12 I alone told that this victory would happen. Then I saved you and made it known. No other god worked among you—You know the truth. You can testify that it is so; as I declare, I alone am God. 13 Indeed, from day one, I am He. No one can wrest another from My hand. I make things happen; who can turn them around?
14 The Holy One of Israel, the Eternal One who redeemed you, says,
Eternal One: For your good, I will send another against Babylon and make all of them outcasts from their own land; The Chaldeans will set sail and try to escape on their celebrated ships. 15 For I am the Eternal, your Holy One. I am your King, Creator of Israel, My people.
25 But for now, I think it is best to send Epaphroditus home to you. He has become my dear brother in the Lord. We have worked well together and fought great battles together, and he was an encouraging minister to me in my time of need. 26 He could not wait to see you all. He was concerned for you when he found out you knew how sick he really was. 27 In fact, he nearly died. But once again, God was exceedingly kind and covered him with His mercy. And I, too, by His mercy, have been spared sorrow on top of sorrow.
28 I am so excited to be sending him back to you! I can picture the joy on your faces when he arrives; I can feel my worries falling away. 29 Welcome him joyfully in the Lord. Esteem all spiritual leaders like Epaphroditus 30 because he placed his life in grave danger for the work of the Anointed; he risked his life to serve me when you couldn’t.
3 It is time that I wrap up these thoughts to you, my brothers and sisters. Rejoice in the Lord! (I don’t mind writing these things over and over to you, as I know it keeps you safe.)
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