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Israel, A Light to the Nations

49 (A)Listen to me, distant nations,
    you people who live far away!
Before I was born, the Lord chose me
    and appointed me to be his servant.
(B)He made my words as sharp as a sword.
    With his own hand he protected me.[a]
He made me like an arrow,
    sharp and ready for use.
He said to me, “Israel, you are my servant;
    because of you, people will praise me.”

I said, “I have worked, but how hopeless it is!
    I have used up my strength, but have accomplished nothing.”
Yet I can trust the Lord to defend my cause;
    he will reward me for what I do.

Before I was born, the Lord appointed me;
    he made me his servant to bring back his people,
    to bring back the scattered people of Israel.
The Lord gives me honor;
    he is the source of my strength.

(C)The Lord said to me,

“I have a greater task for you, my servant.
    Not only will you restore to greatness
    the people of Israel who have survived,
but I will also make you a light to the nations—
    so that all the world may be saved.”

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  1. Isaiah 49:2 With his own hand … me; or He kept me hidden in his hand.

The Servant’s Mission

49 Listen to me, O coastlands,
    pay attention, you peoples from far away!
The Lord called me before I was born,
    while I was in my mother’s womb he named me.
He made my mouth like a sharp sword,
    in the shadow of his hand he hid me;
he made me a polished arrow,
    in his quiver he hid me away.
And he said to me, “You are my servant,
    Israel, in whom I will be glorified.”
But I said, “I have labored in vain,
    I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity;
yet surely my cause is with the Lord,
    and my reward with my God.”

And now the Lord says,
    who formed me in the womb to be his servant,
to bring Jacob back to him,
    and that Israel might be gathered to him,
for I am honored in the sight of the Lord,
    and my God has become my strength—
he says,
“It is too light a thing that you should be my servant
    to raise up the tribes of Jacob
    and to restore the survivors of Israel;
I will give you as a light to the nations,
    that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.”

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49 Coastlands, listen to me;
listen, you peoples far away:
Adonai called me from the womb;
before I was born, he had spoken my name.
He has made my mouth like a sharp sword
while hiding me in the shadow of his hand;
he has made me like a sharpened arrow
while concealing me in his quiver.
He said to me, “You are my servant,
Isra’el, through whom I will show my glory.”

But I said, “I have toiled in vain,
spent my strength for nothing, futility.”
Yet my cause is with Adonai,
my reward is with my God.
So now Adonai says —
he formed me in the womb to be his servant,
to bring Ya‘akov back to him,
to have Isra’el gathered to him,
so that I will be honored in the sight of Adonai,
my God having become my strength —
he has said, “It is not enough
that you are merely my servant
to raise up the tribes of Ya‘akov
and restore the offspring of Isra’el.
I will also make you a light to the nations,
so my salvation can spread to the ends of the earth.”

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A Light for the Nations

49 1-3 Listen, far-flung islands,
    pay attention, faraway people:
God put me to work from the day I was born.
    The moment I entered the world he named me.
He gave me speech that would cut and penetrate.
    He kept his hand on me to protect me.
He made me his straight arrow
    and hid me in his quiver.
He said to me, “You’re my dear servant,
    Israel, through whom I’ll shine.”

But I said, “I’ve worked for nothing.
    I’ve nothing to show for a life of hard work.
Nevertheless, I’ll let God have the last word.
    I’ll let him pronounce his verdict.”

5-6 “And now,” God says,
    this God who took me in hand
    from the moment of birth to be his servant,
To bring Jacob back home to him,
    to set a reunion for Israel—
What an honor for me in God’s eyes!
    That God should be my strength!
He says, “But that’s not a big enough job for my servant—
    just to recover the tribes of Jacob,
    merely to round up the strays of Israel.
I’m setting you up as a light for the nations
    so that my salvation becomes global!”

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