40 “Comfort, O comfort My people,” says your God. 2 “Speak [a]tenderly to Jerusalem, And call out to her, that her time of compulsory service in warfare is finished, That her wickedness has been taken away [since her punishment is sufficient], That she has received from the Lord’s hand Double [punishment] for all her sins.”
3 A voice of one is calling out, “Clear the way for the Lord in the wilderness [remove the obstacles]; Make straight and smooth in the desert a highway for our God. 4 “Every valley shall be raised, And every mountain and hill be made low; And let the rough ground become a plain, And the rugged places a broad valley. 5 “And the glory and majesty and splendor of the Lord will be revealed, And all humanity shall see it together; For the mouth of the Lord has spoken it.” 6 A voice says, “Call out [prophesy].” Then he answered, “What shall I call out?” [The voice answered:] All humanity is [as frail as] grass, and all that makes it attractive [its charm, its loveliness] is [momentary] like the flower of the field. 7 The grass withers, the flower fades, When the breath of the Lord blows upon it; Most certainly [all] the people are [like] grass. 8 The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever.
9 O Zion, herald of good news, Get up on a high mountain. O Jerusalem, herald of good news, Lift up your voice with strength, Lift it up, do not fear; Say to the cities of Judah, “Here is your God!” 10 Listen carefully, the Lord God will come with might, And His arm will rule for Him. Most certainly His reward is with Him, And His restitution accompanies Him. 11 He will protect His flock like a shepherd, He will gather the lambs in His arm, He will carry them in His bosom; He will gently and carefully lead those nursing their young.
12 Who has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand, And marked off the heavens with a span [of the hand], And calculated the dust of the earth with a [b]measure, And weighed the mountains in a balance And the hills in a pair of scales? 13 Who has directed the Spirit of the Lord, Or has taught Him as His counselor? 14 With whom did He consult and who enlightened Him? Who taught Him the path of justice and taught Him knowledge And informed Him of the way of understanding? 15 In fact, the nations are like a drop from a bucket, And are regarded as a speck of dust on the scales; Now look, He lifts up the islands like fine dust. 16 And [the forests of] Lebanon cannot supply sufficient fuel to start a fire, Nor are its wild beasts enough for a burnt offering [worthy of the Lord]. 17 All the nations are as nothing before Him, They are regarded by Him as less than nothing and meaningless.
18 To whom then will you liken God? Or with what likeness will you compare Him? 19 As for the cast image (idol), a metalworker casts it, A goldsmith overlays it with gold And a silversmith casts its silver chains. 20 He who is too impoverished for such an offering [to give to his god] Chooses a tree that will not rot; He seeks out for himself a skillful craftsman To [carve and] set up an idol that will not totter.
21 Do you [who worship idols] not know? Have you not heard? Has it not been told to you from the beginning? Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth [the omnipotence of God and the stupidity of bowing to idols]? 22 It is He who sits above the circle of the earth, And its inhabitants are like grasshoppers; [It is He] who stretches out the heavens like a veil And spreads them out like a tent to dwell in. 23 It is He who reduces dignitaries to nothing, Who makes the judges (rulers) of the earth meaningless (useless). 24 Scarcely have they been planted, Scarcely have they been sown, Scarcely has their stock taken root in the earth, But He merely blows on them, and they wither, And a strong wind carries them away like stubble. 25 “To whom then will you compare Me That I would be his equal?” says the Holy One. 26 Lift up your eyes on high And see who has created these heavenly bodies, The One who brings out their host by number, He calls them all by name; Because of the greatness of His might and the strength of His power, Not one is missing.
27 Why, O Jacob, do you say, and declare, O Israel, “My way is hidden from the Lord, And the justice due me escapes the notice of my God”? 28 Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth Does not become tired or grow weary; There is no searching of His understanding. 29 He gives strength to the weary, And to him who has no might He increases power. 30 Even youths grow weary and tired, And vigorous young men stumble badly, 31 But those who wait for the Lord [who expect, look for, and hope in Him] Will gain new strength and renew their power; They will lift up their wings [and rise up close to God] like eagles [rising toward the sun]; They will run and not become weary, They will walk and not grow tired.
41 “Listen to Me in silence, you islands and coastlands, And let the nations gain their strength; Let them come near, then let them speak; Let us come together for judgment [and decide the issue between us concerning the enemy from the east]. 2 “Who has stirred up and put into action one from the east [the king of Persia, Cyrus the Great] Whom He calls in righteousness to His service and whom victory meets at every step? The Lord turns nations over to him And subdues kings. He makes them like dust with his sword, Like wind-driven chaff with his bow. 3 “He (Cyrus) pursues them and passes along safely, By a way his feet had not traveled before. 4 “Who has performed and done this, Calling forth [and guiding the destinies of] the generations [of the nations] from the beginning? ‘I, the Lord—the first, and with the last [existing before history began, the ever-present, unchanging God]—I am He.’”
5 The islands and coastlands have seen and they fear; The ends of the earth tremble; They have drawn near and have come. 6 They each help his neighbor And say to his brother [as he fashions his idols], “Be of good courage!” 7 So the craftsman encourages the goldsmith, And he who smooths metal with the smith’s hammer encourages him who beats the anvil, Saying of the soldering (welding), “That is good”; And he fastens the idol with nails, So that it will not totter nor be moved. 8 “But you, Israel, My servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, The offspring of Abraham My friend, 9 You whom I [the Lord] have [c]taken from the ends of the earth, And called from its remotest parts And said to you, ‘You are My servant, I have chosen you and have not rejected you [even though you are exiled]. 10 ‘Do not fear [anything], for I am with you; Do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, be assured I will help you; I will certainly take hold of you with My righteous right hand [a hand of justice, of power, of victory, of salvation].’ 11 “Indeed, all those who are angry with you will be put to shame and humiliated; Those who strive against you will be as nothing and will perish. 12 “You shall search for those who quarrel with you, but will not find them; They who war against you will be as nothing, as nothing at all. 13 “For I the Lord your God keep hold of your right hand; [I am the Lord], Who says to you, ‘Do not fear, I will help you.’ 14 “Do not fear, you worm Jacob, you men of Israel; I will help you,” declares the Lord, “and your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel. 15 “In fact, I have made of you a new, sharp [d]threshing implement with sharp edges; You will thresh the mountains and crush them, And make the hills like chaff. 16 “You will winnow them, and the wind will carry them away, And a high wind will scatter them; But you will rejoice in the Lord, You will glory in the Holy One of Israel.
17 “The poor and needy are seeking water, but there is none; Their tongues are parched with thirst. I, the Lord, will answer them Myself; I, the God of Israel, will not neglect them. 18 “I will open rivers on the barren heights And springs in the midst of the valleys; I will make the wilderness a reed-pool of water And the dry land springs of water. 19 “I will put the cedar in the wilderness, The acacia, the myrtle and the olive tree; I will place the juniper in the desert Together with the box tree and the cypress, 20 So that they may see and know, And consider and understand together, That the hand of the Lord has done this, That the Holy One of Israel has created it.
21 “Present your case [for idols made by men’s hands],” says the Lord. “Produce your evidence [of divinity],” Says the king of Jacob. 22 Let them bring forward [their evidence] and tell us what is going to happen. Regarding the former events, tell what they were, That we may consider them and know their outcome; Or announce to us the things that are going to come. 23 Tell us the things that are to come afterward, That we may know that you are gods; Indeed, you should do something good or do evil, [e]that we may be afraid and fear [you] together [as we observe the miracle]. 24 Hear this! You [idols] are less than nothing, And your work is worthless; The worshiper who chooses you [as a god] is repulsive.
25 “I have stirred up and put into action [f]one from the north [the king of Persia, Cyrus the Great], and he has come; From the rising of the sun he will call on My Name [in prayer]. And he will trample on [the Babylonian] officials as on mortar, Even as a potter treads clay.” 26 Who [among the idols] has declared this from the beginning, so that we could know? Or from earlier times, so that we could say, “He is [unquestionably] right!”? In fact, there was no one who declared it, Indeed, there was no one who proclaimed it; There was no one at all who heard you speak [for you pagan gods are speechless]. 27 “I was first to say to Zion, ‘Listen carefully, here they are [the Jews who will be restored to their own land].’ And to Jerusalem, ‘I will provide a messenger (Isaiah) to bring the good news [[g]that Cyrus will be stirred up and put into action to save them].’ 28 “But when I look [on the pagan prophets and priests], there is no one [who could predict these events], And there is no counselor [h]among them, Who, if I ask, can give an answer. 29 “In fact, all of these [pagan prophets and priests] are false; Their works are worthless, Their cast images are [merely] wind and emptiness.
God’s Promise concerning His Servant
42 “Behold, My [i]Servant, whom I [j]uphold; My Chosen One in whom My soul delights. I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the nations. 2 “He will not call out or shout aloud, Nor make His voice heard in the street. 3 “A broken reed He will not break [off] And a dimly burning wick He will not extinguish [He will not harm those who are weak and suffering]; He will faithfully bring forth justice. 4 “He will not be disheartened or crushed [in spirit]; [He will persevere] until He has established justice on the earth; And the coastlands will wait expectantly for His law.”
5 This is what God the Lord says,
He who created the heavens and stretched them out, Who spread out the earth and its produce, Who gives breath to the people on it And spirit to those who walk on it, 6 “I am the Lord, I have called You (the Messiah) in righteousness [for a righteous purpose], I will also take You by the hand and keep watch over You, And I will appoint You as a covenant to the people [Israel], As a light to the nations (Gentiles), 7 To open the eyes of the blind, To bring out prisoners from the dungeon And those who sit in darkness from the prison. 8 “I am the Lord, that is My Name; My glory I will not give to another, Nor My praise to carved idols. 9 “Indeed, the former things have come to pass, Now I declare new things; Before they spring forth I proclaim them to you.”
10 Sing to the Lord a new song, Sing His praise from the end of the earth! You who go down to the sea, and all that is in it, You islands and coastlands, and those who inhabit them [sing His praise]! 11 Let the wilderness and its cities lift up their voices, The villages where Kedar lives. Let the inhabitants of [k]Sela shout for joy, Let them shout joyfully from the tops of the mountains. 12 Let them give glory to the Lord And declare His praise in the islands and coastlands. 13 The Lord will go forth like a warrior, He will stir up His zeal like a man of war; He will shout out, yes, He will raise a war cry. He will prevail [mightily] against His enemies.
The Blindness of the People
14 “I [the Lord] have been silent for a long time, I have been still and restrained Myself. Now I will moan like a woman in labor, I will both gasp and pant. 15 “I will lay waste the mountains and hills And wither all their vegetation; I will turn the rivers into coastlands And dry up the ponds. 16 “I will lead the blind by a way they do not know; I will guide them in paths that they do not know. I will make darkness into light before them And rugged places into plains. These things I will do [for them], And I will not leave them abandoned or undone.” 17 Those who trust in carved idols will be turned back, And utterly put to shame, Who say to cast images, “You are our gods.”
18 Hear, you deaf! And look, you blind, that you may see. 19 Who is blind but My servant [Israel], Or deaf like My messenger whom I send? Who is blind like the one who is at peace with Me [in a covenant relationship], Or so blind as the servant of the Lord? 20 You have seen many things, but you do not observe them; Your ears are open, but no one hears. 21 The Lord was pleased for His righteousness’ sake To make the law great and prove to be glorious. 22 But this is a people despoiled and plundered; All of them are trapped in holes, Or are hidden away in prisons. They have become a prey with no one to rescue them, And a spoil, with no one to say, “Give them back!”
23 Who among you will listen to this? Who will listen and pay attention in the time to come? 24 Who gave up Jacob [the kingdom of Judah] for spoil, and [the kingdom of] Israel to the plunderers? Was it not the Lord, He against whom we [of Judah] have sinned, And in whose ways they [of Israel] were unwilling to walk, And whose law and teaching they did not obey? 25 Therefore He poured out on Israel the heat of His anger And the fierceness of battle; And engulfed him in fire, Yet he did not recognize [the lesson of repentance which the Assyrian conquest was intended to teach]; It burned him, but he did not take it to heart.
43 But now, this is what the Lord, your Creator says, O Jacob, And He who formed you, O Israel, “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you [from captivity]; I have called you by name; you are Mine! 2 “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they will not overwhelm you. When you walk through fire, you will not be scorched, Nor will the flame burn you. 3 “For I am the Lord your God, The Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I have given Egypt [to the Babylonians] as your ransom, Cush (ancient Ethiopia) and Seba [its province] in exchange for you. 4 “Because you are precious in My sight, You are honored and I love you, I will give other men in return for you and other peoples in exchange for your life. 5 “Do not fear, for I am with you; I will bring your offspring from the east [where they are scattered], And gather you from the west. 6 “I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’ And to the south, ‘Do not hold them back.’ Bring My sons from far way And My daughters from the ends of the earth, 7 Everyone who is called by My Name, Whom I have created for My glory, Whom I have formed, even whom I have made.”
Israel Is God’s Witness
8 Bring out the people who are blind, even though they have eyes, And the deaf, even though they have ears. 9 All the nations have gathered together So that the peoples may be assembled. Who among them (the idolaters) can [l]predict this [that Judah would return from captivity] And proclaim to us the former events? Let them provide their witnesses so that they may be justified, Or let them hear and say [in acknowledgement], “It is the truth.” 10 “You are My witnesses,” declares the Lord, “And My servant whom I have chosen, That you may know and believe Me And understand that I am He. Before Me there was no God formed, And there will be none after Me. 11 “I, [only] I, am the Lord, And there is no Savior besides Me. 12 “I have declared [the future] and saved [the nation] and proclaimed [that I am God], And there was no strange (alien) god among you; Therefore you are My witnesses [among the pagans],” declares the Lord, “That I am God. 13 “Even from eternity I am He, And there is no one who can rescue from My hand; I act, and who can revoke or reverse it?”
Babylon to Be Destroyed
14 This is what the Lord your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel says,
“For your sake I have sent [one] to Babylon, And I will bring down all of them as fugitives, Even the Chaldeans [who reign in Babylon], into the ships [m]over which they rejoiced. 15 “I am the Lord, your Holy One, The Creator of Israel, your King.”
16 This is what the Lord says,
He who makes a way through the sea And a path through the mighty waters, 17 He who brings out the chariot and the horse, The army and the mighty warrior, (They will lie down together, they will not rise again; They have been extinguished, they have been put out like a lamp’s wick): 18 “Do not remember the former things, Or ponder the things of the past. 19 “Listen carefully, I am about to do a new thing, Now it will spring forth; Will you not be aware of it? I will even put a road in the wilderness, Rivers in the desert. 20 “The beasts of the field will honor Me, Jackals and ostriches, Because I have given waters in the wilderness And rivers in the desert, To give drink to My people, My chosen. 21 “The people whom I formed for Myself Will make known My praise.
The Shortcomings of Israel
22 “Yet you have not called on Me [in prayer and worship], O Jacob; But you have grown weary of Me, O Israel. 23 “You have not brought Me your sheep or goats for your burnt offerings, Nor honored Me with your sacrifices. I have not burdened you with offerings, Nor wearied you with [demands for offerings of] incense. 24 “You have not bought Me sweet cane with money, Nor have you filled Me with the fat of your sacrifices; But you have burdened Me with your sins, You have wearied Me with your wickedness.
25 “I, only I, am He who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake, And I will not remember your sins. 26 “[n]Remind Me [of your merits with a thorough report], let us plead and argue our case together; State your position, that you may be proved right. 27 “Your first father [Jacob] sinned, And your spokesmen [the priests and the prophets—your mediators] have transgressed against Me. 28 “So I will [o]profane the officials of the sanctuary, And I will consign Jacob to destruction and [I will subject] Israel to defamation and abuse.
Isaiah 41:15A heavy flat wooden sledge composed of several thick boards with sharp pieces of flint or metal embedded on one side. It was dragged over harvested stalks of grain to separate the kernels from the straw.
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