39 Merodach Baladan, the son of Baladan, was now king of Babylonia. And when he learned that Hezekiah was well, he sent messengers with letters and a gift for him. 2 Hezekiah welcomed the messengers and showed them all the silver, the gold, the spices, and the fine oils that were in his storehouse. He even showed them where he kept his weapons. Nothing in his palace or in his entire kingdom was kept hidden from them.
3 I asked Hezekiah, “Where did these men come from? What did they want?”
“They came all the way from Babylonia,” Hezekiah answered.
4 “What did you show them?” I asked.
Hezekiah answered, “I showed them everything in my kingdom.”
5 Then I told Hezekiah:
I have a message for you from the Lord All-Powerful. 6 One day everything you and your ancestors have stored up will be taken to Babylonia. The Lord has promised that nothing will be left. 7 Some of your own sons will be taken to Babylonia, where they will be disgraced and made to serve in the king’s palace.
8 Hezekiah thought, “At least our nation will be at peace for a while.” So he told me, “The message you brought from the Lord is good.”
Encourage God’s People
40 Our God has said:
“Encourage my people! Give them comfort. 2 Speak kindly to Jerusalem and announce: Your slavery is past; your punishment is over. I, the Lord, made you pay double for your sins.”
3 Someone is shouting: “Clear a path in the desert! Make a straight road for the Lord our God. 4 Fill in the valleys; flatten every hill and mountain. Level the rough and rugged ground. 5 Then the glory of the Lord will appear for all to see. The Lord has promised this!”
6 Someone told me to shout, and I asked, “What should I shout?” We humans are merely grass, and we last no longer than wild flowers. 7 At the Lord’s command, flowers and grass disappear, and so do we. 8 Flowers and grass fade away, but what our God has said will never change.
Your God Is Here!
9 There is good news for the city of Zion. Shout it as loud as you can[a] from the highest mountain. Don’t be afraid to shout to the towns of Judah, “Your God is here!” 10 Look! The powerful Lord God is coming to rule with his mighty arm. He brings with him what he has taken in war, and he rewards his people. 11 The Lord cares for his nation, just as shepherds care for their flocks. He carries the lambs in his arms, while gently leading the mother sheep.
Who Compares with God?
12 Did any of you measure the ocean by yourself or stretch out the sky with your own hands? Did you put the soil of the earth in a bucket or weigh the hills and mountains on balance scales?
13 Has anyone told the Lord[b] what he must do or given him advice? 14 Did the Lord ask anyone to teach him wisdom and justice? Who gave him knowledge and understanding? 15 To the Lord, all nations are merely a drop in a bucket or dust on balance scales; all of the islands are but a handful of sand. 16 The cattle on Lebanon’s mountains would not be enough to offer as a sacrifice to God, and the trees would not be enough for the fire. 17 God thinks of the nations as far less than nothing.
18 Who compares with God? Is anything like him? 19 Is an idol at all like God? It is made of bronze with a thin layer of gold, and decorated with silver. 20 Or special wood may be chosen[c] because it doesn’t rot— then skilled hands take care to make an idol that won’t fall on its face.
God Rules the Whole Earth
21 Don’t you know? Haven’t you heard? Isn’t it clear that God created the world?[d] 22 God is the one who rules the whole earth, and we that live here are merely insects. He spread out the heavens like a curtain or an open tent.
23 God brings down rulers and turns them into nothing. 24 They are like flowers freshly sprung up and starting to grow. But when God blows on them, they wilt and are carried off like straw in a storm.
25 The holy God asks, “Who compares with me? Is anyone my equal?”
26 Look at the evening sky! Who created the stars? Who gave them each a name? Who leads them like an army? The Lord is so powerful that none of the stars are ever missing.
The Lord Gives Strength
27 You people of Israel, say, “God pays no attention to us! He doesn’t care if we are treated unjustly.”
But how can you say that? 28 Don’t you know? Haven’t you heard? The Lord is the eternal God, Creator of the earth. He never gets weary or tired; his wisdom cannot be measured.
29 The Lord gives strength to those who are weary. 30 Even young people get tired, then stumble and fall. 31 But those who trust the Lord will find new strength. They will be strong like eagles soaring upward on wings; they will walk and run without getting tired.
40.9There. . . can: Or “City of Jerusalem, you have good news. Shout it as loud as you can.”
4 Slave owners, be fair and honest with your slaves. Don’t forget that you have a Master in heaven.
2 Never give up praying. And when you pray, keep alert and be thankful. 3 Be sure to pray that God will make a way for us to spread his message and explain the mystery about Christ, even though I am in jail for doing this. 4 Please pray that I will make the message as clear as possible.
5 When you are with unbelievers, always make good use of the time. 6 Be pleasant and hold their interest when you speak the message. Choose your words carefully and be ready to give answers to anyone who asks questions.
7 Tychicus is the dear friend, who faithfully works and serves the Lord with us, and he will give you the news about me. 8 I am sending him to cheer you up by telling you how we are getting along. 9 Onesimus, that dear and faithful follower from your own group, is coming with him. The two of them will tell you everything that has happened here.
10 Aristarchus is in jail with me. He sends greetings to you, and so does Mark, the cousin of Barnabas. You have already been told to welcome Mark, if he visits you. 11 Jesus, who is known as Justus, sends his greetings. These three men are the only Jewish followers who have worked with me for the kingdom of God. They have given me much comfort.
12 Your own Epaphras, who serves Christ Jesus, sends his greetings. He always prays hard that you may fully know what the Lord wants you to do and that you may do it completely. 13 I have seen how much trouble he has gone through for you and for the followers in Laodicea and Hierapolis.
14 Our dear doctor Luke sends you his greetings, and so does Demas.
15 Give my greetings to the followers at Laodicea, especially to Nympha and the church that meets in her home.
16 After this letter has been read to your people, be sure to have it read in the church at Laodicea. And you should read the letter that I have sent to them.[a]
17 Remind Archippus to do the work that the Lord has given him to do.
18 I am signing this letter myself: PAUL.
Don’t forget that I am in jail.
I pray that God will be kind to you.
4.16the letter that I have sent to them: This is the only mention of the letter to the church at Laodicea.
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