44 People of Israel, I have chosen you as my servant. 2 I am your Creator. You were in my care even before you were born. Israel, don’t be terrified! You are my chosen servant, my very favorite.[a]
3 I will bless the thirsty land by sending streams of water; I will bless your descendants by giving them my Spirit. 4 They will spring up like grass[b] or like willow trees near flowing streams. 5 They will worship me and become my people. They will write my name on the back of their hands.[c]
6 I am the Lord All-Powerful, the first and the last, the one and only God. Israel, I have rescued you! I am your King. 7 Can anyone compare with me? If so, let them speak up and tell me now. Let them say what has happened since I made my nation long ago, and let them tell what is going to happen.[d] 8 Don’t tremble with fear! Didn’t I tell you long ago? Didn’t you hear me? I alone am God— no one else is a mighty rock.[e]
Idols Can’t Do a Thing
The Lord said:
9 Those people who make idols are nothing themselves, and the idols they treasure are just as worthless. Worshipers of idols are blind, stupid, and foolish. 10 Why make an idol or an image that can’t do a thing? 11 Everyone who makes idols and all who worship them are mere humans, who will end up sadly disappointed. Let them face me in court and be terrified.
Idols and Firewood
12 A metalworker shapes an idol by using a hammer[f] and heat from the fire. In his powerful hand he holds a hammer, as he pounds the metal into the proper shape. But he gets hungry and thirsty and loses his strength.
13 Some woodcarver measures a piece of wood, then draws an outline. The idol is carefully carved with each detail exact. At last it looks like a person and is placed in a temple. 14 Either cedar, cypress, oak, or any tree from the forest may be chosen. Or even a pine tree planted by the woodcarver and watered by the rain.
15 Some of the wood is used to make a fire for heating or for cooking. One piece is made into an idol, then the woodcarver bows down and worships it. 16 He enjoys the warm fire and the meat that was roasted over the burning coals. 17 Afterwards, he bows down to worship the wooden idol. “Protect me!” he says. “You are my god.”
18 Those who worship idols are stupid and blind! 19 They don’t have enough sense to say to themselves, “I made a fire with half of the wood and cooked my bread and meat on it. Then I made something worthless with the other half. Why worship a block of wood?”
20 How can anyone be stupid enough to trust something that can be burned to ashes?[g] No one can save themselves like that. Don’t they realize that the idols they hold in their hands are not really gods?
The Lord Won’t Forget His People
21 People of Israel, you are my servant, so remember all of this. Israel, I created you, and you are my servant. I won’t forget you.[h] 22 Turn back to me! I have rescued you and swept away your sins as though they were clouds.
Sing Praises to the Lord
23 Tell the heavens and the earth to start singing! Tell the mountains and every tree in the forest to join in the song! The Lord has rescued his people; now they will worship him.
The Lord Created Everything
24 Israel, I am your Lord. I am your source of life, and I have rescued you. I created everything from the sky above to the earth below.
25 I make liars of false prophets and fools of fortunetellers. I take human wisdom and turn it into nonsense. 26 I will make the message of my prophets come true. They are saying, “Jerusalem will be filled with people, and the Lord will rebuild the towns of Judah.”
27 I am the one who commands the sea and its streams to run dry. 28 I am also the one who says, “Cyrus will lead my people and obey my orders. Jerusalem and the temple will be rebuilt.”
Cyrus Obeys the Lord’s Commands
45 The Lord said to Cyrus, his chosen one:
I have taken hold of your right hand to help you capture nations and remove kings from power. City gates will open for you; not one will stay closed. 2 As I lead you, I will level mountains[i] and break the iron bars on bronze gates of cities.
3 I will give you treasures hidden in dark and secret places. Then you will know that I, the Lord God of Israel, have called you by name. 4 Cyrus, you don’t even know me! But I have called you by name and highly honored you[j] because of Israel, my chosen servant.
5 Only I am the Lord! There are no other gods. I have made you strong, though you don’t know me. 6 Now everyone from east to west will learn that I am the Lord. No other gods are real. 7 I create light and darkness, happiness and sorrow. I, the Lord, do all of this.
8 Tell the heavens to send down justice like showers of rain. Prepare the earth for my saving power to sprout and produce justice that I, the Lord, create.[k]
The Lord’s Mighty Power
The Lord said:
9 Israel, you have no right to argue with your Creator. You are merely a clay pot shaped by a potter. The clay doesn’t ask, “Why did you make me this way? Where are the handles?” 10 Children don’t have the right to demand of their parents, “What have you done to make us what we are?”
11 I am the Lord, the Creator, the holy God of Israel. Do you dare question me about my own nation or about what I have done? 12 I created the world and covered it with people; I stretched out the sky and filled it with stars. 13 I have done the right thing by placing Cyrus in power, and I will make the roads easy for him to follow. I am the Lord All-Powerful! Cyrus will rebuild my city and set my people free without being paid a thing. I, the Lord, have spoken.
The Lord Alone Can Save
14 My people, I, the Lord, promise that the riches of Egypt and the treasures of Ethiopia[l] will belong to you. You will force into slavery those tall people of Seba.[m]
They will bow down and say, “The only true God is with you; there are no other gods.” 15 People of Israel, your God is a mystery, though he alone can save. 16 Anyone who makes idols will be confused and terribly disgraced. 17 But Israel, I, the Lord, will always keep you safe and free from shame.
Everyone Is Invited
18 The Lord alone is God! He created the heavens and made a world where people can live, instead of creating an empty desert. The Lord alone is God; there are no others. 19 The Lord did not speak in a dark secret place or command Jacob’s descendants to search for him in vain.
The Lord speaks the truth, and this is what he says 20 to every survivor from every nation: “Gather around me! Learn how senseless it is to worship wooden idols or pray to helpless gods.
21 “Why don’t you get together and meet me in court? Didn’t I tell you long ago what would happen? I am the only God! There are no others. I bring about justice, and have the power to save.
22 “I invite the whole world to turn to me and be saved. I alone am God! No others are real. 23 I have made a solemn promise, one that won’t be broken: Everyone will bow down and worship me. 24 They will admit that I alone can bring about justice. Everyone who is angry with me will be terribly ashamed and will turn to me. 25 I, the Lord, will give victory and great honor to the people of Israel.”
Babylonia’s Gods Are Helpless
The Lord said:
46 The gods Bel and Nebo[n] are down on their knees, as wooden images of them are carried away on weary animals.[o] 2 They are down on their knees to rescue the heavy load, but the images are still taken to a foreign country.
3 You survivors in Israel, listen to me, the Lord. Since the day you were born, I have carried you along. 4 I will still be the same when you are old and gray, and I will take care of you. I created you. I will carry you and always keep you safe.
5 Can anyone compare with me? Is anyone my equal? 6 Some people hire a goldsmith and give silver and gold to be formed into an idol for them to worship. 7 They carry the idol on their shoulders, then put it on a stand, but it cannot move.
They call out to the idol when they are in trouble, but it doesn’t answer, and it cannot help. 8 Now keep this in mind,[p] you sinful people. And don’t ever forget it.
The Lord Alone Is God
9 I alone am God! There are no other gods; no one is like me. Think about what happened many years ago. 10 From the very beginning, I told what would happen long before it took place.
I kept my word 11 and brought someone from a distant land to do what I wanted. He attacked from the east, like a hawk swooping down. Now I will keep my promise and do what I planned.
12 You people are stubborn and far from being safe, so listen to me. 13 I will soon come to save you. I am not far away and will waste no time; I take pride in Israel and will save Jerusalem.
Babylon Will Fall
The Lord said:
47 City of Babylon, You are delicate and untouched, but that will change. Surrender your royal power and sit in the dirt. 2 Start grinding grain! Take off your veil. Strip off your fancy clothes and cross over rivers.[q] 3 You will suffer the shame of going naked, because I will take revenge, and no one can escape.[r] 4 I am the Lord All-Powerful, the holy God of Israel. I am their Savior.
5 Babylon, be silent! Sit in the dark. No longer will nations accept you as their queen. 6 I was angry with my people. So I let you take their land and bring disgrace on them. You showed them no mercy, but were especially cruel to those who were old. 7 You thought that you would be queen forever. You didn’t care what you did; it never entered your mind that you might get caught.
8 You think that you alone are all-powerful, that you won’t be a widow or lose your children. All you care about is pleasure, but listen to what I say. 9 Your magic powers and charms will suddenly fail, then you will be a widow and lose your children.
10 You hid behind evil like a shield and said, “No one can see me!” You were fooled by your wisdom and your knowledge; you felt sure that you alone were in full control. 11 But without warning, disaster will strike— and your magic charms won’t help at all.
12 Keep using your magic powers and your charms as you have always done. Maybe—just maybe— you will frighten somebody! 13 You have worn yourself out, asking for advice from those who study the stars and tell the future month after month. Go ask them how to be saved from what will happen. 14 People who trust the stars are as helpless as straw in a flaming fire. No one can even keep warm,[s] sitting by a fire that feeds only on straw. 15 These are the fortunetellers you have done business with all of your life. But they don’t know where they are going, and they can’t save you.
The Lord Corrects His People
48 People of Israel, you come from Jacob’s family and the tribe[t] of Judah. You claim to worship me, the Lord God of Israel, but you are lying. 2 You call Jerusalem your home and say you depend on me, the Lord All-Powerful, the God of Israel.
3 Long ago I announced what was going to be, then without warning, I made it happen. 4 I knew you were stubborn and hardheaded. 5 And I told you these things, so that when they happened you would not say, “The idols we worship did this.”
6 You heard what I said, and you have seen it happen. Now admit that it’s true! I will show you secrets you have never known. 7 Today I am doing something new, something you cannot say you have heard before. 8 You have never been willing to listen to what I say; from the moment of your birth, I knew you would rebel.
The Lord Warns Israel
9 I, the Lord, am true to myself; I will be praised for not punishing and destroying you. 10 I tested you in hard times just as silver is refined in a heated furnace.[u] 11 I did this because of who I am. I refuse to be dishonored[v] or share my praise with any other god.
12 Israel, my chosen people, listen to me. I alone am the Lord, the first and the last. 13 With my own hand I created the earth and stretched out the sky. They obey my every command.
The Lord Speaks to the Nations
14 Gather around me, all of you! Listen to what I say. Did any of your idols predict this would happen? Did they say that my friend[w] would do what I want done to Babylonia?[x] 15 I was the one who chose him. I have brought him this far, and he will be successful. 16 Come closer and listen! I have never kept secret the things I have said, and I was here before time began.
It Is Best To Obey the Lord
By the power of his Spirit the Lord God has sent me 17 with this message: People of Israel, I am the holy Lord God, the one who rescues you. For your own good, I teach you, and I lead you along the right path. 18 How I wish that you had obeyed my commands! Your success and good fortune would then have overflowed like a flooding river. 19 Your nation would be blessed with more people than there are grains of sand along the seashore. And I would never have let your country be destroyed.
20 Now leave Babylon! Celebrate as you go. Be happy and shout for everyone to hear, “The Lord has rescued his servant Israel! 21 He led us through the desert and made water flow from a rock to satisfy our thirst. 22 But the Lord has promised that none who are evil will live in peace.”
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