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[a] 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[b] 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.[c]
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[d] will belong to you. You will force into slavery those tall people of Seba.[e]
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[f] are down on their knees, as wooden images of them are carried away on weary animals.[g] 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,[h] 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.
45.2mountains: The Dead Sea Scrolls and one ancient translation; the Standard Hebrew Text “rising waves.”
45.4But. . . you: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
45.8Prepare. . . create: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
1 Thessalonians 3Contemporary English Version (CEV)
3 Finally, we couldn’t stand it any longer. We decided to stay in Athens by ourselves 2 and send our friend Timothy to you. He works with us as God’s servant and preaches the good news about Christ. We wanted him to make you strong in your faith and to encourage you. 3 We didn’t want any of you to be discouraged by all these troubles. You knew we would have to suffer, 4 because when we were with you, we told you this would happen. And we did suffer, as you well know. 5 At last, when I could not wait any longer, I sent Timothy to find out about your faith. I hoped that Satan had not tempted you and made all our work useless.
6 Timothy has come back from his visit with you and has told us about your faith and love. He also said that you always have happy memories of us and that you want to see us as much as we want to see you.
7 My friends, even though we have a lot of trouble and suffering, your faith makes us feel better about you. 8 Your strong faith in the Lord is like a breath of new life. 9 How can we possibly thank God enough for all the happiness you have brought us? 10 Day and night we sincerely pray that we will see you again and help you to have an even stronger faith.
11 We pray that God our Father and our Lord Jesus will let us visit you. 12 May the Lord make your love for each other and for everyone else grow by leaps and bounds. That’s how our love for you has grown. 13 And when our Lord comes with all of his people, I pray that he will make your hearts pure and innocent in the sight of God the Father.
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