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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.
As I lead you,
    I will level mountains[a]
and break the iron bars
    on bronze gates of cities.

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.
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.

Only I am the Lord!
    There are no other gods.
I have made you strong,
    though you don’t know me.
Now everyone from east to west
will learn that I am the Lord.
    No other gods are real.
I create light and darkness,
happiness and sorrow.
    I, the Lord, do all of this.

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:

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]
They are down on their knees
    to rescue the heavy load,
but the images are still taken
    to a foreign country.

You survivors in Israel,
    listen to me, the Lord.
Since the day you were born,
    I have carried you along.
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.

Can anyone compare with me?
    Is anyone my equal?
Some people hire a goldsmith
    and give silver and gold
to be formed into an idol
    for them to worship.
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.
Now keep this in mind,[h]
you sinful people.
    And don’t ever forget it.

The Lord Alone Is God

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.
Start grinding grain!
    Take off your veil.
Strip off your fancy clothes
    and cross over rivers.[i]
You will suffer the shame
    of going naked,
because I will take revenge,
    and no one can escape.[j]
I am the Lord All-Powerful,
the holy God of Israel.
    I am their Savior.

Babylon, be silent!
    Sit in the dark.
No longer will nations
    accept you as their queen.
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.
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.

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.
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,[k]
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[l] of Judah.
You claim to worship me,
the Lord God of Israel,
    but you are lying.
You call Jerusalem your home
    and say you depend on me,
the Lord All-Powerful,
    the God of Israel.

Long ago I announced
    what was going to be,
then without warning,
    I made it happen.
I knew you were stubborn
    and hardheaded.
And I told you these things,
so that when they happened
    you would not say,
“The idols we worship did this.”

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.
Today I am doing something new,
something you cannot say
    you have heard before.
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

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.[m]
11 I did this because of who I am.
I refuse to be dishonored[n]
    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[o]
would do
what I want done
    to Babylonia?[p]
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.”

Footnotes

  1. 45.2 mountains: The Dead Sea Scrolls and one ancient translation; the Standard Hebrew Text “rising waves.”
  2. 45.4 But. . . you: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
  3. 45.8 Prepare. . . create: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
  4. 45.14 Ethiopia: See the note at 11.11.
  5. 45.14 Seba: See the note at 43.3.
  6. 46.1 Bel and Nebo: Bel was another name for Marduk, the chief god of the Babylonians. Nebo was the son of Marduk and also an important god.
  7. 46.1 as. . . animals: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
  8. 46.8 Now. . . mind: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
  9. 47.2 Strip. . . rivers: This may be a command to get ready for work that requires wading in the river, or it may be a warning that they are going to be taken away as slaves.
  10. 47.3 escape: Or “oppose me.”
  11. 47.14 keep warm: Or “cook food.”
  12. 48.1 tribe: Hebrew “waters.”
  13. 48.10 furnace: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text of verse 10.
  14. 48.11 I refuse to be dishonored: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
  15. 48.14 my friend: Probably Cyrus (see 44.28; 45.1).
  16. 48.14 Babylonia: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text of verse 14.