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.[a] 3 You will suffer the shame of going naked, because I will take revenge, and no one can escape.[b] 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,[c] 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[d] 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.[e] 11 I did this because of who I am. I refuse to be dishonored[f] 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[g] would do what I want done to Babylonia?[h] 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.”
The Work of the Lord’s Servant
49 Everyone, listen, even you foreign nations across the sea. The Lord chose me and gave me a name before I was born. 2 He made my words pierce like a sharp sword or a pointed arrow; he kept me safely hidden in the palm of his hand. 3 The Lord said to me, “Israel, you are my servant; and because of you I will be highly honored.”
4 I said to myself, “I’m completely worn out; my time has been wasted. But I did it for the Lord God, and he will reward me.”
5 Even before I was born, the Lord God chose me to serve him and to lead back the people of Israel. So the Lord has honored me and made me strong.
6 Now the Lord says to me, “It isn’t enough for you to be merely my servant. You must do more than lead back survivors from the tribes of Israel. I have placed you here as a light for other nations; you must take my saving power to everyone on earth.”
The Lord Will Rescue His People
7 Israel, I am the holy Lord God, the one who rescues you. You are slaves of rulers and of a nation who despises you.[i] Now this is what I promise: Kings and rulers will honor you by kneeling at your feet. You can trust me! I am your Lord, the holy God of Israel, and you are my chosen ones.
The Lord Will Lead His People Home
8 This is what the Lord says: I will answer your prayers because I have set a time when I will help by coming to save you. I have chosen you to take my promise of hope to other nations.[j] You will rebuild the country from its ruins, then people will come and settle there. 9 You will set prisoners free from dark dungeons to see the light of day.
On their way home, they will find plenty to eat, even on barren hills. 10 They won’t go hungry or get thirsty; they won’t be bothered by the scorching sun or hot desert winds. I will be merciful while leading them along to streams of water. 11 I will level the mountains and make roads. 12 Then my people will return from distant lands in the north and the west and from the city of Syene.[k]
The Lord’s Mercy
13 Tell the heavens and the earth to celebrate and sing; command every mountain to join in the song. The Lord’s people have suffered, but he has shown mercy and given them comfort.
14 The people of Zion said, “The Lord has turned away and forgotten us.”
15 The Lord answered, “Could a mother forget a child who nurses at her breast? Could she fail to love an infant who came from her own body? Even if a mother could forget, I will never forget you. 16 A picture of your city is drawn on my hand. You are always in my thoughts!
17 “Your city will be built faster than it was destroyed[l]— those who attacked it will retreat and leave. 18 Look around! You will see your people coming home. As surely as I live, I, the Lord, promise that your city with its people will be as lovely as a bride wearing her jewelry.”
Jerusalem’s Bright Future
19 Jerusalem is now in ruins! Nothing is left of the city. But it will be rebuilt and soon overcrowded; its cruel enemies will be gone far away.
20 Jerusalem is a woman whose children were born while she was in deep sorrow[m] over the loss of her husband. Now those children will come and seek room in the crowded city, 21 and Jerusalem will ask, “Am I really their mother? How could I have given birth when I was still mourning in a foreign land? Who raised these children? Where have they come from?”
22 The Lord God says: “I will soon give a signal for the nations to return your sons and your daughters to the arms of Jerusalem. 23 The kings and queens of those nations where they were raised will come and bow down. They will take care of you just like a slave taking care of a child. Then you will know that I am the Lord. You won’t be disappointed if you trust me.”
The Lord Is on Our Side
24 Is it possible to rescue victims from someone strong and cruel?[n] 25 But the Lord has promised to fight on our side and to rescue our children from those strong and violent enemies. 26 He will make those cruel people dine on their own flesh and get drunk from drinking their own blood. Then everyone will know that the Lord is our Savior; the powerful God of Israel has rescued his people.
47.2Strip. . . 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.
48.14Babylonia: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text of verse 14.
49.7You. . . you: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
49.8my. . . nations: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
49.12Syene: The Dead Sea Scrolls; the Standard Hebrew Text “Sinim.” The reference may be to modern Aswan, a city in southern Egypt.
49.17Your city. . . destroyed: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
49.20whose children. . . sorrow: These “children” are Jews who were born in foreign countries during the time that Jerusalem was in ruins. Jerusalem probably stands for all the cities in Judah that were destroyed by the Babylonians.
49.24cruel: The Dead Sea Scrolls and two ancient translations; the Standard Hebrew Text “good.”
1 Thessalonians 4Contemporary English Version (CEV)
A Life That Pleases God
4 Finally, my dear friends, since you belong to the Lord Jesus, we beg and urge you to live as we taught you. Then you will please God. You are already living that way, but try even harder. 2 Remember the instructions we gave you as followers of the Lord Jesus. 3 God wants you to be holy, so don’t be immoral in matters of sex. 4 Respect and honor your wife.[a]5 Don’t be a slave of your desires or live like people who don’t know God. 6 You must not cheat any of the Lord’s followers in matters of sex.[b] Remember, we warned you that he punishes everyone who does such things. 7 God didn’t choose you to be filthy, but to be pure. 8 So if you don’t obey these rules, you are not really disobeying us. You are disobeying God, who gives you his Holy Spirit.
9 We don’t have to write you about the need to love each other. God has taught you to do this, 10 and you already have shown your love for all of his people in Macedonia. But, my dear friends, we ask you to do even more. 11 Try your best to live quietly, to mind your own business, and to work hard, just as we taught you to do. 12 Then you will be respected by people who are not followers of the Lord, and you won’t have to depend on anyone.
The Lord’s Coming
13 My friends, we want you to understand how it will be for those followers who have already died. Then you won’t grieve over them and be like people who don’t have any hope. 14 We believe that Jesus died and was raised to life. We also believe that when God brings Jesus back again, he will bring with him all who had faith in Jesus before they died. 15 Our Lord Jesus told us that when he comes, we won’t go up to meet him ahead of his followers who have already died.
16 With a loud command and with the shout of the chief angel and a blast of God’s trumpet, the Lord will return from heaven. Then those who had faith in Christ before they died will be raised to life. 17 Next, all of us who are still alive will be taken up into the clouds together with them to meet the Lord in the sky. From that time on we will all be with the Lord forever. 18 Encourage each other with these words.
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