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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.
He made my words pierce
like a sharp sword
    or a pointed arrow;
he kept me safely hidden
    in the palm of his hand.
The Lord said to me,
    “Israel, you are my servant;
and because of you
    I will be highly honored.”

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.”

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.

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

Israel, I am the holy Lord God,
    the one who rescues you.
You are slaves of rulers
and of a nation
    who despises you.[a]
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

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.[b]
You will rebuild the country
    from its ruins,
then people will come
    and settle there.
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.[c]

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[d]
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[e]
    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?[f]
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.

The Lord’s Power To Punish

50 The Lord says, “Children,
I didn’t divorce your mother
    or sell you to pay debts;
I divorced her and sold you
    because of your sins.
I came and called out,
    but you didn’t answer.
Have I lost my power
    to rescue and save?
At my command oceans and rivers
    turn into deserts;
fish rot and stink
    for lack of water.
I make the sky turn dark
like the sackcloth
    you wear at funerals.”

God’s Servant Must Suffer

The Lord God gives me
the right words
    to encourage the weary.
Each morning he awakens me
    eager to learn his teaching;
he made me willing to listen
    and not rebel or run away.

I let them beat my back
    and pull out my beard.
I didn’t turn aside
when they insulted me
    and spit in my face.
But the Lord God keeps me
    from being disgraced.
So I refuse to give up,
because I know
    God will never let me down.

My protector is nearby;
no one can stand here
    to accuse me of wrong.
The Lord God will help me
    and prove I am innocent.
My accusers will wear out
    like moth-eaten clothes.

10 None of you respect the Lord
    or obey his servant.
You walk in the dark
    instead of the light;
you don’t trust the name
    of the Lord your God.[g]
11 Go ahead and walk in the light
    of the fires you have set.[h]
But with his own hand,
the Lord will punish you
    and make you suffer.

The Lord Will Bring Comfort

51 If you want to do right
and obey the Lord,
    follow Abraham’s example.
He was the rock from which
    you were chipped.
God chose Abraham and Sarah
    to be your ancestors.
The Lord blessed Abraham,
and from that one man
    came many descendants.

Though Zion is in ruins,
    the Lord will bring comfort,
and the city will be as lovely
as the garden of Eden
    that he provided.
Then Zion will celebrate;
it will be thankful
    and sing joyful songs.

The Lord’s Victory Will Last

The Lord says:
You are my people and nation!
    So pay attention to me.
My teaching will cause justice
to shine like a light
    for every nation.
Those who live across the sea
are eagerly waiting
    for me to rescue them.
I am strong and ready;
soon I will come to save
    and to rule all nations.

Look closely at the sky!
    Stare at the earth.
The sky will vanish like smoke;
the earth will wear out
    like clothes.
Everyone on this earth
    will die like flies.
But my victory will last;
my saving power never ends.

If you want to do right
    and to obey my teaching
with all your heart,
    then pay close attention.
Don’t be discouraged
when others insult you
    and say hurtful things.
They will be eaten away
    like a moth-eaten coat.
But my victory will last;
my saving power
    will never end.

A Prayer for the Lord’s Help

Wake up! Do something, Lord.
    Be strong and ready.
Wake up! Do what you did
    for our people long ago.
Didn’t you chop up
    Rahab[i] the monster?
10 Didn’t you dry up the deep sea
and make a road
for your people
    to follow safely across?
11 Now those you have rescued
will return to Jerusalem,
    singing on their way.
They will be crowned
    with great happiness,
never again to be burdened
    with sadness and sorrow.

The Lord Gives Hope

12 I am the Lord, the one
    who encourages you.
Why are you afraid
    of mere humans?
They dry up and die like grass.

13 I spread out the heavens
and laid foundations
    for the earth.
But you have forgotten me,
    your Lord and Creator.
All day long you were afraid
of those who were angry
    and hoped to abuse you.
Where are they now?

14 Everyone crying out in pain
    will be quickly set free;
they will be rescued
from the power of death
    and never go hungry.
15 I will help them
    because I am your God,
the Lord All-Powerful,
    who makes the ocean roar.

16 I have told you what to say,
and I will keep you safe
    in the palm of my hand.
I spread out the heavens
and laid foundations
    for the earth.
Now I say, “Jerusalem,
    your people are mine.”

A Warning to Jerusalem

17 Jerusalem, wake up! Stand up!
You’ve drunk too much
    from the cup filled
    with the Lord’s anger.
You have swallowed every drop,
    and you can’t walk straight.
18 Not one of your many children
is there to guide you
    or to offer a helping hand.
19 You have been destroyed
by war and by famine;
    I cannot comfort you.[j]
20 The Lord your God is angry,
    and on every street corner
your children lie helpless,
    like deer trapped in nets.

21 You are in trouble and drunk,
    but not from wine.
So pay close attention
22 to the Lord your God,
    who defends you and says,
“I have taken from your hands
the cup filled with my anger
    that made you drunk.
You will never be forced
    to drink it again.
23 Instead I will give it
    to your brutal enemies,
who treated you like dirt
    and walked all over you.”

Jerusalem Can Celebrate

52 Jerusalem, wake up!
    Stand up and be strong.
Holy city of Zion,
    dress in your best clothes.
Those foreigners who ruined
your sacred city
    won’t bother you again.
Zion, rise from the dirt!
Free yourself from the rope
    around your neck.

Suffering Will End

The Lord says:
My people, you were sold,
    but not for money;
now you will be set free,
    but not for a payment.
Long ago you went to Egypt
where you lived
    as foreigners.
Then Assyria was cruel to you,
    and now another nation[k]
has taken you prisoner
    for no reason at all.
Your leaders groan with pain,[l]
and day after day
    my own name is cursed.
My people, you will learn
who I am and who is speaking
    because I am here.

A Message of Hope for Jerusalem

What a beautiful sight!
On the mountains a messenger
    announces to Jerusalem,
“Good news! You’re saved.
There will be peace.
    Your God is now King.”
Everyone on guard duty,
    sing and celebrate!
Look! You can see the Lord
    returning to Zion.
Jerusalem, rise from the ruins!
    Join in the singing.
The Lord has given comfort
to his people;
    he comes to your rescue.
10 The Lord has shown all nations
    his mighty strength;
now everyone will see
    the saving power of our God.

A Command To Leave Babylon

11 Leave the city of Babylon!
    Don’t touch anything filthy.
Wash yourselves. Be ready
to carry back everything sacred
    that belongs to the Lord.
12 You won’t need to run.
    No one is chasing you.
The Lord God of Israel
will lead and protect you
    from enemy attacks.

The Suffering Servant

13 The Lord says:
    My servant will succeed!
He will be given great praise
    and the highest honors.
14 Many were horrified
    at what happened to him.[m]
But everyone who saw him
    was even more horrified
because he suffered until
    he no longer looked human.[n]
15 My servant will make
nations worthy to worship me;[o]
    kings will be silent
    as they bow in wonder.[p]
They will see and think about
things
they have never seen
    or thought about before.

What God’s Servant Did for Us

53 Has anyone believed us
or seen the mighty power
    of the Lord in action?
Like a young plant or a root
    that sprouts in dry ground,
the servant grew up
    obeying the Lord.
He wasn’t some handsome king.
Nothing about the way he looked
    made him attractive to us.
He was hated and rejected;
his life was filled with sorrow
    and terrible suffering.
No one wanted to look at him.
We despised him and said,
    “He is a nobody!”

He suffered and endured
    great pain for us,
but we thought his suffering
    was punishment from God.
He was wounded and crushed
    because of our sins;
by taking our punishment,
    he made us completely well.
All of us were like sheep
    that had wandered off.
We had each gone our own way,
but the Lord gave him
    the punishment we deserved.

He was painfully abused,
    but he did not complain.
He was silent like a lamb
    being led to the butcher,
as quiet as a sheep
    having its wool cut off.

He was condemned to death
    without a fair trial.
Who could have imagined
    what would happen to him?
His life was taken away
because of the sinful things
    my people[q] had done.
He wasn’t dishonest or violent,
but he was buried in a tomb
    of cruel and rich people.[r]

10 The Lord decided his servant
    would suffer as a sacrifice
to take away the sin
    and guilt of others.
Now the servant will live
    to see his own descendants.[s]
He did everything
    the Lord had planned.

11 By suffering, the servant
will learn the true meaning
    of obeying the Lord.
Although he is innocent,
he will take the punishment
    for the sins of others,
so that many of them
    will no longer be guilty.
12 The Lord will reward him
with honor and power
    for sacrificing his life.
Others thought he was a sinner,
but he suffered for our sins
    and asked God to forgive us.

Footnotes

  1. 49.7 You. . . you: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
  2. 49.8 my. . . nations: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
  3. 49.12 Syene: The Dead Sea Scrolls; the Standard Hebrew Text “Sinim.” The reference may be to modern Aswan, a city in southern Egypt.
  4. 49.17 Your city. . . destroyed: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
  5. 49.20 whose 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.
  6. 49.24 cruel: The Dead Sea Scrolls and two ancient translations; the Standard Hebrew Text “good.”
  7. 50.10 God: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text of verse 10.
  8. 50.11 Go. . . set: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
  9. 51.9 Rahab: This may refer to Egypt at the time of the exodus.
  10. 51.19 I. . . you: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
  11. 52.5 another nation: Babylonia.
  12. 52.5 groan with pain: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
  13. 52.14 him: One ancient translation; Hebrew “you.”
  14. 52.14 human: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text of verse 14.
  15. 52.15 My. . . me: Hebrew; one ancient translation “The nations will be amazed at him.”
  16. 52.15 kings. . . wonder: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
  17. 53.8 my people: Or “his people.”
  18. 53.9 but he. . . people: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
  19. 53.10 The Lord. . . descendants: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.