54 Sing and shout, even though you have never had children! The Lord has promised that you will have more children than someone married for a long time. 2 Make your tents larger! Spread out the tent pegs; fasten them firmly. 3 You and your descendants will take over the land of other nations. You will settle in towns that are now in ruins.
4 Don’t be afraid or ashamed and don’t be discouraged. You won’t be disappointed. Forget how sinful you were when you were young; stop feeling ashamed for being left a widow. 5 The Lord All-Powerful, the Holy God of Israel, rules all the earth. He is your Creator and husband, and he will rescue you.
6 You were like a young wife, brokenhearted and crying because her husband had divorced her. But the Lord your God says, “I am taking you back! 7 I rejected you for a while, but with love and tenderness I will embrace you again. 8 For a while, I turned away in furious anger. Now I will have mercy and love you forever! I, your protector and Lord, make this promise.”
The Lord Promises Lasting Peace
9 I once promised Noah that I would never again destroy the earth by a flood. Now I have promised that I will never again get angry and punish you. 10 Every mountain and hill may disappear. But I will always be kind and merciful to you; I won’t break my agreement to give your nation peace.
The New Jerusalem
11 Jerusalem, you are sad and discouraged, tossed around in a storm. But I, the Lord, will rebuild your city with precious stones;[a] for your foundation I will use blue sapphires. 12 Your fortresses[b] will be built of rubies, your gates of jewels, and your walls of gems. 13 I will teach your children and make them successful.
14 You will be built on fairness with no fears of injustice; every one of your worries will be taken far from you. 15 I will never send anyone to attack your city, and you will make prisoners of those who do attack. 16 Don’t forget that I created metalworkers who make weapons over burning coals. I also created armies that can bring destruction. 17 Weapons made to attack you won’t be successful; words spoken against you won’t hurt at all.
My servants, Jerusalem is yours! I, the Lord, promise to bless you with victory.
The Lord’s Invitation
55 If you are thirsty, come and drink water! If you don’t have any money, come, eat what you want! Drink wine and milk without paying a cent. 2 Why waste your money on what really isn’t food? Why work hard for something that doesn’t satisfy? Listen carefully to me, and you will enjoy the very best foods.
3 Pay close attention! Come to me and live. I will promise you the eternal love and loyalty that I promised David. 4 I made him the leader and ruler of the nations; he was my witness to them. 5 You will call out to nations you have never known. And they have never known you, but they will come running because I am the Lord, the holy God of Israel, and I have honored you.
God’s Words Are Powerful
6 Turn to the Lord! He can still be found. Call out to God! He is near. 7 Give up your crooked ways and your evil thoughts. Return to the Lord our God. He will be merciful and forgive your sins.
8 The Lord says: “My thoughts and my ways are not like yours. 9 Just as the heavens are higher than the earth, my thoughts and my ways are higher than yours.
10 “Rain and snow fall from the sky. But they don’t return without watering the earth that produces seeds to plant and grain to eat. 11 That’s how it is with my words. They don’t return to me without doing everything I send them to do.”
God’s People Will Celebrate
12 When you are set free, you will celebrate and travel home in peace. Mountains and hills will sing as you pass by, and trees will clap. 13 Cypress and myrtle trees will grow in fields once covered by thorns. And then those trees will stand as a lasting witness to the glory of the Lord.
All Nations Will Be Part of God’s People
56 The Lord said:
Be honest and fair! Soon I will come to save you; my saving power will be seen everywhere on earth.
2 I will bless everyone who respects the Sabbath and refuses to do wrong.
3 Foreigners who worship me must not say, “The Lord won’t let us be part of his people.” Men who are unable to become fathers must no longer say, “We are dried-up trees.”
4 To them, I, the Lord, say: Respect the Sabbath, obey me completely, and keep our agreement. 5 Then I will set up monuments in my temple with your names written on them. This will be much better than having children, because these monuments will stand there forever.
6 Foreigners will follow me. They will love me and worship in my name; they will respect the Sabbath and keep our agreement. 7 I will bring them to my holy mountain, where they will celebrate in my house of worship. Their sacrifices and offerings will always be welcome on my altar. Then my house will be known as a house of worship for all nations. 8 I, the Lord, promise to bring together my people who were taken away, and let them join the others.
God Promises To Punish Israel’s Leaders
9 Come from the forest, you wild animals! Attack and gobble down your victims. 10 You leaders of Israel should be watchdogs, protecting my people. But you can’t see a thing, and you never warn them. Dozing and daydreaming are all you ever do. 11 You stupid leaders are a pack of hungry and greedy dogs that never get enough. You are shepherds who mistreat your own sheep for selfish gain. 12 You say to each other, “Let’s drink till we’re drunk! Tomorrow we’ll do it again. We’ll really enjoy ourselves.”
God’s Faithful People Suffer
57 God’s faithful people are dragged off and killed, and no one even cares. Evil sweeps them away, 2 but in death they find peace for obeying God.[c]
The Lord Condemns Idolatry
3 You people are unfaithful! You go to fortunetellers, and you worship idols. Now pay close attention! 4 Who are you making fun of? Who are you sneering at? Look how your sins have made fools of you.
5 All you think about is sex under those green trees where idols are worshiped. You sacrifice your children on altars built in valleys under rocky slopes. 6 You have chosen to worship idols made of stone;[d] you have given them offerings of wine and grain. Should I be pleased?
7 You have spread out your beds on the tops of high mountains, where you sacrifice to idols. 8 Even in your homes you have placed pagan symbols all around your huge beds. Yes, you have rejected me, sold yourselves to your lovers, and gone to bed with them.[e]
9 You smear on olive oil and all kinds of perfume to worship the god Molech.[f] You even seek advice from spirits of the dead. 10 Though you tired yourself out by running after idols, you refused to stop. Your desires were so strong that they kept you going.
11 Did you forget about me and become unfaithful because you were more afraid of someone else? Have I been silent so long[g] that you no longer fear me? 12 You think you’re so good, but I’ll point out the truth. 13 Ask your idols to save you when you are in trouble. Be careful though— it takes only a faint breath to blow them over. But if you come to me for protection, this land and my holy mountain will always belong to you.
The Lord Helps the Helpless
14 The Lord says, “Clear the road! Get it ready for my people.”
15 Our holy God lives forever in the highest heavens, and this is what he says: Though I live high above in the holy place, I am here to help those who are humble and depend only on me.
16 My people, I won’t stay angry and keep on accusing you. After all, I am your Creator. I don’t want you to give up in complete despair. 17 Your greed made me furious. That’s why I punished you and refused to be found, while you kept returning to your old sinful ways.
18 I know what you are like! But I will heal you, lead you, and give you comfort, until those who are mourning 19 start singing my praises.[h] No matter where you are, I, the Lord, will heal you[i] and give you peace.
20 The wicked are a restless sea tossing up mud. 21 But I, the Lord, have promised that none who are evil will live in peace.
58 Shout the message! Don’t hold back. Say to my people Israel: You’ve sinned! You’ve turned against the Lord. 2 Day after day, you worship him and seem eager to learn his teachings. You act like a nation that wants to do right by obeying his laws. You ask him about justice, and say you enjoy worshiping the Lord.
3 You wonder why the Lord pays no attention when you go without eating and act humble. But on those same days that you give up eating, you think only of yourselves[j] and abuse your workers. 4 You even get angry and ready to fight. No wonder God won’t listen to your prayers!
5 Do you think the Lord wants you to give up eating and to act as humble as a bent-over bush? Or to dress in sackcloth and sit in ashes? Is this really what he wants on a day of worship?
6 I’ll tell you what it really means to worship the Lord. Remove the chains of prisoners who are chained unjustly. Free those who are abused! 7 Share your food with everyone who is hungry; share your home with the poor and homeless. Give clothes to those in need; don’t turn away your relatives.
8 Then your light will shine like the dawning sun, and you will quickly be healed. Your honesty[k] will protect you as you advance, and the glory of the Lord will defend you from behind. 9 When you beg the Lord for help, he will answer, “Here I am!”
Don’t mistreat others or falsely accuse them or say something cruel. 10 Give your food to the hungry and care for the homeless. Then your light will shine in the dark; your darkest hour will be like the noonday sun.
11 The Lord will always guide you and provide good things to eat when you are in the desert. He will make you healthy. You will be like a garden that has plenty of water or like a stream that never runs dry. 12 You will rebuild those houses left in ruins for years; you will be known as a builder and repairer of city walls and streets.
13 But first, you must start respecting the Sabbath as a joyful day of worship. You must stop doing and saying whatever you please on this special day. 14 Then you will truly enjoy knowing the Lord. He will let you rule from the highest mountains and bless you with the land of your ancestor Jacob. The Lord has spoken!
54.11with precious stones: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
54.12fortresses: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
57.1,2Evil. . . God: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
57.6You have. . . stone: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
57.8them: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text of verse 8.
57.9the god Molech: Or “the king.” In Hebrew “Molech” and “king” sound alike.
57.11so long: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
57.18,19until. . . praises: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
57.19heal you: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
58.3you think. . . yourselves: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
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