48 “Listen to me, O family of Jacob, you who are called by the name of Israel and born into the family of Judah. Listen, you who take oaths in the name of the Lord and call on the God of Israel. You don’t keep your promises, 2 even though you call yourself the holy city and talk about depending on the God of Israel, whose name is the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. 3 Long ago I told you what was going to happen. Then suddenly I took action, and all my predictions came true. 4 For I know how stubborn and obstinate you are. Your necks are as unbending as iron. Your heads are as hard as bronze. 5 That is why I told you what would happen; I told you beforehand what I was going to do. Then you could never say, ‘My idols did it. My wooden image and metal god commanded it to happen!’ 6 You have heard my predictions and seen them fulfilled, but you refuse to admit it. Now I will tell you new things, secrets you have not yet heard. 7 They are brand new, not things from the past. So you cannot say, ‘We knew that all the time!’
8 “Yes, I will tell you of things that are entirely new, things you never heard of before. For I know so well what traitors you are. You have been rebels from birth. 9 Yet for my own sake and for the honor of my name, I will hold back my anger and not wipe you out. 10 I have refined you, but not as silver is refined. Rather, I have refined you in the furnace of suffering. 11 I will rescue you for my sake— yes, for my own sake! I will not let my reputation be tarnished, and I will not share my glory with idols!
Freedom from Babylon
12 “Listen to me, O family of Jacob, Israel my chosen one! I alone am God, the First and the Last. 13 It was my hand that laid the foundations of the earth, my right hand that spread out the heavens above. When I call out the stars, they all appear in order.”
14 Have any of your idols ever told you this? Come, all of you, and listen: The Lord has chosen Cyrus as his ally. He will use him to put an end to the empire of Babylon and to destroy the Babylonian[a] armies.
15 “I have said it: I am calling Cyrus! I will send him on this errand and will help him succeed. 16 Come closer, and listen to this. From the beginning I have told you plainly what would happen.”
And now the Sovereign Lord and his Spirit have sent me with this message. 17 This is what the Lord says— your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is good for you and leads you along the paths you should follow. 18 Oh, that you had listened to my commands! Then you would have had peace flowing like a gentle river and righteousness rolling over you like waves in the sea. 19 Your descendants would have been like the sands along the seashore— too many to count! There would have been no need for your destruction, or for cutting off your family name.”
20 Yet even now, be free from your captivity! Leave Babylon and the Babylonians.[b] Sing out this message! Shout it to the ends of the earth! The Lord has redeemed his servants, the people of Israel.[c] 21 They were not thirsty when he led them through the desert. He divided the rock, and water gushed out for them to drink. 22 “But there is no peace for the wicked,” says the Lord.
The Lord’s Servant Commissioned
49 Listen to me, all you in distant lands! Pay attention, you who are far away! The Lord called me before my birth; from within the womb he called me by name. 2 He made my words of judgment as sharp as a sword. He has hidden me in the shadow of his hand. I am like a sharp arrow in his quiver.
3 He said to me, “You are my servant, Israel, and you will bring me glory.”
4 I replied, “But my work seems so useless! I have spent my strength for nothing and to no purpose. Yet I leave it all in the Lord’s hand; I will trust God for my reward.”
5 And now the Lord speaks— the one who formed me in my mother’s womb to be his servant, who commissioned me to bring Israel back to him. The Lord has honored me, and my God has given me strength. 6 He says, “You will do more than restore the people of Israel to me. I will make you a light to the Gentiles, and you will bring my salvation to the ends of the earth.”
7 The Lord, the Redeemer and Holy One of Israel, says to the one who is despised and rejected by the nations, to the one who is the servant of rulers: “Kings will stand at attention when you pass by. Princes will also bow low because of the Lord, the faithful one, the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you.”
Promises of Israel’s Restoration
8 This is what the Lord says:
“At just the right time, I will respond to you.[d] On the day of salvation I will help you. I will protect you and give you to the people as my covenant with them. Through you I will reestablish the land of Israel and assign it to its own people again. 9 I will say to the prisoners, ‘Come out in freedom,’ and to those in darkness, ‘Come into the light.’ They will be my sheep, grazing in green pastures and on hills that were previously bare. 10 They will neither hunger nor thirst. The searing sun will not reach them anymore. For the Lord in his mercy will lead them; he will lead them beside cool waters. 11 And I will make my mountains into level paths for them. The highways will be raised above the valleys. 12 See, my people will return from far away, from lands to the north and west, and from as far south as Egypt.[e]”
13 Sing for joy, O heavens! Rejoice, O earth! Burst into song, O mountains! For the Lord has comforted his people and will have compassion on them in their suffering.
14 Yet Jerusalem[f] says, “The Lord has deserted us; the Lord has forgotten us.”
15 “Never! Can a mother forget her nursing child? Can she feel no love for the child she has borne? But even if that were possible, I would not forget you! 16 See, I have written your name on the palms of my hands. Always in my mind is a picture of Jerusalem’s walls in ruins. 17 Soon your descendants will come back, and all who are trying to destroy you will go away. 18 Look around you and see, for all your children will come back to you. As surely as I live,” says the Lord, “they will be like jewels or bridal ornaments for you to display.
19 “Even the most desolate parts of your abandoned land will soon be crowded with your people. Your enemies who enslaved you will be far away. 20 The generations born in exile will return and say, ‘We need more room! It’s crowded here!’ 21 Then you will think to yourself, ‘Who has given me all these descendants? For most of my children were killed, and the rest were carried away into exile. I was left here all alone. Where did all these people come from? Who bore these children? Who raised them for me?’”
22 This is what the Sovereign Lord says: “See, I will give a signal to the godless nations. They will carry your little sons back to you in their arms; they will bring your daughters on their shoulders. 23 Kings and queens will serve you and care for all your needs. They will bow to the earth before you and lick the dust from your feet. Then you will know that I am the Lord. Those who trust in me will never be put to shame.”
24 Who can snatch the plunder of war from the hands of a warrior? Who can demand that a tyrant[g] let his captives go? 25 But the Lord says, “The captives of warriors will be released, and the plunder of tyrants will be retrieved. For I will fight those who fight you, and I will save your children. 26 I will feed your enemies with their own flesh. They will be drunk with rivers of their own blood. All the world will know that I, the Lord, am your Savior and your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Israel.[h]”
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