Bible: Isa 40:1-44:28

The Lord Returns to Jerusalem

40:1Comfort, comfort my people,”

says your 1  God.

40:2Speak kindly to 2  Jerusalem, 3  and tell her

that her time of warfare is over, 4 

that her punishment is completed. 5 

For the Lord has made her pay double 6  for all her sins.”

40:3 A voice cries out,

In the wilderness clear a way for the Lord;

construct in the desert a road for our God.

40:4 Every valley must be elevated,

and every mountain and hill leveled.

The rough terrain will become a level plain,

the rugged landscape a wide valley.

40:5 The splendor 7  of the Lord will be revealed,

and all people 8  will see it at the same time.

For 9  the Lord has decreed it.” 10 

40:6 A voice says, “Cry out!”

Another asks, 11 What should I cry out?”

The first voice responds: 12  “All people are like grass, 13 

and all their promises 14  are like the flowers in the field.

40:7 The grass dries up,

the flowers wither,

when the wind sent by the Lord 15  blows on them.

Surely humanity 16  is like grass.

40:8 The grass dries up,

the flowers wither,

but the decree of our God is forever reliable.” 17 

40:9 Go up on a high mountain, O herald Zion!

Shout out loudly, O herald Jerusalem! 18 

Shout, don’t be afraid!

Say to the towns of Judah,

Here is your God!

40:10 Look, the sovereign Lord comes as a victorious warrior; 19 

his military power establishes his rule. 20 

Look, his reward is with him;

his prize goes before him. 21 

40:11 Like a shepherd he tends his flock;

he gathers up the lambs with his arm;

he carries them close to his heart; 22 

he leads the ewes along.

The Lord is Incomparable

40:12 Who has measured out the waters 23  in the hollow of his hand,

or carefully 24  measured the sky, 25 

or carefully weighed 26  the soil of the earth,

or weighed the mountains in a balance,

or the hills on scales? 27 

40:13 Who comprehends 28  the mind 29  of the Lord,

or gives him instruction as his counselor? 30 

40:14 From whom does he receive directions? 31 

Who 32  teaches him the correct way to do things, 33 

or imparts knowledge to him,

or instructs him in skillful design? 34 

40:15 Look, the nations are like a drop in a bucket;

they are regarded as dust on the scales.

He lifts 35  the coastlands 36  as if they were dust.

40:16 Not even Lebanon could supply enough firewood for a sacrifice; 37 

its wild animals would not provide enough burnt offerings. 38 

40:17 All the nations are insignificant before him;

they are regarded as absolutely nothing. 39 

40:18 To whom can you compare God?

To what image can you liken him?

40:19 A craftsman casts 40  an idol;

a metalsmith overlays it with gold

and forges silver chains for it.

40:20 To make a contribution one selects wood that will not rot; 41 

he then seeks a skilled craftsman

to make 42  an idol that will not fall over.

40:21 Do you not know?

Do you not hear?

Has it not been told to you since the very beginning?

Have you not understood from the time the earth’s foundations were made?

40:22 He is the one who sits on the earth’s horizon; 43 

its inhabitants are like grasshoppers before him. 44 

He is the one who stretches out the sky like a thin curtain, 45 

and spreads it out 46  like a pitched tent. 47 

40:23 He is the one who reduces rulers to nothing;

he makes the earth’s leaders insignificant.

40:24 Indeed, they are barely planted;

yes, they are barely sown;

yes, they barely take root in the earth,

and then he blows on them, causing them to dry up,

and the wind carries them away like straw.

40:25To whom can you compare me? Whom do I resemble?”

says the Holy One. 48 

40:26 Look up at the sky! 49 

Who created all these heavenly lights? 50 

He is the one who leads out their ranks; 51 

he calls them all by name.

Because of his absolute power and awesome strength,

not one of them is missing.

40:27 Why do you say, Jacob,

Why do you say, Israel,

The Lord is not aware of what is happening to me, 52 

My God is not concerned with my vindication? 53 

40:28 Do you not know?

Have you not heard?

The Lord is an eternal God,

the creator of the whole earth. 54 

He does not get tired or weary;

there is no limit to his wisdom. 55 

40:29 He gives strength to those who are tired;

to the ones who lack power, he gives renewed energy.

40:30 Even youths get tired and weary;

even strong young men clumsily stumble. 56 

40:31 But those who wait for the Lord’s help 57  find renewed strength;

they rise up as if they had eagleswings, 58 

they run without growing weary,

they walk without getting tired.

The Lord Challenges the Nations

41:1Listen to me in silence, you coastlands! 59 

Let the nations find renewed strength!

Let them approach and then speak;

let us come together for debate! 60 

41:2 Who stirs up this one from the east? 61 

Who 62  officially commissions him for service? 63 

He hands nations over to him, 64 

and enables him to subdue 65  kings.

He makes them like dust with his sword,

like windblown straw with his bow. 66 

41:3 He pursues them and passes by unharmed; 67 

he advances with great speed. 68 

41:4 Who acts and carries out decrees? 69 

Who 70  summons the successive generations from the beginning?

I, the Lord, am present at the very beginning,

and at the very end – I am the one. 71 

41:5 The coastlands 72  see and are afraid;

the whole earth 73  trembles;

they approach and come.

41:6 They help one another; 74 

one says to the other, ‘Be strong!’

41:7 The craftsman encourages the metalsmith,

the one who wields the hammer encourages 75  the one who pounds on the anvil.

He approves the quality of the welding, 76 

and nails it down so it won’t fall over.”

The Lord Encourages His People

41:8You, my servant Israel,

Jacob whom I have chosen,

offspring of Abraham my friend, 77 

41:9 you whom I am bringing back 78  from the earth’s extremities,

and have summoned from the remote regions

I told you, “You are my servant.”

I have chosen you and not rejected you.

41:10 Don’t be afraid, for I am with you!

Don’t be frightened, for I am your God! 79 

I strengthen you –

yes, I help you –

yes, I uphold you with my saving right hand! 80 

41:11 Look, all who were angry at you will be ashamed and humiliated;

your adversaries 81  will be reduced to nothing 82  and perish.

41:12 When you will look for your opponents, 83  you will not find them;

your enemies 84  will be reduced to absolutely nothing.

41:13 For I am the Lord your God,

the one who takes hold of your right hand,

who says to you, ‘Don’t be afraid, I am helping you.’

41:14 Don’t be afraid, despised insignificant Jacob, 85 

men of 86  Israel.

I am helping you,” says the Lord,

your protector, 87  the Holy One of Israel. 88 

41:15Look, I am making you like 89  a sharp threshing sledge,

new and double-edged. 90 

You will thresh the mountains and crush them;

you will make the hills like straw. 91 

41:16 You will winnow them and the wind will blow them away;

the wind will scatter them.

You will rejoice in the Lord;

you will boast in the Holy One of Israel.

41:17 The oppressed and the poor look for water, but there is none;

their tongues are parched from thirst.

I, the Lord, will respond to their prayers; 92 

I, the God of Israel, will not abandon them.

41:18 I will make streams flow down the slopes

and produce springs in the middle of the valleys.

I will turn the desert into a pool of water

and the arid land into springs.

41:19 I will make cedars, acacias, myrtles, and olive trees grow in the wilderness;

I will make evergreens, firs, and cypresses grow together in the desert.

41:20 I will do this so 93  people 94  will observe and recognize,

so they will pay attention and understand

that the Lord’s power 95  has accomplished this,

and that the Holy One of Israel has brought it into being.” 96 

The Lord Challenges the Pagan Gods

41:21Present your argument,” says the Lord.

“Produce your evidence,” 97  says Jacob’s king. 98 

41:22Let them produce evidence! Let them tell us what will happen!

Tell us about your earlier predictive oracles, 99 

so we may examine them 100  and see how they were fulfilled. 101 

Or decree for us some future events!

41:23 Predict how future events will turn out, 102 

so we might know you are gods.

Yes, do something good or bad,

so we might be frightened and in awe. 103 

41:24 Look, you are nothing, and your accomplishments are nonexistent;

the one who chooses to worship you is disgusting. 104 

41:25 I have stirred up one out of the north 105  and he advances,

one from the eastern horizon who prays in my name. 106 

He steps on 107  rulers as if they were clay,

like a potter treading the clay.

41:26 Who decreed this from the beginning, so we could know?

Who announced it 108  ahead of time, so we could say, ‘He’s correct’?

Indeed, none of them decreed it!

Indeed, none of them announced it!

Indeed, no one heard you say anything!

41:27 I first decreed to Zion, ‘Look, here’s what will happen!’ 109 

I sent a herald to Jerusalem. 110 

41:28 I look, but there is no one,

among them there is no one who serves as an adviser,

that I might ask questions and receive answers.

41:29 Look, all of them are nothing, 111 

their accomplishments are nonexistent;

their metal images lack any real substance. 112 

42:1

The Lord Commissions His Special Servant

113 

“Here is my servant whom I support,

my chosen one in whom I take pleasure.

I have placed my spirit on him;

he will make just decrees 114  for the nations. 115 

42:2 He will not cry out or shout;

he will not publicize himself in the streets. 116 

42:3 A crushed reed he will not break,

a dim wick he will not extinguish; 117 

he will faithfully make just decrees. 118 

42:4 He will not grow dim or be crushed 119 

before establishing justice on the earth;

the coastlands 120  will wait in anticipation for his decrees.” 121 

42:5 This is what the true God, 122  the Lord, says –

the one who created the sky and stretched it out,

the one who fashioned the earth and everything that lives on it, 123 

the one who gives breath to the people on it,

and life to those who live on it: 124 

42:6I, the Lord, officially commission you; 125 

I take hold of your hand.

I protect you 126  and make you a covenant mediator for people, 127 

and a light 128  to the nations, 129 

42:7 to open blind eyes, 130 

to release prisoners 131  from dungeons,

those who live in darkness from prisons.

The Lord Intervenes

42:8 I am the Lord! That is my name!

I will not share my glory with anyone else,

or the praise due me with idols.

42:9 Look, my earlier predictive oracles have come to pass; 132 

now I announce new events.

Before they begin to occur,

I reveal them to you.” 133 

42:10 Sing to the Lord a brand new song!

Praise him 134  from the horizon of the earth,

you who go down to the sea, and everything that lives in it, 135 

you coastlands 136  and those who live there!

42:11 Let the desert and its cities shout out,

the towns where the nomads of Kedar live!

Let the residents of Sela shout joyfully;

let them shout loudly from the mountaintops.

42:12 Let them give the Lord the honor he deserves; 137 

let them praise his deeds in the coastlands. 138 

42:13 The Lord emerges like a hero,

like a warrior he inspires himself for battle; 139 

he shouts, yes, he yells,

he shows his enemies his power. 140 

42:14I have been inactive 141  for a long time;

I kept quiet and held back.

Like a woman in labor I groan;

I pant and gasp. 142 

42:15 I will make the trees on the mountains and hills wither up; 143 

I will dry up all their vegetation.

I will turn streams into islands, 144 

and dry up pools of water. 145 

42:16 I will lead the blind along an unfamiliar way; 146 

I will guide them down paths they have never traveled. 147 

I will turn the darkness in front of them into light,

and level out the rough ground. 148 

This is what I will do for them.

I will not abandon them.

42:17 Those who trust in idols

will turn back and be utterly humiliated, 149 

those who say to metal images, ‘You are our gods.’

The Lord Reasons with His People

42:18Listen, you deaf ones!

Take notice, 150  you blind ones!

42:19 My servant is truly blind,

my messenger is truly deaf.

My covenant partner, 151  the servant of the Lord, is truly blind. 152 

42:20 You see 153  many things, but don’t comprehend; 154 

their ears are open, but do not hear.”

42:21 The Lord wanted to exhibit his justice

by magnifying his law and displaying it. 155 

42:22 But these people are looted and plundered;

all of them are trapped in pits 156 

and held captive 157  in prisons.

They were carried away as loot with no one to rescue them;

they were carried away as plunder, and no one says, “Bring that back! 158 

42:23 Who among you will pay attention to this?

Who will listen attentively in the future? 159 

42:24 Who handed Jacob over to the robber?

Who handed Israel over to the looters? 160 

Was it not the Lord, against whom we sinned?

They refused to follow his commands;

they disobeyed his law. 161 

42:25 So he poured out his fierce anger on them,

along with the devastation 162  of war.

Its flames encircled them, but they did not realize it; 163 

it burned against them, but they did notice. 164 

The Lord Will Rescue His People

43:1 Now, this is what the Lord says,

the one who created you, O Jacob,

and formed you, O Israel:

“Don’t be afraid, for I will protect 165  you.

I call you by name, you are mine.

43:2 When you pass through the waters, I am with you;

when you pass 166  through the streams, they will not overwhelm you.

When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned;

the flames will not harm 167  you.

43:3 For I am the Lord your God,

the Holy One of Israel, 168  your deliverer.

I have handed over Egypt as a ransom price,

Ethiopia and Seba 169  in place of you.

43:4 Since you are precious and special in my sight, 170 

and I love you,

I will hand over people in place of you,

nations in place of your life.

43:5 Don’t be afraid, for I am with you.

From the east I will bring your descendants;

from the west I will gather you.

43:6 I will say to the north, ‘Hand them over!’

and to the south, ‘Don’t hold any back!’

Bring my sons from distant lands,

and my daughters from the remote regions of the earth,

43:7 everyone who belongs to me, 171 

whom I created for my glory,

whom I formed – yes, whom I made!

The Lord Declares His Sovereignty

43:8 Bring out the people who are blind, even though they have eyes,

those who are deaf, even though they have ears!

43:9 All nations gather together,

the peoples assemble.

Who among them announced this?

Who predicted earlier events for us? 172 

Let them produce their witnesses to testify they were right;

let them listen and affirm, ‘It is true.’

43:10 You are my witnesses,” says the Lord,

“my servant whom I have chosen,

so that you may consider 173  and believe in me,

and understand that I am he.

No god was formed before me,

and none will outlive me. 174 

43:11 I, I am the Lord,

and there is no deliverer besides me.

43:12 I decreed and delivered and proclaimed,

and there was no other god among you.

You are my witnesses,” says the Lord, “that I am God.

43:13 From this day forward I am he;

no one can deliver from my power; 175 

I will act, and who can prevent it?

The Lord Will Do Something New

43:14 This is what the Lord says,

your protector, 176  the Holy One of Israel: 177 

“For your sake I send to Babylon

and make them all fugitives, 178 

turning the Babyloniansjoyful shouts into mourning songs. 179 

43:15 I am the Lord, your Holy One, 180 

the one who created Israel, your king.”

43:16 This is what the Lord says,

the one who made a road through the sea,

a pathway through the surging waters,

43:17 the one who led chariots and horses to destruction, 181 

together with a mighty army.

They fell down, 182  never to rise again;

they were extinguished, put out like a burning wick:

43:18Don’t remember these earlier events; 183 

don’t recall these former events.

43:19Look, I am about to do something new.

Now it begins to happen! 184  Do you not recognize 185  it?

Yes, I will make a road in the desert

and paths 186  in the wilderness.

43:20 The wild animals of the desert honor me,

the jackals and ostriches,

because I put water in the desert

and streams in the wilderness,

to quench the thirst of my chosen people,

43:21 the people whom I formed for myself,

so they might praise me.” 187 

The Lord Rebukes His People

43:22But you did not call for me, O Jacob;

you did not long 188  for me, O Israel.

43:23 You did not bring me lambs for your burnt offerings;

you did not honor me with your sacrifices.

I did not burden you with offerings;

I did not make you weary by demanding 189  incense.

43:24 You did not buy me aromatic reeds; 190 

you did not present to me 191  the fat of your sacrifices.

Yet you burdened me with your sins;

you made me weary with your evil deeds. 192 

43:25 I, I am the one who blots out your rebellious deeds for my sake;

your sins I do not remember.

43:26 Remind me of what happened! Let’s debate!

You, prove to me that you are right! 193 

43:27 The father of your nation 194  sinned;

your spokesmen 195  rebelled against me.

43:28 So I defiled your holy princes,

and handed Jacob over to destruction,

and subjected 196  Israel to humiliating abuse.”

The Lord Will Renew Israel

44:1Now, listen, Jacob my servant,

Israel whom I have chosen!

44:2 This is what the Lord, the one who made you, says –

the one who formed you in the womb and helps you:

“Don’t be afraid, my servant Jacob,

Jeshurun, 197  whom I have chosen!

44:3 For I will pour water on the parched ground 198 

and cause streams to flow 199  on the dry land.

I will pour my spirit on your offspring

and my blessing on your children.

44:4 They will sprout up like a tree in the grass, 200 

like poplars beside channels of water.

44:5 One will say, ‘I belong to the Lord,’

and another will use 201  the name ‘Jacob.’

One will write on his hand, ‘The Lord’s,’

and use the name ‘Israel.’ 202 

The Absurdity of Idolatry

44:6 This is what the Lord, Israel’s king, says,

their protector, 203  the Lord who commands armies:

“I am the first and I am the last,

there is no God but me.

44:7 Who is like me? Let him make his claim! 204 

Let him announce it and explain it to me –

since I established an ancient people – 205 

let them announce future events! 206 

44:8 Don’t panic! Don’t be afraid! 207 

Did I not tell you beforehand and decree it?

You are my witnesses! Is there any God but me?

There is no other sheltering rock; 208  I know of none.

44:9 All who form idols are nothing;

the things in which they delight are worthless.

Their witnesses cannot see;

they recognize nothing, so they are put to shame.

44:10 Who forms a god and casts an idol

that will prove worthless? 209 

44:11 Look, all his associates 210  will be put to shame;

the craftsmen are mere humans. 211 

Let them all assemble and take their stand!

They will panic and be put to shame.

44:12 A blacksmith works with his tool 212 

and forges metal over the coals.

He forms it 213  with hammers;

he makes it with his strong arm.

He gets hungry and loses his energy; 214 

he drinks no water and gets tired.

44:13 A carpenter takes measurements; 215 

he marks out an outline of its form; 216 

he scrapes 217  it with chisels,

and marks it with a compass.

He patterns it after the human form, 218 

like a well-built human being,

and puts it in a shrine. 219 

44:14 He cuts down cedars

and acquires a cypress 220  or an oak.

He gets 221  trees from the forest;

he plants a cedar 222  and the rain makes it grow.

44:15 A man uses it to make a fire; 223 

he takes some of it and warms himself.

Yes, he kindles a fire and bakes bread.

Then he makes a god and worships it;

he makes an idol and bows down to it. 224 

44:16 Half of it he burns in the fire

over that half he cooks 225  meat;

he roasts a meal and fills himself.

Yes, he warms himself and says,

Ah! I am warm as I look at the fire.’

44:17 With the rest of it he makes a god, his idol;

he bows down to it and worships it.

He prays to it, saying,

Rescue me, for you are my god!’

44:18 They do not comprehend or understand,

for their eyes are blind and cannot see;

their minds do not discern. 226 

44:19 No one thinks to himself,

nor do they comprehend or understand and say to themselves:

‘I burned half of it in the fire

yes, I baked bread over the coals;

I roasted meat and ate it.

With the rest of it should I make a disgusting idol?

Should I bow down to dry wood?’ 227 

44:20 He feeds on ashes; 228 

his deceived mind misleads him.

He cannot rescue himself,

nor does he say, ‘Is this not a false god I hold in my right hand?’ 229 

44:21 Remember these things, O Jacob,

O Israel, for you are my servant.

I formed you to be my servant;

O Israel, I will not forget you! 230 

44:22 I remove the guilt of your rebellious deeds as if they were a cloud,

the guilt of your sins as if they were a cloud. 231 

Come back to me, for I protect 232  you.”

44:23 Shout for joy, O sky, for the Lord intervenes; 233 

shout out, you subterranean regions 234  of the earth.

O mountains, give a joyful shout;

you too, O forest and all your trees! 235 

For the Lord protects 236  Jacob;

he reveals his splendor through Israel. 237 

The Lord Empowers Cyrus

44:24 This is what the Lord, your protector, 238  says,

the one who formed you in the womb:

“I am the Lord, who made everything,

who alone stretched out the sky,

who fashioned the earth all by myself, 239 

44:25 who frustrates the omens of the empty talkers 240 

and humiliates 241  the omen readers,

who overturns the counsel of the wise men 242 

and makes their advice 243  seem foolish,

44:26 who fulfills the oracles of his prophetic servants 244 

and brings to pass the announcements 245  of his messengers,

who says about Jerusalem, 246 She will be inhabited,’

and about the towns of Judah, ‘They will be rebuilt,

her ruins I will raise up,’

44:27 who says to the deep sea, ‘Be dry!

I will dry up your sea currents,’

44:28 who commissions 247  Cyrus, the one I appointed as shepherd 248 

to carry out all my wishes 249 

and to decree concerning Jerusalem, ‘She will be rebuilt,’

and concerning the temple, ‘It will be reconstructed.’ 250 

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