Bible: Isaiah 49-55

Ideal Israel Delivers the Exiles

49:1 Listen to me, you coastlands! 1 

Pay attention, you people who live far away!

The Lord summoned me from birth; 2 

he commissioned me when my mother brought me into the world. 3 

49:2 He made my mouth like a sharp sword,

he hid me in the hollow of his hand;

he made me like a sharpened 4  arrow,

he hid me in his quiver. 5 

49:3 He said to me, “You are my servant,

Israel, through whom I will reveal my splendor.” 6 

49:4 But I thought, 7 I have worked in vain;

I have expended my energy for absolutely nothing.” 8 

But the Lord will vindicate me;

my God will reward me. 9 

49:5 So now the Lord says,

the one who formed me from birth 10  to be his servant

he did this 11  to restore Jacob to himself,

so that Israel might be gathered to him;

and I will be honored 12  in the Lord’s sight,

for my God is my source of strength 13 

49:6 he says, “Is it too insignificant a task for you to be my servant,

to reestablish the tribes of Jacob,

and restore the remnant 14  of Israel? 15 

I will make you a light to the nations, 16 

so you can bring 17  my deliverance to the remote regions of the earth.”

49:7 This is what the Lord,

the protector 18  of Israel, their Holy One, 19  says

to the one who is despised 20  and rejected 21  by nations, 22 

a servant of rulers:

“Kings will see and rise in respect, 23 

princes will bow down,

because of the faithful Lord,

the Holy One of Israel who has chosen you.”

49:8 This is what the Lord says:

“At the time I decide to show my favor, I will respond to you;

in the day of deliverance I will help you;

I will protect you 24  and make you a covenant mediator for people, 25 

to rebuild 26  the land 27 

and to reassign the desolate property.

49:9 You will say 28  to the prisoners, ‘Come out,’

and to those who are in dark dungeons, 29 Emerge.’ 30 

They will graze beside the roads;

on all the slopes they will find pasture.

49:10 They will not be hungry or thirsty;

the sun’s oppressive heat will not beat down on them, 31 

for one who has compassion on them will guide them;

he will lead them to springs of water.

49:11 I will make all my mountains into a road;

I will construct my roadways.”

49:12 Look, they come from far away!

Look, some come from the north and west,

and others from the land of Sinim! 32 

49:13 Shout for joy, O sky! 33 

Rejoice, O earth!

Let the mountains give a joyful shout!

For the Lord consoles his people

and shows compassion to the 34  oppressed.

The Lord Remembers Zion

49:14Zion said, ‘The Lord has abandoned me,

the sovereign master 35  has forgotten me.’

49:15 Can a woman forget her baby who nurses at her breast? 36 

Can she withhold compassion from the child she has borne? 37 

Even if mothers 38  were to forget,

I could never forget you! 39 

49:16 Look, I have inscribed your name 40  on my palms;

your walls are constantly before me.

49:17 Your children hurry back,

while those who destroyed and devastated you depart.

49:18 Look all around you! 41 

All of them gather to you.

As surely as I live,” says the Lord,

“you will certainly wear all of them like jewelry;

you will put them on as if you were a bride.

49:19 Yes, your land lies in ruins;

it is desolate and devastated. 42 

But now you will be too small to hold your residents,

and those who devoured you will be far away.

49:20 Yet the children born during your time of bereavement

will say within your hearing,

This place is too cramped for us, 43 

make room for us so we can live here.’ 44 

49:21 Then you will think to yourself, 45 

‘Who bore these children for me?

I was bereaved and barren,

dismissed and divorced. 46 

Who raised these children?

Look, I was left all alone;

where did these children come from?’

49:22 This is what the sovereign Lord says:

“Look I will raise my hand to the nations;

I will raise my signal flag to the peoples.

They will bring your sons in their arms

and carry your daughters on their shoulders.

49:23 Kings will be your children’s 47  guardians;

their princesses will nurse your children. 48 

With their faces to the ground they will bow down to you

and they will lick the dirt on 49  your feet.

Then you will recognize that I am the Lord;

those who wait patiently for me are not put to shame.

49:24 Can spoils be taken from a warrior,

or captives be rescued from a conqueror? 50 

49:25 Indeed,” says the Lord,

“captives will be taken from a warrior;

spoils will be rescued from a conqueror.

I will oppose your adversary

and I will rescue your children.

49:26 I will make your oppressors eat their own flesh;

they will get drunk on their own blood, as if it were wine. 51 

Then all humankind 52  will recognize that

I am the Lord, your deliverer,

your protector, 53  the powerful ruler of Jacob.” 54 

50:1 This is what the Lord says:

“Where is your mother’s divorce certificate

by which I divorced her?

Or to which of my creditors did I sell you? 55 

Look, you were sold because of your sins; 56 

because of your rebellious acts I divorced your mother. 57 

50:2 Why does no one challenge me when I come?

Why does no one respond when I call? 58 

Is my hand too weak 59  to deliver 60  you?

Do I lack the power to rescue you?

Look, with a mere shout 61  I can dry up the sea;

I can turn streams into a desert,

so the fish rot away and die

from lack of water. 62 

50:3 I can clothe the sky in darkness;

I can cover it with sackcloth.”

The Servant Perseveres

50:4 The sovereign Lord has given me the capacity to be his spokesman, 63 

so that I know how to help the weary. 64 

He wakes me up every morning;

he makes me alert so I can listen attentively as disciples do. 65 

50:5 The sovereign Lord has spoken to me clearly; 66 

I have not rebelled,

I have not turned back.

50:6 I offered my back to those who attacked, 67 

my jaws to those who tore out my beard;

I did not hide my face

from insults and spitting.

50:7 But the sovereign Lord helps me,

so I am not humiliated.

For that reason I am steadfastly resolved; 68 

I know I will not be put to shame.

50:8 The one who vindicates me is close by.

Who dares to argue with me? Let us confront each other! 69 

Who is my accuser? 70  Let him challenge me! 71 

50:9 Look, the sovereign Lord helps me.

Who dares to condemn me?

Look, all of them will wear out like clothes;

a moth will eat away at them.

50:10 Who among you fears the Lord?

Who obeys 72  his servant?

Whoever walks in deep darkness, 73 

without light,

should trust in the name of the Lord

and rely on his God.

50:11 Look, all of you who start a fire

and who equip yourselves with 74  flaming arrows, 75 

walk 76  in the light 77  of the fire you started

and among the flaming arrows you ignited! 78 

This is what you will receive from me: 79 

you will lie down in a place of pain. 80 

There is Hope for the Future

51:1Listen to me, you who pursue godliness, 81 

who seek the Lord!

Look at the rock from which you were chiseled,

at the quarry 82  from which you were dug! 83 

51:2 Look at Abraham, your father,

and Sarah, who gave you birth. 84 

When I summoned him, he was a lone individual, 85 

but I blessed him 86  and gave him numerous descendants. 87 

51:3 Certainly the Lord will console Zion;

he will console all her ruins.

He will make her wilderness like Eden,

her desert like the Garden of the Lord.

Happiness and joy will be restored to 88  her,

thanksgiving and the sound of music.

51:4 Pay attention to me, my people!

Listen to me, my people!

For 89  I will issue a decree, 90 

I will make my justice a light to the nations. 91 

51:5 I am ready to vindicate, 92 

I am ready to deliver, 93 

I will establish justice among the nations. 94 

The coastlands 95  wait patiently for me;

they wait in anticipation for the revelation of my power. 96 

51:6 Look up at the sky!

Look at the earth below!

For the sky will dissipate 97  like smoke,

and the earth will wear out like clothes;

its residents will die like gnats.

But the deliverance I give 98  is permanent;

the vindication I provide 99  will not disappear. 100 

51:7 Listen to me, you who know what is right,

you people who are aware of my law! 101 

Don’t be afraid of the insults of men;

don’t be discouraged because of their abuse!

51:8 For a moth will eat away at them like clothes;

a clothes moth will devour them like wool.

But the vindication I provide 102  will be permanent;

the deliverance I give will last.”

51:9 Wake up! Wake up!

Clothe yourself with strength, O arm of the Lord! 103 

Wake up as in former times, as in antiquity!

Did you not smash 104  the Proud One? 105 

Did you not 106  wound the sea monster? 107 

51:10 Did you not dry up the sea,

the waters of the great deep?

Did you not make 108  a path through the depths of the sea,

so those delivered from bondage 109  could cross over?

51:11 Those whom the Lord has ransomed will return;

they will enter Zion with a happy shout.

Unending joy will crown them, 110 

happiness and joy will overwhelm 111  them;

grief and suffering will disappear. 112 

51:12I, I am the one who consoles you. 113 

Why are you afraid of mortal men,

of mere human beings who are as short-lived as grass? 114 

51:13 Why do you forget 115  the Lord, who made you,

who stretched out the sky 116 

and founded the earth?

Why do you constantly tremble all day long 117 

at the anger of the oppressor,

when he makes plans to destroy?

Where is the anger of the oppressor? 118 

51:14 The one who suffers 119  will soon be released;

he will not die in prison, 120 

he will not go hungry. 121 

51:15 I am the Lord your God,

who churns up the sea so that its waves surge.

The Lord who commands armies is his name!

Zion’s Time to Celebrate

51:16 I commission you 122  as my spokesman; 123 

I cover you with the palm of my hand, 124 

to establish 125  the sky and to found the earth,

to say to Zion, ‘You are my people.’ 126 

51:17 Wake up! Wake up!

Get up, O Jerusalem!

You drank from the cup the Lord passed to you,

which was full of his anger! 127 

You drained dry

the goblet full of intoxicating wine. 128 

51:18 There was no one to lead her

among all the children she bore;

there was no one to take her by the hand

among all the children she raised.

51:19 These double disasters confronted you.

But who feels sorry for you?

Destruction and devastation,

famine and sword.

But who consoles you? 129 

51:20 Your children faint;

they lie at the head of every street

like an antelope in a snare.

They are left in a stupor by the Lord’s anger,

by the battle cry of your God. 130 

51:21 So listen to this, oppressed one,

who is drunk, but not from wine!

51:22 This is what your sovereign master, 131  the Lord your God, says:

“Look, I have removed from your hand

the cup of intoxicating wine, 132 

the goblet full of my anger. 133 

You will no longer have to drink it.

51:23 I will put it into the hand of your tormentors 134 

who said to you, ‘Lie down, so we can walk over you.’

You made your back like the ground,

and like the street for those who walked over you.”

52:1 Wake up! Wake up!

Clothe yourself with strength, O Zion!

Put on your beautiful clothes,

O Jerusalem, 135  holy city!

For uncircumcised and unclean pagans

will no longer invade you.

52:2 Shake off the dirt! 136 

Get up, captive 137  Jerusalem!

Take off the iron chains around your neck,

O captive daughter Zion!

52:3 For this is what the Lord says:

“You were sold for nothing,

and you will not be redeemed for money.”

52:4 For this is what the sovereign Lord says:

“In the beginning my people went to live temporarily in Egypt;

Assyria oppressed them for no good reason.

52:5 And now, what do we have here?” 138  says the Lord.

“Indeed my people have been carried away for nothing,

those who rule over them taunt,” 139  says the Lord,

“and my name is constantly slandered 140  all day long.

52:6 For this reason my people will know my name,

for this reason they will know 141  at that time 142  that I am the one who says,

Here I am.’

52:7 How delightful it is to see approaching over the mountains 143 

the feet of a messenger who announces peace,

a messenger who brings good news, who announces deliverance,

who says to Zion, “Your God reigns! 144 

52:8 Listen, 145  your watchmen shout;

in unison they shout for joy,

for they see with their very own eyes 146 

the Lord’s return to Zion.

52:9 In unison give a joyful shout,

O ruins of Jerusalem!

For the Lord consoles his people;

he protects 147  Jerusalem.

52:10 The Lord reveals 148  his royal power 149 

in the sight of all the nations;

the entire 150  earth sees

our God deliver. 151 

52:11 Leave! Leave! Get out of there!

Don’t touch anything unclean!

Get out of it!

Stay pure, you who carry the Lord’s holy items! 152 

52:12 Yet do not depart quickly

or leave in a panic. 153 

For the Lord goes before you;

the God of Israel is your rear guard.

The Lord Will Vindicate His Servant

52:13Look, my servant will succeed! 154 

He will be elevated, lifted high, and greatly exalted 155 

52:14 (just as many were horrified by the sight of you) 156 

he was so disfigured 157  he no longer looked like a man; 158 

52:15 his form was so marred he no longer looked human 159 

so now 160  he will startle 161  many nations.

Kings will be shocked by his exaltation, 162 

for they will witness something unannounced to them,

and they will understand something they had not heard about.

53:1 Who would have believed 163  what we 164  just heard? 165 

When 166  was the Lord’s power 167  revealed through him?

53:2 He sprouted up like a twig before God, 168 

like a root out of parched soil; 169 

he had no stately form or majesty that might catch our attention, 170 

no special appearance that we should want to follow him. 171 

53:3 He was despised and rejected by people, 172 

one who experienced pain and was acquainted with illness;

people hid their faces from him; 173 

he was despised, and we considered him insignificant. 174 

53:4 But he lifted up our illnesses,

he carried our pain; 175 

even though we thought he was being punished,

attacked by God, and afflicted for something he had done. 176 

53:5 He was wounded because of 177  our rebellious deeds,

crushed because of our sins;

he endured punishment that made us well; 178 

because of his wounds we have been healed. 179 

53:6 All of us had wandered off like sheep;

each of us had strayed off on his own path,

but the Lord caused the sin of all of us to attack him. 180 

53:7 He was treated harshly and afflicted, 181 

but he did not even open his mouth.

Like a lamb led to the slaughtering block,

like a sheep silent before her shearers,

he did not even open his mouth. 182 

53:8 He was led away after an unjust trial 183 

but who even cared? 184 

Indeed, he was cut off from the land of the living; 185 

because of the rebellion of his own 186  people he was wounded.

53:9 They intended to bury him with criminals, 187 

but he ended up in a rich man’s tomb, 188 

because 189  he had committed no violent deeds,

nor had he spoken deceitfully.

53:10 Though the Lord desired to crush him and make him ill,

once restitution is made, 190 

he will see descendants and enjoy long life, 191 

and the Lord’s purpose will be accomplished through him.

53:11 Having suffered, he will reflect on his work,

he will be satisfied when he understands what he has done. 192 

“My servant 193  will acquit many, 194 

for he carried their sins. 195 

53:12 So I will assign him a portion with the multitudes, 196 

he will divide the spoils of victory with the powerful, 197 

because he willingly submitted 198  to death

and was numbered with the rebels,

when he lifted up the sin of many

and intervened 199  on behalf of the rebels.”

Zion Will Be Secure

54:1Shout for joy, O barren one who has not given birth!

Give a joyful shout and cry out, you who have not been in labor!

For the children of the desolate one are more numerous

than the children of the married woman,” says the Lord.

54:2 Make your tent larger,

stretch your tent curtains farther out! 200 

Spare no effort,

lengthen your ropes,

and pound your stakes deep. 201 

54:3 For you will spread out to the right and to the left;

your children will conquer 202  nations

and will resettle desolate cities.

54:4 Don’t be afraid, for you will not be put to shame!

Don’t be intimidated, 203  for you will not be humiliated!

You will forget about the shame you experienced in your youth;

you will no longer remember the disgrace of your abandonment. 204 

54:5 For your husband is the one who made you –

the Lord who commands armies is his name.

He is your protector, 205  the Holy One of Israel. 206 

He is called “God of the entire earth.”

54:6Indeed, the Lord will call you back

like a wife who has been abandoned and suffers from depression, 207 

like a young wife when she has been rejected,” says your God.

54:7For a short time I abandoned 208  you,

but with great compassion I will gather you.

54:8 In a burst 209  of anger I rejected you 210  momentarily,

but with lasting devotion I will have compassion on you,”

says your protector, 211  the Lord.

54:9As far as I am concerned, this is like in Noah’s time, 212 

when I vowed that the waters of Noah’s flood 213  would never again cover the earth.

In the same way I have vowed that I will not be angry at you or shout at you.

54:10 Even if the mountains are removed

and the hills displaced,

my devotion will not be removed from you,

nor will my covenant of friendship 214  be displaced,”

says the Lord, the one who has compassion on you.

54:11O afflicted one, driven away, 215  and unconsoled!

Look, I am about to set your stones in antimony

and I lay your foundation with lapis-lazuli.

54:12 I will make your pinnacles out of gems, 216 

your gates out of beryl, 217 

and your outer wall 218  out of beautiful 219  stones.

54:13 All your children will be followers of the Lord,

and your children will enjoy great prosperity. 220 

54:14 You will be reestablished when I vindicate you. 221 

You will not experience oppression; 222 

indeed, you will not be afraid.

You will not be terrified, 223 

for nothing frightening 224  will come near you.

54:15 If anyone dares to 225  challenge you, it will not be my doing!

Whoever tries to challenge you will be defeated. 226 

54:16 Look, I create the craftsman,

who fans the coals into a fire

and forges a weapon. 227 

I create the destroyer so he might devastate.

54:17 No weapon forged to be used against you will succeed;

you will refute everyone who tries to accuse you. 228 

This is what the Lord will do for his servants

I will vindicate them,” 229 

says the Lord.

The Lord Gives an Invitation

55:1Hey, 230  all who are thirsty, come to the water!

You who have no money, come!

Buy and eat!

Come! Buy wine and milk

without money and without cost! 231 

55:2 Why pay money for something that will not nourish you? 232 

Why spend 233  your hard-earned money 234  on something that will not satisfy?

Listen carefully 235  to me and eat what is nourishing! 236 

Enjoy fine food! 237 

55:3 Pay attention and come to me!

Listen, so you can live! 238 

Then I will make an unconditional covenantal promise to 239  you,

just like the reliable covenantal promises I made to David. 240 

55:4 Look, I made him a witness to nations, 241 

a ruler and commander of nations.”

55:5 Look, you will summon nations 242  you did not previously know;

nations 243  that did not previously know you will run to you,

because of the Lord your God,

the Holy One of Israel, 244 

for he bestows honor on you.

55:6 Seek the Lord while he makes himself available; 245 

call to him while he is nearby!

55:7 The wicked need to abandon their lifestyle 246 

and sinful people their plans. 247 

They should return 248  to the Lord, and he will show mercy to them, 249 

and to their God, for he will freely forgive them. 250 

55:8Indeed, 251  my plans 252  are not like 253  your plans,

and my deeds 254  are not like 255  your deeds,

55:9 for just as the sky 256  is higher than the earth,

so my deeds 257  are superior to 258  your deeds

and my plans 259  superior to your plans.

55:10 260 

The rain and snow fall from the sky

and do not return,

but instead water the earth

and make it produce and yield crops,

and provide seed for the planter and food for those who must eat.

55:11 In the same way, the promise that I make

does not return to me, having accomplished nothing. 261 

No, it is realized as I desire

and is fulfilled as I intend.” 262 

55:12 Indeed you will go out with joy;

you will be led along in peace;

the mountains and hills will give a joyful shout before you,

and all the trees in the field will clap their hands.

55:13 Evergreens will grow in place of thorn bushes,

firs will grow in place of nettles;

they will be a monument to the Lord, 263 

a permanent reminder that will remain. 264 

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