Isaiah 49:1-13 (Good News Translation)

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1 Listen to me, distant nations, 1 you people who live far away! Before I was born, the Lord chose me and appointed me to be his servant. 2 He made my words as sharp as a sword. 2 With his own hand he protected me. a He made me like an arrow, sharp and ready for use. 3 He said to me, "Israel, you are my servant; because of you, people will praise me." 4 I said, "I have worked, but how hopeless it is! I have used up my strength, but have accomplished nothing." Yet I can trust the Lord to defend my cause; he will reward me for what I do. 5 Before I was born, the Lord appointed me; he made me his servant to bring back his people, to bring back the scattered people of Israel. The Lord gives me honor; he is the source of my strength. 6 The Lord said to me, 3 "I have a greater task for you, my servant. Not only will you restore to greatness the people of Israel who have survived, but I will also make you a light to the nations - so that all the world may be saved." 7 Israel's holy God and savior says to the one who is deeply despised, who is hated by the nations and is the servant of rulers: "Kings will see you released and will rise to show their respect; princes also will see it, and they will bow low to honor you." This will happen because the Lord has chosen his servant; the holy God of Israel keeps his promises. 8 The Lord says to his people, 4 "When the time comes to save you, I will show you favor and answer your cries for help. I will guard and protect you and through you make a covenant with all peoples. I will let you settle once again in your land that is now laid waste. 9 I will say to the prisoners, "Go free!' and to those who are in darkness, "Come out to the light!' They will be like sheep that graze on the hills; 10 they will never be hungry or thirsty. 5 Sun and desert heat will not hurt them, for they will be led by one who loves them. He will lead them to springs of water. 11 "I will make a highway across the mountains and prepare a road for my people to travel. 12 My people will come from far away, from the north and the west, and from Aswan b in the south." 13 Sing, heavens! Shout for joy, earth! Let the mountains burst into song! The Lord will comfort his people; he will have pity on his suffering people.
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