Listen, far-flung islands, pay attention, faraway people: God put me to work from the day I was born. The moment I entered the world he named me.
He gave me speech that would cut and penetrate. He kept his hand on me to protect me. He made me his straight arrow and hid me in his quiver.
He said to me, "You're my dear servant, Israel, through whom I'll shine."
But I said, "I've worked for nothing. I've nothing to show for a life of hard work. Nevertheless, I'll let God have the last word. I'll let him pronounce his verdict."
"And now," God says, this God who took me in hand from the moment of birth to be his servant, To bring Jacob back home to him, to set a reunion for Israel - What an honor for me in God's eyes! That God should be my strength!
He says, "But that's not a big enough job for my servant - just to recover the tribes of Jacob, merely to round up the strays of Israel. I'm setting you up as a light for the nations so that my salvation becomes global!"
God, Redeemer of Israel, The Holy of Israel, says to the despised one, kicked around by the nations, slave labor to the ruling class: "Kings will see, get to their feet - the princes, too - and then fall on their faces in homage Because of God, who has faithfully kept his word, The Holy of Israel, who has chosen you."
God also says: "When the time's ripe, I answer you. When victory's due, I help you. I form you and use you to reconnect the people with me, To put the land in order, to resettle families on the ruined properties.
I tell prisoners, 'Come on out. You're free!' and those huddled in fear, 'It's all right. It's safe now.' There'll be foodstands along all the roads, picnics on all the hills -
Nobody hungry, nobody thirsty, shade from the sun, shelter from the wind, For the Compassionate One guides them, takes them to the best springs.
I'll make all my mountains into roads, turn them into a superhighway.
Look: These coming from far countries, and those, out of the north, These streaming in from the west, and those from all the way down the Nile!"
Heavens, raise the roof! Earth, wake the dead! Mountains, send up cheers! God has comforted his people. He has tenderly nursed his beaten-up, beaten-down people.
Published by permission. Originally published by NavPress in English as THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language copyright 2002 by Eugene Peterson. All rights reserved. (The Message Bible Online)