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Isaiah 49:1-13 (New International Reader's Version)

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The Servant of the LORD

1 People who live on the islands, listen to me. Pay attention, you nations far away. Before I was born the LORD chose me to serve him. He appointed me by name. 2 He made my words like a sharp sword. He hid me in the palm of his hand. He made me into a sharpened arrow. He took good care of me and kept me safe. 3 He said to me, "You are my true servant Israel. I will show my glory through you." 4 But I said, "In spite of my hard work, I feel as if I haven't accomplished anything. I've used up all of my strength. It seems as if everything I've done is worthless. But the LORD will give me what I should receive. My God will reward me." 5 The LORD formed me in my mother's body to be his servant. He wanted me to bring the family of Jacob back to him. He wanted me to gather the people of Israel to himself. The LORD will honor me. My God will give me strength. 6 The LORD says to me, "It is not enough for you as my servant to bring the tribes of Jacob back to their land. It is not enough for you to bring back the people of Israel I have kept alive. I will also make you a light for other nations. Then you will make it possible for the whole world to be saved." 7 The LORD sets his people free. He is the Holy One of Israel. He speaks to his servant, who is looked down on and hated by the nations. He speaks to the servant of rulers. He says to him, "Kings will see you and rise up to honor you. Princes will see you and bow down to show you their respect. I am the Lord. I am faithful. I am the Holy One of Israel. I have chosen you."

Israel Is Brought Back to Their Land

8 The LORD says to his servant, "When it is time to show you my favor, I will answer your prayers. When it is time to save you, I will help you. I will keep you safe. You will put my covenant with the people of Israel into effect. Then their land will be made like new again. Each tribe will be sent back to its territory that was left empty. 9 I want you to say to the prisoners, 'Come out.' Tell those who are in their dark cells, 'You are free!' "On their way home they will eat beside the roads. They will find plenty to eat on every bare hill. 10 They will not get hungry or thirsty. The heat from the desert sun will not beat down on them. The One who shows his tender love to them will guide them. Like a shepherd, he will lead them beside springs of water. 11 I will make roads across the mountains. I will build wide roads for my people. 12 They will come from far away. Some of them will come from the north. Others will come from the west. Still others will come from Aswan in the south." 13 Shout with joy, you heavens! Be glad, you earth! Burst into song, you mountains! The LORD will comfort his people. He will show his tender love to those who are suffering.
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