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Isaiah 66 (The Message)

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1 God's Message: "Heaven's my throne, earth is my footstool. What sort of house could you build for me? What holiday spot reserve for me? 2 I made all this! I own all this!" God's Decree. "But there is something I'm looking for: a person simple and plain, reverently responsive to what I say. 3 "Your acts of worship are acts of sin: Your sacrificial slaughter of the ox is no different from murdering the neighbor; Your offerings for worship, no different from dumping pig's blood on the altar; Your presentation of memorial gifts, no different from honoring a no-god idol. You choose self-serving worship, you delight in self-centered worship - disgusting! 4 Well, I choose to expose your nonsense and let you realize your worst fears, Because when I invited you, you ignored me; when I spoke to you, you brushed me off. You did the very things I exposed as evil, you chose what I hate." 5 But listen to what God has to say to you who reverently respond to his Word: "Your own families hate you and turn you out because of me. They taunt you, 'Let us see God's glory! If God's so great, why aren't you happy?' But they're the ones who are going to end up shamed." 6 Rumbles of thunder from the city! A voice out of the Temple! God's voice, handing out judgment to his enemies: 7 "Before she went into labor, she had the baby. Before the birth pangs hit, she delivered a son. 8 Has anyone ever heard of such a thing? Has anyone seen anything like this? A country born in a day? A nation born in a flash? But Zion was barely in labor when she had her babies! 9 Do I open the womb and not deliver the baby? Do I, the One who delivers babies, shut the womb? 10 "Rejoice, Jerusalem, and all who love her, celebrate! And all you who have shed tears over her, join in the happy singing. 11 You newborns can satisfy yourselves at her nurturing breasts. Yes, delight yourselves and drink your fill at her ample bosom." 12 God's Message: "I'll pour robust well-being into her like a river, the glory of nations like a river in flood. You'll nurse at her breasts, nestle in her bosom, and be bounced on her knees. 13 As a mother comforts her child, so I'll comfort you. You will be comforted in Jerusalem." 14 You'll see all this and burst with joy - you'll feel ten feet tall - As it becomes apparent that God is on your side and against his enemies. 15 For God arrives like wildfire and his chariots like a tornado, A furious outburst of anger, a rebuke fierce and fiery. 16 For it's by fire that God brings judgment, a death sentence on the human race. Many, oh so many, are under God's sentence of death: 17 "All who enter the sacred groves for initiation in those unholy rituals that climaxed in that foul and obscene meal of pigs and mice will eat together and then die together." God's Decree. 18 "I know everything they've ever done or thought. I'm going to come and then gather everyone - all nations, all languages. They'll come and see my glory. 19 I'll set up a station at the center. I'll send the survivors of judgment all over the world: Spain and Africa, Turkey and Greece, and the far-off islands that have never heard of me, who know nothing of what I've done nor who I am. I'll send them out as missionaries to preach my glory among the nations. 20 They'll return with all your long-lost brothers and sisters from all over the world. They'll bring them back and offer them in living worship to God. They'll bring them on horses and wagons and carts, on mules and camels, straight to my holy mountain Jerusalem," says God. "They'll present them just as Israelites present their offerings in a ceremonial vessel in the Temple of God. 21 I'll even take some of them and make them priests and Levites," says God. 22 "For just as the new heavens and new earth that I am making will stand firm before me" - God's Decree - "So will your children and your reputation stand firm. 23 Month after month and week by week, everyone will come to worship me," God says. 24 "And then they'll go out and look at what happened to those who rebelled against me. Corpses! Maggots endlessly eating away on them, an endless supply of fuel for fires. Everyone who sees what's happened and smells the stench retches."
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