Family of Jacob, the LORD created you. People of Israel, he formed you. He says, "Do not be afraid. I will set you free. I will send for you by name. You belong to me.
You will pass through deep waters. But I will be with you. You will pass through the rivers. But their waters will not sweep over you. You will walk through fire. But you will not be burned. The flames will not harm you.
I am the LORD your God. I am the Holy One of Israel. I am the one who saves you. I will give up Egypt to set you free. I will give up Cush and Seba for you.
You are priceless to me. I love you and honor you. So I will trade other people for you. I will give up other nations to save your lives.
Do not be afraid. I am with you. I will bring your people back from the east. I will gather you from the west.
I will say to the north, 'Let them go!' And I will say to the south, 'Do not hold them back.' Bring my sons from far away. Bring my daughters from the farthest places on earth.
Bring back everyone who belongs to me. I created them to bring glory to me. I formed them and made them."
Lead my people into court. They have eyes but can't see. Bring those who have ears but can't hear.
All of the nations are gathering together. All of them are coming. Which one of their gods said ahead of time that the people of Israel would return? Which of them told us anything at all about the past? Let them bring in their witnesses to prove they were right. Then others will hear them. And they will say, "What they said is true."
"People of Israel, you are my witnesses," announces the Lord. "I have chosen you to be my servants. I wanted you to know me and believe in me. I wanted you to understand that I am the one and only God. Before me, there was no other god at all. And there will not be any god after me.
I am the one and only Lord. I am the only one who can save you.
I have made known what would happen. I told you about it. And I saved you. I did it. It was not some other god you worship. You are my witnesses that I am God," announces the Lord.
"And that is not all! I have always been God, and I always will be. No one can save people from my powerful hand. When I do something, who can undo it?"
The LORD sets his people free. He is the Holy One of Israel. He says, "People of Israel, I will send an army to Babylon to save you. I will cause all of the Babylonians to run away. They will try to escape in the ships they were so proud of.
I am your LORD and King. I am your Holy One. I created you."
Long ago the LORD opened a way for his people to go through the Red Sea. He made a path through the mighty waters.
He caused Egypt to send out its chariots and horses. He sent its entire army to its death. Its soldiers lay down there. They never got up again. They were destroyed. They were blown out like a dimly burning flame. But the LORD says,
"Forget the things that happened in the past. Do not keep on thinking about them.
I am about to do something new. It is beginning to happen even now. Don't you see it coming? I am going to make a way for you to go through the desert. I will make streams of water in the dry and empty land.
Even wild dogs and owls honor me. That is because I provide water in the desert for my people to drink. I cause streams to flow in the dry and empty land for my chosen ones.
I do it for the people I made for myself. I want them to sing praise to me.
"Family of Jacob, you have not prayed to me as you should. People of Israel, you have not even begun to get tired while doing it.
You have not brought me sheep for burnt offerings. You have not honored me with your sacrifices. I have not loaded you down by requiring grain offerings. I have not made you tired by requiring you to burn incense.
But you have not bought any sweet-smelling cane for me. You have not given me the fattest parts of your animal sacrifices. Instead, you have loaded me down with your sins. You have made me tired with the wrong things you have done.
"I am the one who wipes out your lawless acts. I do it because of who I am. I will not remember your sins anymore.
But let us go to court together. Remind me of what you have done. State your case. Prove to me that you are not guilty.
Your father Jacob sinned. Your priests and prophets refused to obey me.
So I will put the high officials of your temple to shame. I will let Jacob's family be totally destroyed. And I will let people make fun of Israel.