"Comfort, comfort my people," says your God.
"Speak tenderly to Jerusalem. Tell her that her sad days are gone and that her sins are pardoned. Yes, the LORD has punished her in full for all her sins."
Listen! I hear the voice of someone shouting, "Make a highway for the LORD through the wilderness. Make a straight, smooth road through the desert for our God.
Fill the valleys and level the hills. Straighten out the curves and smooth off the rough spots.
Then the glory of the LORD will be revealed, and all people will see it together. The LORD has spoken!"
A voice said, "Shout!" I asked, "What should I shout?" "Shout that people are like the grass that dies away. Their beauty fades as quickly as the beauty of flowers in a field.
The grass withers, and the flowers fade beneath the breath of the LORD. And so it is with people.
The grass withers, and the flowers fade, but the word of our God stands forever."
Messenger of good news, shout to Zion from the mountaintops! Shout louder to Jerusalem -- do not be afraid. Tell the towns of Judah, "Your God is coming!"
Yes, the Sovereign LORD is coming in all his glorious power. He will rule with awesome strength. See, he brings his reward with him as he comes.
He will feed his flock like a shepherd. He will carry the lambs in his arms, holding them close to his heart. He will gently lead the mother sheep with their young.
Who else has held the oceans in his hand? Who has measured off the heavens with his fingers? Who else knows the weight of the earth or has weighed out the mountains and the hills?
Who is able to advise the Spirit of the LORD? Who knows enough to be his teacher or counselor?
Has the LORD ever needed anyone's advice? Does he need instruction about what is good or what is best?
No, for all the nations of the world are nothing in comparison with him. They are but a drop in the bucket, dust on the scales. He picks up the islands as though they had no weight at all.
All Lebanon's forests do not contain sufficient fuel to consume a sacrifice large enough to honor him. All Lebanon's sacrificial animals would not make an offering worthy of our God.
The nations of the world are as nothing to him. In his eyes they are less than nothing -- mere emptiness and froth.
To whom, then, can we compare God? What image might we find to resemble him?
Can he be compared to an idol formed in a mold, overlaid with gold, and decorated with silver chains?
Or is a poor person's wooden idol better? Can God be compared to an idol that must be placed on a stand so it won't fall down?
Have you never heard or understood? Are you deaf to the words of God -- the words he gave before the world began? Are you so ignorant?
It is God who sits above the circle of the earth. The people below must seem to him like grasshoppers! He is the one who spreads out the heavens like a curtain and makes his tent from them.
He judges the great people of the world and brings them all to nothing.
They hardly get started, barely taking root, when he blows on them and their work withers. The wind carries them off like straw.
"To whom will you compare me? Who is my equal?" asks the Holy One.
Look up into the heavens. Who created all the stars? He brings them out one after another, calling each by its name. And he counts them to see that none are lost or have strayed away.
O Israel, how can you say the LORD does not see your troubles? How can you say God refuses to hear your case?
Have you never heard or understood? Don't you know that the LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth? He never grows faint or weary. No one can measure the depths of his understanding.
He gives power to those who are tired and worn out; he offers strength to the weak.
Even youths will become exhausted, and young men will give up.
But those who wait on the LORD will find new strength. They will fly high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.