"But now, listen to me, Jacob my servant, Israel my chosen one.
The LORD who made you and helps you says: O Jacob, my servant, do not be afraid. O Israel, a my chosen one, do not fear.
For I will give you abundant water to quench your thirst and to moisten your parched fields. And I will pour out my Spirit and my blessings on your children.
They will thrive like watered grass, like willows on a riverbank.
Some will proudly claim, 'I belong to the LORD.' Others will say, 'I am a descendant of Jacob.' Some will write the LORD's name on their hands and will take the honored name of Israel as their own.
"This is what the LORD, Israel's King and Redeemer, the LORD Almighty, says: I am the First and the Last; there is no other God.
Who else can tell you what is going to happen in the days ahead? Let them tell you if they can and thus prove their power. Let them do as I have done since ancient times.
Do not tremble; do not be afraid. Have I not proclaimed from ages past what my purposes are for you? You are my witnesses -- is there any other God? No! There is no other Rock -- not one!"
How foolish are those who manufacture idols to be their gods. These highly valued objects are really worthless. They themselves are witnesses that this is so, for their idols neither see nor know. No wonder those who worship them are put to shame.
Who but a fool would make his own god -- an idol that cannot help him one bit!
All who worship idols will stand before the LORD in shame, along with all these craftsmen -- mere humans -- who claim they can make a god. Together they will stand in terror and shame.
The blacksmith stands at his forge to make a sharp tool, pounding and shaping it with all his might. His work makes him hungry and thirsty, weak and faint.
Then the wood-carver measures and marks out a block of wood, takes the tool, and carves the figure of a man. Now he has a wonderful idol that cannot even move from where it is placed!
He cuts down cedars; he selects the cypress and the oak; he plants the cedar in the forest to be nourished by the rain.
And after his care, he uses part of the wood to make a fire to warm himself and bake his bread. Then -- yes, it's true -- he takes the rest of it and makes himself a god for people to worship! He makes an idol and bows down and praises it!
He burns part of the tree to roast his meat and to keep himself warm.
Then he takes what's left and makes his god: a carved idol! He falls down in front of it, worshiping and praying to it. "Rescue me!" he says. "You are my god!"
Such stupidity and ignorance! Their eyes are closed, and they cannot see. Their minds are shut, and they cannot think.
The person who made the idol never stops to reflect, "Why, it's just a block of wood! I burned half of it for heat and used it to bake my bread and roast my meat. How can the rest of it be a god? Should I bow down to worship a chunk of wood?"
The poor, deluded fool feeds on ashes. He is trusting something that can give him no help at all. Yet he cannot bring himself to ask, "Is this thing, this idol that I'm holding in my hand, a lie?"
"Pay attention, O Israel, for you are my servant. I, the LORD, made you, and I will not forget to help you.
I have swept away your sins like the morning mists. I have scattered your offenses like the clouds. Oh, return to me, for I have paid the price to set you free."
Sing, O heavens, for the LORD has done this wondrous thing. Shout, O earth! Break forth into song, O mountains and forests and every tree! For the LORD has redeemed Jacob and is glorified in Israel.
The LORD, your Redeemer and Creator, says: "I am the LORD, who made all things. I alone stretched out the heavens. By myself I made the earth and everything in it.
I am the one who exposes the false prophets as liars by causing events to happen that are contrary to their predictions. I cause wise people to give bad advice, thus proving them to be fools.
But I carry out the predictions of my prophets! When they say Jerusalem will be saved and the towns of Judah will be lived in once again, it will be done!
When I speak to the rivers and say, 'Be dry!' they will be dry.
When I say of Cyrus, 'He is my shepherd,' he will certainly do as I say. He will command that Jerusalem be rebuilt and that the Temple be restored."
Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved. (New Living Translation - The Bible Online)