1 Listen to me, distant nations, you people who live far away! Before I was born, the Lord chose me and appointed me to be his servant. 2 He made my words as sharp as a sword. With his own hand he protected me. He made me like an arrow, sharp and ready for use. 3 He said to me, "Israel, you are my servant; because of you, people will praise me." 4 I said, "I have worked, but how hopeless it is! I have used up my strength, but have accomplished nothing." Yet I can trust the Lord to defend my cause; he will reward me for what I do. 5 Before I was born, the Lord appointed me; he made me his servant to bring back his people, to bring back the scattered people of Israel. The Lord gives me honor; he is the source of my strength. 6 The Lord said to me, "I have a greater task for you, my servant. Not only will you restore to greatness the people of Israel who have survived, but I will also make you a light to the nations - so that all the world may be saved." 7 Israel's holy God and savior says to the one who is deeply despised, who is hated by the nations and is the servant of rulers: "Kings will see you released and will rise to show their respect; princes also will see it, and they will bow low to honor you." This will happen because the Lord has chosen his servant; the holy God of Israel keeps his promises. 8 The Lord says to his people, "When the time comes to save you, I will show you favor and answer your cries for help. I will guard and protect you and through you make a covenant with all peoples. I will let you settle once again in your land that is now laid waste. 9 I will say to the prisoners, "Go free!' and to those who are in darkness, "Come out to the light!' They will be like sheep that graze on the hills; 10 they will never be hungry or thirsty. Sun and desert heat will not hurt them, for they will be led by one who loves them. He will lead them to springs of water. 11 "I will make a highway across the mountains and prepare a road for my people to travel. 12 My people will come from far away, from the north and the west, and from Aswan in the south." 13 Sing, heavens! Shout for joy, earth! Let the mountains burst into song! The Lord will comfort his people; he will have pity on his suffering people. 14 But the people of Jerusalem said, "The Lord has abandoned us! He has forgotten us." 15 So the Lord answers, "Can a woman forget her own baby and not love the child she bore? Even if a mother should forget her child, I will never forget you. 16 Jerusalem, I can never forget you! I have written your name on the palms of my hands. 17 "Those who will rebuild you are coming soon, and those who destroyed you will leave. 18 Look around and see what is happening! Your people are assembling - they are coming home! As surely as I am the living God, you will be proud of your people, as proud as a bride is of her jewels. 19 "Your country was ruined and desolate - but now it will be too small for those who are coming to live there. And those who left you in ruins will be far removed from you. 20 Your people who were born in exile will one day say to you, "This land is too small - we need more room to live in!' 21 Then you will say to yourself, "Who bore all these children for me? I lost my children and could have no more. I was exiled and driven away - who brought these children up? I was left all alone - where did these children come from?' " 22 The Sovereign Lord says to his people: "I will signal to the nations, and they will bring your children home. 23 Kings will be like fathers to you; queens will be like mothers. They will bow low before you and honor you; they will humbly show their respect for you. Then you will know that I am the Lord; no one who waits for my help will be disappointed." 24 Can you take away a soldier's loot? Can you rescue the prisoners of a tyrant? 25 The Lord replies, "That is just what is going to happen. The soldier's prisoners will be taken away, and the tyrant's loot will be seized. I will fight against whoever fights you, and I will rescue your children. 26 I will make your oppressors kill each other; they will be drunk with murder and rage. Then all people will know that I am the Lord, the one who saves you and sets you free. They will know that I am Israel's powerful God."
1 The Lord says, "Do you think I sent my people away like a man who divorces his wife? Where, then, are the papers of divorce? Do you think I sold you into captivity like a man who sells his children as slaves? No, you went away captive because of your sins; you were sent away because of your crimes. 2 "Why did my people fail to respond when I went to them to save them? Why did they not answer when I called? Am I too weak to save them? I can dry up the sea with a command and turn rivers into a desert, so that the fish in them die for lack of water. 3 I can make the sky turn dark, as if it were in mourning for the dead." 4 The Sovereign Lord has taught me what to say, so that I can strengthen the weary. Every morning he makes me eager to hear what he is going to teach me. 5 The Lord has given me understanding, and I have not rebelled or turned away from him. 6 I bared my back to those who beat me. I did not stop them when they insulted me, when they pulled out the hairs of my beard and spit in my face. 7 But their insults cannot hurt me because the Sovereign Lord gives me help. I brace myself to endure them. I know that I will not be disgraced, 8 for God is near, and he will prove me innocent. Does anyone dare bring charges against me? Let us go to court together! Let him bring his accusation! 9 The Sovereign Lord himself defends me - who, then, can prove me guilty? All my accusers will disappear; they will vanish like moth-eaten cloth. 10 All of you that honor the Lord and obey the words of his servant, the path you walk may be dark indeed, but trust in the Lord, rely on your God. 11 All of you that plot to destroy others will be destroyed by your own plots. The Lord himself will make this happen; you will suffer a miserable fate.
1 The Lord says, "Listen to me, you that want to be saved, you that come to me for help. Think of the rock from which you came, the quarry from which you were cut. 2 Think of your ancestor, Abraham, and of Sarah, from whom you are descended. When I called Abraham, he was childless, but I blessed him and gave him children; I made his descendants numerous. 3 "I will show compassion to Jerusalem, to all who live in her ruins. Though her land is a desert, I will make it a garden, like the garden I planted in Eden. Joy and gladness will be there, and songs of praise and thanks to me. 4 "Listen to me, my people, listen to what I say: I give my teaching to the nations; my laws will bring them light. 5 I will come quickly and save them; the time of my victory is near. I myself will rule over the nations. Distant lands wait for me to come; they wait with hope for me to save them. 6 Look up at the heavens; look at the earth! The heavens will disappear like smoke; the earth will wear out like old clothing, and all its people will die like flies. But the deliverance I bring will last forever; my victory will be final. 7 "Listen to me, you that know what is right, who have my teaching fixed in your hearts. Do not be afraid when people taunt and insult you; 8 they will vanish like moth-eaten clothing! But the deliverance I bring will last forever; my victory will endure for all time." 9 Wake up, Lord, and help us! Use your power and save us; use it as you did in ancient times. It was you that cut the sea monster Rahab to pieces. 10 It was you also who dried up the sea and made a path through the water, so that those you were saving could cross. 11 Those whom you have rescued will reach Jerusalem with gladness, singing and shouting for joy. They will be happy forever, forever free from sorrow and grief. 12 The Lord says, "I am the one who strengthens you. Why should you fear mortals, who are no more enduring than grass? 13 Have you forgotten the Lord who made you, who stretched out the heavens and laid the earth's foundations? Why should you live in constant fear of the fury of those who oppress you, of those who are ready to destroy you? Their fury can no longer touch you. 14 Those who are prisoners will soon be set free; they will live a long life and have all the food they need. 15 "I am the Lord your God; I stir up the sea and make its waves roar. My name is the Lord Almighty! 16 I stretched out the heavens and laid the earth's foundations; I say to Jerusalem, "You are my people! I have given you my teaching, and I protect you with my hand.' " 17 Jerusalem, wake up! Rouse yourself and get up! You have drunk the cup of punishment that the Lord in his anger gave you to drink; you drank it down, and it made you stagger. 18 There is no one to lead you, no one among your people to take you by the hand. 19 A double disaster has fallen on you: your land has been devastated by war, and your people have starved. There is no one to show you sympathy. 20 At the corner of every street your people collapse from weakness; they are like deer caught in a hunter's net. They have felt the force of God's anger. 21 You suffering people of Jerusalem, you that stagger as though you were drunk, 22 the Lord your God defends you and says, "I am taking away the cup that I gave you in my anger. You will no longer have to drink the wine that makes you stagger. 23 I will give it to those who oppressed you, to those who made you lie down in the streets and trampled on you as if you were dirt."
1 Jerusalem, be strong and great again! Holy city of God, clothe yourself with splendor! The heathen will never enter your gates again. 2 Shake yourself free, Jerusalem! Rise from the dust and sit on your throne! Undo the chains that bind you, captive people of Zion! 3 The Sovereign Lord says to his people, "When you became slaves, no money was paid for you; in the same way nothing will be paid to set you free. 4 When you went to live in Egypt as foreigners, you did so of your own free will; Assyria, however, took you away by force and paid nothing for you. 5 And now in Babylonia the same thing has happened: you are captives, and nothing was paid for you. Those who rule over you boast and brag and constantly show contempt for me. 6 In time to come you will acknowledge that I am God and that I have spoken to you." 7 How wonderful it is to see a messenger coming across the mountains, bringing good news, the news of peace! He announces victory and says to Zion, "Your God is king!" 8 Those who guard the city are shouting, shouting together for joy. They can see with their own eyes the return of the Lord to Zion. 9 Break into shouts of joy, you ruins of Jerusalem! The Lord will rescue his city and comfort his people. 10 The Lord will use his holy power; he will save his people, and all the world will see it. 11 Be sure to leave Babylonia, all you that carry the Temple equipment. Touch no forbidden thing; keep yourselves holy and leave. 12 This time you will not have to leave in a hurry; you will not be trying to escape. The Lord your God will lead you and protect you on every side. 13 The Lord says, "My servant will succeed in his task; he will be highly honored. 14 Many people were shocked when they saw him; he was so disfigured that he hardly looked human. 15 But now many nations will marvel at him, and kings will be speechless with amazement. They will see and understand something they had never known."
1 The people reply, "Who would have believed what we now report? Who could have seen the Lord's hand in this? 2 It was the will of the Lord that his servant grow like a plant taking root in dry ground. He had no dignity or beauty to make us take notice of him. There was nothing attractive about him, nothing that would draw us to him. 3 We despised him and rejected him; he endured suffering and pain. No one would even look at him - we ignored him as if he were nothing. 4 "But he endured the suffering that should have been ours, the pain that we should have borne. All the while we thought that his suffering was punishment sent by God. 5 But because of our sins he was wounded, beaten because of the evil we did. We are healed by the punishment he suffered, made whole by the blows he received. 6 All of us were like sheep that were lost, each of us going his own way. But the Lord made the punishment fall on him, the punishment all of us deserved. 7 "He was treated harshly, but endured it humbly; he never said a word. Like a lamb about to be slaughtered, like a sheep about to be sheared, he never said a word. 8 He was arrested and sentenced and led off to die, and no one cared about his fate. He was put to death for the sins of our people. 9 He was placed in a grave with those who are evil, he was buried with the rich, even though he had never committed a crime or ever told a lie." 10 The Lord says, "It was my will that he should suffer; his death was a sacrifice to bring forgiveness. And so he will see his descendants; he will live a long life, and through him my purpose will succeed. 11 After a life of suffering, he will again have joy; he will know that he did not suffer in vain. My devoted servant, with whom I am pleased, will bear the punishment of many and for his sake I will forgive them. 12 And so I will give him a place of honor, a place among the great and powerful. He willingly gave his life and shared the fate of evil men. He took the place of many sinners and prayed that they might be forgiven."