Isaiah 50; Isaiah 51; Isaiah 52; 1 Thessalonians 5

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 There is no need to write you, friends, about the times and occasions when these things will happen. 2 For you yourselves know very well that the Day of the Lord will come as a thief comes at night. 3 When people say, "Everything is quiet and safe," then suddenly destruction will hit them! It will come as suddenly as the pains that come upon a woman in labor, and people will not escape. 4 But you, friends, are not in the darkness, and the Day should not take you by surprise like a thief. 5 All of you are people who belong to the light, who belong to the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. 6 So then, we should not be sleeping like the others; we should be awake and sober. 7 It is at night when people sleep; it is at night when they get drunk. 8 But we belong to the day, and we should be sober. We must wear faith and love as a breastplate, and our hope of salvation as a helmet. 9 God did not choose us to suffer his anger, but to possess salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us in order that we might live together with him, whether we are alive or dead when he comes. 11 And so encourage one another and help one another, just as you are now doing. 12 We beg you, our friends, to pay proper respect to those who work among you, who guide and instruct you in the Christian life. 13 Treat them with the greatest respect and love because of the work they do. Be at peace among yourselves. 14 We urge you, our friends, to warn the idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone. 15 See that no one pays back wrong for wrong, but at all times make it your aim to do good to one another and to all people. 16 Be joyful always, 17 pray at all times, 18 be thankful in all circumstances. This is what God wants from you in your life in union with Christ Jesus. 19 Do not restrain the Holy Spirit; 20 do not despise inspired messages. 21 Put all things to the test: keep what is good 22 and avoid every kind of evil. 23 May the God who gives us peace make you holy in every way and keep your whole being - spirit, soul, and body - free from every fault at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 He who calls you will do it, because he is faithful. 25 Pray also for us, friends. 26 Greet all the believers with the kiss of peace. 27 I urge you by the authority of the Lord to read this letter to all the believers. 28 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
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