Isaiah 43; Isaiah 44; 1 Thessalonians 2

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Isaiah 43

1 The LORD created Jacob and formed Israel. Now, this is what the LORD says: Do not be afraid, because I have reclaimed you. I have called you by name; you are mine.
2 When you go through the sea, I am with you. When you go through rivers, they will not sweep you away. When you walk through fire, you will not be burned, and the flames will not harm you.
3 I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. Egypt is the ransom I exchanged for you. Sudan and Seba are the price I paid for you.
4 Since you are precious to me, you are honored and I love you. I will exchange others for you. Nations will be the price I pay for your life.
5 Do not be afraid, because I am with you. I will bring your descendants from the east and gather you from the west.
6 I will say to the north, "Give them up," and to the south, "Do not keep them." Bring my sons from far away and my daughters from the ends of the earth.
7 Bring everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.
8 Bring the people who are blind but still have eyes, the people who are deaf but still have ears.
9 All nations have gathered together, and people have assembled. Who among them could have revealed this? Who among them could have foretold this to us? They should bring their witnesses to prove that they were right. Let the people hear them. Then they will say that it is true.
10 "You are my witnesses," declares the LORD. "I have chosen you as my servant so that you can know and believe in me and understand that I am the one [who did this]. No god was formed before me, and there will be none after me.
11 I alone am the LORD, and there is no savior except me.
12 I have revealed it to you, I have saved you, and I have announced it to you. There was no foreign [god] among you. You are my witnesses that I am God," declares the LORD.
13 "From the [first] day I was the one [who did this]. No one can rescue people from my power. When I do something, who can undo it?"
14 This is what the LORD, your Defender, the Holy One of Israel, says: For your sake I will send [an army] to Babylon. I will bring back all the Babylonian refugees in the ships that they take pride in.
15 I am the LORD, your Holy One, the Creator of Israel, your King.
16 The LORD makes a path through the sea and a road through the strong currents.
17 He leads chariots and horses, an army and reinforcements. (They lie down together and do not get up [again]. They are extinguished and snuffed out like a wick.) This is what the LORD says:
18 Forget what happened in the past, and do not dwell on events from long ago.
19 I am going to do something new. It is already happening. Don't you recognize it? I will clear a way in the desert. I will make rivers on dry land.
20 Wild animals, jackals, and ostriches will honor me. I will provide water in the desert. I will make rivers on the dry land for my chosen people to drink.
21 I have formed these people for myself. They will praise me.
22 Jacob, you have not prayed to me. Israel, you have grown tired of me.
23 You did not bring me sheep for your burnt offerings or honor me with your sacrifices. I did not burden you by requiring grain offerings or trouble you by requiring incense offerings.
24 You did not buy me any sugar cane with [your] money or satisfy me with the best part of your sacrifices. Rather, you burdened me with your sins and troubled me with your wrongdoings.
25 I alone am the one who is going to wipe away your rebellious actions for my own sake. I will not remember your sins [anymore].
26 Remind me [of what happened]. Let us argue our case together. State your case so that you can prove you are right.
27 Your first ancestor sinned, and your priests rebelled against me.
28 That is why I will corrupt the leaders of the holy place. I will claim Jacob for destruction. I will set up Israel for ridicule.

Isaiah 44

1 But now listen, my servant Jacob, Israel, whom I have chosen.
2 The LORD made you, formed you in the womb, and will help you. This is what the LORD says: Don't be afraid, my servant Jacob, Jeshurun, whom I have chosen.
3 I will pour water on thirsty ground and rain on dry land. I will pour my Spirit on your offspring and my blessing on your descendants.
4 They will spring up with the grass as poplars spring up by streams.
5 One person will say, "I belong to the LORD." Another will call on the name of Jacob. Another will write on his hand, "The LORD's," and he will adopt the name of Israel.
6 The LORD is Israel's king and defender. He is the LORD of Armies. This is what the LORD says: I am the first and the last, and there is no God except me.
7 If there is anyone like me, let him say so. Let him tell me what happened when I established my people long ago. Then let him predict what will happen to them.
8 Don't be terrified or afraid. Didn't I make this known to you long ago? You are my witnesses. Is there any God except me? There is no [other] rock; I know of none.
9 All who make idols are nothing. Their precious treasures are worthless. Their own witnesses do not see or know anything, so they will be put to shame.
10 Nothing comes from making gods or casting metal idols.
11 Everyone associated with the gods will be put to shame. The craftsmen themselves are only human. Let them all get together and take their stand. They will be frightened and ashamed together.
12 Blacksmiths shape iron into tools. They work them over the coals and shape them with hammers, working them with their strong arms. They get hungry, and their strength fails. If they don't drink water, they will faint.
13 Carpenters measure blocks of wood with [chalk] lines. They mark them with pens. They carve them with chisels and mark them with compasses. They carve them into forms of people, beautiful people, so the idols can live in shrines.
14 They cut down cedars for themselves. Then they choose fir trees or oaks. They let them grow strong among the trees in the forest. Then they plant cedars, and the rain makes them grow.
15 These trees become [fuel] for people to burn. So they take some of them and warm themselves with them. They start fires and bake bread. They also make gods from these trees and worship them. They make them into carved statues and bow in front of them.
16 Half of the wood they burn in the fire. Over this half they roast meat that they can eat until they are full. They also warm themselves and say, "Ah! We are warm. We can see the fire!"
17 But the rest of the wood they make into gods, carved statues. They bow to them and worship them. They pray to them, saying, "Rescue us, because you are our gods."
18 They don't know or understand anything. Their eyes are plastered shut, so they can't see. And their minds are closed, so they can't understand.
19 No one stops to think. No one has enough knowledge or understanding to say, "I burned half of the wood in the fire. I also baked bread over its coals. I roasted meat and ate it. Now I am making the rest of the wood into a disgusting thing and bowing to a block of wood."
20 They eat ashes because they are deceived. Their own misguided minds lead them astray. They can't rescue themselves or ask themselves, "Isn't what I hold in my right hand a false god?"
21 Remember these things, Jacob: You are my servant, Israel. I formed you; you are my servant. Israel, I will not forget you.
22 I made your rebellious acts disappear like a thick cloud and your sins like the morning mist. Come back to me, because I have reclaimed you.
23 Sing with joy, you heavens, because the LORD has done this. Rejoice, you deep places of the earth. Break into shouts of joy, you mountains, you forests and every tree in them. The LORD has reclaimed Jacob. He will display his glory in Israel.
24 The LORD reclaimed you. He formed you in the womb. This is what the LORD says: I, the LORD, made everything. I stretched out the heavens by myself. I spread out the earth all alone.
25 I cause the signs of false prophets to fail and make fools of fortunetellers. I make wise men retreat and turn their knowledge into foolishness.
26 He confirms the word of his servant and fulfills the plan of his messengers. He says about Jerusalem, "It will be inhabited." He says about the cities of Judah, "They will be rebuilt." He says about their ruins, "I will restore them."
27 He says to the deep water, "Dry up." So I will dry up your rivers.
28 He says about Cyrus, "He is my shepherd. He will do everything I want him to do." He says about Jerusalem, "It will be rebuilt." He says about the temple, "Your foundation will be laid."

1 Thessalonians 2

1 You know, brothers and sisters, that our time with you was not wasted.
2 As you know, we suffered rough and insulting treatment in Philippi. But our God gave us the courage to tell you his Good News in spite of strong opposition.
3 When we encouraged you, we didn't use unethical schemes, corrupt practices, or deception.
4 Rather, we are always spreading the Good News. God trusts us to do this because we passed his test. We don't try to please people but God, who tests our motives.
5 As you know, we never used flattery or schemes to make money. God is our witness!
6 We didn't seek praise from people, from you or from anyone else,
7 although as apostles of Christ we had the right to do this. Instead, we were gentle when we were with you, like a mother taking care of her children.
8 We felt so strongly about you that we were determined to share with you not only the Good News of God but also our lives. That's how dear you were to us!
9 You remember, brothers and sisters, our work and what we did to earn a living. We worked night and day so that we could bring you the Good News of God without being a burden to any of you.
10 You and God are witnesses of how pure, honest, and blameless we were in our dealings with you believers.
11 You know very well that we treated each of you the way a father treats his children. We comforted you and encouraged you. Yet, we insisted that
12 you should live in a way that proves you belong to the God who calls you into his kingdom and glory.
13 Here is another reason why we never stop thanking God: When you received God's word from us, you realized it wasn't the word of humans. Instead, you accepted it for what it really is--the word of God. This word is at work in you believers.
14 You, brothers and sisters, were like the churches of God in Judea that are united with Christ Jesus. You suffered the same persecutions from the people of your own country as those churches did from the Jews
15 who killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets and who have persecuted us severely. They are displeasing to God. They are enemies of the whole human race
16 because they try to keep us from telling people who are not Jewish how they can be saved. The result is that those Jews always commit as many sins as possible. So at last they are receiving [God's] anger.
17 Brothers and sisters, we have been separated from you for a little while. Although we may not be able to see you, you're always in our thoughts. We have made every possible effort to fulfill our desire to see you.
18 We wanted to visit you. I, Paul, wanted to visit you twice already, but Satan made that impossible.
19 Who is our hope, joy, or prize that we can brag about in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Isn't it you?
20 You are our glory and joy!