Isaiah 40; Isaiah 41; Isaiah 42; Isaiah 43

1 "Comfort my people," says your God. "Comfort them. 2 Speak tenderly to the people of Jerusalem. Announce to them that their hard service has been completed. Tell them that their sin has been paid for. Tell them I have punished them enough for all of their sins." 3 A messenger is calling out, "In the desert prepare the way for the Lord. Make a straight road through it for our God. 4 Every valley will be filled in. Every mountain and hill will be made level. The rough ground will be smoothed out. The rocky places will be made flat. 5 Then the glory of the LORD will appear. And everyone will see it. The LORD has spoken." 6 Another messenger says, "Cry out." And I said, "What should I cry?" "Cry out, 'All people are like grass. They don't last any longer than flowers in the field. 7 The grass dries up. The flowers fall to the ground. That happens when the LORD makes his wind blow on them. So people are just like grass. 8 The grass dries up. The flowers fall to the ground. But what our God says will stand forever.' " 9 Zion, you are bringing good news to your people. Go up on a high mountain and announce it. Jerusalem, you are bringing good news to them. Shout the message loudly. Shout it out loud. Don't be afraid. Say to the towns of Judah, "Your God is coming!" 10 The LORD and King is coming with power. His powerful arm will rule for him. He has set his people free. He is bringing them back as his reward. He has won the battle over their enemies. 11 He takes care of his flock like a shepherd. He gathers the lambs in his arms. He carries them close to his heart. He gently leads those that have little ones. 12 Who has measured the oceans by using the palm of his hand? Who has used the width of his hand to mark off the sky? Who has measured out the dust of the earth in a basket? Who has weighed the mountains on scales? Who has weighed the hills in a balance? 13 Who can ever understand what is in the LORD's mind? Who can ever give him advice? 14 Did the LORD have to ask anyone to help him understand? Did he have to ask someone to teach him the right way? Who taught him what he knows? Who showed him how to understand? 15 The nations are only a drop in a bucket to him. He considers them as nothing but dust on the scales. He weighs the islands as if they were only fine dust. 16 Lebanon doesn't have enough trees to keep his altar fires burning. It doesn't have enough animals to sacrifice as burnt offerings to him. 17 To him, all of the nations don't amount to anything. He considers them to be worthless. In fact, they are less than nothing in his sight. 18 So who will you compare God to? Is there any other god like him? 19 Will you compare him to a statue of a god? Any skilled worker can make a statue. Then another worker covers it with gold and makes silver chains for it. 20 But someone who is too poor to bring that kind of offering will choose some wood that won't rot. Then he looks for a skilled worker. He pays the worker to make a statue of a god that won't fall over. 21 Don't you know who made everything? Haven't you heard about him? Hasn't it been told to you from the beginning? Haven't you understood it ever since the earth was made? 22 God sits on his throne high above the earth. Its people look like grasshoppers to him. He spreads the heavens out like a cover. He sets it up like a tent to live in. 23 He takes the power of princes away from them. He reduces the rulers of this world to nothing. 24 They are planted. They are scattered like seeds. They put down roots in the ground. But as soon as that happens, God blows on them and they dry up. Then a windstorm sweeps them away like straw. 25 "So who will you compare me to? Who is equal to me?" says the Holy One. 26 Look up toward the sky. Who created everything you see? The LORD causes the stars to come out at night one by one. He gives each one of them a name. His power and strength are great. So none of the stars is missing. 27 Family of Jacob, why do you say, "The LORD doesn't notice our condition"? People of Israel, why do you say, "Our God doesn't pay any attention to our rightful claims"? 28 Don't you know who made everything? Haven't you heard about him? The LORD is the God who lives forever. He created everything on earth. He won't become worn out or get tired. No one will ever know how great his understanding is. 29 He gives strength to those who are tired. He gives power to those who are weak. 30 Even young people become worn out and get tired. Even the best of them trip and fall. 31 But those who trust in the LORD will receive new strength. They will fly as high as eagles. They will run and not get tired. They will walk and not grow weak.
1 The LORD says, "People who live on the islands, come and stand quietly in front of me. Let the nations gain new strength in order to state their case. Let them come forward and speak. Let us go to court and find out who is right. 2 "Who has stirred up a king from the east? Who has helped him win his battles? I hand nations over to him. I bring kings under his control. He turns them into dust with his sword. With his bow he turns them into straw blowing in the wind. 3 He hunts them down. Then he moves on unharmed. He travels so fast that his feet don't seem to touch the ground. 4 Who has made that happen? Who has carried it out? Who has created all of the people who have ever lived? I, the Lord, have done it. I was with the first of them. And I will be with the last of them." 5 The people on the islands have seen that king coming. And it has made them afraid. People tremble with fear from one end of the earth to the other. They come and gather together. 6 They help each other. They say to one another, "Be strong!" 7 One skilled worker makes a statue of a god. Another covers it with gold. The first worker says to the second, "You have done a good job." Another worker smooths out the metal with a hammer. Still another gives the statue its final shape. The third worker says to the last one, "You have done a good job." Then they nail the statue down so it won't fall over. 8 The LORD says, "People of Israel, you are my servants. Family of Jacob, I have chosen you. You are the children of my friend Abraham. 9 I gathered you from one end of the earth to the other. From the farthest places on earth I brought you together. I said, 'You are my servants.' I have chosen you. I have not turned my back on you. 10 So do not be afraid. I am with you. Do not be terrified. I am your God. I will make you strong and help you. My powerful right hand will take good care of you. I always do what is right. 11 "All those who are angry with you will be put to shame. And they will be dishonored. Those who oppose you will be destroyed. And they will vanish. 12 You might search for your enemies. But you will not find them. Those who go to war against you will completely disappear. 13 I am the LORD your God. I take hold of your right hand. I say to you, 'Do not be afraid. I will help you.' 14 Family of Jacob, you are as weak as a worm. But do not be afraid. People of Israel, there are only a few of you. But do not be afraid. I myself will help you," announces the Lord. He is the one who sets his people free. He is the Holy One of Israel. 15 He says, "I will make you into a threshing sled. It will be new and sharp. It will have many teeth. You will grind the mountains down and crush them. You will turn the hills into nothing but straw. 16 You will toss them in the air. A strong wind will catch them and blow them away. You will be glad because I will make that happen. You will praise me. I am the Holy One of Israel. 17 "Those who are poor and needy search for water. But there isn't any. Their tongues are dry because they are thirsty. But I will help them. I am the Lord. I will not desert them. I am Israel's God. 18 I will make streams flow on the bare hilltops. I will make springs come up in the valleys. I will turn the desert into pools of water. I will turn the dry and cracked ground into flowing springs. 19 I will make trees grow in the desert. I will plant cedar and acacia trees there. I will plant myrtle and olive trees there. I will make pine trees grow in the dry and empty desert. I will plant fir and cypress trees there. 20 Then people will see and know that my powerful hand has done it. They will consider and understand that I have created it. I am the Holy One of Israel." 21 The LORD says to the nations and their gods, "State your case." Jacob's King says to them, "Prove your case to me. 22 Show me your facts. Tell me and my people what is going to happen. Tell us what happened in the past. Then we can check it out and see if it is really true. Or announce to us the things that will take place. 23 Tell us what will happen in the days ahead. Then we will know that you are gods. Do something. It does not matter whether it is good or bad. Then we will be terrified and filled with fear. 24 But you are less than nothing. Your actions are completely worthless. I hate it when people worship you. 25 "I have stirred up a king who will come from the north. He lives in the east. He will bring honor to me. He walks all over rulers as if they were mud. He steps on them just as a potter stomps on clay. 26 Which one of you gods said those things would happen before they did? Who told us about them so we could know them? Who told us ahead of time? Who told us so we could say, 'You are right'? None of you told us about them. None of you told us ahead of time. In fact, no one heard you say anything at all. 27 I was the first to tell Zion. I said, 'Look! The people of Israel are coming back!' I sent a prophet to Jerusalem with the good news. 28 I look, but there is no one among the gods that can give me advice. None of them can answer when I ask them the simplest question. 29 So they are not really gods at all. What they do does not amount to anything. They are as useless as wind.
1 "Here is my servant. I take good care of him. I have chosen him. I am very pleased with him. I will put my Spirit on him. He will make everything right among the nations. 2 He will not shout or cry out. He will not raise his voice in the streets. 3 He will not break a bent twig. He will not put out a dimly burning flame. He will be faithful and make everything right. 4 He will not grow weak or lose hope. He will not give up until he makes everything right on the earth. The islands will put their hope in his law." 5 God created the heavens and spread them out. The LORD made the earth and everything that grows on it. He gives breath to its people. He gives life to those who walk on it. He says to his servant, 6 "I, the LORD, have chosen you to do what is right. I will take hold of your hand. I will keep you safe. You will put my covenant with the people of Israel into effect. And you will be a light for the other nations. 7 You will open eyes that can't see. You will set prisoners free. Those who sit in darkness will come out of their cells. 8 "I am the Lord. That is my name! I will not let any other god share my glory. I will not let statues of gods share my praise. 9 What I said would happen has taken place. Now I announce new things to you. Before they even begin to happen, I announce them to you." 10 Sing a new song to the Lord. Sing praise to him from one end of the earth to the other. Sing, you who sail out on the ocean. Sing, all of you creatures in it. Sing, you islands. Sing, all of you who live there. 11 Let the desert and its towns raise their voices. Let those who live in the settlements of Kedar be glad. Let the people of Sela sing with joy. Let them shout from the tops of the mountains. 12 Let them give glory to the Lord. Let them praise him in the islands. 13 The LORD will march out like a mighty warrior. He will stir up his anger like a soldier getting ready to fight. He will shout the battle cry. And he will win the battle over his enemies. 14 The LORD says, "For a long time I have kept silent. I have been calm and quiet. But now, like a woman having a baby, I cry out. I am struggling to breathe. 15 I will completely destroy the mountains and hills. I will dry up everything that grows there. I will turn rivers into dry land. I will dry up the pools. 16 Israel is blind. So I will lead them along paths they had not known before. I will guide them on roads they are not familiar with. I will turn the darkness into light as they travel. I will make the rough places smooth. Those are the things I will do. I will not desert my people. 17 Some people trust in statues of gods. They say to them, 'You are our gods.' But they will be dishonored. They will be put to shame. 18 "Israel, listen to me! You can hear, but you do not understand. Look to me! You can see, but you do not know what you are seeing. 19 The people of Israel serve me. But who is more blind than they are? Who is more deaf than the messengers I send? Who is more blind than those who have committed themselves to be faithful to me? Who is more blind than my servants? 20 Israel, you have seen many things. But you have not paid any attention to me. Your ears are open. But you do not hear anything I say." 21 The LORD wanted his people to see how great and glorious his law is. He wanted to show them that he always does what is right. 22 Enemies have carried off everything they own. All of my people are trapped in pits or hidden away in prisons. They themselves have become like stolen goods. No one can save them. They have been carried off. And there is no one who will say, "Send them back." 23 Family of Jacob, who among you will listen to what I'm saying? People of Israel, which one of you will pay close attention in days to come? 24 Who allowed you to be carried off like stolen goods? Who handed you over to robbers? The LORD did it! We have sinned against him. Israel, you wouldn't follow his ways. You didn't obey his law. 25 So he poured his burning anger out on you. He had many of you killed off in battle. You were surrounded by flames. But you didn't realize what was happening. Many of you were destroyed. But you didn't learn anything from it.
1 Family of Jacob, the LORD created you. People of Israel, he formed you. He says, "Do not be afraid. I will set you free. I will send for you by name. You belong to me. 2 You will pass through deep waters. But I will be with you. You will pass through the rivers. But their waters will not sweep over you. You will walk through fire. But you will not be burned. The flames will not harm you. 3 I am the LORD your God. I am the Holy One of Israel. I am the one who saves you. I will give up Egypt to set you free. I will give up Cush and Seba for you. 4 You are priceless to me. I love you and honor you. So I will trade other people for you. I will give up other nations to save your lives. 5 Do not be afraid. I am with you. I will bring your people back from the east. I will gather you from the west. 6 I will say to the north, 'Let them go!' And I will say to the south, 'Do not hold them back.' Bring my sons from far away. Bring my daughters from the farthest places on earth. 7 Bring back everyone who belongs to me. I created them to bring glory to me. I formed them and made them." 8 Lead my people into court. They have eyes but can't see. Bring those who have ears but can't hear. 9 All of the nations are gathering together. All of them are coming. Which one of their gods said ahead of time that the people of Israel would return? Which of them told us anything at all about the past? Let them bring in their witnesses to prove they were right. Then others will hear them. And they will say, "What they said is true." 10 "People of Israel, you are my witnesses," announces the Lord. "I have chosen you to be my servants. I wanted you to know me and believe in me. I wanted you to understand that I am the one and only God. Before me, there was no other god at all. And there will not be any god after me. 11 I am the one and only Lord. I am the only one who can save you. 12 I have made known what would happen. I told you about it. And I saved you. I did it. It was not some other god you worship. You are my witnesses that I am God," announces the Lord. 13 "And that is not all! I have always been God, and I always will be. No one can save people from my powerful hand. When I do something, who can undo it?" 14 The LORD sets his people free. He is the Holy One of Israel. He says, "People of Israel, I will send an army to Babylon to save you. I will cause all of the Babylonians to run away. They will try to escape in the ships they were so proud of. 15 I am your LORD and King. I am your Holy One. I created you." 16 Long ago the LORD opened a way for his people to go through the Red Sea. He made a path through the mighty waters. 17 He caused Egypt to send out its chariots and horses. He sent its entire army to its death. Its soldiers lay down there. They never got up again. They were destroyed. They were blown out like a dimly burning flame. But the LORD says, 18 "Forget the things that happened in the past. Do not keep on thinking about them. 19 I am about to do something new. It is beginning to happen even now. Don't you see it coming? I am going to make a way for you to go through the desert. I will make streams of water in the dry and empty land. 20 Even wild dogs and owls honor me. That is because I provide water in the desert for my people to drink. I cause streams to flow in the dry and empty land for my chosen ones. 21 I do it for the people I made for myself. I want them to sing praise to me. 22 "Family of Jacob, you have not prayed to me as you should. People of Israel, you have not even begun to get tired while doing it. 23 You have not brought me sheep for burnt offerings. You have not honored me with your sacrifices. I have not loaded you down by requiring grain offerings. I have not made you tired by requiring you to burn incense. 24 But you have not bought any sweet-smelling cane for me. You have not given me the fattest parts of your animal sacrifices. Instead, you have loaded me down with your sins. You have made me tired with the wrong things you have done. 25 "I am the one who wipes out your lawless acts. I do it because of who I am. I will not remember your sins anymore. 26 But let us go to court together. Remind me of what you have done. State your case. Prove to me that you are not guilty. 27 Your father Jacob sinned. Your priests and prophets refused to obey me. 28 So I will put the high officials of your temple to shame. I will let Jacob's family be totally destroyed. And I will let people make fun of Israel.
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