401“Comfort my people,” says our God. “Comfort them!
2Encourage the people of Jerusalem.
Tell them they have suffered long enough
and their sins are now forgiven.40.2 and their sins are now forgiven; or they have paid for what they did.
I have punished them in full for all their sins.”
A voice cries out,
“Prepare in the wilderness a road for the LORD!
Clear the way in the desert for our God!
4Fill every valley;
level every mountain.
The hills will become a plain,
and the rough country will be made smooth.
5Then the glory of the LORD will be revealed,
and the whole human race will see it.
The LORD himself has promised this.”
A voice cries out, “Proclaim a message!”
“What message shall I proclaim?” I ask.
“Proclaim that all human beings are like grass;
they last no longer than wild flowers.
7Grass withers and flowers fade,
when the LORD sends the wind blowing over them.
People are no more enduring than grass.
8Yes, grass withers and flowers fade,
but the word of our God endures for ever.”
9Jerusalem, go up on a high mountain
and proclaim the good news!
Call out with a loud voice, Zion;
announce the good news!40.9 Jerusalem, go up… news!; or Go up on a high mountain and proclaim the good news to Jerusalem! Call out with a loud voice and announce the good news to Zion!
Speak out and do not be afraid.
Tell the towns of Judah
that their God is coming!
The Sovereign LORD is coming to rule with power,
bringing with him the people he has rescued.40.10 the people he has rescued; or the rewards he has for his people.
He will take care of his flock like a shepherd;
he will gather the lambs together
and carry them in his arms;
he will gently lead their mothers.
12Can anyone measure the ocean by handfuls
or measure the sky with his hands?
Can anyone hold the soil of the earth in a cup
or weigh the mountains and hills on scales?
Can anyone tell the LORD what to do?
Who can teach him or give him advice?
14With whom does God consult
in order to know and understand
and to learn how things should be done?
15To the LORD the nations are nothing,
no more than a drop of water;
the distant islands are as light as dust.
16All the animals in the forests of Lebanon
are not enough for a sacrifice to our God,
and its trees are too few to kindle the fire.
17The nations are nothing at all to him.
To whom can God be compared?
How can you describe what he is like?
19He is not like an idol that workmen make,
that metalworkers cover with gold
and set in a base of silver.
20The man who cannot afford silver or gold40.20 Verses 19–20a in Hebrew are unclear.
chooses wood that will not rot.
He finds a skilful craftsman
to make an image that won't fall down.
21Do you not know?
Were you not told long ago?
Have you not heard how the world began?
22It was made by the one who sits on his throne
above the earth and beyond the sky;
the people below look as tiny as ants.
He stretched out the sky like a curtain,
like a tent in which to live.
23He brings down powerful rulers
and reduces them to nothing.
24They are like young plants,
just set out and barely rooted.
When the LORD sends a wind,
they dry up and blow away like straw.
25To whom can the holy God be compared?
Is there anyone else like him?
26Look up at the sky!
Who created the stars you see?
The one who leads them out like an army,
he knows how many there are
and calls each one by name!
His power is so great —
not one of them is ever missing!
27Israel, why then do you complain
that the LORD doesn't know your troubles
or care if you suffer injustice?
28Don't you know? Haven't you heard?
The LORD is the everlasting God;
he created all the world.
He never grows tired or weary.
No one understands his thoughts.
29He strengthens those who are weak and tired.
30Even those who are young grow weak;
young people can fall exhausted.
31But those who trust in the LORD for help
will find their strength renewed.
They will rise on wings like eagles;
they will run and not get weary;
they will walk and not grow weak.
“Be silent and listen to me, you distant lands!
Get ready to present your case in court;
you will have your chance to speak.
Let us come together to decide who is right.
2“Who was it that brought the conqueror from the east,41.2 the conqueror from the east: Cyrus, the emperor of Persia (see 45.1).
and makes him triumphant wherever he goes?
Who gives him victory over kings and nations?
His sword strikes them down as if they were dust.
His arrows scatter them like straw before the wind.
3He follows in pursuit and marches safely on,
so fast that he hardly touches the ground!
4Who was it that made this happen?
Who has determined the course of history?
I, the LORD, was there at the beginning,
and I, the LORD, will be there at the end.
5“The people of distant lands have seen what I have done;
they are frightened and tremble with fear.
So they all assemble and come.
6The craftsmen help and encourage one another.
7The carpenter says to the goldsmith, ‘Well done!’
The man who beats the idol smooth
encourages the one who nails it together.
They say, ‘The soldering is good’ —
and they fasten the idol in place with nails.
“But you, Israel my servant,
you are the people that I have chosen,
the descendants of Abraham, my friend.
9I brought you from the ends of the earth;
I called you from its farthest corners
and said to you, ‘You are my servant.’
I did not reject you, but chose you.
10Do not be afraid — I am with you!
I am your God — let nothing terrify you!
I will make you strong and help you;
I will protect you and save you.
11“Those who are angry with you
will know the shame of defeat.
Those who fight against you will die
12and will disappear from the earth.
13I am the LORD your God;
I strengthen you and say,
‘Do not be afraid; I will help you.’ ”
14The LORD says,
“Small and weak as you are, Israel,
don't be afraid; I will help you.
I, the holy God of Israel, am the one who saves you.
15I will make you like a threshing board,
with spikes that are new and sharp.
You will thresh mountains and destroy them;
hills will crumble into dust.
16You will toss them in the air;
the wind will carry them off,
and they will be scattered by the storm.
Then you will be happy because I am your God;
you will praise me, the holy God of Israel.
17“When my people in their need look for water,
when their throats are dry with thirst,
then I, the LORD, will answer their prayer;
I, the God of Israel, will never abandon them.
18I will make rivers flow among barren hills
and springs of water run in the valleys.
I will turn the desert into pools of water
and the dry land into flowing springs.
19I will make cedars grow in the desert,
and acacias and myrtles and olive trees.
Forests will grow in barren land,
forests of pine and juniper and cypress.
20People will see this and know
that I, the LORD, have done it.
They will come to understand
that Israel's holy God has made it happen.”
21The LORD, the king of Israel, has this to say:
“You gods of the nations, present your case.
Bring the best arguments you have!
22Come here and predict what will happen,
so that we will know it when it takes place.
Explain to the court the events of the past,
and tell us what they mean.
23Tell us what the future holds —
then we will know that you are gods!
Do something good or bring some disaster;
fill us with fear and awe!
24You and all you do are nothing;
those who worship you are disgusting!
25“I have chosen a man who lives in the east;41.25 a man who lives in the east: See 41.2.
I will bring him to attack from the north.
He tramples on rulers as if they were mud,
like a potter trampling clay.
26Which of you predicted that this would happen,
so that we could say that you were right?
None of you said a word about it;
no one heard you say a thing!
27I, the LORD, was the first to tell Zion the news;
I sent a messenger to Jerusalem to say,
‘Your people are coming! They are coming home!’41.27 Verse 27 in Hebrew is unclear.
28When I looked among the gods,
none of them had a thing to say;
not one could answer the questions I asked.
29All these gods are useless;
they can do nothing at all —
these idols are weak and powerless.”
The LORD says,
“Here is my servant, whom I strengthen —
the one I have chosen, with whom I am pleased.
I have filled him with my Spirit,
and he will bring justice to every nation.
2He will not shout or raise his voice
or make loud speeches in the streets.
3He will not break off a bent reed
or put out a flickering lamp.
He will bring lasting justice to all.
4He will not lose hope or courage;
he will establish justice on the earth.
Distant lands eagerly wait for his teaching.”
God created the heavens and stretched them out;
he fashioned the earth and all that lives there;
he gave life and breath to all its people.
And now the LORD God says to his servant,
“I, the LORD, have called you and given you power
to see that justice is done on earth.
Through you I will make a covenant with all peoples;
through you I will bring light to the nations.
7You will open the eyes of the blind
and set free those who sit in dark prisons.
8“I alone am the LORD your God.
No other god may share my glory;
I will not let idols share my praise.
9The things I predicted have now come true.
Now I will tell you of new things
even before they begin to happen.”
10Sing a new song to the LORD;
sing his praise, all the world!
Praise him, you that sail the sea;
praise him, all creatures of the sea!
Sing, distant lands and all who live there!
11Let the desert and its towns praise God;
let the people of Kedar praise him!
Let those who live in the city of Sela
shout for joy from the tops of the mountains!
12Let those who live in distant lands
give praise and glory to the LORD!
13The LORD goes out to fight like a warrior;
he is ready and eager for battle.
He gives a war cry, a battle shout;
he shows his power against his enemies.
“For a long time I kept silent;
I did not answer my people.
But now the time to act has come;
I cry out like a woman in labour.
15I will destroy the hills and mountains
and dry up the grass and trees.
I will turn the river valleys into deserts42.15 Probable text deserts; Hebrew coastlands.
and dry up the pools of water.
16“I will lead my blind people
by roads they have never travelled.
I will turn their darkness into light
and make rough country smooth before them.
These are my promises,
and I will keep them without fail.
17All who trust in idols,
who call images their gods,
will be humiliated and disgraced.”
18The LORD says,
“Listen, you deaf people!
Look closely, you that are blind!
19Is anyone more blind than my servant,
more deaf than the messenger I send?
20Israel, you have seen so much,
but what has it meant to you?
You have ears to hear with,
but what have you really heard?”
21The LORD is a God who is eager to save,
so he exalted his laws and teachings,
and he wanted his people to honour them.
22But now his people have been plundered;
they are locked up in dungeons
and hidden away in prisons.
They were robbed and plundered,
with no one to come to their rescue.
23Will any of you listen to this?
From now on will you listen with care?
24Who gave Israel up to the looters?
It was the LORD himself, against whom we sinned!
We would not live as he wanted us to live
or obey the teachings he gave us.
25So he made us feel the force of his anger
and suffer the violence of war.
Like fire his anger burned throughout Israel,
but we never knew what was happening;
we learnt from it nothing at all.