481Listen to this, people of Israel,
you that are descended from Judah:
You swear by the name of the LORD
and claim to worship the God of Israel —
but you don't mean a word you say.
2And yet you are proud to say
that you are citizens of the holy city
and that you depend on Israel's God,
whose name is the LORD Almighty.
3The LORD says to Israel,
“Long ago I predicted what would take place;
then suddenly I made it happen.
4I knew that you would prove to be stubborn,
as rigid as iron and unyielding as bronze.
5And so I predicted your future long ago,
announcing events before they took place,
to prevent you from claiming
that your idols and images made them happen.
6“All I foretold has now taken place;
you have to admit my predictions were right.
Now I will tell you of new things to come,
events that I did not reveal before.
7Only now am I making them happen;
nothing like this took place in the past.
If it had, you would claim that you knew all about it.
8I knew that you couldn't be trusted,
that you have always been known as a rebel.
That is why you never heard of this at all,
why no word of it ever came to your ears.
9“In order that people will praise my name,
I am holding my anger in check;
I am keeping it back and will not destroy you.
10I have tested you in the fire of suffering,
as silver is refined in a furnace.
But I have found that you are worthless.
11What I do is done for my own sake —
I will not let my name be dishonoured
or let anyone else share the glory
that should be mine and mine alone.”
The LORD says,
“Listen to me, Israel, the people I have called!
I am God, the first, the last, the only God!
13My hands made the earth's foundations
and spread the heavens out.
When I summon earth and sky,
they come at once and present themselves.
14“Assemble and listen, all of you!
None of the gods could predict
that the man I have chosen would attack Babylon;
he will do what I want him to do.
15I am the one who spoke and called him;
I led him out and gave him success.
16“Now come close to me and hear what I say.
From the beginning I have spoken openly,
and have always made my words come true.”(Now the Sovereign LORD has given me his power and sent me.)
17The holy God of Israel,
the LORD who saves you, says:
“I am the LORD your God,
the one who wants to teach you for your own good
and direct you in the way you should go.
18“If only you had listened to my commands!
Then blessings would have flowed for you
like a stream that never goes dry!
Victory would have come to you
like the waves that roll on the shore.
19Your descendants would be as numerous as grains of sand,
and I would have made sure they were never destroyed.”
Go out from Babylon, go free!
Shout the news gladly; make it known everywhere:
“The LORD has saved his servant Israel!”
21When the LORD led his people through a hot, dry desert,
they did not suffer from thirst.
He made water come from a rock for them;
he split the rock open, and water flowed out.
“There is no safety for sinners,” says the LORD.
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.
He made my words as sharp as a sword.
With his own hand he protected me.49.2 With his own hand… me; or He kept me hidden in his hand.
He made me like an arrow,
sharp and ready for use.
3He said to me, “Israel, you are my servant;
because of you, people will praise me.”
4I 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.
5Before 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 honour;
he is the source of my strength.
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.”
7Israel's holy God and saviour 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 honour you.”
This will happen because the LORD has chosen his servant;
the holy God of Israel keeps his promises.
The LORD says to his people,
“When the time comes to save you, I will show you favour
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.
9I 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;
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.
12My people will come from far away,
from the north and the west,
and from Aswan49.12 Aswan: A city in southern Egypt, where a large Jewish community had settled. in the south.”
13Sing, 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.
14But the people of Jerusalem said,
“The LORD has abandoned us!
He has forgotten us.”
15So 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.
16Jerusalem, 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.
18Look 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.
20Your people who were born in exile
will one day say to you,
‘This land is too small —
we need more room to live in!’
21Then 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?’ ”
22The Sovereign LORD says to his people:
“I will signal to the nations,
and they will bring your children home.
23Kings will be like fathers to you;
queens will be like mothers.
They will bow low before you and honour 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.”
24Can you take away a soldier's loot?
Can you rescue the prisoners of a tyrant?
25The 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.
26I will make your oppressors kill each other;
they will be drunk with murder and rage.
Then the whole human race 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.”
501The 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.
3I can make the sky turn dark,
as if it were in mourning for the dead.”
4The 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.
5The LORD has given me understanding,
and I have not rebelled
or turned away from him.
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 spat in my face.
7But 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,
for God is near,
and he will prove me innocent.
Does anyone dare to bring charges against me?
Let us go to court together!
Let him bring his accusation!
9The Sovereign LORD himself defends me —
who, then, can prove me guilty?
All my accusers will disappear;
they will vanish like moth-eaten cloth.
10All of you that honour 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.
11All 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.