Isaiah 40-43 New International Version

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The LORD's Comforting Words to Zion

40 Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. 2  Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for, that she has received from the Lord's hand double for all her sins.

3  A voice of one calling: "In the wilderness prepare the way for the Lord[1] ; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.[2] 4  Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain. 5  And the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all people will see it together. For the mouth of the Lord has spoken." 6  A voice says, "Cry out." And I said, "What shall I cry?" "All people are like grass, and all their faithfulness is like the flowers of the field. 7  The grass withers and the flowers fall, because the breath of the Lord blows on them. Surely the people are grass. 8  The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever."

9  You who bring good news to Zion, go up on a high mountain. You who bring good news to Jerusalem,[3]lift up your voice with a shout, lift it up, do not be afraid; say to the towns of Judah, "Here is your God!" 10  See, the Sovereign Lord comes with power, and he rules with a mighty arm. See, his reward is with him, and his recompense accompanies him. 11  He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.

Israel's Incomparable God

12  Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens? Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket, or weighed the mountains on the scales and the hills in a balance? 13  Who can fathom the Spirit[4] of the Lord, or instruct the Lord as his counselor? 14  Whom did the Lord consult to enlighten him, and who taught him the right way? Who was it that taught him knowledge, or showed him the path of understanding? 15  Surely the nations are like a drop in a bucket; they are regarded as dust on the scales; he weighs the islands as though they were fine dust. 16  Lebanon is not sufficient for altar fires, nor its animals enough for burnt offerings. 17  Before him all the nations are as nothing; they are regarded by him as worthless and less than nothing.

18  With whom, then, will you compare God? To what image will you liken him? 19  As for an idol, a metalworker casts it, and a goldsmith overlays it with gold and fashions silver chains for it. 20  A person too poor to present such an offering selects wood that will not rot; they look for a skilled worker to set up an idol that will not topple. 21  Do you not know? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood since the earth was founded? 22  He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers. He stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in. 23  He brings princes to naught and reduces the rulers of this world to nothing. 24  No sooner are they planted, no sooner are they sown, no sooner do they take root in the ground, than he blows on them and they wither, and a whirlwind sweeps them away like chaff. 25  "To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?" says the Holy One. 26  Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one and calls forth each of them by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.

27  Why do you complain, Jacob? Why do you say, Israel, "My way is hidden from the Lord; my cause is disregarded by my God"? 28  Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. 29  He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. 30  Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; 31  but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

God's Assurance to Israel

41 "Be silent before me, you islands! Let the nations renew their strength! Let them come forward and speak; let us meet together at the place of judgment. 2  "Who has stirred up one from the east, calling him in righteousness to his service[5] ? He hands nations over to him and subdues kings before him. He turns them to dust with his sword, to windblown chaff with his bow. 3  He pursues them and moves on unscathed, by a path his feet have not traveled before. 4  Who has done this and carried it through, calling forth the generations from the beginning? I, the Lord-with the first of them and with the last-I am he." 5  The islands have seen it and fear; the ends of the earth tremble. They approach and come forward; 6  they help each other and say to their companions, "Be strong!" 7  The metalworker encourages the goldsmith, and the one who smooths with the hammer spurs on the one who strikes the anvil. One says of the welding, "It is good." The other nails down the idol so it will not topple. 8  "But you, Israel, my servant, Jacob, whom I have chosen, you descendants of Abraham my friend, 9  I took you from the ends of the earth, from its farthest corners I called you. I said, 'You are my servant'; I have chosen you and have not rejected you.

10  So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. 11  "All who rage against you will surely be ashamed and disgraced; those who oppose you will be as nothing and perish. 12  Though you search for your enemies, you will not find them. Those who wage war against you will be as nothing at all. 13  For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you. 14  Do not be afraid, you worm Jacob, little Israel, do not fear, for I myself will help you," declares the Lord, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel. 15  "See, I will make you into a threshing sledge, new and sharp, with many teeth. You will thresh the mountains and crush them, and reduce the hills to chaff. 16  You will winnow them, the wind will pick them up, and a gale will blow them away. But you will rejoice in the Lord and glory in the Holy One of Israel. 17  "The poor and needy search for water, but there is none; their tongues are parched with thirst. But I the Lord will answer them; I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them. 18  I will make rivers flow on barren heights, and springs within the valleys. I will turn the desert into pools of water, and the parched ground into springs. 19  I will put in the desert the cedar and the acacia, the myrtle and the olive. I will set junipers in the wasteland, the fir and the cypress together, 20  so that people may see and know, may consider and understand, that the hand of the Lord has done this, that the Holy One of Israel has created it.

The LORD's Challenge to False Gods

21  "Present your case," says the Lord. "Set forth your arguments," says Jacob's King. 22  "Tell us, you idols, what is going to happen. Tell us what the former things were, so that we may consider them and know their final outcome. Or declare to us the things to come, 23  tell us what the future holds, so we may know that you are gods. Do something, whether good or bad, so that we will be dismayed and filled with fear. 24  But you are less than nothing and your works are utterly worthless; whoever chooses you is detestable. 25  "I have stirred up one from the north, and he comes- one from the rising sun who calls on my name. He treads on rulers as if they were mortar, as if he were a potter treading the clay. 26  Who told of this from the beginning, so we could know, or beforehand, so we could say, 'He was right'? No one told of this, no one foretold it, no one heard any words from you. 27  I was the first to tell Zion, 'Look, here they are!' I gave to Jerusalem a messenger of good news. 28  I look but there is no one- no one among the gods to give counsel, no one to give answer when I ask them. 29  See, they are all false! Their deeds amount to nothing; their images are but wind and confusion.

The LORD's Servant

42 "Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him, and he will bring justice to the nations. 2  He will not shout or cry out, or raise his voice in the streets. 3  A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. In faithfulness he will bring forth justice; 4  he will not falter or be discouraged till he establishes justice on earth. In his teaching the islands will put their hope."

5  This is what God the Lord says- the Creator of the heavens, who stretches them out, who spreads out the earth with all that springs from it, who gives breath to its people, and life to those who walk on it: 6  "I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand. I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles, 7  to open eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness. 8  "I am the Lord; that is my name! I will not yield my glory to another or my praise to idols. 9  See, the former things have taken place, and new things I declare; before they spring into being I announce them to you."

Praise for the LORD's Mighty Deliverance

10  Sing to the Lord a new song, his praise from the ends of the earth, you who go down to the sea, and all that is in it, you islands, and all who live in them. 11  Let the wilderness and its towns raise their voices; let the settlements where Kedar lives rejoice. Let the people of Sela sing for joy; let them shout from the mountaintops. 12  Let them give glory to the Lordand proclaim his praise in the islands.

13  The Lord will march out like a champion, like a warrior he will stir up his zeal; with a shout he will raise the battle cry and will triumph over his enemies. 14  "For a long time I have kept silent, I have been quiet and held myself back. But now, like a woman in childbirth, I cry out, I gasp and pant. 15  I will lay waste the mountains and hills and dry up all their vegetation; I will turn rivers into islands and dry up the pools. 16  I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them. 17  But those who trust in idols, who say to images, 'You are our gods,' will be turned back in utter shame.

Israel's Failure to Profit from Discipline

18  "Hear, you deaf; look, you blind, and see! 19  Who is blind but my servant, and deaf like the messenger I send? Who is blind like the one in covenant with me, blind like the servant of the Lord? 20  You have seen many things, but you pay no attention; your ears are open, but you do not listen." 21  It pleased the Lordfor the sake of his righteousness to make his law great and glorious. 22  But this is a people plundered and looted, all of them trapped in pits or hidden away in prisons. They have become plunder, with no one to rescue them; they have been made loot, with no one to say, "Send them back." 23  Which of you will listen to this or pay close attention in time to come? 24  Who handed Jacob over to become loot, and Israel to the plunderers? Was it not the Lord, against whom we have sinned? For they would not follow his ways; they did not obey his law. 25  So he poured out on them his burning anger, the violence of war. It enveloped them in flames, yet they did not understand; it consumed them, but they did not take it to heart.

The LORD the Only Redeemer

43 But now, this is what the Lord says- he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: "Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. 2  When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. 3  For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I give Egypt for your ransom, Cush[6] and Seba in your stead. 4  Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you, I will give people in exchange for you, nations in exchange for your life. 5  Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bring your children 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 hold them back.' Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth- 7  everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made."

8  Lead out those who have eyes but are blind, who have ears but are deaf. 9  All the nations gather together and the peoples assemble. Which of their gods foretold this and proclaimed to us the former things? Let them bring in their witnesses to prove they were right, so that others may hear and say, "It is true." 10  "You are my witnesses," declares the Lord, "and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me. 11  I, even I, am the Lord, and apart from me there is no savior. 12  I have revealed and saved and proclaimed- I, and not some foreign god among you. You are my witnesses," declares the Lord, "that I am God. 13  Yes, and from ancient days I am he. No one can deliver out of my hand. When I act, who can reverse it?"

14  This is what the Lord says- your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: "For your sake I will send to Babylon and bring down as fugitives all the Babylonians,[7]in the ships in which they took pride. 15  I am the Lord, your Holy One, Israel's Creator, your King." 16  This is what the Lord says- he who made a way through the sea, a path through the mighty waters, 17  who drew out the chariots and horses, the army and reinforcements together, and they lay there, never to rise again, extinguished, snuffed out like a wick: 18  "Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. 19  See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. 20  The wild animals honor me, the jackals and the owls, because I provide water in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland, to give drink to my people, my chosen, 21  the people I formed for myself that they may proclaim my praise.

22  "Yet you have not called on me, Jacob, you have not wearied yourselves for[8] me, Israel. 23  You have not brought me sheep for burnt offerings, nor honored me with your sacrifices. I have not burdened you with grain offerings nor wearied you with demands for incense. 24  You have not bought any fragrant calamus for me, or lavished on me the fat of your sacrifices. But you have burdened me with your sins and wearied me with your offenses. 25  "I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more. 26  Review the past for me, let us argue the matter together; state the case for your innocence. 27  Your first father sinned; those I sent to teach you rebelled against me. 28  So I disgraced the dignitaries of your temple; I consigned Jacob to destruction[9] and Israel to scorn.

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Footnotes

[1] 40:3 Or "A voice of one calling in the wilderness:" / ""Prepare the way for the " Lord

[2] 40:3 Hebrew; Septuagint "make straight the paths of our God"

[3] 40:9 Or "Zion, bringer of good news," / "go up on a high mountain." / "Jerusalem, bringer of good news"

[4] 40:13 Or "mind"

[5] 41:2 Or "east," / "whom victory meets at every step"

[6] 43:3 That is, the upper Nile region

[7] 43:14 Or "Chaldeans"

[8] 43:22 Or "Jacob;" / "surely you have grown weary of"

[9] 43:28 The Hebrew term refers to the irrevocable giving over of things or persons to the Lord, often by totally destroying them.

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