The LORD's Comforting Words to Zion
40 1 Give comfort, give comfort, to my people, says your God. 2 Say kind words to the heart of Jerusalem, crying out to her that her time of trouble is ended, that her punishment is complete; that she has been rewarded by the Lord's hand twice over for all her sins.
3 A voice of one crying, Make ready in the waste land the way of the Lord, make level in the lowland a highway for our God. 4 Let every valley be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low, and let the rough places become level, and the hilltops become a valley, 5 And the glory of the Lord will be made clear, and all flesh will see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has said it. 6 A voice of one saying, Give a cry! And I said, What is my cry to be? All flesh is grass, and all its strength like the flower of the field. 7 The grass becomes dry, the flower is dead; because the breath of the Lord goes over it: truly the people is grass. 8 The grass is dry, the flower is dead; but the word of our God is eternal.
9 You who give good news to Zion, get up into the high mountain; you who give good news to Jerusalem, let your voice be strong; let it be sounding without fear; say to the towns of Judah, See, your God! 10 See, the Lord God will come as a strong one, ruling in power: see, those made free by him are with him, and those whom he has made safe go before him. 11 He will give food to his flock like a keeper of sheep; with his arm he will get it together, and will take up the lambs on his breast, gently guiding those which are with young.
Israel's Incomparable God
12 In the hollow of whose hand have the waters been measured? and who is able to take the heavens in his stretched-out fingers? who has got together the dust of the earth in a measure? who has taken the weight of the mountains, or put the hills into the scales? 13 By whom has the spirit of the Lord been guided, or who has been his teacher? 14 Who gave him suggestions, and made clear to him the right way? who gave him knowledge, guiding him in the way of wisdom? 15 See, the nations are to him like a drop hanging from a bucket, and like the small dust in the scales: he takes up the islands like small dust. 16 And Lebanon is not enough to make a fire with, or all its cattle enough for a burned offering. 17 All the nations are as nothing before him; even less than nothing, a thing of no value.
18 Whom then is God like, in your opinion? or what will you put forward as a comparison with him? 19 The workman makes an image, and the gold-worker puts gold plates over it, and makes silver bands for it. 20 The wise workman makes selection of the mulberry-tree of the offering, a wood which will not become soft; so that the image may be fixed to it and not be moved. 21 Have you no knowledge of it? has it not come to your ears? has not news of it been given to you from the first? has it not been clear to you from the time when the earth was placed on its base? 22 It is he who is seated over the arch of the earth, and the people in it are as small as locusts; by him the heavens are stretched out like an arch, and made ready like a tent for a living-place. 23 He makes rulers come to nothing; the judges of the earth are of no value. 24 They have only now been planted, and their seed put into the earth, and they have only now taken root, when he sends out his breath over them and they become dry, and the storm-wind takes them away like dry grass. 25 Who then seems to you to be my equal? says the Holy One. 26 Let your eyes be lifted up on high, and see: who has made these? He who sends out their numbered army: who has knowledge of all their names: by whose great strength, because he is strong in power, all of them are in their places.
27 Why do you say, O Jacob, such words as these, O Israel, The Lord's eyes are not on my way, and my God gives no attention to my cause? 28 Have you no knowledge of it? has it not come to your ears? The eternal God, the Lord, the Maker of the ends of the earth, is never feeble or tired; there is no searching out of his wisdom. 29 He gives power to the feeble, increasing the strength of him who has no force. 30 Even the young men will become feeble and tired, and the best of them will come to the end of his strength; 31 But those who are waiting for the Lord will have new strength; they will get wings like eagles: running, they will not be tired, and walking, they will have no weariness.
God's Assurance to Israel
41 1 Come quietly before me, O sea-lands, and let the peoples get together their strength: let them come near; then let them say what they have to say: let us put forward our cause against one another. 2 Who sent out from the east one who is right wherever he goes? he gives the nations into his hands, and makes him ruler over kings; he gives them as the dust to his sword, as dry stems before the wind to his bow. 3 He goes after them safely, not touching the road with his feet. 4 Whose purpose and work was it? His who sent out the generations from the start. I the Lord, the first, and with the last, I am he. 5 The sea-lands saw it, and were in fear; the ends of the earth were shaking: they came near. 6 They gave help everyone to his neighbour; and everyone said to his brother, Take heart! 7 So the metal-worker put heart into the gold-worker, and he who was hammering the metal smooth said kind words to the iron-worker, saying of the plate, It is ready: and he put it together with nails, so that there might be no slipping. 8 But as for you, Israel, my servant, and you, Jacob, whom I have taken for myself, the seed of Abraham my friend: 9 You whom I have taken from the ends of the earth, and sent for from its farthest parts, saying to you, You are my servant, whom I have taken for myself, and whom I have not given up:
10 Have no fear, for I am with you; do not be looking about in trouble, for I am your God; I will give you strength, yes, I will be your helper; yes, my true right hand will be your support. 11 Truly, all those who are angry with you will be made low and put to shame: those desiring to do you wrong will come to nothing and never again be seen. 12 You will make search for your haters but they will not be there; those who make war against you will be as nothing and will come to destruction. 13 For I, the Lord your God, have taken your right hand in mine, saying to you, Have no fear; I will be your helper. 14 Have no fear, you worm Jacob, and you men of Israel; I will be your helper, says the Lord, even he who takes up your cause, the Holy One of Israel. 15 See, I will make you like a new grain-crushing instrument with teeth, crushing the mountains small, and making the hills like dry stems. 16 You will send the wind over them, and it will take them away; they will go in all directions before the storm-wind: you will have joy in the Lord, and be glad in the Holy One of Israel. 17 The poor and crushed are looking for water where no water is, and their tongue is dry for need of it: I the Lord will give ear to their prayer, I the God of Israel will not give them up. 18 I will make rivers on the dry mountain-tops, and fountains in the valleys: I will make the waste land a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water. 19 I will put in the waste land the cedar, the acacia, the myrtle, and the olive-tree; and in the lowland will be planted the fir-tree, the plane, and the cypress together: 20 So that they may see and be wise and give their mind to it, and that it may be clear to them all that the hand of the Lord has done this, and that the Holy One of Israel has made it.
The LORD's Challenge to False Gods
21 Put forward your cause, says the Lord; let your strong argument come out, says the King of Jacob. 22 Let the future be made clear to us: give us news of the past things, so that we may give thought to them; or of the things to come, so that we may see if they are true. 23 Give us word of what will be after this, so that we may be certain that you are gods: yes, do good or do evil, so that we may all see it and be surprised. 24 But you are nothing, and your work is of no value: foolish is he who takes you for his gods. 25 I have sent for one from the north, and from the dawn he has come; in my name he will get rulers together and go against them; they will be like dust, even as the wet earth is stamped on by the feet of the potter. 26 Who has given knowledge of it from the first, so that we may be certain of it? and from the start, so that we may say, His word is true? There is no one who gives news, or says anything, or who gives ear to your words. 27 I was the first to give word of it to Zion, and I gave the good news to Jerusalem. 28 And I saw that there was no man, even no wise man among them, who might give an answer to my questions. 29 Truly they are all nothing, their works are nothing and of no value: their metal images are of no more use than wind.
The LORD's Servant
42 1 See my servant, whom I am supporting, my loved one, in whom I take delight: I have put my spirit on him; he will give the knowledge of the true God to the nations. 2 He will make no cry, his voice will not be loud: his words will not come to men's ears in the streets. 3 He will not let a crushed stem be quite broken, and he will not let a feebly burning light be put out: he will go on sending out the true word to the peoples. 4 His light will not be put out, and he will not be crushed, till he has given the knowledge of the true God to the earth, and the sea-lands will be waiting for his teaching.
5 God the Lord, even he who made the heavens, measuring them out on high; stretching out the earth, and giving its produce; he who gives breath to the people on it, and life to those who go about on it, says: 6 I the Lord have made you the vessel of my purpose, I have taken you by the hand, and kept you safe, and I have given you to be an agreement to the people, and a light to the nations: 7 To give eyes to the blind, to make free the prisoners from the prison, to let out those who are shut up in the dark. 8 I am the Lord; that is my name: I will not give my glory to another, or my praise to pictured images. 9 See, the things said before have come about, and now I give word of new things: before they come I give you news of them.
Praise for the LORD's Mighty Deliverance
10 Make a new song to the Lord, and let his praise be sounded from the end of the earth; you who go down to the sea, and everything in it, the sea-lands and their people. 11 Let the waste land and its flocks be glad, the tent-circles of Kedar; let the people of the rock give a glad cry, from the top of the mountains let them make a sound of joy. 12 Let them give glory to the Lord, sounding his praise in the sea-lands.
13 The Lord will go out as a man of war, he will be moved to wrath like a fighting-man: his voice will be strong, he will give a loud cry; he will go against his attackers like a man of war. 14 I have long been quiet, I have kept myself in and done nothing: now I will make sounds of pain like a woman in childbirth, breathing hard and quickly. 15 I will make waste mountains and hills, drying up all their plants; and I will make rivers dry, and pools dry land. 16 And I will take the blind by a way of which they had no knowledge, guiding them by roads strange to them: I will make the dark places light before them, and the rough places level. These things will I do and will not give them up. 17 They will be turned back and be greatly shamed who put their hope in pictured images, who say to metal images, You are our gods.
Israel's Failure to Profit from Discipline
18 Give ear, you whose ears are shut; and let your eyes be open, you blind, so that you may see. 19 Who is blind, but my servant? who has his ears stopped, but he whom I send? who is blind as my true one, or who has his ears shut like the Lord's servant? 20 Seeing much, but keeping nothing in mind; his ears are open, but there is no hearing. 21 It was the Lord's pleasure, because of his righteousness, to make the teaching great and give it honour. 22 But this is a people whose property has been taken away from them by force; they are all taken in holes, and shut up in prisons: they are made prisoners, and no one makes them free; they are taken by force and no one says, Give them back. 23 Who is there among you who will give ear to this? who will give attention to it for the time to come? 24 Who gave up Jacob to those who took away his goods, and Israel to his attackers? Did not the Lord? he against whom they did wrong, and in whose ways they would not go, turning away from his teaching. 25 For this reason he let loose on him the heat of his wrath, and his strength was like a flame; and it put fire round about him, but he did not see it; he was burned, but did not take it to heart.
The LORD the Only Redeemer
43 1 But now, says the Lord your Maker, O Jacob, and your life-giver, O Israel: have no fear, for I have taken up your cause; naming you by your name, I have made you mine. 2 When you go through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they will not go over you: when you go through the fire, you will not be burned; and the flame will have no power over you. 3 For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your saviour; I have given Egypt as a price for you, Ethiopia and Seba for you. 4 Because of your value in my eyes, you have been honoured, and loved by me; so I will give men for you, and peoples for your life. 5 Have no fear, for I am with you: I will take your seed from the east, and get you together from the west; 6 I will say to the north, Give them up; and to the south, Do not keep them back; send back my sons from far, and my daughters from the end of the earth; 7 Every one who is named by my name, and whom I have made for my glory, who has been formed and designed by me.
8 Send out the blind people who have eyes, and those who have ears, but they are shut. 9 Let all the nations come together, and let the peoples be present: who among them is able to make this clear, and give us word of earlier things? let their witnesses come forward, so that they may be seen to be true, and that they may give ear, and say, It is true. 10 You are my witnesses, says the Lord, and my servant whom I have taken for myself: so that you may see and have faith in me, and that it may be clear to you that I am he; before me there was no God formed, and there will not be after me. 11 I, even I, am the Lord; and there is no saviour but me. 12 I gave the word, and made it clear, and there was no strange god among you: for this reason you are my witnesses, says the Lord. 13 From time long past I am God, and from this day I am he: there is no one who is able to take you out of my hand: when I undertake a thing, by whom will my purpose be changed?
14 The Lord, who has taken up your cause, the Holy One of Israel, says, Because of you I have sent to Babylon, and made all their seers come south, and the Chaldaeans whose cry is in the ships. 15 I am the Lord, your Holy One, the Maker of Israel, your King. 16 This is the word of the Lord, who makes a way in the sea, and a road through the deep waters; 17 Who sends out the war-carriages and the horses, the army with all its force; they have come down, they will not get up again; like a feebly burning light they are put out. 18 Give no thought to the things which are past; let the early times go out of your minds. 19 See, I am doing a new thing; now it is starting; will you not take note of it? I will even make a way in the waste land, and rivers in the dry country. 20 The beasts of the field will give me honour, the jackals and the ostriches: because I send out waters in the waste land, and rivers in the dry country, to give drink to the people whom I have taken for myself: 21 Even the people whom I made to be the witnesses of my praise.
22 But you have made no prayer to me, O Jacob: and you have given no thought to me, O Israel. 23 You have not made me burned offerings of sheep, or given me honour with your offerings of beasts; I did not make you servants to give me an offering, and I did not make you tired with requests for perfumes. 24 You have not got me sweet-smelling plants with your money, or given me pleasure with the fat of your offerings: but you have made me a servant to your sins, and you have made me tired with your evil doings. 25 I, even I, am he who takes away your sins; and I will no longer keep your evil doings in mind. 26 Put me in mind of this; let us take up the cause between us: put forward your cause, so that you may be seen to be in the right. 27 Your first father was a sinner, and your guides have gone against my word. 28 Your chiefs have made my holy place unclean, so I have made Jacob a curse, and Israel a thing of shame.