The LORD the Only God
44 1 "But for now, dear servant Jacob, listen - yes, you, Israel, my personal choice. 2 God who made you has something to say to you; the God who formed you in the womb wants to help you. Don't be afraid, dear servant Jacob, Jeshurun, the one I chose. 3 For I will pour water on the thirsty ground and send streams coursing through the parched earth. I will pour my Spirit into your descendants and my blessing on your children. 4 They shall sprout like grass on the prairie, like willows alongside creeks. 5 This one will say, 'I am God's,' and another will go by the name Jacob; That one will write on his hand 'God's property' - and be proud to be called Israel." 6 God, King of Israel, your Redeemer, God-of-the-Angel-Armies, says: "I'm first, I'm last, and everything in between. I'm the only God there is. 7 Who compares with me? Speak up. See if you measure up. From the beginning, who else has always announced what's coming? So what is coming next? Anybody want to venture a try? 8 Don't be afraid, and don't worry: Haven't I always kept you informed, told you what was going on? You're my eyewitnesses: Have you ever come across a God, a real God, other than me? There's no Rock like me that I know of." Lover of Emptiness
The Folly of Idolatry
9 All those who make no-god idols don't amount to a thing, and what they work so hard at making is nothing. Their little puppet-gods see nothing and know nothing - they're total embarrassments! 10 Who would bother making gods that can't do anything, that can't "god"? 11 Watch all the no-god worshipers hide their faces in shame. Watch the no-god makers slink off humiliated when their idols fail them. Get them out here in the open. Make them face God-reality. 12 The blacksmith makes his no-god, works it over in his forge, hammering it on his anvil - such hard work! He works away, fatigued with hunger and thirst. 13 The woodworker draws up plans for his no-god, traces it on a block of wood. He shapes it with chisels and planes into human shape - a beautiful woman, a handsome man, ready to be placed in a chapel. 14 He first cuts down a cedar, or maybe picks out a pine or oak, and lets it grow strong in the forest, nourished by the rain. 15 Then it can serve a double purpose: Part he uses as firewood for keeping warm and baking bread; from the other part he makes a god that he worships - carves it into a god shape and prays before it. 16 With half he makes a fire to warm himself and barbecue his supper. He eats his fill and sits back satisfied with his stomach full and his feet warmed by the fire: "Ah, this is the life." 17 And he still has half left for a god, made to his personal design - a handy, convenient no-god to worship whenever so inclined. Whenever the need strikes him he prays to it, "Save me. You're my god." 18 Pretty stupid, wouldn't you say? Don't they have eyes in their heads? Are their brains working at all? 19 Doesn't it occur to them to say, "Half of this tree I used for firewood: I baked bread, roasted meat, and enjoyed a good meal. And now I've used the rest to make an abominable no-god. Here I am praying to a stick of wood!" 20 This lover of emptiness, of nothing, is so out of touch with reality, so far gone, that he can't even look at what he's doing, can't even look at the no-god stick of wood in his hand and say, "This is crazy."
The LORD the Redeemer of Israel
21 "Remember these things, O Jacob. Take it seriously, Israel, that you're my servant. I made you, shaped you: You're my servant. O Israel, I'll never forget you. 22 I've wiped the slate of all your wrongdoings. There's nothing left of your sins. Come back to me, come back. I've redeemed you." 23 High heavens, sing! God has done it. Deep earth, shout! And you mountains, sing! A forest choir of oaks and pines and cedars! God has redeemed Jacob. God's glory is on display in Israel. 24 God, your Redeemer, who shaped your life in your mother's womb, says: "I am God. I made all that is. With no help from you I spread out the skies and laid out the earth." 25 He makes the magicians look ridiculous and turns fortunetellers into jokes. He makes the experts look trivial and their latest knowledge look silly. 26 But he backs the word of his servant and confirms the counsel of his messengers. He says to Jerusalem, "Be inhabited," and to the cities of Judah, "Be rebuilt," and to the ruins, "I raise you up." 27 He says to Ocean, "Dry up. I'm drying up your rivers." 28 He says to Cyrus, "My shepherd - everything I want, you'll do it." He says to Jerusalem, "Be built," and to the Temple, "Be established."
The Commission to Cyrus
45 1 God's Message to his anointed, to Cyrus, whom he took by the hand To give the task of taming the nations, of terrifying their kings - He gave him free rein, no restrictions: 2 "I'll go ahead of you, clearing and paving the road. I'll break down bronze city gates, smash padlocks, kick down barred entrances. 3 I'll lead you to buried treasures, secret caches of valuables - Confirmations that it is, in fact, I, God, the God of Israel, who calls you by your name. 4 It's because of my dear servant Jacob, Israel my chosen, That I've singled you out, called you by name, and given you this privileged work. And you don't even know me!
5 I am God, the only God there is. Besides me there are no real gods. I'm the one who armed you for this work, though you don't even know me, 6 So that everyone, from east to west, will know that I have no god-rivals. I am God, the only God there is. 7 I form light and create darkness, I make harmonies and create discords. I, God, do all these things.
The LORD the Creator
8 "Open up, heavens, and rain. Clouds, pour out buckets of my goodness! Loosen up, earth, and bloom salvation; sprout right living. I, God, generate all this. 9 But doom to you who fight your Maker - you're a pot at odds with the potter! Does clay talk back to the potter: 'What are you doing? What clumsy fingers!' 10 Would a sperm say to a father, 'Who gave you permission to use me to make a baby?' Or a fetus to a mother, 'Why have you cooped me up in this belly?'"
11 Thus God, The Holy of Israel, Israel's Maker, says: "Do you question who or what I'm making? Are you telling me what I can or cannot do? 12 I made earth, and I created man and woman to live on it. I handcrafted the skies and direct all the constellations in their turnings. 13 And now I've got Cyrus on the move. I've rolled out the red carpet before him. He will build my city. He will bring home my exiles. I didn't hire him to do this. I told him. I, God-of-the-Angel-Armies." 14 God says: "The workers of Egypt, the merchants of Ethiopia, and those statuesque Sabeans Will all come over to you - all yours. Docile in chains, they'll follow you, Hands folded in reverence, praying before you: 'Amazing! God is with you! There is no other God - none.'" Look at the Evidence 15 Clearly, you are a God who works behind the scenes, God of Israel, Savior God. 16 Humiliated, all those others will be ashamed to show their faces in public. Out of work and at loose ends, the makers of no-god idols won't know what to do with themselves. 17 The people of Israel, though, are saved by you, God, saved with an eternal salvation. They won't be ashamed, they won't be at loose ends, ever. 18 God, Creator of the heavens - he is, remember, God. Maker of earth - he put it on its foundations, built it from scratch. He didn't go to all that trouble to just leave it empty, nothing in it. He made it to be lived in. This God says: "I am God, the one and only. 19 I don't just talk to myself or mumble under my breath. I never told Jacob, 'Seek me in emptiness, in dark nothingness.' I am God. I work out in the open, saying what's right, setting things right.
Babylon's Idols and the LORD
20 So gather around, come on in, all you refugees and castoffs. They don't seem to know much, do they - those who carry around their no-god blocks of wood, praying for help to a dead stick? 21 So tell me what you think. Look at the evidence. Put your heads together. Make your case. Who told you, and a long time ago, what's going on here? Who made sense of things for you? Wasn't I the one? God? It had to be me. I'm the only God there is - The only God who does things right and knows how to help. 22 So turn to me and be helped - saved! - everyone, whoever and wherever you are. I am God, the only God there is, the one and only. 23 I promise in my own name: Every word out of my mouth does what it says. I never take back what I say. Everyone is going to end up kneeling before me. Everyone is going to end up saying of me, 24 'Yes! Salvation and strength are in God!'" All who have raged against him will be brought before him, disgraced by their unbelief. 25 And all who are connected with Israel will have a robust, praising, good life in God!
46 1 The god Bel falls down, god Nebo slumps. The no-god hunks of wood are loaded on mules And have to be hauled off, wearing out the poor mules - 2 Dead weight, burdens who can't bear burdens, hauled off to captivity. 3 "Listen to me, family of Jacob, everyone that's left of the family of Israel. I've been carrying you on my back from the day you were born, 4 And I'll keep on carrying you when you're old. I'll be there, bearing you when you're old and gray. I've done it and will keep on doing it, carrying you on my back, saving you.
5 "So to whom will you compare me, the Incomparable? Can you picture me without reducing me? 6 People with a lot of money hire craftsmen to make them gods. The artisan delivers the god, and they kneel and worship it! 7 They carry it around in holy parades, then take it home and put it on a shelf. And there it sits, day in and day out, a dependable god, always right where you put it. Say anything you want to it, it never talks back. Of course, it never does anything either! 8 "Think about this. Wrap your minds around it. This is serious business, rebels. Take it to heart. 9 Remember your history, your long and rich history. I am God, the only God you've had or ever will have - incomparable, irreplaceable - 10 From the very beginning telling you what the ending will be, All along letting you in on what is going to happen, Assuring you, 'I'm in this for the long haul, I'll do exactly what I set out to do,' 11 Calling that eagle, Cyrus, out of the east, from a far country the man I chose to help me. I've said it, and I'll most certainly do it. I've planned it, so it's as good as done. 12 "Now listen to me: You're a hardheaded bunch and hard to help. 13 I'm ready to help you right now. Deliverance is not a long-range plan. Salvation isn't on hold. I'm putting salvation to work in Zion now, and glory in Israel.
Judgment on Babylon
47 1 "Get off your high horse and sit in the dirt, virgin daughter of Babylon. No more throne for you - sit on the ground, daughter of the Chaldeans. Nobody will be calling you 'charming' and 'alluring' anymore. Get used to it. 2 Get a job, any old job: Clean gutters, scrub toilets. Hock your gowns and scarves, put on overalls - the party's over. 3 Your nude body will be on public display, exposed to vulgar taunts. It's vengeance time, and I'm taking vengeance. No one gets let off the hook." You're Acting Like the Center of the Universe 4 Our Redeemer speaks, named God-of-the-Angel-Armies, The Holy of Israel: 5 "Shut up and get out of the way, daughter of Chaldeans. You'll no longer be called 'First Lady of the Kingdoms.' 6 I was fed up with my people, thoroughly disgusted with my progeny. I turned them over to you, but you had no compassion. You put old men and women to cruel, hard labor.
7 You said, 'I'm the First Lady. I'll always be the pampered darling.' You took nothing seriously, took nothing to heart, never gave tomorrow a thought. 8 Well, start thinking, playgirl. You're acting like the center of the universe, Smugly saying to yourself, 'I'm Number One. There's nobody but me. I'll never be a widow, I'll never lose my children.' 9 Those two things are going to hit you both at once, suddenly, on the same day: Spouse and children gone, a total loss, despite your many enchantments and charms. 10 You were so confident and comfortable in your evil life, saying, 'No one sees me.' You thought you knew so much, had everything figured out. What delusion! Smugly telling yourself, 'I'm Number One. There's nobody but me.' 11 Ruin descends - you can't charm it away. Disaster strikes - you can't cast it off with spells. Catastrophe, sudden and total - and you're totally at sea, totally bewildered! 12 But don't give up. From your great repertoire of enchantments there must be one you haven't yet tried. You've been at this a long time. Surely something will work. 13 I know you're exhausted trying out remedies, but don't give up. Call in the astrologers and stargazers. They're good at this. Surely they can work up something! 14 "Fat chance. You'd be grasping at straws that are already in the fire, A fire that is even now raging. Your 'experts' are in it and won't get out. It's not a fire for cooking venison stew, not a fire to warm you on a winter night! 15 That's the fate of your friends in sorcery, your magician buddies you've been in cahoots with all your life. They reel, confused, bumping into one another. None of them bother to help you.
Israel's Unfaithfulness Rebuked
48 1 "And now listen to this, family of Jacob, you who are called by the name Israel: Who got you started in the loins of Judah, you who use God's name to back up your promises and pray to the God of Israel? But do you mean it? Do you live like it? 2 You claim to be citizens of the Holy City; you act as though you lean on the God of Israel, named God-of-the-Angel-Armies. 3 For a long time now, I've let you in on the way I work: I told you what I was going to do beforehand, then I did it and it was done, and that's that. 4 I know you're a bunch of hardheads, obstinate and flint-faced, 5 So I got a running start and began telling you what was going on before it even happened. That is why you can't say, 'My god-idol did this.' 'My favorite god-carving commanded this.' 6 You have all this evidence confirmed by your own eyes and ears. Shouldn't you be talking about it? And that was just the beginning. I have a lot more to tell you, things you never knew existed. 7 This isn't a variation on the same old thing. This is new, brand-new, something you'd never guess or dream up. When you hear this you won't be able to say, 'I knew that all along.' 8 You've never been good listeners to me. You have a history of ignoring me, A sorry track record of fickle attachments - rebels from the womb.
9 But out of the sheer goodness of my heart, because of who I am, I keep a tight rein on my anger and hold my temper. I don't wash my hands of you. 10 Do you see what I've done? I've refined you, but not without fire. I've tested you like silver in the furnace of affliction. 11 Out of myself, simply because of who I am, I do what I do. I have my reputation to keep up. I'm not playing second fiddle to either gods or people. 12 "Listen, Jacob. Listen, Israel - I'm the One who named you! I'm the One. I got things started and, yes, I'll wrap them up. 13 Earth is my work, handmade. And the skies - I made them too, horizon to horizon. When I speak, they're on their feet, at attention. 14 "Come everybody, gather around, listen: Who among the gods has delivered the news? I, God, love this man Cyrus, and I'm using him to do what I want with Babylon. 15 I, yes I, have spoken. I've called him. I've brought him here. He'll be successful.
16 Come close, listen carefully: I've never kept secrets from you. I've always been present with you." Your Progeny, Like Grains of Sand And now, the Master, God, sends me and his Spirit 17 with this Message from God, your Redeemer, The Holy of Israel: "I am God, your God, who teaches you how to live right and well. I show you what to do, where to go. 18 If you had listened all along to what I told you, your life would have flowed full like a river, blessings rolling in like waves from the sea. 19 Children and grandchildren are like sand, your progeny like grains of sand. There would be no end of them, no danger of losing touch with me." 20 Get out of Babylon! Run from the Babylonians! Shout the news. Broadcast it. Let the world know, the whole world. Tell them, "God redeemed his dear servant Jacob!" 21 They weren't thirsty when he led them through the deserts. He made water pour out of the rock; he split the rock and the water gushed. 22 "There is no peace," says God, "for the wicked."