“Listen to Me in silence, you islands and coastlands,
And let the nations gain their strength;
Let them come near, then let them speak;
Let us come together for judgment [and decide the issue between us concerning the enemy from the east].
“Who has stirred up and put into action one from the east [the king of Persia, Cyrus the Great]
Whom He calls in righteousness to His service and whom victory meets at every step?
The Lord turns nations over to him
And subdues kings.
He makes them like dust with his sword,
Like wind-driven chaff with his bow.
“He (Cyrus) pursues them and passes along safely,
By a way his feet had not traveled before.
“Who has performed and done this,
Calling forth [and guiding the destinies of] the generations [of the nations] from the beginning?
‘I, the Lord—the first, and with the last [existing before history began, the ever-present, unchanging God]—I am He.’”
The islands and coastlands have seen and they fear;
The ends of the earth tremble;
They have drawn near and have come.
They each help his neighbor
And say to his brother [as he fashions his idols], “Be of good courage!”
So the craftsman encourages the goldsmith,
And he who smooths metal with the smith’s hammer encourages him who beats the anvil,
Saying of the soldering (welding), “That is good”;
And he fastens the idol with nails,
So that it will not totter nor be moved.
“But you, Israel, My servant,
Jacob whom I have chosen,
The offspring of Abraham My friend,
You whom I [the Lord] have [a]taken from the ends of the earth,
And called from its remotest parts
And said to you, ‘You are My servant,
I have chosen you and have not rejected you [even though you are exiled].
‘Do not fear [anything], for I am with you;
Do not be afraid, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you, be assured I will help you;
I will certainly take hold of you with My righteous right hand [a hand of justice, of power, of victory, of salvation].’
“Indeed, all those who are angry with you will be put to shame and humiliated;
Those who strive against you will be as nothing and will perish.
“You shall search for those who quarrel with you, but will not find them;
They who war against you will be as nothing, as nothing at all.
“For I the Lord your God keep hold of your right hand; [I am the Lord],
Who says to you, ‘Do not fear, I will help you.’
“Do not fear, you worm Jacob, you men of Israel;
I will help you,” declares the Lord, “and your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel.
“In fact, I have made of you a new, sharp [b]threshing implement with sharp edges;
You will thresh the mountains and crush them,
And make the hills like chaff.
“You will winnow them, and the wind will carry them away,
And a high wind will scatter them;
But you will rejoice in the Lord,
You will glory in the Holy One of Israel.
“The poor and needy are seeking water, but there is none;
Their tongues are parched with thirst.
I, the Lord, will answer them Myself;
I, the God of Israel, will not neglect them.
“I will open rivers on the barren heights
And springs in the midst of the valleys;
I will make the wilderness a reed-pool of water
And the dry land springs of water.
“I will put the cedar in the wilderness,
The acacia, the myrtle and the olive tree;
I will place the juniper in the desert
Together with the box tree and the cypress,
So that they may see and know,
And consider and understand together,
That the hand of the Lord has done this,
That the Holy One of Israel has created it.
“Present your case [for idols made by men’s hands],” says the Lord.
“Produce your evidence [of divinity],”
Says the king of Jacob.
Let them bring forward [their evidence] and tell us what is going to happen.
Regarding the former events, tell what they were,
That we may consider them and know their outcome;
Or announce to us the things that are going to come.
Tell us the things that are to come afterward,
That we may know that you are gods;
Indeed, you should do something good or do evil, [c]that we may be afraid and fear [you] together [as we observe the miracle].
Hear this! You [idols] are less than nothing,
And your work is worthless;
The worshiper who chooses you [as a god] is repulsive.
“I have stirred up and put into action [d]one from the north [the king of Persia, Cyrus the Great], and he has come;
From the rising of the sun he will call on My Name [in prayer].
And he will trample on [the Babylonian] officials as on mortar,
Even as a potter treads clay.”
Who [among the idols] has declared this from the beginning, so that we could know?
Or from earlier times, so that we could say, “He is [unquestionably] right!”?
In fact, there was no one who declared it,
Indeed, there was no one who proclaimed it;
There was no one at all who heard you speak [for you pagan gods are speechless].
“I was first to say to Zion, ‘Listen carefully, here they are [the Jews who will be restored to their own land].’
And to Jerusalem, ‘I will provide a messenger (Isaiah) to bring the good news [[e]that Cyrus will be stirred up and put into action to save them].’
“But when I look [on the pagan prophets and priests], there is no one [who could predict these events],
And there is no counselor [f]among them,
Who, if I ask, can give an answer.
“In fact, all of these [pagan prophets and priests] are false;
Their works are worthless,
Their cast images are [merely] wind and emptiness.
- Isaiah 41:9 Lit seized.
- Isaiah 41:15 A heavy flat wooden sledge composed of several thick boards with sharp pieces of flint or metal embedded on one side. It was dragged over harvested stalks of grain to separate the kernels from the straw.
- Isaiah 41:23 Lit and let us be.
- Isaiah 41:25 Cyrus originally came from the east (Is 41:2), but defeated a number of kingdoms north of Babylon early in his reign.
- Isaiah 41:27 This prophecy was declared about a hundred and fifty years before it occurred.
- Isaiah 41:28 Lit out of those.
God’s Promise concerning His Servant
“Behold, My [a]Servant, whom I [b]uphold;
My Chosen One in whom My soul delights.
I have put My Spirit upon Him;
He will bring forth justice to the nations.
“He will not call out or shout aloud,
Nor make His voice heard in the street.
“A broken reed He will not break [off]
And a dimly burning wick He will not extinguish [He will not harm those who are weak and suffering];
He will faithfully bring forth justice.
“He will not be disheartened or crushed [in spirit];
[He will persevere] until He has established justice on the earth;
And the coastlands will wait expectantly for His law.”
This is what God the Lord says,
He who created the heavens and stretched them out,
Who spread out the earth and its produce,
Who gives breath to the people on it
And spirit to those who walk on it,
“I am the Lord, I have called You (the Messiah) in righteousness [for a righteous purpose],
I will also take You by the hand and keep watch over You,
And I will appoint You as a covenant to the people [Israel],
As a light to the nations (Gentiles),
To open the eyes of the blind,
To bring out prisoners from the dungeon
And those who sit in darkness from the prison.
“I am the Lord, that is My Name;
My glory I will not give to another,
Nor My praise to carved idols.
“Indeed, the former things have come to pass,
Now I declare new things;
Before they spring forth I proclaim them to you.”
Sing to the Lord a new song,
Sing His praise from the end of the earth!
You who go down to the sea, and all that is in it,
You islands and coastlands, and those who inhabit them [sing His praise]!
Let the wilderness and its cities lift up their voices,
The villages where Kedar lives.
Let the inhabitants of [c]Sela shout for joy,
Let them shout joyfully from the tops of the mountains.
Let them give glory to the Lord
And declare His praise in the islands and coastlands.
The Lord will go forth like a warrior,
He will stir up His zeal like a man of war;
He will shout out, yes, He will raise a war cry.
He will prevail [mightily] against His enemies.
The Blindness of the People
“I [the Lord] have been silent for a long time,
I have been still and restrained Myself.
Now I will moan like a woman in labor,
I will both gasp and pant.
“I will lay waste the mountains and hills
And wither all their vegetation;
I will turn the rivers into coastlands
And dry up the ponds.
“I will lead the blind by a way they do not know;
I will guide them in paths that they do not know.
I will make darkness into light before them
And rugged places into plains.
These things I will do [for them],
And I will not leave them abandoned or undone.”
Those who trust in carved idols will be turned back,
And utterly put to shame,
Who say to cast images,
“You are our gods.”
Hear, you deaf!
And look, you blind, that you may see.
Who is blind but My servant [Israel],
Or deaf like My messenger whom I send?
Who is blind like the one who is at peace with Me [in a covenant relationship],
Or so blind as the servant of the Lord?
You have seen many things, but you do not observe them;
Your ears are open, but no one hears.
The Lord was pleased for His righteousness’ sake
To make the law great and prove to be glorious.
But this is a people despoiled and plundered;
All of them are trapped in holes,
Or are hidden away in prisons.
They have become a prey with no one to rescue them,
And a spoil, with no one to say, “Give them back!”
Who among you will listen to this?
Who will listen and pay attention in the time to come?
Who gave up Jacob [the kingdom of Judah] for spoil, and [the kingdom of] Israel to the plunderers?
Was it not the Lord, He against whom we [of Judah] have sinned,
And in whose ways they [of Israel] were unwilling to walk,
And whose law and teaching they did not obey?
Therefore He poured out on Israel the heat of His anger
And the fierceness of battle;
And engulfed him in fire,
Yet he did not recognize [the lesson of repentance which the Assyrian conquest was intended to teach];
It burned him, but he did not take it to heart.
- Isaiah 42:1 This is the first of the famous prophecies concerning the Servant of the Lord, the Messiah (Is 42:1-7; 49:1-9a; 50:4-9; 52:13-53:12).
- Isaiah 42:1 Or hold fast.
- Isaiah 42:11 Gr Petra (rock). Sela was probably the Edomite capital at this time. Carved into great walls of rose-colored rock it was later controlled by the Nabateans.