Isaiah 44:24-28

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.”

He makes the magicians look ridiculous
    and turns fortunetellers into jokes.
He makes the experts look trivial
    and their latest knowledge look silly.
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.”
He says to Ocean, “Dry up.
    I’m drying up your rivers.”
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.”

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Isaiah 45

The God Who Forms Light and Darkness

1-7 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:
“I’ll go ahead of you,
    clearing and paving the road.
I’ll break down bronze city gates,
    smash padlocks, kick down barred entrances.
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.
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!
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,
So that everyone, from east to west, will know
    that I have no god-rivals.
    I am God, the only God there is.
I form light and create darkness,
    I make harmonies and create discords.
    I, God, do all these things.

“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.
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!’
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?’”

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?
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.
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.”

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

Clearly, you are a God who works behind the scenes,
    God of Israel, Savior God.
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.
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.

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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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,
    ‘Yes! Salvation and strength are in God!’”

All who have raged against him
    will be brought before him,
    disgraced by their unbelief.
And all who are connected with Israel
    will have a robust, praising, good life in God!

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Isaiah 46

This Is Serious Business, Rebels

1-2 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—
Dead weight, burdens who can’t bear burdens,
    hauled off to captivity.

“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,
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.

“So to whom will you compare me, the Incomparable?
    Can you picture me without reducing me?
People with a lot of money
    hire craftsmen to make them gods.
The artisan delivers the god,
    and they kneel and worship it!
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!

“Think about this. Wrap your minds around it.
    This is serious business, rebels. Take it to heart.
Remember your history,
    your long and rich history.
I am God, the only God you’ve had or ever will have—
    incomparable, irreplaceable—
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,’
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.

“Now listen to me:
    You’re a hardheaded bunch and hard to help.
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.”

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