Isaiah 47

The Party’s Over

1-3 “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.
Get a job, any old job:
    Clean gutters, scrub toilets.
Hock your gowns and scarves,
    put on overalls—the party’s over.
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

Our Redeemer speaks,
    named God-of-the-Angel-Armies, The Holy of Israel:
“Shut up and get out of the way,
    daughter of Chaldeans.
You’ll no longer be called
    ‘First Lady of the Kingdoms.’
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.
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.
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.’
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.
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.’
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!
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.
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!

“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!
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.”

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Isaiah 48

Tested in the Furnace of Affliction

1-11 “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?
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.
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.
I know you’re a bunch of hardheads,
    obstinate and flint-faced,
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.’
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.
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.’
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.
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.
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.
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.

“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.
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.

“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.
I, yes I, have spoken. I’ve called him.
    I’ve brought him here. He’ll be successful.
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
    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.
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.
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.”

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!”

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.

“There is no peace,” says God, “for the wicked.”

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Isaiah 49:1-7

A Light for the Nations

1-3 Listen, far-flung islands,
    pay attention, faraway people:
God put me to work from the day I was born.
    The moment I entered the world he named me.
He gave me speech that would cut and penetrate.
    He kept his hand on me to protect me.
He made me his straight arrow
    and hid me in his quiver.
He said to me, “You’re my dear servant,
    Israel, through whom I’ll shine.”

But I said, “I’ve worked for nothing.
    I’ve nothing to show for a life of hard work.
Nevertheless, I’ll let God have the last word.
    I’ll let him pronounce his verdict.”

“And now,” God says,
    this God who took me in hand
    from the moment of birth to be his servant,
To bring Jacob back home to him,
    to set a reunion for Israel—
What an honor for me in God’s eyes!
    That God should be my strength!
He says, “But that’s not a big enough job for my servant—
    just to recover the tribes of Jacob,
    merely to round up the strays of Israel.
I’m setting you up as a light for the nations
    so that my salvation becomes global!

God, Redeemer of Israel, The Holy of Israel,
    says to the despised one, kicked around by the nations,
    slave labor to the ruling class:
“Kings will see, get to their feet—the princes, too—
    and then fall on their faces in homage
Because of God, who has faithfully kept his word,
    The Holy of Israel, who has chosen you.”

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