The Lord Saves Israel
Family of Jacob, the Lord created you.
People of Israel, he formed you.
He says, “Do not be afraid.
I will set you free.
I will send for you by name.
You belong to me.
You will pass through deep waters.
But I will be with you.
You will pass through the rivers.
But their waters will not sweep over you.
You will walk through fire.
But you will not be burned.
The flames will not harm you.
I am the Lord your God.
I am the Holy One of Israel.
I am the one who saves you.
I will give up Egypt to set you free.
I will give up Cush and Seba for you.
You are priceless to me.
I love you and honor you.
So I will trade other people for you.
I will give up other nations to save your lives.
Do not be afraid. I am with you.
I will bring your people back from the east.
I will gather you from the west.
I will say to the north, ‘Let them go!’
And I will say to the south, ‘Do not hold them back.’
Bring my sons from far away.
Bring my daughters from the farthest places on earth.
Bring back everyone who belongs to me.
I created them to bring glory to me.
I formed them and made them.”
Lead my people into court.
They have eyes but can’t see.
Bring those who have ears but can’t hear.
All the nations are gathering together.
All of them are coming.
Which one of their gods said ahead of time
that the people of Israel would return?
Which of them told us anything at all about the past?
Let them bring in their witnesses to prove they were right.
Then others will hear them. And they will say,
“What they said is true.”
“People of Israel, you are my witnesses,” announces the Lord.
“I have chosen you to be my servant.
I wanted you to know me and believe in me.
I wanted you to understand that I am the one and only God.
Before me, there was no other god at all.
And there will not be any god after me.
I am the one and only Lord.
I am the only one who can save you.
I have made known what would happen.
I saved you. I have told you about it.
I did this. It was not some other god you worship.
You are my witnesses that I am God,” announces the Lord.
“And that is not all! I have always been God,
and I always will be.
No one can save people from my power.
When I do something, who can undo it?”
The Lord Is Full of Mercy but Israel Is Unfaithful
The Lord sets his people free.
He is the Holy One of Israel. He says,
“People of Israel, I will send an army to Babylon to save you.
I will cause all the Babylonians to run away.
They will try to escape in the ships they were so proud of.
I am your Lord and King.
I am your Holy One.
I created you.”
Long ago the Lord opened
a way for his people to go through the Red Sea.
He made a path through the mighty waters.
He caused Egypt to send out its chariots and horses.
He sent its entire army to its death.
Its soldiers lay down there.
They never got up again.
They were destroyed.
They were blown out like a dimly burning flame.
But the Lord says,
“Forget the things that happened in the past.
Do not keep on thinking about them.
I am about to do something new.
It is beginning to happen even now.
Don’t you see it coming?
I am going to make a way for you to go through the desert.
I will make streams of water in the dry and empty land.
Even wild dogs and owls honor me.
That is because I provide water in the desert
for my people to drink.
I cause streams to flow in the dry and empty land
for my chosen ones.
I do it for the people I made for myself.
I want them to sing praise to me.
“Family of Jacob, you have not prayed to me as you should.
People of Israel, you have not worn yourselves out for me.
You have not brought me sheep for burnt offerings.
You have not honored me with your sacrifices.
I have not loaded you down
by requiring grain offerings.
I have not made you tired
by requiring you to burn incense.
But you have not bought any sweet-smelling cane for me.
You have not given me the fattest parts
of your animal sacrifices.
Instead, you have loaded me down with your sins.
You have made me tired with the wrong things you have done.
“I am the one who wipes out your lawless acts.
I do it because of who I am.
I will not remember your sins anymore.
But let us go to court together.
Remind me of what you have done.
State your case.
Prove to me that you are not guilty.
Your father Jacob sinned.
The people I sent to teach you refused to obey me.
So I put the high officials of your temple to shame.
I let Jacob’s family be totally destroyed.
And I let people make fun of Israel.
The Lord Chooses Israel
“Family of Jacob, listen to me. You are my servant.
People of Israel, I have chosen you.
I made you. I formed you when you were born as a nation.
I will help you.
So listen to what I am saying.
Family of Jacob, do not be afraid. You are my servant.
People of Israel, I have chosen you.
I will pour out water on the thirsty land.
I will make streams flow on the dry ground.
I will pour out my Spirit on your children.
I will pour out my blessing on their children after them.
They will spring up like grass in a meadow.
They will grow like poplar trees near flowing streams.
Some will say, ‘We belong to the Lord.’
Others will call themselves by Jacob’s name.
Still others will write on their hands,
‘We belong to the Lord.’
And they will be called by the name of Israel.
Worship the Lord, Not False Gods
“I am Israel’s King. I set them free.
I am the Lord who rules over all.
So listen to what I am saying.
I am the first and the last.
I am the one and only God.
Who is like me? Let him come forward and speak boldly.
Let him tell me everything that has happened
since I created my people long ago.
And let him tell me what has not happened yet.
Let him announce ahead of time what is going to take place.
Do not tremble with fear. Do not be afraid.
Didn’t I announce everything that has happened?
Didn’t I tell you about it long ago?
You are my witnesses. Is there any other God but me?
No! There is no other Rock. I do not know even one.”
Those who make statues of gods don’t amount to anything.
And the statues they think so much of are worthless.
Those who would speak up for them are blind.
They don’t know anything.
So they will be put to shame.
People make statues of gods.
But those gods can’t do any good.
People who do that will be put to shame.
Those who make statues of gods are mere human beings.
Let all of them come together and state their case.
They will be terrified and put to shame.
A blacksmith gets his tool.
He uses it to shape metal over the burning coals.
He uses his hammers to make a statue of a god.
He forms it with his powerful arm.
He gets hungry and loses his strength.
He doesn’t drink any water.
He gets weaker and weaker.
A carpenter measures a piece of wood with a line.
He draws a pattern on it with a marker.
He cuts out a statue with sharp tools.
He marks it with compasses.
He shapes it into the form of a beautiful human being.
He does this so he can put it in a temple.
He cuts down a cedar tree.
Or perhaps he takes a cypress or an oak tree.
It might be a tree that grew in the forest.
Or it might be a pine tree he planted.
And the rain made it grow.
A man gets wood from trees to burn.
He uses some of it to warm himself.
He starts a fire and bakes bread.
But he also uses some of it to make a god and worship it.
He makes a statue of a god and bows down to it.
He burns half of the wood in the fire.
He prepares a meal over it.
He cooks meat over it.
He eats until he is full.
He also warms himself. He says,
“Good! I’m getting warm.
The fire is nice and hot.”
From the rest of the wood he makes a statue.
It becomes his god.
He bows down and worships it.
He prays to it. He says,
“Save me! You are my god!”
People like that don’t even know what they are doing.
Their eyes are shut so that they can’t see the truth.
Their minds are closed so that they can’t understand it.
No one even stops to think about this.
No one has any sense or understanding.
If anyone did, they would say,
“I used half of the wood for fuel.
I even baked bread over the fire.
I cooked meat. Then I ate it.
Should I now make a statue of a god
out of the wood that’s left over?
Should I bow down to a block of wood?
The Lord would hate that.”
That’s as foolish as eating ashes!
The mind of someone like that
has led him astray.
He can’t save himself.
He can’t bring himself to say,
“This thing I’m holding in my right hand
isn’t really a god at all.”
The Lord says, “Family of Jacob, remember these things.
People of Israel, you are my servant.
I have made you. You are my servant.
Israel, I will not forget you.
I will sweep your sins away as if they were a cloud.
I will blow them away as if they were the morning mist.
Return to me.
Then I will set you free.”
Sing for joy, you heavens!
The Lord does wonderful things.
Shout out loud, you earth!
Burst into song, you mountains!
Sing, you forests and all your trees!
The Lord sets the family of Jacob free.
He shows his glory in Israel.