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Encourage God’s People

40 Our God has said:

“Encourage my people!
    Give them comfort.
Speak kindly to Jerusalem
    and announce:
Your slavery is past;
    your punishment is over.
I, the Lord, made you pay
    double for your sins.”

Someone is shouting:
“Clear a path in the desert!
    Make a straight road
    for the Lord our God.
Fill in the valleys;
flatten every hill
    and mountain.
Level the rough
    and rugged ground.
Then the glory of the Lord
    will appear for all to see.
The Lord has promised this!”

Someone told me to shout,
and I asked,
    “What should I shout?”
We humans are merely grass,
and we last no longer
    than wild flowers.
At the Lord’s command,
flowers and grass disappear,
    and so do we.
Flowers and grass fade away,
but what our God has said
    will never change.

Your God Is Here!

There is good news
    for the city of Zion.
Shout it as loud as you can[a]
    from the highest mountain.
Don’t be afraid to shout
to the towns of Judah,
    “Your God is here!”
10 Look! The powerful Lord God
is coming
to rule
    with his mighty arm.
He brings with him
what he has taken in war,
    and he rewards his people.
11 The Lord cares for his nation,
just as shepherds care
    for their flocks.
He carries the lambs
    in his arms,
while gently leading
    the mother sheep.

Who Compares with God?

12 Did any of you measure
    the ocean by yourself
or stretch out the sky
    with your own hands?
Did you put the soil
    of the earth in a bucket
or weigh the hills and mountains
    on balance scales?

13 Has anyone told the Lord[b]
what he must do
    or given him advice?
14 Did the Lord ask anyone
to teach him wisdom
    and justice?
Who gave him knowledge
    and understanding?
15 To the Lord, all nations
are merely a drop in a bucket
    or dust on balance scales;
all of the islands
    are but a handful of sand.
16 The cattle
    on Lebanon’s mountains
would not be enough
to offer
    as a sacrifice to God,
and the trees would not
    be enough for the fire.
17 God thinks of the nations
    as far less than nothing.

18 Who compares with God?
    Is anything like him?
19 Is an idol at all like God?
    It is made of bronze
with a thin layer of gold,
    and decorated with silver.
20 Or special wood may be chosen[c]
    because it doesn’t rot—
then skilled hands
take care to make an idol
    that won’t fall on its face.

God Rules the Whole Earth

21 Don’t you know?
    Haven’t you heard?
Isn’t it clear that God
    created the world?[d]
22 God is the one who rules
    the whole earth,
and we that live here
    are merely insects.
He spread out the heavens
like a curtain or an open tent.

23 God brings down rulers
    and turns them into nothing.
24 They are like flowers
freshly sprung up
    and starting to grow.
But when God blows on them,
they wilt
and are carried off
    like straw in a storm.

25 The holy God asks,
“Who compares with me?
    Is anyone my equal?”

26 Look at the evening sky!
    Who created the stars?
Who gave them each a name?
    Who leads them like an army?
The Lord is so powerful
that none of the stars
    are ever missing.

The Lord Gives Strength

27 You people of Israel, say,
“God pays no attention to us!
    He doesn’t care if we
    are treated unjustly.”

But how can you say that?
28 Don’t you know?
    Haven’t you heard?
The Lord is the eternal God,
    Creator of the earth.
He never gets weary or tired;
his wisdom cannot be measured.

29 The Lord gives strength
    to those who are weary.
30 Even young people get tired,
    then stumble and fall.
31 But those who trust the Lord
    will find new strength.
They will be strong like eagles
    soaring upward on wings;
they will walk and run
    without getting tired.

Footnotes

  1. 40.9 There. . . can: Or “City of Jerusalem, you have good news. Shout it as loud as you can.”
  2. 40.13 the Lord: Or “the Lord’s Spirit.”
  3. 40.20 Or. . . chosen: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text. Two kinds of idols seem to be described: bronze idols covered with gold (verse 19) and wooden idols (verse 20).
  4. 40.21 Isn’t. . . world: Or “Hasn’t it been clear since the time of creation?”

Comfort for God’s People

40 Comfort, comfort(A) my people,
    says your God.
Speak tenderly(B) to Jerusalem,
    and proclaim to her
that her hard service(C) has been completed,(D)
    that her sin has been paid for,(E)
that she has received from the Lord’s hand
    double(F) for all her sins.

A voice of one calling:
“In the wilderness prepare
    the way(G) for the Lord[a];
make straight(H) in the desert
    a highway for our God.[b](I)
Every valley shall be raised up,(J)
    every mountain and hill(K) made low;
the rough ground shall become level,(L)
    the rugged places a plain.
And the glory(M) of the Lord will be revealed,
    and all people will see it together.(N)
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”(O)

A voice says, “Cry out.”
    And I said, “What shall I cry?”

“All people are like grass,(P)
    and all their faithfulness is like the flowers of the field.
The grass withers(Q) and the flowers fall,
    because the breath(R) of the Lord blows(S) on them.
    Surely the people are grass.
The grass withers and the flowers(T) fall,
    but the word(U) of our God endures(V) forever.(W)

You who bring good news(X) to Zion,
    go up on a high mountain.
You who bring good news to Jerusalem,[c](Y)
    lift up your voice with a shout,
lift it up, do not be afraid;
    say to the towns of Judah,
    “Here is your God!”(Z)
10 See, the Sovereign Lord comes(AA) with power,(AB)
    and he rules(AC) with a mighty arm.(AD)
See, his reward(AE) is with him,
    and his recompense accompanies him.
11 He tends his flock like a shepherd:(AF)
    He gathers the lambs in his arms(AG)
and carries them close to his heart;(AH)
    he gently leads(AI) those that have young.(AJ)

12 Who has measured the waters(AK) in the hollow of his hand,(AL)
    or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens?(AM)
Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket,
    or weighed the mountains on the scales
    and the hills in a balance?(AN)
13 Who can fathom the Spirit[d](AO) of the Lord,
    or instruct the Lord as his counselor?(AP)
14 Whom did the Lord consult to enlighten him,
    and who taught him the right way?
Who was it that taught him knowledge,(AQ)
    or showed him the path of understanding?(AR)

15 Surely the nations are like a drop in a bucket;
    they are regarded as dust on the scales;(AS)
    he weighs the islands as though they were fine dust.(AT)
16 Lebanon(AU) is not sufficient for altar fires,
    nor its animals(AV) enough for burnt offerings.
17 Before him all the nations(AW) are as nothing;(AX)
    they are regarded by him as worthless
    and less than nothing.(AY)

18 With whom, then, will you compare God?(AZ)
    To what image(BA) will you liken him?
19 As for an idol,(BB) a metalworker casts it,
    and a goldsmith(BC) overlays it with gold(BD)
    and fashions silver chains for it.
20 A person too poor to present such an offering
    selects wood(BE) that will not rot;
they look for a skilled worker
    to set up an idol(BF) that will not topple.(BG)

21 Do you not know?
    Have you not heard?(BH)
Has it not been told(BI) you from the beginning?(BJ)
    Have you not understood(BK) since the earth was founded?(BL)
22 He sits enthroned(BM) above the circle of the earth,
    and its people are like grasshoppers.(BN)
He stretches out the heavens(BO) like a canopy,(BP)
    and spreads them out like a tent(BQ) to live in.(BR)
23 He brings princes(BS) to naught
    and reduces the rulers of this world to nothing.(BT)
24 No sooner are they planted,
    no sooner are they sown,
    no sooner do they take root(BU) in the ground,
than he blows(BV) on them and they wither,(BW)
    and a whirlwind sweeps them away like chaff.(BX)

25 “To whom will you compare me?(BY)
    Or who is my equal?” says the Holy One.(BZ)
26 Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens:(CA)
    Who created(CB) all these?
He who brings out the starry host(CC) one by one
    and calls forth each of them by name.
Because of his great power and mighty strength,(CD)
    not one of them is missing.(CE)

27 Why do you complain, Jacob?
    Why do you say, Israel,
“My way is hidden from the Lord;
    my cause is disregarded by my God”?(CF)
28 Do you not know?
    Have you not heard?(CG)
The Lord is the everlasting(CH) God,
    the Creator(CI) of the ends of the earth.(CJ)
He will not grow tired or weary,(CK)
    and his understanding no one can fathom.(CL)
29 He gives strength(CM) to the weary(CN)
    and increases the power of the weak.
30 Even youths grow tired and weary,
    and young men(CO) stumble and fall;(CP)
31 but those who hope(CQ) in the Lord
    will renew their strength.(CR)
They will soar on wings like eagles;(CS)
    they will run and not grow weary,
    they will walk and not be faint.(CT)

Footnotes

  1. Isaiah 40:3 Or A voice of one calling in the wilderness: / “Prepare the way for the Lord
  2. Isaiah 40:3 Hebrew; Septuagint make straight the paths of our God
  3. Isaiah 40:9 Or Zion, bringer of good news, / go up on a high mountain. / Jerusalem, bringer of good news
  4. Isaiah 40:13 Or mind

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