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41 Eternal One: Keep quiet and listen to Me, lands along the seacoast;
        give the people of the nations a chance to regain their strength.
    Let them come close, all together, to speak their minds and present their case;
        let’s consider the facts and make a judgment.
    Who brought up this eastern hero? Who called up his justice service?
        He lays nations at his feet and makes an end of their kings.
    With a thrust of his sword and the bend of his bow,
        this hero turns kings and their armies into dust.
    With agility and speed unmatched, he chases them down
        and is himself unscathed, even though he is passing over unfamiliar land.
    Who has performed these deeds and accomplished this purpose?
        Who calls each generation into being from the first on down?

It is I, the Eternal One your God.
    I am the first.
    And to the very last, I am the One.

The lands along the seacoast have seen and are scared.
    The ends of earth take to shaking and yet still they draw near.
They try to bolster each other up saying,
    “Have courage, brother, have courage!”
Recognizing their mutual dependence, the artisan encourages the goldsmith;
    the one who hammers the metal emboldens the one who welds,
Saying, “Looks good! Fine job!” and fastens the idols together with nails,
    making it stand firm and stable.

The nations fashion new idols in the hopes these new gods will be able to protect them during the coming battles against the eastern hero, Cyrus of Persia. If powerful Babylon can fall before him and his mighty army, what chance do other nations have? But Israel has nothing to fear. For God’s covenant people, Cyrus’ rise to power is good news; his ascension and Babylon’s defeat are God’s answers to their anxious prayers. Cyrus’ campaign to build his empire is not simply the will of man or a coincidence of history; it is the outworking of God’s plan to redeem and restore His scattered people. It was God who sent His disobedient covenant partners into exile; it will be God who brings them back home.

Eternal One: But you, My servant, Israel,
        Jacob whom I have chosen and descendant of My friend, Abraham,
    I have reached to wherever you are in the farthest corners of earth,
        and the most hidden places therein.
    I have called to you and said, “You are my servant.
        I have chosen you, not thrown you away!”
10     So don’t be afraid. I am here, with you;
        don’t be dismayed, for I am your God.
    I will strengthen you, help you.
        I am here with My right hand to make right and to hold you up.
11     Look, everyone who hated you and sought to do you wrong
        will be embarrassed and confused.
    Whoever challenged you with hot-headed bluster
        will become as if they never were, and nevermore will be.
12     You may go looking for them, but you won’t find them;
        because those who tried to fight with you will become as if they never were.
13     After all, it is I, the Eternal One your God,
        who has hold of your right hand,
    Who whispers in your ear, “Don’t be afraid. I will help you.”

14 So don’t be afraid, Jacob, though you are nothing but a worm.
    People of Israel, you little bug, you have nothing to fear.

Eternal One: I will help you. I am One who saves you,
        the Holy One of Israel.
15     I will turn you into a formidable threshing sledge
        with brand new sharp blades that will mow down entire mountains
        and turn the hills into chaff.
16     You will separate value from waste, and a great wind
        and a strong storm will take away what is useless and unimportant.
    You will take joy in the Eternal.
        You will glow with pride in the Holy One of Israel.
17     And when people thirst, when those poor souls with parched tongues
        look in vain for something to drink,
    I, the Eternal, the God of Israel, won’t leave them to suffer. I will respond
18     By making the hard, brown hills sparkle with streams of fresh water
        and causing valleys to come alive with springs.
    I will see that gentle pools wait on the desert floor for the weary traveler,
        and great fountains bubble up from dry ground;
19     In the desert, I will plant cedars, woody acacias,
        myrtles, and olive trees.
    I will establish great cypresses to flourish in the desert places,
        plant oaks and pine trees side by side.

20 They’ll see all this and understand. They’ll ponder together
    and come to know that it is the power of the Eternal One that produced this.
They will know that the Holy One of Israel created it.

21 Eternal One: Present your case. Lay out your arguments
        and call your witnesses to appear before the King of Jacob.

God and Israel now become judge and jury as the nations bring their idols and make the case that their handmade gods can indeed predict the future.

22-23 Come on and bring your idols. Now tell us what is to come,
    and while you’re at it, tell us what happened before.
Can you explain to us so that we, too, may understand?
    Go ahead, tell us what the future holds.
Surely you can, if you are truly gods. Do good, or do bad.
    Just do something—anything—to amaze or frighten us.
24 Sure enough, you are not gods; you are nothing at all.
    You have nothing to show for your work or yourselves.
Fools! Only fools would choose you to be their god. Detestable.

25 Eternal One: I, the Lord, I have called up for service
        one from the north, and he comes from the rising sun
        and he will invoke My name.
    He will render rulers like mud under his shoes,
        trampling them down like so much clay.
26     Did any of you gods tell us about this long ago, so we would know?
        Did any of you indicate to us that we might agree, “He is right”?
    No, no one told us. No one made an announcement, and no one hears what you say.
27     I was the first to say to Zion, “Look, here they are!”
        I sent a messenger to announce the good news to Jerusalem.
28     But I am looking, and there isn’t anyone.
        I have asked around, and no one knows, no one can tell Me.
29     See here, all of these so-called gods are false;
        their works are nothing;
    These cast-metal images are like wind, sheer emptiness.

The Helper of Israel

41 “Be silent(A) before me, you islands!(B)
    Let the nations renew their strength!(C)
Let them come forward(D) and speak;
    let us meet together(E) at the place of judgment.

“Who has stirred(F) up one from the east,(G)
    calling him in righteousness(H) to his service[a]?(I)
He hands nations over to him
    and subdues kings before him.
He turns them to dust(J) with his sword,
    to windblown chaff(K) with his bow.(L)
He pursues them and moves on unscathed,(M)
    by a path his feet have not traveled before.
Who has done this and carried it through,
    calling(N) forth the generations from the beginning?(O)
I, the Lord—with the first of them
    and with the last(P)—I am he.(Q)

The islands(R) have seen it and fear;
    the ends of the earth(S) tremble.
They approach and come forward;
    they help each other
    and say to their companions, “Be strong!(T)
The metalworker(U) encourages the goldsmith,(V)
    and the one who smooths with the hammer
    spurs on the one who strikes the anvil.
One says of the welding, “It is good.”
    The other nails down the idol so it will not topple.(W)

“But you, Israel, my servant,(X)
    Jacob, whom I have chosen,(Y)
    you descendants of Abraham(Z) my friend,(AA)
I took you from the ends of the earth,(AB)
    from its farthest corners I called(AC) you.
I said, ‘You are my servant’;(AD)
    I have chosen(AE) you and have not rejected you.
10 So do not fear,(AF) for I am with you;(AG)
    do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen(AH) you and help(AI) you;
    I will uphold you(AJ) with my righteous right hand.(AK)

11 “All who rage(AL) against you
    will surely be ashamed and disgraced;(AM)
those who oppose(AN) you
    will be as nothing and perish.(AO)
12 Though you search for your enemies,
    you will not find them.(AP)
Those who wage war against you
    will be as nothing(AQ) at all.
13 For I am the Lord your God
    who takes hold of your right hand(AR)
and says to you, Do not fear;
    I will help(AS) you.
14 Do not be afraid,(AT) you worm(AU) Jacob,
    little Israel, do not fear,
for I myself will help(AV) you,” declares the Lord,
    your Redeemer,(AW) the Holy One(AX) of Israel.
15 “See, I will make you into a threshing sledge,(AY)
    new and sharp, with many teeth.
You will thresh the mountains(AZ) and crush them,
    and reduce the hills to chaff.(BA)
16 You will winnow(BB) them, the wind will pick them up,
    and a gale(BC) will blow them away.(BD)
But you will rejoice(BE) in the Lord
    and glory(BF) in the Holy One(BG) of Israel.

17 “The poor and needy search for water,(BH)
    but there is none;
    their tongues are parched with thirst.(BI)
But I the Lord will answer(BJ) them;
    I, the God of Israel, will not forsake(BK) them.
18 I will make rivers flow(BL) on barren heights,
    and springs within the valleys.
I will turn the desert(BM) into pools of water,(BN)
    and the parched ground into springs.(BO)
19 I will put in the desert(BP)
    the cedar and the acacia,(BQ) the myrtle and the olive.
I will set junipers(BR) in the wasteland,
    the fir and the cypress(BS) together,(BT)
20 so that people may see and know,(BU)
    may consider and understand,(BV)
that the hand(BW) of the Lord has done this,
    that the Holy One(BX) of Israel has created(BY) it.

21 “Present your case,(BZ)” says the Lord.
    “Set forth your arguments,” says Jacob’s King.(CA)
22 “Tell us, you idols,
    what is going to happen.(CB)
Tell us what the former things(CC) were,
    so that we may consider them
    and know their final outcome.
Or declare to us the things to come,(CD)
23     tell us what the future holds,
    so we may know(CE) that you are gods.
Do something, whether good or bad,(CF)
    so that we will be dismayed(CG) and filled with fear.
24 But you are less than nothing(CH)
    and your works are utterly worthless;(CI)
    whoever chooses you is detestable.(CJ)

25 “I have stirred(CK) up one from the north,(CL) and he comes—
    one from the rising sun who calls on my name.
He treads(CM) on rulers as if they were mortar,
    as if he were a potter treading the clay.
26 Who told of this from the beginning,(CN) so we could know,
    or beforehand, so we could say, ‘He was right’?
No one told of this,
    no one foretold(CO) it,
    no one heard any words(CP) from you.
27 I was the first to tell(CQ) Zion, ‘Look, here they are!’
    I gave to Jerusalem a messenger of good news.(CR)
28 I look but there is no one(CS)
    no one among the gods to give counsel,(CT)
    no one to give answer(CU) when I ask them.
29 See, they are all false!
    Their deeds amount to nothing;(CV)
    their images(CW) are but wind(CX) and confusion.

Footnotes

  1. Isaiah 41:2 Or east, / whom victory meets at every step

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