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The Lord’s Promise to Israel

44 People of Israel,
I have chosen you
    as my servant.
I am your Creator.
You were in my care
    even before you were born.
Israel, don’t be terrified!
You are my chosen servant,
    my very favorite.[a]

I will bless the thirsty land
    by sending streams of water;
I will bless your descendants
    by giving them my Spirit.
They will spring up like grass[b]
or like willow trees
    near flowing streams.
They will worship me
    and become my people.
They will write my name
    on the back of their hands.[c]

I am the Lord All-Powerful,
the first and the last,
    the one and only God.
Israel, I have rescued you!
    I am your King.
Can anyone compare with me?
If so, let them speak up
    and tell me now.
Let them say what has happened
since I made my nation
    long ago,
and let them tell
    what is going to happen.[d]
Don’t tremble with fear!
Didn’t I tell you long ago?
    Didn’t you hear me?
I alone am God—
no one else is a mighty rock.[e]

Idols Can’t Do a Thing

The Lord said:

Those people who make idols
    are nothing themselves,
and the idols they treasure
    are just as worthless.
Worshipers of idols are blind,
    stupid, and foolish.
10 Why make an idol or an image
    that can’t do a thing?
11 Everyone who makes idols
and all who worship them
    are mere humans,
who will end up
    sadly disappointed.
Let them face me in court
    and be terrified.

Idols and Firewood

12 A metalworker shapes an idol
by using a hammer[f]
    and heat from the fire.
In his powerful hand
    he holds a hammer,
as he pounds the metal
    into the proper shape.
But he gets hungry and thirsty
    and loses his strength.

13 Some woodcarver measures
a piece of wood,
    then draws an outline.
The idol is carefully carved
    with each detail exact.
At last it looks like a person
    and is placed in a temple.
14 Either cedar, cypress, oak,
or any tree from the forest
    may be chosen.
Or even a pine tree planted
by the woodcarver
    and watered by the rain.

15 Some of the wood is used
to make a fire for heating
    or for cooking.
One piece is made into an idol,
then the woodcarver bows down
    and worships it.
16 He enjoys the warm fire
and the meat that was roasted
    over the burning coals.
17 Afterwards, he bows down
    to worship the wooden idol.
“Protect me!” he says.
    “You are my god.”

18 Those who worship idols are stupid and blind! 19 They don’t have enough sense to say to themselves, “I made a fire with half of the wood and cooked my bread and meat on it. Then I made something worthless with the other half. Why worship a block of wood?”

20 How can anyone be stupid enough to trust something that can be burned to ashes?[g] No one can save themselves like that. Don’t they realize that the idols they hold in their hands are not really gods?

The Lord Won’t Forget His People

21 People of Israel,
you are my servant,
    so remember all of this.
Israel, I created you,
and you are my servant.
    I won’t forget you.[h]
22 Turn back to me!
    I have rescued you
and swept away your sins
    as though they were clouds.

Sing Praises to the Lord

23 Tell the heavens and the earth
    to start singing!
Tell the mountains
and every tree in the forest
    to join in the song!
The Lord has rescued his people;
    now they will worship him.

The Lord Created Everything

24 Israel, I am your Lord.
I am your source of life,
    and I have rescued you.
I created everything
from the sky above
    to the earth below.

25 I make liars of false prophets
    and fools of fortunetellers.
I take human wisdom
    and turn it into nonsense.
26 I will make the message
    of my prophets come true.
They are saying, “Jerusalem
    will be filled with people,
and the Lord will rebuild
    the towns of Judah.”

27 I am the one who commands
the sea and its streams
    to run dry.
28 I am also the one who says,
“Cyrus will lead my people
    and obey my orders.
Jerusalem and the temple
    will be rebuilt.”

Footnotes

  1. 44.2 my very favorite: Or “Jeshurun.”
  2. 44.4 like grass: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
  3. 44.5 write. . . hands: To show that they belong to the Lord and to Israel.
  4. 44.7 Let them say. . . happen: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
  5. 44.8 mighty rock: See the note at 17.10.
  6. 44.12 by using a hammer: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
  7. 44.20 How. . . ashes: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
  8. 44.21 I won’t forget you: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.

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