Isaiah 40:1-31

God's promises to his people

1 Your God says, ‘Comfort my people.

Yes, comfort them.

2 Speak kindly to the people in Jerusalem.

Tell them that their time of trouble has now finished.

Their punishment has been enough.

The Lord has made them pay for their sins.

He has made them pay twice.’

3 Somebody's voice is shouting,

‘Prepare a way in the wilderness for the Lord.

Make a straight road in the desert for our God.

4 Raise up every valley,

and bring down every mountain and hill.

The rough ground and the ground that has rocks

will become flat.

5 Then the great glory of the Lord will appear!

All people will see it at the same time.

The Lord himself has promised this.’

6 A voice is saying, ‘Shout!’

But I say, ‘What should I shout?’

‘Shout that all people are like grass.

Their promises are like the flowers in a field.

7 Grass quickly dies,

and flowers fall to the ground.

The Lord causes this to happen,

when he sends a wind to blow on them.

It is true. People are like grass.

8 Grass quickly dies,

and flowers fall to the ground.

But God's promise will be true for ever.’

9 Zion, you have good news to tell to people!

So go up on to a high mountain.

Yes, Jerusalem, shout the good news!

Shout aloud, and do not be afraid.

Say to the towns in Judah, ‘Here is your God!’

10 Look! The Lord God is coming with power.

He will use his great strength to rule the people.

Look again! He is bringing his gifts with him.

He brings the prize that he has won in battle.

11 He takes care of his people,

like a shepherd who takes care of his sheep.

40:11A shepherd is a picture of somebody who takes care of his people. God often thinks about his people as sheep who need a shepherd.

He picks up the young lambs

and he carries them near to his heart.

He carefully leads the mother sheep that have lambs.

12 Nobody has done what God has done!

He measured all the water of the seas in one hand.

He used his hand to measure the whole sky.

He carefully weighed the soil of the earth.

He carefully weighed the mountains in his scales,

and the hills too.

13 Nobody understands the mind of the Lord.

Nobody can be his advisor,

to tell him what he should do.

14 He does not ask anybody to be his guide.

Nobody can teach him the proper way to do things.

Nobody can give him knowledge.

Nobody can teach him how to understand things.

15 The Lord looks at the nations

as if they are a little bit of water in a bucket.

They are like dust on his scales.

He weighs the islands as he would weigh dust.

16 All the trees from Lebanon's forests are not enough

to make a fire for his altar.

All its animals are not enough to offer to him

as burnt offerings.

17 All the nations in the world are not important to the Lord.

He sees them as empty and useless.

18 You cannot find anyone else who is like God.

There is no image that you can make to be like him.

19 A worker may use special skill to make an idol.

Another worker may cover it with gold.

He may use silver chains to make it beautiful.

20 A poor person may choose special wood for his idol.

He chooses wood that will not quickly become spoiled.

Then he finds a worker to make an idol for him.

He makes it so that it will not fall over!

21 You must surely know what is true!

You must have heard about it.

Somebody must have told you these things

from the beginning.

You should have understood it all

since the time that God made the earth.

22 God sits high above on his throne

where the earth and the sky meet.

The people on the earth seem like grasshoppers to him.

He hangs out the sky like a curtain.

He makes it like a tent for him to live in.

23 He takes away the power of kings.

He causes the rulers of the world to be useless.

24 They are like plants that soon disappear.

Somebody plants them in the ground.

But while their roots are still growing into the soil,

God blows on them and they become dry.

Then the wind carries them away like straw.

25 The Holy God says,

‘You cannot find anybody who is like me.

Nobody is the same as me.’

26 Look up at the sky!

Think about the one who made all the stars.

God is the one who brought together that great army!

He knows how many they are

and he knows each of their names!

When he calls them, each one is there,

because he is so strong and powerful.

27 You Israelites, descendants of Jacob, say,

‘The Lord does not know about our troubles.

He does not bring justice to us.’

Why do you say that?

28 You must surely know what is true!

You must have heard about it.

The Lord is the God who lives for ever.

He made the whole earth, near and far.

He never becomes tired or weak.

He knows and he understands everything.

29 He makes tired people strong again.

When people have become weak,

he gives them more strength.

30 Even young people become tired and weak.

Even strong young men may slip and fall down.

31 But people who wait for the Lord to help them

will receive new strength.

They will rise up high,

as if they have the wings of eagles.

They will run and they will not become tired.

They will walk and they will not become weak.