Isaiah 43:1-44:20

God redeems Israel

1 Israelites, descendants of Jacob, the Lord created you, and he made you who you are. Now he says this to you:

‘Do not be afraid,

I have rescued you to belong to me.

I have called you by your name,

so now you are mine.

2 When you go through deep water,

I will be with you.

When you cross dangerous rivers,

you will not drown.

When you walk through fire,

it will not burn you.

The flames will not destroy you.

43:2The dangerous rivers and the fires are pictures of different kinds of trouble. God says that he will always be there to help his people, whatever troubles they may have.

3 I am the Lord, your God,

so I will rescue you.

I am Israel's Holy God, your Saviour.

I gave Egypt as the price to buy you back.

I gave Ethiopia and Seba to their enemies,

so that you could be free.

4 You are very valuable to me.

You are my special people, and I love you.

So I will give other people to their enemies,

to keep your lives safe.

Other nations will pay the price,

instead of you.

5 I am with you,

so do not be afraid.

I will bring your descendants from the east.

I will also bring you together from the west.

6 I will say to people in the north,

“Give them back!”

And I will say to people in the south,

“Do not stop them!”

Bring my sons from places that are far away.

Bring my daughters from the ends of the earth.

7 Bring back everyone who belongs to me.

I created them,

so that they would bring honour to me.

I made them who they are.

Yes, I made them!

8 So bring the people to me.

They have eyes, but they are blind!

They have ears, but they are deaf!

9 Tell the people of all nations to come together.

Did any of their gods tell us what would happen?

If anyone heard them speak the truth,

they should bring those people to this court.

Then they can tell us that they were right.

People could say, “They spoke the truth.” ’

10 The Lord says to his people,

‘You are the people who must say that I am right.

I have chosen you as my servant.

I chose you so that you may know me,

and also believe in me.

Then you would understand that I am the true God.

There has never been any other god except me,

and there never will be.

11 I am the Lord, I alone.

There is no other saviour, except me.

12 I promised to save you,

and I did what I said I would do.

I told everyone what I had done.

There was no foreign god among you,

who did that for you.

So you are the people who must say

that I am the only true God.’

That is what the Lord says.

13 ‘Today and every day, I am God.

If I hold you in my hand,

nobody can take you away from my power.

When I do something,

nobody can change it.’

14 The Lord is your Redeemer, Israel's Holy God. He says this:

‘I will send an army to attack Babylon,

so that you, my people, will be safe.

I will cause all the Babylonians to run away.

They were proud of their great ships,

but now they will use them to escape from their enemies.

15 I am the Lord, your Holy God.

I am the one who created Israel.

I am your King.’

16 The Lord is the one who made a road through the sea for you to cross. You went on a dry path in the middle of the deep water. 17 He led the enemy's great army, with their chariots and their horses, to chase you. They all fell down and the water drowned them. Their lives finished, like the flame of a lamp that stops burning.

18 The Lord did all that for you, but now he says,

‘Forget those things that happened a long time ago.

Do not think about past events.

19 Look! Now I will do something that is new!

It is already beginning to happen.

Surely, you can recognize it.

Yes, I will make a road through the desert.

I will make streams in the wilderness.

20 The wild animals in the desert praise me,

including the jackals and the owls.

They praise me because I put water in the desert,

and streams in the wilderness.

I am giving water to the people that I have chosen,

so that they will not be thirsty.

21 They are the people that I made for myself,

so that they would praise me aloud.

22 But you Israelites, Jacob's descendants,

you did not call to me to help you.

You became tired of serving me.

23 You did not bring sheep to me as burnt offerings.

You did not make sacrifices to me,

to show that you respect me.

I did not make it difficult for you,

when I asked you to bring offerings to me.

When I asked you to burn incense to worship me,

that should not have made you tired.

24 You did not buy any spices

to offer them to me.

You did not bring me the fat from your sacrifices

to make me happy.

Instead, you have made it difficult for me,

because of all your sins.

All the evil things that you do

have caused me to become very tired.

25 But I am the one who removes your sins

when you do not obey me.

I, the Lord, do that, because of who I am.

I do not hold your sins in my mind.

26 So let us talk together about what has happened.

Show me why you think that you are right!

27 Your first ancestor did not obey me.

43:27‘Your first ancestor’ may mean Jacob (Israel). He was the ancestor of the Israelite nation.

Your leaders and teachers turned against me.

28 So I caused the priests of your temple

to become ashamed.

I caused enemies to destroy Israel.

I let them insult Jacob's descendants.’

Isaiah 44

1 ‘Israelites, Jacob's descendants, listen to me!

I have chosen you to be my servant.’

2 The Lord created you. Before you were born, he was already taking care of you. He will continue to help you. He says to you,

‘Do not be afraid, my servant, Jacob.

I call you “Jeshurun”,

and I have chosen you to belong to me.

3 I will pour water onto land that is thirsty.

I will pour streams of water on the dry ground.

I will pour out my Spirit on your descendants,

and I will bless them.

4 They will grow up like fresh grass in a field.

They will grow like willow trees beside a river.

5 Someone will say, “I belong to the Lord.”

Another person will call himself by the name “Jacob”.

Someone else will write on his hand, “I am the Lord's”,

and he will call himself “Israel”.’

6 The Lord is Israel's King and Redeemer. He is the Lord Almighty. He says,

‘I am the first and I am the last.

There is no God, except me.

7 Is there anyone like me? If there is, he should say so!

He must tell me why he thinks he is so great.

Long ago I made my people become a nation.

Let him say what he has done since then!

Let him tell us what will happen in future years!

8 My people, do not shake with fear.

Long ago I told you about things that would happen.

You can tell people the truth about me.

You know that I am the only true God.

There is no other Rock to keep you safe.

44:8‘Rock’ is a name for God. It means that he is a strong place where we can be safe.

There surely is no other God except me.’

9 All the people who make idols are fools.

The images which make them so happy are useless.

Those who worship idols cannot see the truth.

They do not understand what they are doing,

and they will be ashamed.

10 Only a fool makes an idol and thinks that it is his god.

An image cannot help him.

11 Those who work with him will all be ashamed.

Those workers with special skills are only human.

They should come together,

and they should stand in front of me.

That will make them very frightened.

They will realize how foolish they are!

12 This is how they make their idols:

A man who works with iron takes his tool. He makes the metal hot in the fire. Then he uses hammers to hit it with his strong arms. He hits it so that it has the right shape. But then he becomes hungry. He is too weak to work any more. He does not drink any water and so he feels tired.

13 A carpenter measures a piece of wood. Then he draws a shape for the image. He uses his tools to cut the wood. He carefully makes it have the right shape. He makes the image have the shape of a human. It looks like a beautiful person. Now it is ready to go in its special room.

14 He may cut down cedar trees to make something. He may cut down a cypress tree, or an oak tree. He takes these trees from the forest. Or he may plant his own pine tree, so that the rain helps it to grow well. 15 He uses some of the wood to burn. He makes himself warm beside the fire. He may light a fire and then he may bake bread on it. Then he uses some of the wood to make a god that he will worship! Yes, he makes an idol, and he bends down in front of it. 16 Half of the wood he burns in the fire. He uses it to cook his meat, and he eats plenty of food. He makes himself warm and he says, ‘Good! Now I am warm as I look at the fire.’ 17 He uses the rest of the wood to make an idol to be his god. He bends down in front of it and he worships it. He prays to it and he says, ‘Save me, because you are my god!’

18 People like that are stupid. They do not understand anything. They cannot see the truth, as if they are blind. Their minds cannot think properly. 19 None of them think carefully about what they are doing. They do not say to themselves, ‘I burned half of the wood in the fire. I even baked bread and I cooked meat on it. It gave me food to eat. Then I used the rest of the wood to make a useless idol! I took a piece of wood and I worshipped it! Why did I do that?’

20 Someone like that is stupid enough to eat ashes. His mind has deceived him. He cannot save himself from his lies. He will not say to himself, ‘This thing that I hold in my right hand is completely false!’