Isaiah 44

1 ‘But now listen and obey me, my servant Jacob. Listen to me Israel, that I have chosen.’

2 This is what the Lord says. He is the Lord who made you. He caused you to have your shape when you were still inside your mother. And he will help you. He says, ‘Do not be afraid, Jacob my servant and Jeshurun, that I chose.

3 Do not be afraid for these reasons:

· I will pour water on to land that is very dry.

· I will pour streams of water on to dry ground.

· I will pour out my Spirit on to your children.

· I will do good things for your children's children.

4 They will grow up like grass in a field. They will grow like tall trees by streams of water.

5 One person will say, “I belong to the Lord.” And another person will call himself by the name Jacob. Then another person will write on his hand, “I am the Lord's”, and he will call himself Israel.’

6 This is what the Lord says. He is the King and Redeemer of Israel and he is the Lord of Many Armies. He says, ‘I am first and I am last. There is no other God.

7 Is there anyone like me? If there is, he should say so. He must say it. And he should tell me this:

· What has happened since I made my people a long time ago?

· What will happen in future years?

Yes! He should say what will happen!

8 Do not shake and do not be afraid. I told you about things a long time ago. And I said that they would happen. You are my witnesses. Is there any other God? No! There is no other Rock. I do not know about any other God.’

44:8‘Rock’ is a name for God. It means that he is strong. And it means that we can trust him.

9 Everybody who makes an idol has no value. And the things that they have pleasure in will not bring any help. Their witnesses cannot see anything. Also, they will be ashamed, because they do not know anything. 10 Everybody who has made the shape of a god has made only an idol. It will not help them. 11 Really, everybody like them will be ashamed. People who make those things are only human. They should all come and they should stand together (by their idols). They will be very much afraid. Also, they will quickly understand that they are very silly fools.

12 A man who works with iron takes a tool. He holds the iron in the fire with the tool. Then he uses a hammer. He causes the piece of iron to have a certain shape. He has made an idol with his strong arms. But then he becomes hungry and so he is not strong. He does not drink any water and so he feels weak. 13 A man who works with wood measures it with a ruler. Then he draws a shape. He uses one tool to cause the wood to have its first shape. He uses another tool to make the shape better. Then he causes its shape to seem like a man. He has made a beautiful human shape. It will remain in a house. 14 A man went to cut down cedar trees for himself. He had taken cypress and oak trees. And he had let them grow for himself, among the trees in the forest. He had planted a pine tree. And the rain had caused it to grow. 15 It is wood for the man to burn. So he takes some of it and he makes himself warm. Yes, and now he lights a fire and he bakes bread. And then he makes a god and he worships it. He makes an idol and he goes down on his knees in front of it. 16 Half of the wood he burnt in the fire. He made his meal with that half. He cooked his meat. And he ate as much as he wanted. He also made himself warm and he said, ‘Good! I am warm. I can see the fire.’ 17 Out of the other half he makes a god. It is his idol. He goes on his knees in front of it and he worships it. And he prays to it and he says, ‘Save me, because you are my god.’

18 These people do not know anything. They do not understand anything. That is because something is covering their eyes. So, they cannot see anything. Their minds cannot understand anything. 19 Nobody really thinks about it. Nobody knows about it and nobody understands it. Nobody says, ‘I burnt half of it in the fire. I even baked bread with the wood from it. I cooked meat and I ate it. Now I will make something to worship out of what is still there. I will go down on my knees in front of a piece of wood.’ 20 It is like he is eating ashes. His mind has made a mistake. And it leads him away from what is true. He cannot save himself. He does not understand that the thing in his right hand is a false god.

21 ‘Jacob, remember these things, because you, Israel, are my servant. I caused you to be my servant. Israel, I will not forget you.

22 I have swept away your sins like the wind blows away a cloud. The wrong things that you have done have disappeared like clouds in the morning. Return to me, because I have redeemed you.’

23 Skies above us, sing because you are so happy. Sing, because the Lord has done that! Earth beneath us, shout as loudly as you can. You mountains, start to sing. Do the same thing, you forests and all your trees! Do that, because the Lord has redeemed Jacob. He has shown his glory in Israel.

24 This is what the Lord says. He is your Redeemer. He caused you to have the right shape when you were still inside your mother. ‘I am the Lord, who has made everything. I alone hung out the skies like a curtain. I made the earth by myself.

25 I will destroy the messages of the false prophets. Some people try to say what will happen in future years. I will cause them to seem like fools. Some people think that they are clever. They think that they know everything. But I will change that. What they know will not mean anything. My servants say what I will do. My prophets say what will happen. I will do all those things.

26 I say about Jerusalem, “People will live there again.” I say about the towns in Judah, “People will build them.” And I say about the places that the enemy destroyed, “I will build them again.”

27 I said to the watery deep sea, “Be dry!” And I made your streams dry.

28 I say about Cyrus, “He is like my sheep-farmer. And he will do everything that gives pleasure to me.” Cyrus will say about Jerusalem, “Build it again!” And he will say about the temple, “Lay out the stones to build it on.” ’