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!’

The Lord takes care of his people

21 The Lord says:

‘Jacob's descendants, remember these things,

because you, Israel, are my servant.

I created you to be my servant.

Israel, I will not forget you.

22 I have removed the guilt of your sins,

like the wind blows away a cloud.

When you turned against me,

I have quickly forgiven you.

Return to me now,

because I have rescued you.’

23 Sing aloud with joy, you heavens above us,

because the Lord has done it!

Shout as loudly as you can,

places deep below the earth.

You mountains, sing with joy,

and you forests and trees as well!

Be happy, because the Lord has redeemed his people.

He has rescued the Israelites, Jacob's descendants,

to show how great he is.

24 The Lord is your Redeemer. He took care of you before you were born. He says,

‘I am the Lord. I made everything.

I alone hung up the sky like a curtain.

I made the whole earth by myself.

25 I show that the false prophets speak useless messages.

I show that those who use magic to say what will happen are fools.

I cause the ideas of wise people to become useless.

People think that their advice is foolish.

26 But I do the things that my servants say will happen.

I show that my prophets' messages are true.

I say about Jerusalem, “People will live there again.”

I say about the towns in Judah, “I will cause people to build them again,

so that they are no longer heaps of stones.”

27 I say to the deep sea, “Become dry!”

and its streams become dry.

28 I say about King Cyrus,

“He is my shepherd.

44:28Leaders are often called shepherds, because they take care of people, like a shepherd takes care of his sheep.

He will do what I want him to do.”

He will give a command about Jerusalem.

He will say, “Build the city again!”

He will say about the temple,

“Build its foundation.” ’