Isaiah 51

Be like God's servant

1 ‘Listen to me, you people who are trying to be very good. And listen to me, you people who are coming to the Lord. Think about the rock from which he cut you. And think about the rocky place from which he took you.

2 Think about your ancestor Abraham. And think about Sarah whom you came from. When I spoke to Abraham, he was only one man. Then I blessed him and I made from him many people.’

51:2The ‘rock’ is like a picture of Abraham.

3 Surely, the Lord will be kind to Zion. And he will make it strong again. He will mend all the places that the enemy destroyed. He will make the dry ground become like the Garden of Eden. He will make the wilderness become like the garden of the Lord. People will be happy there. They will feel very happy there. People will hear songs that thank God.

4 ‘Listen to me, my people. And hear me, my country. The law will go out from me. And what I fairly decide will be like a light to every country.

5 The good things that I do will be near to you. I will soon make you very safe. And my arm will decide fairly for every country. The islands will look to me and they will hope for my arm to arrive.’

51:5Many Christians believe that the Arm of the Lord is a name for Jesus.

6 ‘Lift up your eyes to the skies and look at the earth beneath them. The skies will disappear like smoke and the earth will become old like a coat. The people who live there will die in the same way. But the safe place that I give will be there always. The very good things that I do will never fail.’

51:6Many translations have righteousness for ‘very good things’. It is not only what God does. It is also what he is.

7 ‘You people know that I am very good. So listen to me. You people have my law in your minds. Listen to me. Some people say that you are wrong. But do not be afraid of those people. Do not let them make you afraid with their bad words.

8 Do not be afraid! They will become like clothes that a moths have eaten! They will be like wool that worms have eaten. But the very good things that I do will never have an end. The safe place that I offer to you will never have an end.’

9 Awake, awake you arm of the Lord! Put on strength like you put on clothes! Wake, as you did in past days. Awake as you did for people many years ago. You cut Rahab into pieces. You pushed your sword into that large animal.

10 You made the sea and the deep waters dry. You made a road deep in the sea. The people that you redeemed crossed over.

11 And the people that the Lord has ransomed will return. And they will sing while they go into Zion. And they will be so happy that it will always show on their faces. They will continue to be happy, very, very happy. Then, they will not still feel sad and they will not want to cry.

12 ‘I, the Lord, yes, I am he who will make you people strong.

You people in Zion, you do not have to be afraid of men who will always die. They are only the sons of other men and they are only like grass.

13 But you all forget the Lord who made you! He put the skies in their place. And he made what is beneath the earth. Do not be afraid every day of your life, because your oppressor is very angry. The oppressor wants to destroy things. But really he can do nothing, even if he is angry.

14 The people who are very afraid will become free. They will not die in a hole in the ground. They will not be without their bread, 15 because I am the Lord your God. I am the God who moves the sea. When I move it, its waters make a great noise! My name is “the Lord of Many Armies”. 16 I have put my words into your mouth, (my servant). And I have covered you with the shadow of my hand. It is I who will put the skies in their place. And I will make what is beneath the earth. And I will say to Zion, “You are my people.” ’

17 Awake, awake! Get up, people in Jerusalem! The Lord has been angry with you and he has punished you. It was like you were drinking something bad from a cup. You have drunk everything from the cup that makes people afraid (in front of God).

18 You have had many sons. But among all your sons, there was nobody to be your guide. You have taught many sons. But among all those sons, there was nobody who could lead you by the hand.

19 These two things have destroyed you. I do not know anyone who can make you strong again. An enemy broke all your buildings and they destroyed them. The sword killed your people. And they died because there was no food. I do not know anyone who can make you happy again.

20 Your sons have fallen down. They lie at the end of every street. They are like animals that something has caught. The Lord was angry and the serious words of your God punished them.

21 So, hear this, you people that God is hurting. You are like drunks. But it is not because you have drunk wine.

22 The Lord God says this: He is your God, who fights for his people. ‘Look! I have taken out from your hand the cup that makes you afraid. You will never drink again from that cup, the cup that contains my anger.

23 I will put it into the hands of the people who are cruel and unkind to you. They are the people who said, “Lie down flat on the ground, so that we can walk over you.” And you made your backs like the ground. You made them like a street that people could walk over.’