My words will be italicized wherever they appear. Should the Bible be italicized near my words, I’ll do something to differentiate them.
God’s Servant Will Set Everything Right
1-4 “Take a good look at my servant.
I’m backing him to the hilt.
He’s the one I chose,
and I couldn’t be more pleased with him.
I’ve bathed him with my Spirit, my life.
He’ll set everything right among the nations.
He won’t call attention to what he does
with loud speeches or gaudy parades.
He won’t brush aside the bruised and the hurt
and he won’t disregard the small and insignificant,
but he’ll steadily and firmly set things right.
He won’t tire out and quit. He won’t be stopped
until he’s finished his work—to set things right on earth.
Far-flung ocean islands
wait expectantly for his teaching.”
The God Who Makes Us Alive with His Own Life
5-9 God’s Message,
the God who created the cosmos, stretched out the skies,
laid out the earth and all that grows from it,
Who breathes life into earth’s people,
makes them alive with his own life:
“I am God. I have called you to live right and well.
I have taken responsibility for you, kept you safe.
I have set you among my people to bind them to me,
and provided you as a lighthouse to the nations,
To make a start at bringing people into the open, into light:
opening blind eyes,
releasing prisoners from dungeons,
emptying the dark prisons.
I am God. That’s my name.
I don’t franchise my glory,
don’t endorse the no-god idols.
Take note: The earlier predictions of judgment have been fulfilled.
I’m announcing the new salvation work.
Before it bursts on the scene,
I’m telling you all about it.”
Receipts again. Let the people know!
10-16 Sing to God a brand-new song,
sing his praises all over the world!
Let the sea and its fish give a round of applause,
with all the far-flung islands joining in.
Let the desert and its camps raise a tune,
calling the Kedar nomads to join in.
Let the villagers in Sela round up a choir
and perform from the tops of the mountains.
Make God’s glory resound;
echo his praises from coast to coast.
God steps out like he means business.
You can see he’s primed for action.
He shouts, announcing his arrival;
he takes charge and his enemies fall into line:
“I’ve been quiet long enough.
I’ve held back, biting my tongue.
But now I’m letting loose, letting go,
like a woman who’s having a baby—
Stripping the hills bare,
withering the wildflowers,
Drying up the rivers,
turning lakes into mudflats.
But I’ll take the hand of those who don’t know the way,
who can’t see where they’re going.
I’ll be a personal guide to them,
directing them through unknown country.
I’ll be right there to show them what roads to take,
make sure they don’t fall into the ditch.
These are the things I’ll be doing for them—
sticking with them, not leaving them for a minute.”
17 But those who invested in the no-gods
are bankrupt—dead broke.
You’ve Seen a Lot, but Looked at Nothing
18-25 Pay attention! Are you deaf?
Open your eyes! Are you blind?
You’re my servant, and you’re not looking!
You’re my messenger, and you’re not listening!
The very people I depended upon, servants of God,
blind as a bat—willfully blind!
You’ve seen a lot, but looked at nothing.
You’ve heard everything, but listened to nothing.
God intended, out of the goodness of his heart,
to be lavish in his revelation.
But this is a people battered and cowed,
shut up in attics and closets,
Victims licking their wounds,
feeling ignored, abandoned.
But is anyone out there listening?
Is anyone paying attention to what’s coming?
Who do you think turned Jacob over to the thugs,
let loose the robbers on Israel?
Wasn’t it God himself, this God against whom we’ve sinned—
not doing what he commanded,
not listening to what he said?
Isn’t it God’s anger that’s behind all this,
God’s punishing power?
Their whole world collapsed but they still didn’t get it;
their life is in ruins but they don’t take it to heart.
When You’re Between a Rock and a Hard Place
1-4 But now, God’s Message,
the God who made you in the first place, Jacob,
the One who got you started, Israel:
“Don’t be afraid, I’ve redeemed you.
I’ve called your name. You’re mine.
When you’re in over your head, I’ll be there with you.
When you’re in rough waters, you will not go down.
When you’re between a rock and a hard place,
it won’t be a dead end—
Because I am God, your personal God,
The Holy of Israel, your Savior.
I paid a huge price for you:
all of Egypt, with rich Cush and Seba thrown in!
That’s how much you mean to me!
That’s how much I love you!
I’d sell off the whole world to get you back,
trade the creation just for you.
Love. Verse two in the King James Version (KJV) is one of my faves: When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.
5-7 “So don’t be afraid: I’m with you.
I’ll round up all your scattered children,
pull them in from east and west.
I’ll send orders north and south:
‘Send them back.
Return my sons from distant lands,
my daughters from faraway places.
I want them back, every last one who bears my name,
every man, woman, and child
Whom I created for my glory,
yes, personally formed and made each one.’”
8-13 Get the blind and deaf out here and ready—
the blind (though there’s nothing wrong with their eyes)
and the deaf (though there’s nothing wrong with their ears).
Then get the other nations out here and ready.
Let’s see what they have to say about this,
how they account for what’s happened.
Let them present their expert witnesses
and make their case;
let them try to convince us what they say is true.
“But you are my witnesses.” God’s Decree.
“You’re my handpicked servant
So that you’ll come to know and trust me,
understand both that I am and who I am.
Previous to me there was no such thing as a god,
nor will there be after me.
I, yes I, am God.
I’m the only Savior there is.
I spoke, I saved, I told you what existed
long before these upstart gods appeared on the scene.
And you know it, you’re my witnesses,
you’re the evidence.” God’s Decree.
“Yes, I am God.
I’ve always been God
and I always will be God.
No one can take anything from me.
I make; who can unmake it?”
Periodt. And that’s on Mary had a little lamb whose name is Jesus.
You Didn’t Even Do the Minimum
14-15 God, your Redeemer,
The Holy of Israel, says:
“Just for you, I will march on Babylon.
I’ll turn the tables on the Babylonians.
Instead of whooping it up,
they’ll be wailing.
I am God, your Holy One,
Creator of Israel, your King.”
16-21 This is what God says,
the God who builds a road right through the ocean,
who carves a path through pounding waves,
The God who summons horses and chariots and armies—
they lie down and then can’t get up;
they’re snuffed out like so many candles:
“Forget about what’s happened;
don’t keep going over old history.
Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new.
It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it?
There it is! I’m making a road through the desert,
rivers in the badlands.
Wild animals will say ‘Thank you!’
—the coyotes and the buzzards—
Because I provided water in the desert,
rivers through the sunbaked earth,
Drinking water for the people I chose,
the people I made especially for myself,
a people custom-made to praise me.
Miraculous. The KJV of verse 19: Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.
22-24 “But you didn’t pay a bit of attention to me, Jacob.
You so quickly tired of me, Israel.
You wouldn’t even bring sheep for offerings in worship.
You couldn’t be bothered with sacrifices.
It wasn’t that I asked that much from you.
I didn’t expect expensive presents.
But you didn’t even do the minimum—
so stingy with me, so closefisted.
Yet you haven’t been stingy with your sins.
You’ve been plenty generous with them—and I’m fed up.
25 “But I, yes I, am the one
who takes care of your sins—that’s what I do.
I don’t keep a list of your sins.
26-28 “So, make your case against me. Let’s have this out.
Make your arguments. Prove you’re in the right.
Your original ancestor started the sinning,
and everyone since has joined in.
That’s why I had to disqualify the Temple leaders,
repudiate Jacob and discredit Israel.”