My words will be italicized wherever they appear. Should the Bible be italicized near my words, I’ll do something to differentiate them.
This Is Serious Business, Rebels
1-2 The god Bel falls down, god Nebo slumps.
The no-god hunks of wood are loaded on mules
And have to be hauled off,
wearing out the poor mules—
Dead weight, burdens who can’t bear burdens,
hauled off to captivity.
The honest shade of it all.
3-4 “Listen to me, family of Jacob,
everyone that’s left of the family of Israel.
I’ve been carrying you on my back
from the day you were born,
And I’ll keep on carrying you when you’re old.
I’ll be there, bearing you when you’re old and gray.
I’ve done it and will keep on doing it,
carrying you on my back, saving you.
5-7 “So to whom will you compare me, the Incomparable?
Can you picture me without reducing me?
People with a lot of money
hire craftsmen to make them gods.
The artisan delivers the god,
and they kneel and worship it!
They carry it around in holy parades,
then take it home and put it on a shelf.
And there it sits, day in and day out,
a dependable god, always right where you put it.
Say anything you want to it, it never talks back.
Of course, it never does anything either!
He is big mad. Offended. And rightfully so….
8-11 “Think about this. Wrap your minds around it.
This is serious business, rebels. Take it to heart.
Remember your history,
your long and rich history.
I am God, the only God you’ve had or ever will have—
From the very beginning
telling you what the ending will be,
All along letting you in
on what is going to happen,
Assuring you, ‘I’m in this for the long haul,
I’ll do exactly what I set out to do,’
Calling that eagle, Cyrus, out of the east,
from a far country the man I chose to help me.
I’ve said it, and I’ll most certainly do it.
I’ve planned it, so it’s as good as done.
Tell the people.
12-13 “Now listen to me:
You’re a hardheaded bunch and hard to help.
I’m ready to help you right now.
Deliverance is not a long-range plan.
Salvation isn’t on hold.
I’m putting salvation to work in Zion now,
and glory in Israel.”
Let them know.
The Party’s Over
1-3 “Get off your high horse and sit in the dirt,
virgin daughter of Babylon.
No more throne for you—sit on the ground,
daughter of the Chaldeans.
Nobody will be calling you ‘charming’
and ‘alluring’ anymore. Get used to it.
Get a job, any old job:
Clean gutters, scrub toilets.
Pawn your gowns and scarves,
put on your working pants—the party’s over.
Your nude body will be on public display,
exposed to vulgar taunts.
It’s vengeance time, and I’m taking vengeance.
No one gets let off the hook.”
They got away with it long enough for His liking. They did what He allowed and their time was up.
You’re Acting Like the Center of the Universe
4-13 Our Redeemer speaks,
named God-of-the-Angel-Armies, The Holy of Israel:
“Shut up and get out of the way,
daughter of Chaldeans.
You’ll no longer be called
‘First Lady of the Kingdoms.’
I was fed up with my people,
thoroughly disgusted with my progeny.
I turned them over to you,
but you had no compassion.
You put old men and women
to cruel, hard labor.
You said, ‘I’m the First Lady.
I’ll always be the pampered darling.’
You took nothing seriously, took nothing to heart,
never gave tomorrow a thought.
Well, start thinking, party girl.
You’re acting like the center of the universe,
Smugly saying to yourself, ‘I’m Number One. There’s nobody but me.
I’ll never be a widow, I’ll never lose my children.’
Those two things are going to hit you both at once,
suddenly, on the same day:
Spouse and children gone, a total loss,
despite your many enchantments and charms.
You were so confident and comfortable in your evil life,
saying, ‘No one sees me.’
You thought you knew so much, had everything figured out.
Smugly telling yourself, ‘I’m Number One. There’s nobody but me.’
you can’t charm it away.
you can’t cast it off with spells.
Catastrophe, sudden and total—
and you’re totally at sea, totally bewildered!
But don’t give up. From your great repertoire
of enchantments there must be one you haven’t yet tried.
You’ve been at this a long time.
Surely something will work.
I know you’re exhausted trying out remedies,
but don’t give up.
Call in the astrologers and stargazers.
They’re good at this. Surely they can work up something!
See what I mean? What I didn’t say above was that He wanted to teach Israel a lesson and used other nations to do it. And boy did they. But Israel never seemed to learn…America…
14-15 “Fat chance. You’d be grasping at straws
that are already in the fire,
A fire that is even now raging.
Your ‘experts’ are in it and won’t get out.
It’s not a fire for cooking venison stew,
not a fire to warm you on a winter night!
That’s the fate of your friends in sorcery, your magician cronies
you’ve been colluding with all your life.
They reel, confused, bumping into one another.
None of them bother to help you.”
Tested in the Furnace of Affliction
1-11 “And now listen to this, family of Jacob,
you who are called by the name Israel:
Who got you started in the loins of Judah,
you who use God’s name to back up your promises
and pray to the God of Israel?
But do you mean it?
Do you live like it?
You claim to be citizens of the Holy City;
you act as though you lean on the God of Israel,
For a long time now, I’ve let you in on the way I work:
I told you what I was going to do beforehand,
then I did it and it was done, and that’s that.
I know you’re a bunch of hardheads,
obstinate and flint-faced,
So I got a running start and began telling you
what was going on before it even happened.
That is why you can’t say,
‘My god-idol did this.’
‘My favorite god-carving commanded this.’
You have all this evidence
confirmed by your own eyes and ears.
Shouldn’t you be talking about it?
And that was just the beginning.
I have a lot more to tell you,
things you never knew existed.
This isn’t a variation on the same old thing.
This is new, brand-new,
something you’d never guess or dream up.
When you hear this you won’t be able to say,
‘I knew that all along.’
You’ve never been good listeners to me.
You have a history of ignoring me,
A sorry track record of fickle attachments—
rebels from the womb.
But out of the sheer goodness of my heart,
because of who I am,
I keep a tight rein on my anger and hold my temper.
I don’t wash my hands of you.
Do you see what I’ve done?
I’ve refined you, but not without fire.
I’ve tested you like silver in the furnace of affliction.
Out of myself, simply because of who I am, I do what I do.
I have my reputation to keep up.
I’m not playing second fiddle to either gods or people.
1. See. They didn’t learn. 2. Second fiddle. Goodness. He said it forever ago to them though. No other gods. 10 commandments.
12-13 “Listen, Jacob. Listen, Israel—
I’m the One who named you!
I’m the One.
I got things started and, yes, I’ll wrap them up.
Earth is my work, handmade.
And the skies—I made them, too, horizon to horizon.
When I speak, they’re on their feet, at attention.
I’m that guy. Lest you continue to forget.
14-16 “Come everybody, gather around, listen:
Who among the gods has delivered the news?
I, God, love this man Cyrus, and I’m using him
to do what I want with Babylon.
I, yes I, have spoken. I’ve called him.
I’ve brought him here. He’ll be successful.
Come close, listen carefully:
I’ve never kept secrets from you.
I’ve always been present with you.”
I’ve always been present with you. In the wilderness. In the Promised Land. In captivity. Always with you.
Your Progeny, Like Grains of Sand
16-19 And now, the Master, God, sends me and his Spirit
with this Message from God
your Redeemer, The Holy of Israel:
“I am God, your God,
who teaches you how to live right and well.
I show you what to do, where to go.
If you had listened all along to what I told you,
your life would have flowed full like a river,
blessings rolling in like waves from the sea.
Children and grandchildren are like sand,
your progeny like grains of sand.
There would be no end of them,
no danger of losing touch with me.”
Promise to Abraham…sand…Genesis 22:17
20 Get out of Babylon! Run from the Babylonians!
Shout the news. Broadcast it.
Let the world know, the whole world.
Tell them, “God redeemed his dear servant Jacob!”
21 They weren’t thirsty when he led them through the deserts.
He made water pour out of the rock;
he split the rock and the water gushed.
22 “There is no peace,” says God, “for the wicked.”