They will each mark the name of the LORD on their arms
and call themselves members of God's people.”
6The LORD, who rules and protects Israel,
the LORD Almighty, has this to say:
“I am the first, the last, the only God;
there is no other god but me.
7Could anyone else have done what I did?
Who could have predicted all that would happen
from the very beginning to the end of time?
8Do not be afraid, my people!
You know that from ancient times until now
I have predicted all that would happen,
and you are my witnesses.
Is there any other god?
Is there some powerful god I never heard of?”
Idolatry is Ridiculed
9All those who make idols are worthless, and the gods they prize so highly are useless. Those who worship these gods are blind and ignorant — and they will be disgraced. 10It's no good making a metal image to worship as a god! 11Everyone who worships it will be humiliated. The people who make idols are human beings and nothing more. Let them come and stand trial — they will be terrified and will suffer disgrace.
12The metalworker takes a piece of metal and works with it over a fire. His strong arm swings a hammer to pound the metal into shape. As he works, he gets hungry, thirsty, and tired.
13The carpenter measures the wood. He outlines a figure with chalk, carves it out with his tools, and makes it in the form of a man, a handsome human figure, to be placed in his house. 14He might cut down cedars to use, or choose oak or cypress wood from the forest. Or he might plant a laurel-tree and wait for the rain to make it grow. 15A person uses part of a tree for fuel and part of it for making an idol. With one part he builds a fire to warm himself and bake bread; with the other part he makes a god and worships it. 16With some of the wood he makes a fire; he roasts meat, eats it, and is satisfied. He warms himself and says, “How nice and warm! What a beautiful fire!” 17The rest of the wood he makes into an idol, and then he bows down and worships it. He prays to it and says, “You are my god — save me!”
18Such people are too stupid to know what they are doing. They close their eyes and their minds to the truth. 19The maker of idols hasn't the wit or the sense to say, “Some of the wood I burnt up. I baked some bread on the embers and I roasted meat and ate it. And the rest of the wood I made into an idol. Here I am bowing down to a block of wood!”
20It makes as much sense as eating ashes. His foolish ideas have so misled him that he is beyond help. He won't admit to himself that the idol he holds in his hand is not a god at all.
The LORD, the Creator and Saviour
21The LORD says,
“Israel, remember this;
remember that you are my servant.
I created you to be my servant,
and I will never forget you.
22I have swept your sins away like a cloud.
Come back to me; I am the one who saves you.”
23Shout for joy, you heavens!
Shout, deep places of the earth!
Shout for joy, mountains, and every tree of the forest!
The LORD has shown his greatness
by saving his people Israel.
24“I am the LORD, your saviour;
I am the one who created you.
I am the LORD, the Creator of all things.
I alone stretched out the heavens;
when I made the earth, no one helped me.
25I make fools of fortune tellers
and frustrate the predictions of astrologers.
The words of the wise I refute
and show that their wisdom is foolishness.
26But when my servant makes a prediction,
when I send a messenger to reveal my plans,
I make those plans and predictions come true.
I tell Jerusalem that people will live there again,
and the cities of Judah that they will be rebuilt.
Those cities will rise from the ruins.
27With a word of command I dry up the ocean.
28I say to Cyrus, ‘You are the one who will rule for me;
you will do what I want you to do:
you will order Jerusalem to be rebuilt
and the Temple foundations to be laid.’ ”
The LORD Appoints Cyrus
1The LORD has chosen Cyrus to be king!
He has appointed him to conquer nations;
he sends him to strip kings of their power;
the LORD will open the gates of cities for him.
To Cyrus the LORD says,
2“I myself will prepare your way,
levelling mountains and hills.
I will break down bronze gates
and smash their iron bars.
3I will give you treasures from dark, secret places;
then you will know that I am the LORD,
and that the God of Israel has called you by name.
4I appoint you to help my servant Israel,
the people that I have chosen.
I have given you great honour,
although you do not know me.
5“I am the LORD; there is no other god.
I will give you the strength you need,
although you do not know me.
6I do this so that everyone
from one end of the world to the other
may know that I am the LORD
and that there is no other god.
7I create both light and darkness;
I bring both blessing and disaster.
I, the LORD, do all these things.
8I will send victory from the sky like rain;
the earth will open to receive it
and will blossom with freedom and justice.
I, the LORD, will make this happen.”
The LORD of Creation and History
9Does a clay pot dare to argue with its maker,
a pot that is like all the others?
Does the clay ask the potter what he is doing?
Does the pot complain that its maker has no skill?
10Does anyone dare to say to his parents,
“Why did you make me like this?”
11The LORD, the holy God of Israel,
the one who shapes the future, says:
“You have no right to question me about my children
or to tell me what I ought to do!
12I am the one who made the earth
and created the human race to live there.
By my power I stretched out the heavens;
I control the sun, the moon, and the stars.
13I myself have stirred Cyrus to action
to fulfil my purpose and put things right.
I will straighten every road that he travels.
He will rebuild my city, Jerusalem,
and set my captive people free.
No one has hired him or bribed him to do this.”
The LORD Almighty has spoken.
14The LORD says to Israel,
“The wealth of Egypt and Ethiopia will be yours,
and the tall men of Seba will be your slaves;
they will follow you in chains.
They will bow down to you and confess,
‘God is with you — he alone is God.
15The God of Israel, who saves his people,
is a God who conceals himself.
16Those who make idols will all be ashamed;
all of them will be disgraced.
17But Israel is saved by the LORD,
and her victory lasts for ever;
her people will never be disgraced.’ ”
18The LORD created the heavens —
he is the one who is God!
He formed and made the earth —
he made it firm and lasting.
He did not make it a desolate waste,
but a place for people to live in.
It is he who says, “I am the LORD,
and there is no other god.
19I have not spoken in secret
or kept my purpose hidden.
I did not require the people of Israel
to look for me in a desolate waste.
I am the LORD, and I speak the truth;
I make known what is right.”
The LORD of the World and the Idols of Babylon
20The LORD says,
“Come together, people of the nations,
all who survive the fall of the empire;
present yourselves for the trial!
The people who parade with their idols of wood
and pray to gods that cannot save them —
those people know nothing at all!
21Come and present your case in court;
let the defendants consult one another.
Who predicted long ago what would happen?
Was it not I, the LORD, the God who saves his people?
There is no other god.
22“Turn to me now and be saved,
people all over the world!
I am the only God there is.
23My promise is true,
and it will not be changed.
I solemnly promise by all that I am:
Everyone will come and kneel before me
and vow to be loyal to me.
24“They will say that only through me
are victory and strength to be found;
but all who hate me will suffer disgrace.
25I, the LORD, will rescue all the descendants of Jacob,