The Lord Chooses Israel 44 1“Family of Jacob, listen to me. You are my servants. People of Israel, I have chosen you. 2I made you. I formed you when you were born as a nation. I will help you. So listen to what I am saying. Family of Jacob, do not be afraid. You are my servants. People of Israel, I have chosen you. 3I will pour water out on the thirsty land. I will make streams flow on the dry ground. I will pour out my Spirit on your children. I will pour out my blessing on their children after them. 4They will spring up like grass in a meadow. They will grow like poplar trees near flowing streams. 5Some will say, ‘We belong to the Lord. Others will call themselves by Jacob’s name. Still others will write on their hands, ‘We belong to the Lord.’ And they will be called by the name of Israel. Worship the Lord, Not Other Gods 6“I am Israel’s King. I set them free. I am the Lord who rules over all. So listen to what I am saying. I am the First and the Last. I am the one and only God. 7Who is like me? Let him come forward and speak boldly. Let him tell me everything that has happened since I created my people long ago. And let him tell me what has not happened yet. Let him announce ahead of time what is going to take place. 8Do not tremble with fear. Do not be afraid. Didn’t I announce everything that has happened? Didn’t I tell you about it long ago? You are my witnesses. Is there any other God but me? No! There is no other Rock. I do not know even one.”   9Those who make statues of gods don’t amount to anything. And the statues they think so much of are worthless. Those who would speak up for them are blind. They don’t know anything. So they will be put to shame. 10People make statues of gods. But those gods can’t do them any good. 11People like that will be put to shame. Those who make statues of gods are mere men. Let all of them come together and state their case. They will be terrified and put to shame.   12A blacksmith gets his tool. He uses it to shape metal over the burning coals. He uses his hammers to make a statue of a god. He forms it with his powerful arm. He gets hungry and loses his strength. He doesn’t drink any water. He gets weaker and weaker. 13A carpenter measures a piece of wood with a line. He draws a pattern on it with a marker. He cuts out a statue with sharp tools. He marks it with compasses. He shapes it into the form of a handsome man. He does all of that so he can put it in a temple. 14He cuts down a cedar tree. Or perhaps he takes a cypress or an oak tree. It might be a tree that grew in the forest. Or it might be a pine tree he planted. And the rain made it grow. 15Man gets wood from trees for fuel. He uses some of it to warm himself. He starts a fire and bakes bread. But he also uses some of it to make a god and worship it. He makes a statue of a god and bows down to it. 16He burns half of the wood in the fire. He prepares a meal over it. He cooks meat over it. He eats until he is full. He also warms himself. He says, “Good! I’m getting warm. The fire is nice and hot.” 17From the rest of the wood he makes a statue. It becomes his god. He bows down and worships it. He prays to it. He says, “Save me. You are my god.” 18People like that don’t even know what they are doing. Their eyes are shut so that they can’t see the truth. Their minds are closed so that they can’t understand it. 19No one even stops to think about this. No one has any sense or understanding. If anyone did, he would say, “I used half of the wood for fuel. I even baked bread over the fire. I cooked meat. Then I ate it. Should I now make a statue of a god out of the wood that’s left over? Should I bow down to a block of wood? The Lord would hate that.” 20That’s as foolish as eating ashes! The mind of someone like that has led him down the wrong path. He can’t save himself. He can’t bring himself to say, “This thing I’m holding in my right hand isn’t really a god at all.”   21The Lord says, “Family of Jacob, remember those things. People of Israel, you are my servants. I have made you. You are my servants. Israel, I will not forget you. 22I will sweep your sins away as if they were a cloud. I will blow them away as if they were the morning mist. Return to me. Then I will set you free.”   23Sing with joy, you heavens! The Lord does wonderful things. Shout out loud, you earth! Burst into song, you mountains! Sing, you forests and all of your trees! The Lord sets the family of Jacob free. He shows his glory in Israel. People Will Live in Jerusalem Again 24The Lord says, “People of Israel, I set you free. I formed you when you were born as a nation.   “I am the Lord. I have made everything. I alone spread out the heavens. I formed the earth by myself.   25“Some prophets are not really prophets at all. I show that their miraculous signs are fake. I make those who practice evil magic look foolish. I destroy the learning of those who think they are wise. Their knowledge does not make any sense at all. 26I make the words of my servants the prophets come true. I carry out what my messengers say will happen.   “I say about Jerusalem, ‘My people will live there again.’ I say about the towns of Judah, ‘They will be rebuilt.’ I say about their broken-down buildings, ‘I will make them like new again.’ 27I say to the deep waters, ‘Dry up. Let your streams become dry.’ 28I say about Cyrus, ‘He is my shepherd. He will accomplish everything I want him to. He will say about Jerusalem, “Let it be rebuilt.” And he will say about the temple, “Let its foundations be laid.” ’
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