Jerusalem served its time
Comfort Israel, they’ve paid their dues1
These words come from your God:
Comfort my people with compassion.
She has served her time
And paid twice her fine.
The LORD had sentenced her
To double the penalty for her sins.
Clear the road for God3
“Make way for the LORD.
Get the desert road ready.
Keep the path straight.
Raise every valley to meet the LORD’s path.
Lower every hill and mountain in his way.
Then smooth out the rough patches.
5 And when the LORD gets here
Everyone will see how glorious he is.
The world will see it together.”
This is what the LORD himself has said.
What’s God like?6
Someone says: “Shout!”
And I ask, “What should I say?”
People are like grass in the field,
flowers in the wild.
(When the LORD blows his breath on them.
Absolutely, people are grass
8 And grass withers, flowers fade.)
But when God speaks,
There is power in his words.
9 Jerusalem’s city Announcer,
Climb the highest nearby hill,
Shout the full force of your breath,
Tell Jerusalem the good news.
Don’t be shy.
Shout it to all the cities of Judah:
“Here is your God!”
10 Look at that.
The LORD God has come in full force.
He’s in charge,
With the power to back it up.
He’s bringing a reward with him,
A payment for his people.
The Lord is my shepherd11
He’s going to take care of his people
With the TLC a shepherd shows the flock.
He’ll pick them up like baby lambs
And carry them near his heart
While momma sheep follow him on the way.
Who measured the sky
Between his pinky and his thumb?
Who fit earth into a measuring cup
And weighed mountains on a scale?
13 Who gave advice to the Spirit of the LORD
Or taught him a thing or two?
14 Who did he go to when he needed direction?
Who taught him justice for all?
(Who made him so smart
And helped him understand?
15 Nations of the world are a drop in a bucket,
Nothing more than a dust spec on scales.
Coastlands are as light as fine dust.
16 In all the cedar forests of Lebanon
There’s not enough wood for an altar fire
Or animals for a burning offering.)
17 Nations of the world are worthless to him.
By his measure, they’re less than nothing.
Is there anyone like God?18
Who compares to God?
What in creation is most like God?
Shaped by a carpenter,
Covered in gold by a goldsmith
And decorated with a silver chain?
20 Start with a piece of mulberry wood.
It’s a wood that doesn’t rot.
Then find an artisan,
An expert in wood.
Have him carve a steady image
That doesn’t tip and roll.
Don’t you understand God yet?21
Don’t you know?
Didn’t anyone tell you?
Haven’t you heard it all your life?
Haven’t you figured it out?
I’m talking about creation surrounding us.
We look like grasshoppers to him.
He stretched out the sky above us
Like a blanket to cover a child,
Like a tent we can all call home.
23 Compared to him, a prince is a pauper
And a ruler is a big bag of nothing.
24 They barely get planted, take root, grow a nub,
When he hits them with a blast of hot wind.
They wither and curl and finally die.
A storm blows them away with the straw.
25 So, the Holy One says,
Who would you say resembles me?
Who could you compare me to?
26 Take a good look at the night sky.
Who turned on the lights?
He filled that sky with numbered stars,
Calling every sparkle by name.
That’s his power on display,
Every star, every light in its place.
How can you say, he doesn’t care?27
Dear Jacob, my boy.
Dear Israel, my child.
Why do you say the LORD doesn’t care?
Why do you say he’s ignoring you?
Haven’t you heard yet?
The LORD is the God from a place before time.
He’s the one who created this world,
From here to every horizon you ever saw.
He never gets tired or exhausted.
His wisdom exceeds our wild imagination.
29 He gives strength to the weary,
Power to the powerless.
30 Even the young will fail,
Collapsed, with nothing left inside.
31 But if you trust in God
You get a second wind.
You catch a breeze, a lift, and sail on
Like an eagle in the sky.
You run your race with energy.
You walk and you never get tired.
This chapter was written by someone long after Isaiah, many Bible scholars teach. They call this writer Deutero-Isaiah because that’s how scholars talk to each other, with precision terms that blow right through the rest of us like Aunt Merle’s day-old gravy. “Deutero” means two or second, similar to “duet” meaning two singers. In theory, the original Isaiah, called Proto-Isaiah, wrote Isaiah 1-39. Deutero-Isaiah wrote 40-55 during the Jewish exile in Babylon (Iraq) in the 500s BC. Trito-Isaiah (Tri = three or third) wrote Isaiah 55-66 still later, when Persians from what is now Iran controlled much of the ancient Middle East. Some scholars say Isaiah wrote it all, even the parts that read like precise history—which they say is prophecy.
The text in parentheses in verses 7-8 doesn’t appear to have been part of the original manuscript in the oldest surviving copy of Isaiah. This manuscript, known as The Great Isaiah Scroll, is one of the famous Dead Sea Scrolls, found as part of an ancient library from the century when Jesus ministered with his disciples. The phrase was added as a note in the margin, written sideways in another person’s handwriting—a messier handwriting.
Literally, with a “span.” That’s about nine inches (23 cm), the distance between the tip of your little finger and the tip of your thumb when you stretch your fingers as far apart as possible.
The text in parentheses in verses 14-16 isn’t in the original copy of the oldest manuscript of Isaiah. See note for 40:7.
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