Idols are good for worse than nothing
God is sending a new ruler1
Settle down and listen to me
You people by the sea.
Work up some courage,
Step forward and talk.
Let’s clear the air and settle this thing.
He crushes kings
And takes their kingdoms.
His enemies fight with swords of clay,
And bows woven from stubble.
3He chases them and doesn’t get hurt.
He doesn’t even stub his toe.
4Who’s the one behind all this?
Who's calling the shots?
And has been since the beginning of time?
I am the LORD,
First one here when time began,
Last to leave when it’s over.
5Nations by the sea fear the future.
Kingdoms everywhere tremble at the thought.
Trusting anything but God6
Everyone starts pulling together,
“Be strong. Be brave.”
A blacksmith tells a finisher, “Good job.”
They nail the idol in place.
Israel goes with God8
But you are different, Israel.
You’re children of Jacob and Abraham
I chose you. Then you chose me.
Then called you back again
From the far side of the earth.
I said, “You still belong to me.
I haven’t quit on you.
10Don’t be afraid. I’m here.
Don’t be afraid. I’m your God.
You’re with me, and we’ll win this thing.
11Those who hate you will be disgraced.
Those who fight you will disappear.
12You’ll look for enemies to defend against.
But you won’t find them. They’ve vanished.
13I’m the LORD your God
Holding your hand and saying,
Don’t be scared, I’ve got you.
14Don’t be afraid, Jacob, tiny worm of a nation,
Israel, little corn-eating worm and butterfly
I’ll help you,
Says the LORD your savior,
Israel’s Holy One.
I’m going to change you.
You’ll be a walloping sled of threshing timber,
Heavy and bristling in sharp new blades.
You’ll tear mountains apart.
Blown away in windstorms.
You’ll celebrate the LORD then.
You’ll appreciate how glorious he is.
God turns on water in the desert17
When poor folks thirst for water
And there’s none for the poor and thirsty,
There’s the LORD and God of Israel.
I won’t abandon my people.
Show springs hidden in the hills,
And turn on fountains in the valleys.
I’ll make wasteland into water world
And deserts into watering holes.
19I’ll make badlands into a forest,
Trees of cedar, acacia, myrtle, and olive.
I’ll fill the desert with cypress, pine, and fir.
20Then everyone will see it’s me at work.
The LORD, Israel’s Holy One did it all.
Idols in God’s courtroom21
Plead your case in my court, says the LORD.
Go ahead, make your argument, says Israel’s king.
Tell us something they saw from the past.
Then we’ll see if they got it right.
Or let them predict the future.
23Have them step forward and prove what they say.
Do something good, bad—anything amazing or scary.
24Indeed, you can’t. You’re nothing.
Nothing can’t do a thing.
Anyone who worships something like you
Is nauseating and disgusting to watch.
25I’m calling a leader from the North.
I know him by name and call him by name.
He’ll come from the East, his back to the sun.
He’ll walk on kings like cobblestone,
Like potters walk on clay.
26Tell me, which idol predicted this would happen?
Who alerted us to what’s coming down the path?
Is there anyone we can say got it right? No one?
That’s correct. There was no one.
27I’m the first to announce it to Zion.
I brought the good news to Jerusalem.
28When I look at these idols
I see no advisor,
There’s no one answering my questions.
29These objects are illusions,
Fantasies doing nothing.
They crumble in time,
And blow away with the wind.
This ruler is Cyrus (reigned 559-530 BC), many scholars say, ruler of the Persian Empire that crushed the Babylonians of Iraq. Cyrus ruled from what is now Iran. The writer mentions him by name in Isaiah 44:28 and in Isaiah 45. He says God will use him to free the Jews and rebuild Jerusalem and the foundation of a new Temple. Cyrus freed Babylon’s political captives. That included the Jews whom Babylon deported in 586 BC and earlier, in smaller groups of deportations. Isaiah lived two centuries before Cyrus.
The Hebrew word is mot, which can mean: few or little. But some scholars suggest a word with different vowels and that better fits the context and parallelism that’s characteristic of Hebrew poetry. It’s the Akkadian word mutu. It refers to the corn earworm (Helicoverpa zea) that eats corn ears and other crops. If it eats its vegetables, it can develop into a moth.
Cyrus, King of Persia. See note for 41:2.
“Zion” is an endearing nickname for Jerusalem, perhaps a bit like Big Apple for New York City or City of Angels for Los Angeles.
- Sorry, there are currently no questions for this chapter.