The Lord's Promise to Israel
1 People of Israel,
I have chosen you
as my servant.
2 I am your Creator.
You were in my care
even before you were born.
Israel, don't be terrified!
You are my chosen servant,
my very favorite.

3 I will bless the thirsty land
by sending streams of water;
I will bless your descendants
by giving them my Spirit.
4 They will spring up like grass
or like willow trees
near flowing streams.
5 They will worship me
and become my people.
They will write my name
on the back of their hands.

6 I am the Lord All-Powerful,
the first and the last,
the one and only God.
Israel, I have rescued you!
I am your King.
7 Can anyone compare with me?
If so, let them speak up
and tell me now.
Let them say what has happened
since I made my nation
long ago,
and let them tell
what is going to happen.
8 Don't tremble with fear!
Didn't I tell you long ago?
Didn't you hear me?
I alone am God—
no one else is a mighty rock.
Idols Can't Do a Thing
The Lord said:

9 Those people who make idols
are nothing themselves,
and the idols they treasure
are just as worthless.
Worshipers of idols are blind,
stupid, and foolish.
10 Why make an idol or an image
that can't do a thing?
11 Everyone who makes idols
and all who worship them
are mere humans,
who will end up
sadly disappointed.
Let them face me in court
and be terrified.
Idols and Firewood
12 A metalworker shapes an idol
by using a hammer
and heat from the fire.
In his powerful hand
he holds a hammer,
as he pounds the metal
into the proper shape.
But he gets hungry and thirsty
and loses his strength.

13 Some woodcarver measures
a piece of wood,
then draws an outline.
The idol is carefully carved
with each detail exact.
At last it looks like a person
and is placed in a temple.
14 Either cedar, cypress, oak,
or any tree from the forest
may be chosen.
Or even a pine tree planted
by the woodcarver
and watered by the rain.

15 Some of the wood is used
to make a fire for heating
or for cooking.
One piece is made into an idol,
then the woodcarver bows down
and worships it.
16 He enjoys the warm fire
and the meat that was roasted
over the burning coals.
17 Afterwards, he bows down
to worship the wooden idol.
“Protect me!” he says.
“You are my god.”

18 Those who worship idols are stupid and blind! 19 They don't have enough sense to say to themselves, “I made a fire with half of the wood and cooked my bread and meat on it. Then I made something worthless with the other half. Why worship a block of wood?”
20 How can anyone be stupid enough to trust something that can be burned to ashes? No one can save themselves like that. Don't they realize that the idols they hold in their hands are not really gods?
The Lord Won't Forget His People
21 People of Israel,
you are my servant,
so remember all of this.
Israel, I created you,
and you are my servant.
I won't forget you.
22 Turn back to me!
I have rescued you
and swept away your sins
as though they were clouds.
Sing Praises to the Lord
23 Tell the heavens and the earth
to start singing!
Tell the mountains
and every tree in the forest
to join in the song!
The Lord has rescued his people;
now they will worship him.
The Lord Created Everything
24 Israel, I am your Lord,
the source of your life,
and I have rescued you.
I created everything
from the sky above
to the earth below.

25 I make liars of false prophets
and fools of fortunetellers.
I take human wisdom
and turn it into nonsense.
26 I will make the message
of my prophets come true.
They are saying, “Jerusalem
will be filled with people,
and the Lord will rebuild
the towns of Judah.”

27 I am the one who commands
the sea and its streams
to run dry.
28 I am also the one who says,
“Cyrus will lead my people
and obey my orders.
Jerusalem and the temple
will be rebuilt.”