Isaiah 49

1All you people in faraway places, listen to me! Listen all of you people living on earth! The Lord called me to serve him before I was born. The Lord called my name while I was still in my mother’s body. 2˻The Lord uses me to speak for him.˼ He uses me like a sharp sword, ˻But he also protects me,˼ hiding me in his hand. The Lord uses me like a sharp arrow, but he also hides me in his arrow bag. 3˻The Lord˼ told me, ”Israel, you are my servant. I will do wonderful things with you.” 4I said, “I worked hard for nothing. I wore myself out, but I did nothing useful. I used all my power, but I did not really do anything. So, the Lord must decide what to do with me. God must decide my reward. 5The Lord made me in my mother’s body so I could be his servant, and lead Jacob and Israel back to him. The Lord will honor me. I will get my strength from my God.” The Lord told me, 6“You are a very important servant to me. The people of Israel are prisoners, but they will be brought back to me. Jacob’s family groups will come back to me. But, you have another job; it is even more important than this! I will make you a light for all nations. You will be my way to save all the people on earth.” 7The Lord, the Holy One of Israel, the Protector of Israel says, ”My Servant is humble. He serves rulers. But people hate him. But, kings will see him and stand ˻to honor him˼. Great leaders will bow down to him.” This will happen because the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, wants it. And the Lord can be trusted. He is the One who chose you. 8The Lord says, “There will be a special time when I show my kindness. At that time I will answer your prayers. There will be a special day when I save you. At that time I will help you. I will protect you. And you will be the proof that I have an Agreement with the people. The country is destroyed now, but you will give that land back to the people who own it. 9You will tell the prisoners, 'Come out of your prison!’ You will tell the people that are in darkness, 'Come out of the dark!’ The people will eat while traveling. They will have food even on empty hills. 10The people will not be hungry. They will not be thirsty. The hot sun and wind will not hurt them. Why? Because God comforts them and God will lead them. He will lead them near springs of water. 11“I will make a road for my people. The mountains will be made flat, and the low roads will be raised. 12“Look! People are coming to me from faraway places. People are coming to me from the north and from the west. People are coming to me from Aswan in Egypt.” 13Heavens and Earth, be happy! Mountains, shout with joy! Why? Because the Lord comforts his people. The Lord is good to his poor people. 14But now Zion says, ”The Lord left me. My Master forgot me.” 15˻But I say˼, ”Can a woman forget her baby? No! Can a woman forget the child that came from her body? No! A woman can’t forget her children. And I ˻(the Lord)˼ can’t forget you. 16Look, I have carved your name into my hand. I think about you all the time! 17Your children will come back to you. People defeated you, but those people will leave you alone.” 18Look up! Look all around you! All of your children are gathering together and coming to you. The Lord says, “On my life, I promise you this: Your children will be like jewels that you tie around your neck. Your children will be like the necklace that a bride wears. 19You are destroyed and defeated now. Your land is useless. But after a short time, you will have many people in your land. And the people that destroyed you will be far, far away. 20You were sad for the children you lost, but those children will tell you, 'This place is too small! Give us a bigger place to live!’ 21Then you will say to yourself, 'Who gave me all these children? This is very good! I was sad and lonely. I was defeated and away from my people. So who gave me these children? Look, I was left alone. Where did all these children come from?’” 22The Lord my Master says, “Look, I will wave my hand to the nations. I will raise my flag for all people to see. Then they will bring your children to you. Those people will carry your children on their shoulders, and they will hold them in their arms. 23Kings will be teachers to your children. Kings’ daughters will care for them. Those kings and their daughters will bow down to you. They will kiss the dirt at your feet. Then you will know that I am the Lord. Then you will know that any person who trusts in me will not be disappointed.” 24When a strong soldier wins wealth in war, you can’t take that wealth from him. When a powerful soldier guards a prisoner, that prisoner can’t escape. 25But the Lord says, “The prisoners will escape. Someone will take those prisoners away from the strong soldier. ˻How will this happen?˼ I will fight your fights. I will save your children. 26“Those people hurt you. But I will force those people to eat their own bodies. Their own blood will be the wine that makes them drunk. Then every person will know that the Lord saved you. All people will know that the Powerful One of Jacob saved you.”

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