God’s Life-Giving Word of Forgiveness and Mercy
Isaiah 49:8-26: The prophet Isaiah focuses on the new future that the LORD is creating for the people of Israel. Even though Jerusalem lies in ruins, it will be restored and the people will rejoice. God will bless and protect those who return from exile.
Sing heavens! Shout for joy, earth! Let the mountains burst into song! The LORD will comfort his people; he will have pity on his suffering people.
God Promises to Rescue His People
1Israel, the Lord who created you says,
“Do not be afraid—I will save you.
I have called you by name—you are mine.
2When you pass through deep waters, I will be with you;
your troubles will not overwhelm you.
When you pass through fire, you will not be burned;
the hard trials that come will not hurt you.
3For I am the Lord your God,
the holy God of Israel, who saves you.
I will give up Egypt to set you free;
I will give up Ethiopia and Seba.
4I will give up whole nations to save your life,
because you are precious to me
and because I love you and give you honor.
5Do not be afraid—I am with you!
“From the distant east and the farthest west
I will bring your people home.
6I will tell the north to let them go
and the south not to hold them back.
Let my people return from distant lands,
from every part of the world.
7They are my own people,
and I created them to bring me glory.”
Israel Is the Lord's Witness
“Summon my people to court.
They have eyes, but they are blind;
they have ears, but they are deaf!
9Summon the nations to come to the trial.
Which of their gods can predict the future?
Which of them foretold what is happening now?
Let these gods bring in their witnesses
to prove that they are right,
to testify to the truth of their words.
10“People of Israel, you are my witnesses;
I chose you to be my servant,
so that you would know me and believe in me
and understand that I am the only God.
Besides me there is no other god;
there never was and never will be.
11“I alone am the Lord,
the only one who can save you.
12I predicted what would happen,
and then I came to your aid.
No foreign god has ever done this;
you are my witnesses.
13I am God and always will be.
No one can escape from my power;
no one can change what I do.”
Escape from Babylon
14Israel's holy God, the Lord who saves you, says,
“To save you, I will send an army against Babylon;
I will break down the city gates,
and the shouts of her people will turn into crying.
15I am the Lord, your holy God.
I created you, Israel, and I am your king.”
16Long ago the Lord made a road through the sea,
a path through the swirling waters.
17He led a mighty army to destruction,
an army of chariots and horses.
Down they fell, never to rise,
snuffed out like the flame of a lamp!
18But the Lord says,
“Do not cling to events of the past
or dwell on what happened long ago.
19Watch for the new thing I am going to do.
It is happening already—you can see it now!
I will make a road through the wilderness
and give you streams of water there.
20Even the wild animals will honor me;
jackals and ostriches will praise me
when I make rivers flow in the desert
to give water to my chosen people.
21They are the people I made for myself,
and they will sing my praises!”
Reread verses 14-18. While in exile, many Israelites probably felt as if the LORD had forgotten about them. How might these words have encouraged them? Have you ever felt as though God had forgotten you? If so, where did you find encouragement during that time?
Loving God, there are times when I feel so distant from you. Reveal your presence to me, that I may always be mindful of your saving love. Heighten my awareness of you today. Amen.
Those who feel distant from God
Isaiah 54:1-17: Jerusalem’s future is described.