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Isaiah 48

God's Stubborn People
1 "Listen to me, O family of Jacob,
  you who are called by the name of Israel
  and born into the family of Judah.
Listen, you who take oaths in the name of the LORD
  and call on the God of Israel.
You don't keep your promises,
2   even though you call yourself the holy city
and talk about depending on the God of Israel,
  whose name is the LORD of Heaven's Armies.
3 Long ago I told you what was going to happen.
  Then suddenly I took action,
  and all my predictions came true.
4 For I know how stubborn and obstinate you are.
  Your necks are as unbending as iron.
  Your heads are as hard as bronze.
5 That is why I told you what would happen;
  I told you beforehand what I was going to do.
Then you could never say, 'My idols did it.
  My wooden image and metal god commanded it to happen!'
6 You have heard my predictions and seen them fulfilled,
  but you refuse to admit it.
Now I will tell you new things,
  secrets you have not yet heard.
7 They are brand new, not things from the past.
  So you cannot say, 'We knew that all the time!'

8 "Yes, I will tell you of things that are entirely new,
  things you never heard of before.
For I know so well what traitors you are.
  You have been rebels from birth.
9 Yet for my own sake and for the honor of my name,
  I will hold back my anger and not wipe you out.
10 I have refined you, but not as silver is refined.
  Rather, I have refined you in the furnace of suffering.
11 I will rescue you for my sake—
  yes, for my own sake!
I will not let my reputation be tarnished,
  and I will not share my glory with idols!

Freedom from Babylon
12 "Listen to me, O family of Jacob,
  Israel my chosen one!
I alone am God,
  the First and the Last.
13 It was my hand that laid the foundations of the earth,
  my right hand that spread out the heavens above.
When I call out the stars,
  they all appear in order."

14 Have any of your idols ever told you this?
  Come, all of you, and listen:
The LORD has chosen Cyrus as his ally.
  He will use him to put an end to the empire of Babylon
  and to destroy the Babylonian* armies.

15 "I have said it: I am calling Cyrus!
  I will send him on this errand and will help him succeed.
16 Come closer, and listen to this.
  From the beginning I have told you plainly what would happen."

And now the Sovereign LORD and his Spirit
  have sent me with this message.
17 This is what the LORD says—
  your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel:
"I am the LORD your God,
  who teaches you what is good for you
  and leads you along the paths you should follow.
18 Oh, that you had listened to my commands!
  Then you would have had peace flowing like a gentle river
  and righteousness rolling over you like waves in the sea.
19 Your descendants would have been like the sands along the seashore—
  too many to count!
There would have been no need for your destruction,
  or for cutting off your family name."

20 Yet even now, be free from your captivity!
  Leave Babylon and the Babylonians.*
Sing out this message!
  Shout it to the ends of the earth!
The LORD has redeemed his servants,
  the people of Israel.*
21 They were not thirsty
  when he led them through the desert.
He divided the rock,
  and water gushed out for them to drink.
22 "But there is no peace for the wicked,"
  says the LORD.

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48:14 Or Chaldean.
48:20a Or the Chaldeans. 48:20b Hebrew his servant, Jacob. See note on 14:1.

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