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Israel delivered and redeemed

1COMFORT my people; bring comfort to them, says your God;

2speak kindly to Jerusalem and proclaim to her that her term of bondage is served, her penalty is paid; for she has received at the LORD's hand double measure for all her sins.

3A voice cries: “Clear a road through the wilderness for the LORD, prepare a highway across the desert for our God.

4Let every valley be raised, every mountain and hill be brought low, uneven ground be made smooth, and steep places become level.

5Then will the glory of the LORD be revealed and all mankind together will see it. The LORD himself has spoken.”

6A voice says, “Proclaim!” and I asked, “What shall I proclaim?” “All mortals are grass, they last no longer than a wild flower of the field.

7The grass withers, the flower fades, when the blast of the LORD blows on them. Surely the people are grass!

8The grass may wither, the flower fade, but the word of our God will endure for ever.”

9Climb to a mountaintop, you that bring good news to Zion; raise your voice and shout aloud, you that carry good news to Jerusalem, raise it fearlessly; say to the cities of Judah, “Your God is here!”

10Here is the Lord GOD; he is coming in might, coming to rule with powerful arm. His reward is with him, his recompense before him.

11Like a shepherd he will tend his flock and with his arm keep them together; he will carry the lambs in his bosom and lead the ewes to water.

12WHO has measured the waters of the sea in the hollow of his hand, or with its span gauged the heavens? Who has held all the soil of the earth in a bushel, or weighed the mountains on a balance, the hills on a pair of scales?

13Who has directed the spirit of the LORD? What counsellor stood at his side to instruct him?

14With whom did he confer to gain discernment? Who taught him this path of justice, or taught him knowledge, or showed him the way of wisdom?

15To him nations are but drops from a bucket, no more than moisture on the scales; to him coasts and islands weigh as light as specks of dust!

16Lebanon does not yield wood enough for fuel, beasts enough for a whole-offering.

17All the nations are as naught in his sight; he reckons them as less than nothing.

18What likeness, then, will you find for God or what form to resemble his?

19An image which a craftsman makes, and a goldsmith overlays with gold and fits with studs of silver?

20Or should someone choose mulberry-wood, a wood that does not rot, and seek out a skilful craftsman for the task of setting up an image and making it secure? (41-6) Each workman helps his comrade, each encourages his fellow. (41-7) The craftsman encourages the goldsmith, the gilder him who strikes the anvil; he declares the soldering to be sound, and fastens the image with nails so that it will remain secure.

21Do you not know, have you not heard, were you not told long ago, have you not perceived ever since the world was founded,

22that God sits enthroned on the vaulted roof of the world, and its inhabitants appear as grasshoppers? He stretches out the skies like a curtain, spreads them out like a tent to live in;

23he reduces the great to naught and makes earthly rulers as nothing.

24Scarcely are they planted, scarcely sown, scarcely have they taken root in the ground, before he blows on them and they wither, and a whirlwind carries them off like chaff.

25To whom, then, will you liken me, whom set up as my equal? asks the Holy One.

26Lift up your eyes to the heavens; consider who created these, led out their host one by one, and summoned each by name. Through his great might, his strength and power, not one is missing.

27Jacob, why do you complain, and you, Israel, why do you say, “My lot is hidden from the LORD, my cause goes unheeded by my God”?

28Do you not know, have you not heard? The LORD, the eternal God, creator of earth's farthest bounds, does not weary or grow faint; his understanding cannot be fathomed.

29He gives vigour to the weary, new strength to the exhausted.

30Young men may grow weary and faint, even the fittest may stumble and fall;

31but those who look to the LORD will win new strength, they will soar as on eagles' wings; they will run and not feel faint, march on and not grow weary.

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