SCRIPTURE REFERENCES FOR THIS SERMON:
41:1 “Listen to me in silence, you coastlands!
Let the nations find renewed strength!
Let them approach and then speak;
let us come together for debate.
2 Who stirs up this one from the east?
Who officially commissions him for service?
He hands nations over to him
and enables him to subdue kings.
He makes them like dust with his sword,
like windblown straw with his bow.
3 He pursues them and passes by unharmed;
he advances with great speed.
4 Who acts and carries out decrees?
Who summons the successive generations from the beginning?
I, the Lord, am present at the very beginning,
and at the very end—I am the one.
5 The coastlands see and are afraid;
the whole earth trembles;
they approach and come.
6 They help one another;
one says to the other, ‘Be strong!’
7 The craftsman encourages the metalsmith,
the one who wields the hammer encourages the one who pounds on the anvil.
He approves the quality of the welding,
and nails it down so it won’t fall over.
8 “You, my servant Israel,
Jacob, whom I have chosen,
offspring of Abraham my friend,
9 you whom I am bringing back from the earth’s extremities
and have summoned from the remote regions—
I told you, ‘You are my servant.’
I have chosen you and not rejected you.
10 Don’t be afraid, for I am with you!
Don’t be frightened, for I am your God!
I strengthen you—
yes, I help you—
yes, I uphold you with my victorious right hand!
11 Look, all who were angry at you will be ashamed and humiliated;
your adversaries will be reduced to nothing and perish.
12 When you will look for your opponents, you will not find them;
your enemies will be reduced to absolutely nothing.
13 For I am the Lord your God,
the one who takes hold of your right hand,
who says to you, ‘Don’t be afraid, I am helping you.’
14 Don’t be afraid, despised, insignificant Jacob,
men of Israel.
I am helping you,” says the Lord,
your Protector, the Holy One of Israel.
15 “Look, I am making you like a sharp threshing sledge,
new and double-edged.
You will thresh the mountains and crush them;
you will make the hills like straw.
16 You will winnow them and the wind will blow them away;
the wind will scatter them.
You will rejoice in the Lord;
you will boast in the Holy One of Israel.
17 The oppressed and the poor look for water, but there is none;
their tongues are parched from thirst.
I, the Lord, will respond to their prayers;
I, the God of Israel, will not abandon them.
18 I will make streams flow down the slopes
and produce springs in the middle of the valleys.
I will turn the wilderness into a pool of water
and the arid land into springs.
19 I will make cedars, acacias, myrtles, and olive trees grow in the wilderness;
I will make evergreens, firs, and cypresses grow together in the arid rift valley.
20 I will do this so people will observe and recognize,
so they will pay attention and understand
that the Lord’s power has accomplished this,
and that the Holy One of Israel has brought it into being.
21 “Present your argument,” says the Lord.
“Produce your evidence,” says Jacob’s King.
22 “Let them produce evidence! Let them tell us what will happen!
Tell us about your earlier predictive oracles,
so we may examine them and see how they were fulfilled.
Or decree for us some future events!
23 Predict how future events will turn out,
so we might know you are gods.
Yes, do something good or something bad,
so we might be frightened and in awe.
24 Look, you are nothing, and your accomplishments are nonexistent;
the one who chooses to worship you is disgusting.
25 I have stirred up one out of the north and he advances,
one from the eastern horizon who prays in my name.
He steps on rulers as if they were clay,
like a potter treading the clay.
26 Who decreed this from the beginning, so we could know?
Who announced it ahead of time, so we could say, ‘He’s correct’?
Indeed, none of them decreed it.
Indeed, none of them announced it.
Indeed, no one heard you say anything!
27 I first decreed to Zion, ‘Look, here’s what will happen!’
I sent a herald to Jerusalem.
28 I look, but there is no one,
among them there is no one who serves as an adviser
that I might ask questions and receive answers.
29 Look, all of them are nothing,
their accomplishments are nonexistent;
their metal images lack any real substance.