The Word Made Fresh
1Bel bows down. Nebo lies prostrate.
Their idols are on cattle and other animals,
and are carried about on the backs of weary beasts.
2They stoop and bow down together,
but cannot save their burdens as they go into captivity.
3Listen, house of Jacob and whoever remains in the house of Israel:
I have carried you since you were born from the womb.
4I will carry you into old age when you have turned gray.
I made you and I will carry you and I will save you.
5To whom will you compare me?
Who do you know that is my equal?
6There are those who carry gold in their purses
and silver to weigh on the scales.
They hire a goldsmith to make it into a god idol,
then they bow down to worship it!
7They hoist it on their shoulders and carry it around.
They set it down in the place they made for it, and there it stands.
It can’t move from its place.
If someone should cry out to it, it will not answer,
nor can it rescue anyone from trouble.
8Remember and consider this; think of it, you sinners!
9Remember the things of old:
I am God; there is no other.
I am God; there is no one like me
10who can distinguish between the end and the beginning,
back to ancient times, of things not yet accomplished.
But my purpose will stand,
and I will carry out what I intend to do.
11I summon a bird of prey from the east.
I summon a man who will do my bidding from a distant land.
I have spoken; it will come to pass,
for I have planned it and it will be accomplished.
12Listen to me, you stubborn-hearted people!
You are far from deliverance,
13but I will bring my deliverance near you –
it is not far off, and my salvation will not be slow.
I will bring salvation to Zion and my splendor to Israel.
1-4: Idols are denigrated again as worthless, helpless, lifeless things that have to be carried around. By contrast, God has “carried” Israel from their birth.
5-7: None of the idols the people worship have ever helped anyone with anything. They simply are not comparable to the LORD.
8-11: God, however, can and will make things happen. God has called “a bird of prey from the east,” Cyrus, and God will make it happen, in contrast to false gods who can do nothing.
12-13: God demands that they listen. Salvation is coming soon, even though it appears to be far away.
False gods are any and all those things we embrace because we think they will save us. Only the God who made us can do that.