'Drop Down Ye Heavens'

Isaiah 44:21– 45:8

Works of art by Anselm Kiefer
Commentaries by Giles Waller

Isaiah 44:21– 45:8

Bible passage (Revised Standard Version)

21 Remember these things, O Jacob,
       and Israel, for you are my servant;
I formed you, you are my servant;
       O Israel, you will not be forgotten by me.
22 I have swept away your transgressions like a cloud,
      and your sins like mist;
return to me, for I have redeemed you.

23 Sing, O heavens, for the Lord has done it;
       shout, O depths of the earth;
break forth into singing, O mountains,
       O forest, and every tree in it!
For the Lord has redeemed Jacob,
       and will be glorified in Israel.

24 Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer,
       who formed you from the womb:
“I am the Lord, who made all things,
       who stretched out the heavens alone,
       who spread out the earth—Who was with me?—
25 who frustrates the omens of liars,
       and makes fools of diviners;
who turns wise men back,
       and makes their knowledge foolish;
26 who confirms the word of his servant,
      and performs the counsel of his messengers;
who says of Jerusalem, ‘She shall be inhabited,’
       and of the cities of Judah, ‘They shall be built,
       and I will raise up their ruins’;
27 who says to the deep, ‘Be dry,
       I will dry up your rivers’;
28 who says of Cyrus, ‘He is my shepherd,
       and he shall fulfil all my purpose’;
saying of Jerusalem. ‘She shall be built,’
      and of the temple, ‘Your foundation shall be laid.’ ”

45 Thus says the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus,
       whose right hand I have grasped,
to subdue nations before him
       and ungird the loins of kings,
to open doors before him
       that gates may not be closed:
“I will go before you
       and level the mountains,
I will break in pieces the doors of bronze
       and cut asunder the bars of iron,
I will give you the treasures of darkness
       and the hoards in secret places,
that you may know that it is I, the Lord,
       the God of Israel, who call you by your name.
For the sake of my servant Jacob,
       and Israel my chosen,
I call you by your name,
       I surname you, though you do not know me.
I am the Lord, and there is no other,
       besides me there is no God;
       I gird you, though you do not know me,
that men may know, from the rising of the sun
       and from the west, that there is none besides me;
       I am the Lord, and there is no other.
I form light and create darkness,
       I make weal and create woe,
       I am the Lord, who do all these things.

“Shower, O heavens, from above,
       and let the skies rain down righteousness;
let the earth open, that salvation may sprout forth,
       and let it cause righteousness to spring up also;
       I the Lord have created it.