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Comfort for God's People (Isaiah 40)

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 Isaiah chapter 40

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Isaiah's Prophecies Of Restoration

The Unity Of Isaiah

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CHAPTER 40 Jun. 16 
A Message of Comfort 
Comfort you, comfort My people, says your God. 2Speak comfortably to Jerusalem; and call out to her that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned, that she has received of Yahweh’s hand double for all her sins. 3The voice of one who calls out, Prepare you the way of Yahweh in the wilderness! Make a level highway in the desert for our God. 4Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low. The uneven shall be made level, and the rough places a plane. 5The glory of Yahweh shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together; for the mouth of Yahweh has spoken it. 6The voice of one saying, Cry! Another one said, What shall I cry? All flesh is like grass, and all its glory is like the flower of the field. 7The grass withers, the flower fades, because Yahweh’s breath blows on it; surely the people are like grass. 8The grass withers, the flower fades; but the word of our God stands forever. 9You who tell good news to Zion, go up on a high mountain. You who tell good news to Jerusalem, lift up your voice with strength- lift it up, don’t be afraid. Say to the cities of Judah, Behold, your God! 10Behold, the Lord Yahweh will come as a mighty one and His arm will rule for him. Behold, His reward is with Him, and His recompense before him. 11He will feed His flock like a shepherd, He will gather the lambs in His arm, and carry them in His bosom; He will gently lead those who have their young.
God Is Incomparable
12Who has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand, and marked off the sky with His span, and calculated the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance? 13Who has directed the Spirit of Yahweh, or has taught Him as His counsellor? 14Who did He take counsel with, and who instructed Him and taught Him in the path of justice, and taught Him knowledge and showed Him the way of understanding? 15Behold, the nations are like a drop in a bucket, and are regarded as a speck of dust on a balance. Behold, He lifts up the islands like a very little thing. 16Lebanon’s forest is not sufficient to burn, nor its animals sufficient for a burnt offering. 17All the nations are like nothing before Him, they are regarded by Him as less than nothing, and vanity. 18To whom then will you liken God? Or what likeness will you compare to Him? 19A workman has cast an image, and the goldsmith overlays it with gold, and casts silver chains for it. 20He who is too impoverished for such an offering chooses a tree that will not rot. He seeks a skilful workman to set up an engraved image for him that will not be moved. 21Haven’t you known? Haven’t you heard, yet? Haven’t you been told from the beginning? Haven’t you understood from the foundations of the earth? 22It is He who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers; who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them out like a tent to dwell in; 23who brings princes to nothing; who makes the judges of the earth meaningless. 24They are planted scarcely, they are sown scarcely, their stock has scarcely taken root in the ground. He merely blows on them, and they wither, and the whirlwind takes them away as stubble. 25To whom then will you liken Me? Who is My equal? says the Holy One. 26Lift up your eyes on high, and see who has created these, who brings out their army by number. He calls them all by name, by the greatness of His might, and because He is strong in power, not one is lacking. 27Why do you say, Jacob, and speak, Israel, My way is hidden from Yahweh, and the justice due me is disregarded by my God? 28Haven’t you known? Haven’t you heard? The everlasting God, Yahweh, the Creator of the ends of the earth, doesn’t faint. He isn’t weary, His understanding is unsearchable. 29He gives power to the weak, He increases the strength of him who has no might. 30Even the youths faint and get weary, and the young men utterly fall; 31but those who wait for Yahweh will renew their strength. They will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run, and not be weary, they will walk, and not faint.


40:3 Quoted about John the Baptist preaching the Gospel of Christ (Mt. 3:3). Before the final coming of the Lord, there will be a proclamation of this by His people: “Prepare you[plural] the way”. As the King’s servants went ahead of him to make the path he had to travel smooth and plain [remember there were no motorways then!], so we go ahead of the returning Lord of all the earth, to prepare the way / road for Him. The fulfilment of this commission by John the Baptist in the first century is therefore a great pattern for our fulfilment of it before the Lord's second coming in our age. And yet God prepares His ownway (43:19; 49:11). The element of unreality here, the ‘new thing’, is that the King Himself prepares His own way or road. The connection with Is. 40:3 is that in the work of preparing the Lord’s way, in the last great preaching appeal of all time in the lead up to the second coming, the Lord Himself will work with us to make that way plain and clear. We are to “cry” unto Zion that “her iniquity is pardoned” (:2), but we are also to ‘cry’ for her to repent, to be “made straight” (:2-4; 58:1). It’s exactly because we have in prospect been forgiven that we are called to repent. The forgiveness has already been granted; iniquity has been pardoned. We are to ‘cry’ out this fact; and also to ‘cry out’ for repentance. But we have to respond to that. The world’s redemption was achieved through the cross; but we have to appeal to the world to accept it. The same Hebrew word translated ‘cry’ occurs in the same context in 40:26; 43:1; 45:3,4; 48:12; 54:6, where we read that it is God Himself who calls every one of Israel back to Him, just as He calls every star by its own personal name. And so in our personal calling of men and women, in our crying out to them in these last days to be prepared for the Lord’s coming, we are workers together with God. He is crying out to them, through our feeble, shy, embarrassed, uncertain words of witness. Likewise it is God Himself who makes the crooked places straight in 42:16 and 45:2- whereas Is. 40:3, it is we the preachers who are to do this. 40:4 In the prospect of Christ’s coming and our meeting with Him, those with a too low self esteem are lifted up, and the proud brought down to their level; so that between them, the prepared people of God are the road over which God’s glory in Christ shall advance. “Made low” uses the same word as in Is. 2:11, which predicts that in the day of judgment, the proud looks of man shall be humbled [s.w. ‘made low’]”. 
40:8 The word of our God- Interpreted in 1 Pet. 1:24,25 as the Gospel of Christ.
40:10 Applied by Christ to His second coming in Rev. 22:12. The reward is brought to us from Heaven to earth at His return; we don’t go to Heaven after death to receive it. Statements about God are fulfilled in Christ, as His Son who has been given by God all authority to act in His Name; but this doesn’t make Jesus God Himself in person.
40:15 The nations are like a drop in a bucket- This was said in the context of Judah being tempted to trust in the nations around them rather than in God. Reflection on the extent of His power as seen in the natural creation (:12-14) is intended to inspire faith in practice.
40:17 Regarded by Him as less than nothing- This is not to say that God considers human beings as irrelevant; the significance of the human person is ever before us in the Bible. The context of these statements about the smallness of man is the appeal not to trust in human strength but in God, compared to whose strength humanity is nothing.
40:22 The circle of the earth- Although people at the time generally believed the earth was flat, God’s word doesn’t contradict true scientific fact, even though at times He speaks to people in the unscientific language which they can cope with.
40:27 The justice due me- The pain of injustice afflicts people in so many ways; but the answer given here is to look to the future day of God’s Kingdom, whilst meanwhile remembering God’s amazing knowledge and sensitivity to the nuances of every human situation, better than we ourselves know them. His present knowledge and future revelation of judgment is the answer presented to our search for justice today.