The book of Isaiah makes a dramatic shift. The following chapters are about the majesty of God who is coming to rule the earth. Instead of warning the people of impending judgment, Isaiah comforts them. Chapter 40 refers to the restoration after the exile. God uses Cyrus as the instrument of their delivery from Babylon.
Verse 1 – “Comfort, yes comfort My people!” Says your God.
Verse 2 – “Speak comfort to Jerusalem, and cry out to her, that her warfare is ended, that her iniquity is pardoned; for she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.”
Judah still had 100 years of trouble before Jerusalem would fall, then 70 years of exile would take place in Babylon. But God told Isaiah to speak comfort to them now.
Wouldn’t you think in 100 years time that Judah would have changed back towards God? They knew what was coming because Isaiah had been prophesying about it.
Verse 3 – The voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
This prophecy by Isaiah was spoken centuries before John the Baptist came on the scene in Matthew 3:3. The desert or wilderness is a picture of life’s trials and suffering. John the Baptist used these words to prepare the people for the coming Messiah.
Verse 4 – Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low; the crooked places shall be made straight, and the rough places smooth;
Verse 5 – The glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”
Verse 6 – The voice said, “Cry out!” And he said, “What shall I cry?” “All flesh is grass, and all its loveliness is like the flower of the field.
Verse 7 – The grass withers, the flower fades, because the breath of the Lord blows upon it (the spirit); surely the people are grass.
Verse 8 – The grass withers, the flower fades, but the Word of God stands forever.”
In comparison to God’s word, we as humans are here but for a little while. The most important thing we can do in our short life-time, is know the Word of God so it can guide us. Generations, public opinions, and cultures all change with time, but God’s Word is eternal and unfailing. Only in God’s Word will we find comfort and solutions to problems during our life-time.
Verse 9 – O Zion, you who bring good tidings, get up into the high mountains; O Jerusalem, you who bring good tidings, lift up your voice with strength, lift it up, be not afraid; say to the cities of Judah, “Behold your God!”
Verse 10 – Behold the Lord God shall come with a strong hand, and His arm shall rule for Him; behold, His reward is with Him, and His work before Him.
Do you know that when the Lord shows up on your behalf, He never comes empty-handed. He always has what we need when we’ve asked.
Verse 11 – He will feed His flock like a shepherd; He will gather the lambs with His arm, and carry them in His bosom, and gently lead those who are with young.
As a shepherd tends to all the needs of his flock, so does the Lord tend to His people. Judah had been subject to evil kings, but the nation would once again have a strong and compassionate shepherd. It’s not what we know that gives us victory, but “Whom!”
Verse 12 – Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, measured heaven with a span and calculated the dust of the earth in a measure? Weighed the mountains in scales and the hills in a balance?
These series of rhetorical questions have one intention – to demonstrate the uniqueness of the One True God. These verses assure us God is in Control of heaven and earth and is able to deliver.
Verse 13 – Who has directed the Spirit of the Lord, or has His counselor has taught Him?
Verse 14 – With whom did He take counsel, and who instructed Him, and taught Him in the path of justice? Who taught Him knowledge, and showed Him the way of understanding?
Too often we limit our understanding of who God is. He’s all-powerful; all-knowing; and all present at the same time. I think we forget this sometimes when we need help in a crises or situation. The amazing thing is though: We can know this magnificent God on a personal level through His Son, Jesus Christ. Please don’t ever doubt His love for you. That love is enough to carry us through every storm that comes our way.
Verse 15 – Behold, the nations are as a drop in a bucket, and are counted as the small dust on the balance; look, He lifts up the isles as a very little thing.
Verse 16 – And Lebanon is not sufficient to burn, nor its beasts sufficient for a burnt offering.
Verse 17 – All nations before Him are as nothing, and they are counted by Him less than nothing and worthless.
Verse 18 – To whom then will you liken God? Or what likeness will you compare to Him?
Verse 19 – The workman molds a graven image, the goldsmith overspreads it with gold, and the silversmith casts silver chains.
Verse 20 – Whoever is too impoverished for such a contribution chooses a tree that will not rot; he seeks for himself a skillful workman to prepare a carved image that will not totter.
These verses are referring to the Babylonian gods that were made by workman and then worshiped. Isaiah was telling them, they amount to nothing.
Verse 21 – Have you not known? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth?
Verse 22 – It 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.
Verse 23 – He brings the princes to nothing; He makes the judges of the earth useless.
Verse 24 – Scarcely shall they be planted, scarcely shall they be sown, scarcely shall their stock take root in the earth, when He will also blow on them, and they will wither, and the whirlwind will take them away like stubble.
The idea here is that the princes and rulers that oppose God continue to resist God’s purpose. God can strip off their glory and honor and even obliterate their names.
Verse 25 – “To whom then will you liken Me, or to whom shall I be equal?” Says the Holy One.
Verse 26 – Lift up your eyes on high, and see who has created these things, who brings out their host by number; He calls them all by name, by the greatness of His might and the strength of His power; not one is missing.
The religions of the Near East believed the stars were gods. Judah’s religion asserted that God created the stars, and so do we Christians. These verses remind me in Job where God is talking and says He is the one who created the stars and knows every one by name.
Verse 27 – Why do you say, O Jacob, and speak, O Israel: “My way is hidden from the Lord and my just claim is passed over by my God”?
Verse 28 – Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary. There is no searching of his understanding.
Verse 29 – He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no mite He increases strength.
God’s source of strength is our strength. Our God never gets tired or weary. We do though, and that is why we call on Him in those times, and He will renew us, “In His strength.”
Verse 30 – Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall,
Verse 31 – but those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.
So how do we draw that strength from God? Simply by trusting Him. When we trust Him, we are standing in confidence that He is able to deliver, willing, and knows exactly what we need and when we need it!