Chapter 40 brings us to the second section of Isaiah. As I said when we began this study, Isaiah is like a mini Bible. To review:
39 Books 27 Books
Old Testament New Testament
39 Chapters (1-39) 27 Chapters (40-66)
God’s law and governmentGod’s salvation
Isaiah begins verse 1 of Chapter 40 with an exhortation to comfort God’s people (ie his chosen people, the Jews). Isaiah specifically says it is God who says to do this. You might say it’s a command as much as an exhortation. This exhortation to comfort God’s people, of course, corresponds to the comfort that Yeshua extended to Israel through his public ministry.
The mind boggles to see the rapid spread of anti-Semitism in the universities and on platforms like YouTube. I believe this trend is nothing short of satanic. If you have a bad taste in your mouth for Zionism, you might want to ask yourself, Do I really want to be in the same club with people like Hitler or Haman?
Father, give us understanding as we read thy word, in Jesus’ name. Amen.
1 Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God.
2 Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the LORD’s hand double for all her sins.
I believe there is a dual application for the first two verses of the chapter. I believe that Israel could have received a full pardon at Christ’s first coming. Since they rejected their Messiah, however, Israel received double for her sins. Therefore, I believe these verses apply to both the first coming and the second coming. Jesus spoke comfortably to Israel, but Isaiah also sees beyond the great tribulation period. After their time of great tribulation has passed (as well as in our day), Isaiah tells the entire world to comfort them.
3 The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
These words were, of course, quoted by John the Baptist when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask John who he was. (Jn 1:23 et al.) This is exactly what we would expect to see at the beginning of the New Testament section of Isaiah.
4 Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain:
This speaks of the engineering involved in building the Lord’s super highway. (v 3; cf Isa 11:16; 19:23; 35:8; 49:11; 62:10)
5 And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.
6 The voice said, Cry. And he said, What shall I cry? All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field:
7 The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: because the spirit of the LORD bloweth upon it: surely the people is grass.
This is the Old Testament version of James 1:10: For the sun is no sooner risen with a burning heat, but it withereth the grass, and the flower thereof falleth, and the grace of the fashion of it perisheth: so also shall the rich man fade away in his ways.
8 The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever.
This is the Old Testament version of Matthew 24:35 (et al.): Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.
9 O Zion, that bringest good tidings, get thee up into the high mountain; O Jerusalem, that bringest good tidings, lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God!
10 Behold, the Lord GOD will come with strong hand, and his arm shall rule for him: behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him.
11 He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.
12 Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out heaven with the span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance?
Verses 9-11 clearly declare that Christ is coming. These verses seem to speak of both his first and second coming. There is only one possible answer to the questions posed in verse 12: Jesus! (cf Pr 30:4)
13 Who hath directed the Spirit of the LORD, or being his counsellor hath taught him?
Nobody! Paul quotes this verse in Romans 11, then adds this: Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.
14 With whom took he counsel, and who instructed him, and taught him in the path of judgment, and taught him knowledge, and shewed to him the way of understanding?
Did you know you can do something that God cannot do? You can learn. God cannot do that. He already knows everything. Did you know you have seen something God has not seen? God has not seen his equal. Did you know you know something that God does not know? God doesn’t know a sin He doesn’t hate.
15 Behold, the nations are as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance: behold, he taketh up the isles as a very little thing.
Our galaxy is around 100,000 light years (30 kpc) long from one end to the other. There are thought to be around two trillion galaxies in the universe—the universe which God made. Yes, I think the isles are a very little thing to God.
16 And Lebanon is not sufficient to burn, nor the beasts thereof sufficient for a burnt offering.
Lebanon was renown for her forests, yet Lebanon did not have sufficient wood (fuel) or animals to make a suitable sacrifice to God. Only Jesus could provide that.
17 All nations [Heb goyim, ie heathen nations] before him are as nothing; and they are counted to him less than nothing, and vanity.
God doesn’t need us. We need Him.
18 To whom then will ye liken God? or what likeness will ye compare unto him?
Having described the Advent, ministry, and Person of Yeshua, Isaiah turns his attention to the sin of idolatry:
19 The workman melteth a graven image, and the goldsmith spreadeth it over with gold, and casteth silver chains.
20 He that is so impoverished that he hath no oblation chooseth a tree that will not rot; he seeketh unto him a cunning workman to prepare a graven image, that shall not be moved.
21 Have ye not known? have ye not heard? hath it not been told you from the beginning? have ye not understood from the foundations of the earth?
22 It is he that sitteth upon the circle [Heb khoog. Also translated as circuit or compass] of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers; that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in:
The earth has a circle, or circuit, within our solar system, which has a circuit within the Milky Way galaxy, which has a circuit within the universe. Many suppose the Hebrew word khoog refers to the earth itself since the earth is round. For me, I have a hard time imagining God sitting on the earth. The earth is his footstool in a manner of speaking, but as far as sitting on the circle of the earth, it makes more sense to me that Isaiah was referring to the earth’s vast circuit throughout the universe. Consider the rest of the verse: He …spreadeth [the heavens] out as a tent to dwell in. You might say this speaks of his omnipresence.
23 That bringeth the princes to nothing; he maketh the judges of the earth as vanity.
Sennacherib found this to be true, just as Nebuchadnezzar did, just as Alexander the Great did, just as Julius Caesar did. So will the Antichrist.
24 Yea, they shall not be planted; yea, they shall not be sown: yea, their stock shall not take root in the earth: and he shall also blow upon them, and they shall wither, and the whirlwind shall take them away as stubble.
25 To whom then will ye liken me, or shall I be equal? saith the Holy One.
26 Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things, that bringeth out their host by number: he calleth them all by names by the greatness of his might, for that he is strong in power; not one faileth.
27 Why sayest thou, O Jacob, and speakest, O Israel, My way is hid from the LORD, and my judgment is passed over from my God?
28 Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding.
29 He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.
30 Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall:
31 But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.
Jesus did not come for some 700 years after Isaiah made his prophecy. They had to be patient and wait for Him. We have been waiting almost 2000 years now since his death and resurrection. Isaiah is telling us to wait and be patient too. Waiting in this respect does not mean doing nothing. We have work to do as Christians, but we are to patiently wait for our King.
When Isaiah began his prophecy in Chapter 1, he called the courtroom to order and handed down a list of indictments to the nation of Israel. In the following chapters he went on to hand indictments to the Gentile nations as well.
Now, as Isaiah begins the New Testament section of his prophecy, he speaks of comfort and tells us to wait upon the LORD. If you identify with Yeshua and have received the free gift (Rom 6:23 et al) of everlasting life through faith alone, you can take comfort in the fact that the charges against you have been dismissed. If you identify with the world system you have some thinking to do.
Father, thank You for keeping your promise to send Messiah into the world to save us from our sins. Help us, Father, to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip. Help us to lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us; help us to run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the Author and Finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.