Isaiah 40

Chapters 7-39 was telling the people that the nations could not be trusted for help or     alliances. 

Only God, who controlled the nations was worthy of trust.

This trust was not lost when the people were sent into captivity to Babylon.

Even after judgment and in discipline God  could be trusted to continue his plan for                    his people.

Chapters 40-48 are words of encouragement to the people of Israel.


After the Babylonian captivity it is possible to assume that God had:

1)      Forsaken his people.

2)      Not been able to control history

3)      Was overcome by the people’s sins

4)      Man kind had destroyed God’s plan

But the Babylonian captivity would prove that those false assumptions were wrong.

In fact, God was going to do something great through this captivity.

He would bring his people back refined to their glory.

The world would see that:

1)      God had not forsaken Israel

2)      God did control history

3)      God overcame sin

4)      God’s plan will never fail


Chapters 40-48 teach these truths


40:1 (words no speaker or audience mentioned)

“Comfort, comfort” are imperatives and plural.  A command for “all of you (prophets) comfort, comfort my people)

The double use of the imperative (command) “comfort” shows God’s emotions.

This verse indicates God overall plan for his people.

God will judge his people, but only to correct them and prepare them to enjoy his          presence.

Ultimately God’s desire is to comfort his people.



The hard service of Babylonian captivity

“hard service” is usually used in a military sense of “warfare”


“Double” is used to indicate that their punishment was really complete and over.


  • God is coming to get his people from Babylon in 538 BC
  • This also refers to any righteous or moral return of any individual.
  • Ultimately this refers to the Lords return to earth and recovery Israel after the tribulation.



40:3 (the words are assigned to a voice)

Isaiah hears a voice calling.


The Hebrew says that God is the one coming out of the wilderness.

            “make straight the paths of our God.”

This seems to indicate that when God sent his people to Babylon to exile he left             Jerusalem to return to his ancient residence on Mount Sinai.

When it is time for the people to be brought back he comes up out of the wilderness to bring his people back to Jerusalem.


In 35:1 a future highway built into Jerusalem for the returning exiles is introduced.

Here a voice calls for the building of this highway


“prepare” has in its meaning the idea of removal of obstructions



The ancient world would build a highway into their city for a victorious king returning      home


The people are told to prepare this road for the Lord long before he is seen coming.

They are to build this road in anticipation of his return from Sinai in 538 or from heaven after the tribulation.


The obstructions are:

  1. Valleys
  2. mountains
  3. hills
  4. rough ground
  5. rugged places


This refers to:

1)      a spiritual and moral call to the people of all time as with John the Baptists’ application.

2)      That nothing will stand in the way of the returning exiles from Babylon

3)      It is also a literal, physical description of future days when a highway will be built into Jerusalem for the exiles and visitors to use to reach Jerusalem.



“And” or “Then” when the way is made ready and He returns you will see his glory.

The revealing of the glory of the Lord is a result of this highway.

  1. Those who live in his way will see his glory
  2. Those who literally travel on this highway in the future millennium will have the glory of God revealed to them.


40:6 (now the voice addresses someone else telling them to cry out)

Isaiah once again hears a voice speaking to him and telling him to “cry out.”

Isaiah asks what he is to cry.                                                                   

The response tells him to declare the frailty of all men.

The creation is ever changing and decaying.

The only absolute in our existence is God and his enduring Word.



God has made the world in such a  way that he is the only constant



Having seen the all powerful, glorious God and eternal King we are now forced to see   temporal, powerless, insignificant withering man.



This is maybe better translated as in the NIV footnote and other places:

“O Zion, bringer of good tidings, go up on a high mountain.

O Jerusalem, bringer of good tidings.”


Because Jesus will return to Zion and to Jerusalem it is from there that the good news is proclaimed.


Zion is to go to a high place and proclaim the good news.

Jerusalem is to proclaim to the surrounding cities in Judah, “Here is your God!”


As always in scripture God blesses Israel and Israel blesses the world.

God brings deliverance and truth to Israel and Israel brings deliverance and truth to the world.


“Lift up your voice, do not be afraid.”



Sovereign Lord is Adonai Yahweh and refers to the strong and tender Shepherd-King.

Like David a tender singer of psalms and a mighty warrior with the sword.


“reward” and “recompense” may refer to:

1)      The Lord rewarding the faithful, but is probably not the context

2)      The faithful that are delivered by the Lord are the spoils of war and the Lord’s own reward.  So when he returns from the wilderness he brings his people, his reward with him to Jerusalem.  This would fit the imagery of the return from Babylon.

3)      The Lord will divide his plunder and spoils of war with his people.  This seems to be the context of the verse.  A returning king having won the battle brings with him his plunder from the war.  This would fit with his return after the tribulation.



The judging God and the mighty warrior now becomes the gentle shepherd.


40:12-17 (12-14 in the realm of the spiritual; 15-17 in the realm of the physical)

God questions the people like he questioned Job 38-41


If we can not measure the physical world, how can we claim to understand the spiritual world that we do not see?

In the ancient world the gods and the pantheon had counselors who would advise the supreme deity.  Not so with the LORD.  No one can counsel him.


Islands” are coast lands


Lebanon’s forest is seen as inadequate fire wood for God’s altar.

The animals of the forest of Lebanon are not satisfactory for the offering.



An introduction to a more detailed description in 44:12-20



After questioning the people God prompts the people answer and consider.

Then tells them they have been told the answer from the beginning.

He declares his power and control of history.



Contrast God with idols



Jacob and Israel have a very low view of God.  They think their way is hidden from him.



Maybe they think God grew tired or weary or does not understand their problem?

Why doesn’t God move now!

Isaiah says, “Do you not know? Or heard?”

God is everlasting. . . .he is not on our time table

Creator of the ends of the earth. . . . . he has plans from the beginning for everything                   created including the final moments of time.

God is not tired or weary. . . .he has not given up

His understanding. .  . . . . . .We can not understand his plan, but only trust him



No it is men who grow tired and weary and do not understand.


So God gives:

  1. Strength to the weary
  2. Power to the weak
  3. A understanding to hope in him


When we hope in him and look away from ourselves we gain an understanding of his glory.  This causes hope to rise up in us and we find strength and power.


When we look to ourselves we become weary and weary.



Those who trust in themselves and reject hope in God.

1)  They grow tired

2)      They grow weary

3)      They stumble and fall