Isaiah 40 –
Isaiah 29:1-8 God is seen as being at war with Jerusalem, but now that war is finished. Isaiah 40:12-48:22 establishes that the warfare is accomplished and completed.
There will be four main points in this section. There will be a contrast between the God of Israel and Idols.
There will be a contrast between Israel and the gentiles.
There will be deliverance from Babylon, both near and far In the future.
There will be the end of Babylonian idolatry.
Vs. 1-2 A first voice speaks comfort. The theme now flips. We have, up until now, seen mostly judgment and a little comfort. Isaiah 40-66 will be more comfort and less judgment. In Hebrew vs. 2 actually says “Speak upon the heart (leb) of Jerusalem. This is healing language that is about restoration and newness.
It also says, in Hebrew, that her “warfare” (tsaba) has ended. There were all sorts of warfare going on. It wasn’t just all of these invasions. Primarily, it was the war that Israel waged against God through pride and self-idolatry. As a result of the Babylonian exile, overt idolatry becomes much less of a problem for Israel. The punishment for sin has been paid. The word for pardon (ratsah) indicates that a need has been satisfied. The wages of sin have been paid by suffering. This is really important for understanding the role of the messiah and the pardon of the world’s sins in chapters 49-57 (the suffering servant).
Israel, Jeremiah, and Zechariah all mention Israel paying double for her sins. Israel (Exodus 4) is the firstborn son of the Lord through covenant. The firstborn son received a double inheritance. Since this is a covenant relationship there are blessings and curses. The double doesn’t just go for blessings, it goes for curses as well. To make the covenant right the inheritance of the firstborn has to be honored either way.
Vs. 3-5 There is a cry of urgency from a second voice. When one king made a visit to another king, the king of the host country was to smooth out the road for the visit of the other king. Prepare the royal highway is smoothing the road that is already there. This is connected to John the Baptist. He made the way for Jesus. Those who were baptized by John had no trouble recognizing Jesus as the messiah.
In vs. 5 the Shekinah glory is the visible manifestation of the presence of God. God will come in the visible form of the coming of the messiah. The glory of the Lord is revealed in Jesus. It is revealed at the cross. And, Matthew 24:29-30, the whole world will see this in the second coming.
Vs. 4-11 There is a cry of hope from a third voice. The temporary nature of man is clear, but so is the permanence and absoluteness of the word of God.
Vs. 9 can be read two ways in Hebrew. It can mean that there is a messenger who is bringing good news to Zion and Jerusalem. It can also mean that Zion and Jerusalem are to be the messengers of good news. Both can be true simultaneously.
Vs.10-11 We see the nature of the coming king is different than other kings. He has strength and power, but he rules as a shepherd. He loves his flock and holds them close to his heart. He is a very different type of king.
Vs. 1-11 is the prologue for the rest of the book.
Vs. 12 -17 The focus is on the greatness of God.
God is omnipotent. He holds the universe in His hand, and yet he knows each particle of dust on earth.
He is omniscient. The rhetorical questions in vs. 13-14 have one answer. No one. No one can teach God anything. His ways are always higher than our ways.
Vs. 15-17 is a comparison between the incomparable greatness of God and the things of the earth to which we attribute greatness.
Vs. 18-26 begins with a comparison between God and idols. The whole process of selecting and making an idol is reduced to greed and foolishness. Even choosing what image it will represent reduces the idol to a plaything that is a mere copy of the real thing. It might last longer, but it can’t do anything but look pretty.
God, on the other hand, is vast. If man is small compared to man, then the things made by man are even smaller.
God has no equal.
Vs. 27-31 They miss the character of God. “Have you not known?” If they can acknowledge the magnitude of God, how can they complain they God has forgotten or overlooked them.
The reason they make this complaint about God is that they rely upon themselves. When we substitute reliance on ourselves with reliance on God, we will always make this complaint…And we do.
Vs. 31 – In our Blood Covenant series we talked about the importance of this verse. There is a tension in the word for wait. Waiting is not sitting around. It is essentially connecting one threat to God. Then He connects one to you. Weave those threads. Keep connecting threads and weaving them and you have a braid. Eventually, you have a rope that is too strong to break. Those who wait (continue to connect and braid) upon the Lord will renew their strength. Their strength not only comes from the Lord, but it is an unbreakable strength that is like being born again.