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Part 1: Words of Judgment: Ch.1-39

Part 2: Words of Comfort: Ch.40-66


Part 2: Words of Comfort: Ch.40-66

2.1 Israel's release from Captivity: Ch.40-48

2.2 The Future Redeemer: Ch.49-59

2.3 The Future Kingdom: Ch.60-66


FRAMEWORKS: Isaiah 40 : Comfort for God's People


v.1,2 The Overall Call – to comfort & be gentle with Israel

v.3-9 Three Voices

v.10-31 The Greatness & Uniqueness of your God


[Preliminary notes: After judgment and discipline, the Lord comes to His people. He never want to destroy but to discipline and correct them and bring them back to Himself. For that to happen, they have to realise the folly of their past idolatry and regain a right perspective of the Lord's greatness.]



v.1,2 The Overall Call – to comfort & be gentle with Israel


v.1 [The Overall Call] (The God of judgment from earlier chapters, is also the God who seeks to comfort His people if they will repent - 2 Cor 1:3,4)

Comfort, comfort my people,
     says your God.

v.2 [The Specific Call] (Jerusalem is in a sorry state, so speak gently to her and tell her that her time for punishment has passed.)

Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
     and proclaim to her
that her hard service has been completed,
     that her sin has been paid for,
that she has received from the Lord 's hand
     double for all her sins.


v.3-9 Three Voices


v.3 [Voice 1] (Listen, there is a prophetic voice calling in the desert [the land of dryness] calling us to make an easy access road because God is coming.)

A voice of one calling:
“In the wilderness prepare
     the way for the Lord ;
make straight in the desert
     a highway for our God.

v.4 (You will need to level it up and clear away all obstacles to make it easy for Him to come)

Every valley shall be raised up,
     every mountain and hill made low;
the rough ground shall become level,
     the rugged places a plain.

v.5 (His glory is going to be seen in the land again, He has declared it!)

And the glory of the Lord will be revealed,
     and all people will see it together.
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”


v.6 [Voice 2] (But a second prophetic voice calls, I have to speak but what shall I call?)

A voice says, “Cry out.”
     And I said, “What shall I cry?”


(Remind the people of their frailty, they are like grass that so easily withers, or the wild flowers of the field that so quickly drop their petals. They are like this but God's word is enduring and will remain for ever once He has spoken it – so listen!)

“All people are like grass,
     and all their faithfulness is like the flowers of the field.
v.7  The grass withers and the flowers fall,
     because the breath of the Lord blows on them.
     Surely the people are grass.
v.8  The grass withers and the flowers fall,
     but the word of our God endures forever.”


v.9 [Voice 3] (Look you prophet, I have good news for you to bring to Jerusalem so get up onto a high place and proclaim that I am coming.)

You who bring good news to Zion,
     go up on a high mountain.
You who bring good news to Jerusalem,
     lift up your voice with a shout,
lift it up, do not be afraid;
     say to the towns of Judah,
     “Here is your God!”

v.10-31 The Greatness & Uniqueness of your God


v.10 [God comes] (Look you people, God comes in strength and He brings His blessing with Him for you.)

See, the Sovereign Lord comes with power,
     and he rules with a mighty arm.
See, his reward is with him,
     and his recompense accompanies him.

v.11 [How He comes] (He comes to you like a caring shepherd, especially looking after the little ones and those who have young ones themselves.)

He tends his flock like a shepherd:
     He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart;
     he gently leads those that have young.


v.12 [His Greatness as Creator] (Hey, understand how mighty the Lord is. Who else has moved the waters, created the land masses, the skies, and the clouds, who knows every mountain and hill?)

Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand,
     or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens?
Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket,
     or weighed the mountains on the scales
     and the hills in a balance?

v.13 [His Knowledge & Wisdom] (Stop and think about this. Who can understand the Lord or teach Him anything, who can guide Him or enlighten Him in any way? That's how great He is!)

Who can fathom the Spirit of the Lord ,
     or instruct the Lord as his counselor?
v.14 Whom did the Lord consult to enlighten him,
     and who taught him the right way?
Who was it that taught him knowledge,
     or showed him the path of understanding?


v.15 [Mightier than the Nations] (In comparison to Almighty God, all the nations together are like a drop in a bucket, or just dust on the scales; all the land masses are as fine dust in comparison to His might, in comparison to Him the whole world is, well, insignificant!)

Surely the nations are like a drop in a bucket;
     they are regarded as dust on the scales;
     he weighs the islands as though they were fine dust.
v.16  Lebanon is not sufficient for altar fires,
     nor its animals enough for burnt offerings.
v.17  Before him all the nations are as nothing;
     they are regarded by him as worthless
     and less than nothing.


v.18 [The Folly of Idols] (See what goes on among the people and then see if there is anyone or anything to compare with God. These silly people make little models of iron overlaid with gold, or if they can't afford that, little idols of wood. What are they in comparison to God????)

With whom, then, will you compare God?
     To what image will you liken him?
v.19  As for an idol, a metalworker casts it,
     and a goldsmith overlays it with gold
     and fashions silver chains for it.
v.20  A person too poor to present such an offering
     selects wood that will not rot;
they look for a skilled worker
     to set up an idol that will not topple.


v.21 [Understand Him as Creator] (Has no one taught you [you foolish, superstitious believers in idols] that from the beginning God created all things and He reigns high above all created things.)

Do you not know?
     Have you not heard?
Has it not been told you from the beginning?
     Have you not understood since the earth was founded?
v.22 He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth,
     and its people are like grasshoppers.
He stretches out the heavens like a canopy,
     and spreads them out like a tent to live in.

v.23 [Understand He is Sovereign] (Don't you realise He is so mighty that He can bring down the most proud of princes, the mightiest of rulers. Just like plants, they get established and all He's got to do is blow on them … and they're gone!)

He brings princes to naught
     and reduces the rulers of this world to nothing.
v.24  No sooner are they planted,
     no sooner are they sown,
     no sooner do they take root in the ground,
than he blows on them and they wither,
     and a whirlwind sweeps them away like chaff.


v.25  [Understand His Uniqueness] (He asks us, come on people, to whom can you compare me, is there anyone who is anywhere near my equal? Clearly a rhetorical question!)

“To whom will you compare me?
     Or who is my equal?” says the Holy One.

v.26 [Understand Him as Creator -2] (Look, just go outside when it is dark and gaze at the wonder of the starry sky, who do you think created all these? They didn't just happen by accident, you know! It was Him!)

Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens:
     Who created all these?
He who brings out the starry host one by one
     and calls forth each of them by name.
Because of his great power and mighty strength,
     not one of them is missing.


v.27 [Wrong Perception] (Why do you people in Israel complain that I have abandoned you, that God doesn't see you, He doesn't bother with you?)

Why do you complain, Jacob?
     Why do you say, Israel,
“My way is hidden from the Lord ;
     my cause is disregarded by my God”?

v.28 [Understand the Creator doesn't tire] (Look, don't you know, haven't you ever realised, the “I AM” is the eternal, never beginning, never ending God, the One who made all things we know of. A God like this isn't going to get tired out watching over you and if you don't understand the scope of what He does, don't be surprised – He's God!)

Do you not know?
     Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
     the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
     and his understanding no one can fathom.

v.29 [He imparts His strength] (This never-tiring, ever-resourced God is the one who can give strength to us when we're weary, give us power when we're weak.)

He gives strength to the weary
     and increases the power of the weak.

v.30 [We all need His strength] (Even the young men among you whose strength outlasts the rest of us, even they get tired and fall, that's what we're like, we human beings.)

Even youths grow tired and weary,
     and young men stumble and fall;

v.31 [He gives it to those who rely on Him] (But the truth is that those who turn to God, seek Him, and trust Him, these ones will find He renews their strength, lifts them so that soar like the greatest of birds and will be able to keep on and on – with His strength.)

but those who hope in the Lord
     will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
     they will run and not grow weary,
     they will walk and not be faint.


[Concluding comments: The prophet addresses the downtrodden people of Jerusalem who have been disciplined by the Lord. That discipline is going to come to an end and God is coming to them again and His glory will be seen in their midst again. The call is to recognise His greatness and realise that He doesn't give up on them. Rather like Gideon of earlier centuries, when they are being disciplined they shouldn't jump to wrong conclusions: God hasn't given up on them, He's coming to them again and they should get ready to receive Him, for He comes to comfort and strengthen them again. It is a word that challenges the idolatry that had been tolerated and challenges getting a right perspective of God.]


Design Criteria

1. Divided by main sub-headings which are also listed at the top.

2. Because prophecy (not strictly teaching) is the most difficult of all the different types of writing in the Bible to absorb, we have added a belt-and-braces appproach of mini-incorporated-headings as well as our own paraphrase of the text as we find it.

3. The Overview at the top of this particular chapter is an attempt to help the reader see how this chapter fits in the overall structure of the book.

4. The final 'Concluding Comments' simply summarise the thrust of the prophetic message of this chapter.

NB. It should be noted that our references to paraphrases are not those of the original text but are simply ways for the everyday reader to try to summarise or encapsulate what they find in the translated text, to make sense to them.