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Series Theme:   Isaiah Studies (Series 4 of 8 - chapters 36 to 43)
Page Contents:

Chapter 40














PRELIMINARY to reading Isaiah

   Please check the 1st set of this series to understand Isaiah more fully




The Context of these Chapters

      Isaiah, chapter 40, is a turning point in the book. Chapters 36 to 39 are historical narrative, which seem to act as a division between what has gone before and what follows. Some commentators divide the book into the ‘Book of Judgement', chapters 1 to 35, and the ‘Book of Comfort', chapters 40 to 66.


Judgement & Comfort in Isaiah

    Whether we are in the former or latter parts of Isaiah, there are warnings about judgement and words of encouragement to the remnant. It's just that in the former, the emphasis is on judgement, in the latter the emphasis turns to comfort and encouragement. There is judgement and comfort throughout the book. God WILL judge ongoing unrighteousness but He will always be looking for a righteous remnant.


What we will find in these studies

    In these chapters we will find:

•  the Lord saying He is coming to His people

•  declaring His greatness in a variety of ways

•  calling Israel His servant

•  calling another His servant (one beyond Israel)

•  declaring restoration for His people

•  declaring judgement on godless idolaters


A note about reading

     Much of these chapters was seemingly written in verse and those who divided the chapters into verses have left us with large verses, often with 4 to 8 lines in them. For that reason, when identifying the part of the verses we are referring to (mostly 3 verses per day), we will use the designation v.4a or v.4d to refer to the part of the verse in question.


Part 1: Prepare the Way of the Lord

     In this first part we will see the Lord declaring to Israel that her time of punishment has ended and that they should prepare the way for He is coming. He affirms His word and then declares His greatness. If they are to prepare to encounter God they need to be reminded exactly who He is. Wonderful verses, that enable us to see the Lord's greatness, compared with our frailty and weakness.




Chapter: Isaiah 40


Passage: Isaiah 40:1-2     


A. Find Out:


1. What is the Lord bringing to His people? v.1

2. What does He say to do? v.2a

3. What does He say has finished? v.2b

4. What has been paid for? v.2c

5. How? v.2d


B. Think:

1. When do you need comforting?

2. What has Israel obviously been going through?

3. Why is that coming to an end?

C. Comment:

       We need comforting when we've been through a hard time. Israel had obviously been through a hard time. Whether that hard time had been as a result of Hezekiah's infidelities (see previous chapters) or whether it refers to a wider judgement on Israel, or even refers prophetically to the Exile, the message is the same: God has dealt with you according to what you did, and has completed your punishment.

     God disciplines those He loves (Heb 12:5-7 / Psa 94:12,13). As someone once laughingly interpreted this, “Those the Lord loves, He beats the hell out of!” When God disciplines it is to remove all aspects of unrighteousness and ungodliness, it is a specific process to remove what is wrong, from the individual and from the people of God.

      So, God had been dealing with Israel and had brought double the grief on her for what she had been doing. That was to remove her sin. We'll see this in Isaiah again and again – God will bring righteousness, but He does it by removing the unrighteousness – which is bad behaviour (if the person will repent), or the person if they will not repent!

      Thus the Lord is coming to Isaiah and saying, it's all right, the corrective discipline is coming to an end, it's had its effect. Israel is now in a tender, sensitive and humble state, and she now needs gently building up and encouraging. The time for blessing has come!


D. Application:

1. God doesn't leave our unrighteousness unattended!

2. God's corrective processes remove that unrighteous behaviour.




Chapter: Isaiah 40

Passage: Isaiah 40:3-5

A. Find Out:    


1. Where was what to be done? v.3a,b

2. How was that repeated? v.3c,d

3. What is to be done to the ground? v.4

4. What will then be revealed? v.5a,b

5. Why will this happen? v.5c


B. Think:

1. Where is the work to be done?

2. What, do you think, is significant in that?

3. What is to be done and why?

C. Comment:

     All we are told is that a voice, presumably from heaven, is calling an instruction. We're not told to whom it comes – presumably to the people. The content of the instruction is simply to prepare a way for God to be able to come so that all mankind will be able to see His glory.

     Notice in this that because there is an instruction, it is presumably requiring people to be involved in this, i.e. God will not automatically come, but requires the co-operation of people who are to ‘get ready'. What is to be done? Obstacles (hills etc.) are to be removed and holes (valleys) are to be filled in so that the road upon which God will travel will be smooth and easy. Where is it to be done? In the desert or wilderness! God will come to or in the place of dryness? Yes, revivals normally seem to come in times of great spiritual dryness. Israel was in such a place when John the Baptist and Jesus came.


     So those are the basics but what is it really saying? Isaiah is saying that the hard times of discipline are coming to an end and a period where God's blessing and His glory are coming, is arriving. But somehow, people have got to have a part in preparing for that. John required the people to repent and ensure their lives were right before God BEFORE Jesus came! John brought the correction (preparing the way) and Jesus brought the blessing (the glory of God seen). There are thus two parts to God's work: correction (discipline), then blessing.

D. Application:

1. Seeking God is my responsibility. I do what I can.

2. Bring blessing is God's work. Only He can do that.



Chapter: Isaiah 40 

Passage: Isaiah 40:6-8   


A. Find Out:


1. What is Isaiah called to do? v.6a

2. How are men described? v.6b

3. What happens to the grass? v.7

4. But what stands in stark contrast? v.8


B. Think:

1. How is the introduction in verse 6 different from verse 3?

2. What is the point of these verses?

3. Why do you think that is important?

C. Comment:

     Israel has paid for her sins and God is coming to the people of God. Now comes this reference to God's word. Why?

     Observe first the description of mankind. We are compared here to grass or even on a good day, the flowers of the field. Watch such a field. What happens? Frost or heat comes and the grass withers and the flowers die. What does this say about us? Very simply, we don't last. We come and we go and as Solomon commented in Ecclesiastes, after our death we are soon forgotten. That point is important to remember in this picture.

     Because now he is told to contrast the word of God with this picture of frail, temporary mankind. God's word lasts. Why is he saying this? Because God speaks and sometimes it is centuries before that word is fulfilled. God is going to be speaking words here that are going to take centuries to come about, centuries before the time is right for Jesus to come! We should not be put off if God's word seems to be delayed. We're simply called to be faithful in that time of waiting.

     Note also the beginning of these verses. In verse 3 it was simply a voice calling and our listening was passive. In verse 6 the voice requires Isaiah to do the calling out. First there is passive information impartation, then comes a call to become involved in imparting the message. We are called to become part of the message we have to convey from God to the world.   


D. Application:

1. Am I passively just listening to the word of God?

2. Have I moved on to be involved in passing on the word of God?



Chapter: Isaiah 40

Passage: Isaiah 40:9-11     

A. Find Out:


1. Who is now being addressed? v.9a,c

2. Where are they told to go and what to do? v.9b,d

3. What are they actually to say to whom? v.9f

4. Who is coming, how? v.10a

5. What is He bringing? v.10b

6. How does He appear? v.11


B. Think:

1. What is the basic message seen in verse 9?

2. How is it shown to be good news in verse 11?

3. How does verse 10 reinforce all this?

C. Comment:

     The message from earlier in the chapter was, “Get ready for God is coming!” That message is reinforced now in verse 10. It isn't completely clear who is being spoken to. It may be Isaiah, it may be Jerusalem, but they are told to become proclaimers of this news, and to go up to a high place, where their voice will carry, and loudly declare this.

    The message, again, is very simple, “Here is your God.” (Ponder on ‘your'). He is identified as “the Sovereign I am”, the LORD who was revealed to Moses, the God with whom Israel had had dealings throughout their history. What more are we told about His coming?

    He comes powerfully and strongly and will not be withstood. He comes bringing a reward or a wage for those who will respond to Him in righteousness. This is good news for the righteous.

     More than that though, He also comes in the form of a shepherd who comes to look after His sheep, gathering His young ones (in the faith) in His arms, close to His heart. He also guard, protects, provides for, and guides those who have young (in the faith) with them. What a beautiful picture of the Lord who especially looks after both the young in the faith and those who bring them into being. The picture of the Lord is one of strength and power AND gentleness and caring.


D. Application:

1. Are you young in the faith? The Lord watches over you.

2. Do you bring spiritual babes into the world? The Lord leads you.




Chapter: Isaiah 40

Passage: Isaiah 40:12-14 

A. Find Out:


1. What four things are asked in verse 12?

2. What two things are asked in verse 13?

3. What four things are asked in verse 14?


B. Think:

1. What is the point being made in verse 12?

2. What is the point being made in verses 13 and 14?

3. What, overall, is the point being made here?

C. Comment:

     Previously in the chapter we've seen proclamations that God is coming to His people. The three verses here start off a new passage that is extolling the greatness of God which carries on through the next chapter. These verses today start with His power, His might and His wisdom. Let's consider them.

    In verse 12 the prophet starts asking rhetorical questions about God's greatness in Creation. Is there anyone else, he implies, who has decided the scope of the oceans? Is there anyone else who has established the skies and the universe? The obvious answer is, of course not.  Only THE Almighty God can do these things.  He is God!  He continues: is there anyone else who has sculptured the earth and formed the mountains and hills? God has done these things, because He is God!

     In verses 13 and 14 Isaiah starts asking about the Lord's wisdom and knowledge. Is there anyone who has a mind big enough to fathom God incredible mind?  No!  Has God ever had to take counsel from someone else because His mind was not big enough to solve a problem?  No!   Did anyone actually teach God all the knowledge that He has, did anyone give Him the understanding that He has, did anyone impart to Him the wisdom He has?  No,  He's just got it all!  He is God!

     Our problem in life, so often, is that we think problems that we have are too hard for God. Really?  So God hasn't got the power to change your circumstances? So God doesn't know the reasons behind them and the way through them?  Really?  Read again!


D. Application:

1. There is nothing too hard for God to change. Praise Him!

2. There is nothing too difficult for God to resolve. Worship Him!




Chapter: Isaiah 40

Passage: Isaiah 40:27-31

A. Find Out:



Chapter: Isaiah 40

Passage: Isaiah 40:27-31

A. Find Out:



Chapter: Isaiah 40

Passage: Isaiah 40:27-31

A. Find Out:



Chapter: Isaiah 40

Passage: Isaiah 40:27-31

A. Find Out:



Chapter: Isaiah 40

Passage: Isaiah 40:27-31

A. Find Out:




RECAP - "Failure" - Isaiah Chapter 40






Study No.6 : The Smallness of the Nations : Isaiah 40:15-17



A. Find Out:


1. To what does he compare what? v.15a

2. How small are they to God? v.15b,c

3. What isn't sufficient for what? v.16a

4. What aren't sufficient for what? v.16b

5. What are the nations to God? v.17


B. Think:

1. What is the point of today's verses?

2. How do they contrast with yesterday's?

3. How do they ‘fit' in the chapter?

C. Comment:

     In verses 12 to 14 above we saw Isaiah describing the Lord's immense greatness as the one who created all things, the one who knew all things. To press home the point, he now describes the Lord by ‘minimising' the nations (note,  ‘nations' not individuals!).

     In comparison to the Lord, all the peoples of the world are as simply a tiny drop in a bucket, or if you like, just like some sand on some big scales that is being weighed. The tendency of man is to think much of himself. This brings perspective!

     Then there comes a fresh perspective on Lebanon. The people of the day looked to Lebanon as a lush place that produced beautiful cedars, wonderful tall trees. There was also abundance of wildlife. But this, says the Lord is such a small supply that all the timber of Lebanon wouldn't be enough and all the animals wouldn't be enough for the altar offerings that are needed to cover the sin of Israel (implied).  No, he concludes, the peoples of the world are nothing to the Lord, He doesn't worry about them!

      Why all this? Because Isaiah is trying to convey the greatness of God, the God who is coming, and is seeking to deal with the hearts of proud men, so that they will humble themselves in preparation for the Coming One. Realise that all men's efforts and arrogance are nothing. They are not a problem to God! But His greatness may be to us!   


D. Application:

1. Have no illusions about how great you are! Humble yourself.

2. Realise how great God is. Worship Him!




Study No.7 : God is not an Idol : Isaiah 40:18-20



A. Find Out:


1. What does Isaiah now ask? v.18a

2. How does he specifically ask that? v.18b

3. How does he say an idol is created? v.19

4. How may a poor man go about that? v.20


B. Think:

1. What is the point Isaiah makes about idols?

2. How does that ‘fit' all that has gone before?

3. What sort of ‘things' do you think we ‘worship' today?

C. Comment:

     Isaiah has challenged the people to get ready to encounter God because He is coming to them soon. He has started on a section where he is spelling out the greatness of this coming God. He referred to His greatness as Creator and then compared humanity as dust. Now he turns to the embarrassing question of idols.

     Embarrassing? Well, yes, because they show the stupidity of mankind. All over the world (even today) people revere little images. Stop and think about this, says Isaiah. Somebody made those images. It may be an image that is covered in intricate gold working or it may be a solid hardwood image, but the truth is that another human being made that ‘thing'.  So why do people worship it?  How has a piece of wood, stone or metal gained power?  By superstition!  ANYTHING less than the One Supreme Being who is the Lord CANNOT be God, so why revere it?

      This is crass stupidity, or at best, ignorance. Anything apart from God that we put our trust in is folly. Many put their trust in science, or medicine or economics, or human power or prestige. These become modern idols – even work – even pleasure – even comfort! These are the things that modern Western man reveres to his folly. What stops us worshipping the One who is over all? It can only be Sin, that tendency to self-centred, pride-filled, truth-denying, wrong!  Get ready for the coming of the One Supreme Being who is Almighty God, this is Isaiah's message.  Allow no counterfeits!


D. Application:

1. Anything man-made cannot be a competitor to your love of God.

2. The Lord alone requires your allegiance. Worship Him!




Study No.8 : God is above All : Isaiah 40:21-24



A. Find Out:


1. What 4 questions does Isaiah ask? v.21

2. How does he compare God with us? v.22a,b

3. What does he says He does? v.22c,d

4. What does he say God does with leaders? v.23

5. To what does he compare them? v.24a

6. What does he say happens to them? v.24


B. Think:

1. What is Isaiah pointing out indirectly in verse 21?

2. What is he doing in verse 22?

3. What point is he making in verses 23 & 24?

C. Comment:

      Isaiah has warned that God is coming and that the people are to prepare, and has then gone on to describe something of the greatness of the Lord. He started with His great power and great wisdom in creating the earth. He then contrasted how small humanity is by comparison. He went on to contrast God with man-made idols and now he seems to summarise all this.

     He starts with an almost derisory set of questions. Haven't you known and understood all these things, you ignorant people (implied)! How dare you compare yourselves with God, you small minded people! Don't you understand God sits outside and above His creation, the earth, and when He looks down on it, the people are like tiny grasshoppers by comparison! We are concerned with our tiny bits of the world while God is intent on His work of creating great swathes of the universe.

     Don't you realise, he continues, that God deals with rulers of the world as He wills and brings down and removes them just as He wills. It's no more difficult to Him than it is for freshly planted plants to be blown away by a gale. It's no effort to God! Do we realise, this is the enormity of the God that we know. It is this God who is coming soon, and for whom we should be preparing.  None of our activities are great enough to get in the way of this. This is your God; get ready!


D. Application:

1. Don't ever try to compare yourself with Almighty God!

2. Submit to and worship Him alone.





Study No.9 : Incomparable God : Isaiah 40:25-28



A. Find Out:


1. What 2 questions does the Lord now ask? v.25

2. To what does He draw our attention? v.26a

3. What does he ask and say about them? v.26b-d

4. What had Israel been feeling? v.27

5. How does he describe Himself? v.28b,c

6. What does He not do? v.28d


B. Think:

1. How does the Lord speak of His greatness?

2. To what does that extend, that answers Israel 's complaint?

3. How does all this ‘fit' with what has gone before?

C. Comment:

     Up until now it has been Isaiah who has been speaking. Now it is the Lord Himself who speaks directly, in terms that are similar to that which are found near the end of the book of Job.

     Don't even think of comparing me to anyone or anything else, is what He is really saying.  Just look up at the night time sky.  I am the one who brought all these into being, I am the One who ensures that their existence is continued.  I alone am the source or originator of all of this!  This is the extent of my power and greatness!

     So, He goes on, you limit me in your thinking?  You think I don't see what is happening to you and that I can't do anything about your plight?  Don't you realise how foolish a view this is, because I am the One who created all things and sees all things and can do all things. I am not limited. I don't get tired by my activity so I can't be available to you. Your problems aren't too complex for me. My understanding of everything is so great that no one could possibly even understand the extent of it!  Don't belittle me!

     Yes, this is the challenge of the Lord when, in our futile thinking, we wonder why God isn't turning up in our circumstances. It's not because He can't. It's actually because He can (and isn't panicked into action) and He knows when is best to move and act.


D. Application:

1. Do I understand something of God's great power and wisdom?

2. Rest in that knowledge and the knowledge of His love for you.




Study No.10 : God of Strength : Isaiah 40:29-31



A. Find Out:


1. What does the Lord give? v.29

2. Even who become what and do what? v.30

3. But who will do what? v.31a,b

4. What 3 things will they then be able to do? v.31c-e


B. Think:

1. How does this flow from the previous verses?

2. So what point is Isaiah making in verses 29 & 30?

3. Who will the Lord's provision help?

C. Comment:

     From verse 27 the prophetic word has been addressing the feeling of being down, that is there in the people. They felt that God was not taking notice of their plight. This isn't, says Isaiah because He is tired – God doesn't get tired! In fact, he goes on, God gives strength to those who do get tired, when they come to Him.

     Let's examine more fully what the Lord does. There are two groups of people mentioned in verse 29 – those who are weary, tired out by the circumstances, and those who are weak, whose personal resources are simply not up to coping with life.  Look, he says, even the young who you would expect to have sufficient strength and be able to cope, even they get tired by life and worn down, even they stumble and fall. This is the human experience. Our human resources sometimes just don't seem to be adequate for the pressures that come against us – but it isn't like that with God.  He never gets tired and the strength that He has to impart never runs out. So where is it then?

      It's there, but you have to put your trust in God and turn to and wait on Him for it. When you do that, strength will be there for you. Even more than that you will rise up and soar in life, just like an eagle. You will be able to run in life and not grow weary and you'll be able keep on walking the walk and not feel faint. In other words, if you receive from God, you'll have the same capacity as He has, to keep on going without getting worn down!


D. Application:

1. God's resources for you are adequate. Seek Him for them.

2. Wait for God until He comes and equips you.




RECAP No.1  "Prepare the Way of the Lord"  Isaiah 40





In this first group of 10 studies we have seen the Lord :

- declaring Israel 's punishment time is at an end.

- calling on Israel to prepare, for He is coming.

- affirming that this word will be fulfilled.

- calling again to declare that He is coming.

- saying He is coming as a Shepherd caring for His lambs.

- declaring His greatness in Creation.

- saying how small the nations are by comparison.

- deriding idol makers.

- again declaring His greatness in history & Creation.

- chiding Israel for wondering where He was.

- declaring that He never tires and is there to help the weary.



      This is a chapter of anticipation (the Lord is coming!), divine perspective (and He is great!), and contrasts (God versus small people who rely on idols!). If you didn't see them, go back and read again.



1. The Lord deals with unrighteousness to bring righteousness.

2. Faith involves believing God when He speaks.

3. Faith involves responding and doing, when God speaks.

4. Keep a right perspective and understand God's greatness.

5. Maintain humility in the face of God's greatness.

6. Go to God to receive the strength you need daily.



      Thank you Lord, that you come to your people. You make us righteous and deal with and remove our unrighteousness. Thank you for your grace that is there for us today.


PART 2 : "History Maker"

      In this next Part we will see various recurring themes: the Lord who moves on nations and directs history, the folly of the nations (and those in Israel ) who rely on idols, His provision for His faithful ones. He also speaks of Israel as His servant who He both encourages and chides. Watch for the difference and the reasons for both.




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