Rev. Peter shares out of Isaiah 40:1-11. A message of comfort to God’s people. Comfortable or comforter.
With this chapter we begin the second portion of the Book of Isaiah, which has as its common theme the salvation and future blessing of God’s people. The Jews had been taken into captivity in three waves, in 605 B.C., 597 B.C. and 586 B.C. when Jerusalem was destroyed. They knew that they were to be there for 70 years, and so toward the end of that exile they were to be prepared to leave. They did leave in 536 when Persia ruled the land. But a lot of the Jews did not go back to the land, but stayed in the east. I
This chapter is the prologue to the whole series of oracles and songs that follow; it has the basic themes that are found throughout the following chapters. The passage begins with promise (1-11). It opens with an instruction to comfort the people of God (1,2), followed by the oracle of the one preparing the way (3-8), and the heralds announcing the coming of the LORD in accordance with the Word of God (9-11). Israel was in need of such good news because they were in captivity under Gentile domination. The heralds bring the good tidings not to Babylon, but to Zion where the glory of the LORD will reappear when He leads His people like a Shepherd.
“comfort” in verses 1 and 2; “prepare” in verse 4; “go up” and shout in verse 9 (and point out the coming of the LORD in verse 10). Then, in the last part of the passage there are principles and lessons but not in the form of imperatives: the people should renew their faith (26), stop mistrusting the LORD (27), build up their faith (29), and wait expectantly for the deliverance (31).
The promise of the coming of the LORD brings comfort and instruction to God’s people (40:1-11).
1.”Comfort my people” (1, 2).
Spiritual Holy Spirit Comforter Isaiah 9: 16 Wonderful Councillor/ Comforter, Prince of Peace Paracletos
Verse 1 calls for the word of comfort to go out. These imperatives, “comfort, comfort” are in the plural—nahamu, nahamu (pronounced na-kha-moo)—meaning that the prophet and the school of the prophets, or perhaps even the whole faithful remnant, are to announce comfort to the people in general. We bring comfort to others in coming alongside of them not making them comfortable.
- Speak to the heart (tenderly)
Verse 2 literally says “speak to the heart.” This is a poetic expression that represents an intimate and loving speech, sincere and heartfelt. For example, Boaz, we read, “spoke to the heart” of Ruth—kind, loving, gracious, generous, and tender. In this context, the three reasons for this kind of speech were war had ended, iniquity had been pardoned, and judgment was over.
Note that it is “Jerusalem” that is to be spoken to in comforting words. Jerusalem being the main city would represent the nation—but we still mean the people in it. They knew there was another, greater fulfillment at the end of the age, when the Messiah would come. This is why at the Temple in Jerusalem Simeon rejoiced to see the baby Jesus—the “consolation” of Israel, a direct allusion to Isaiah 40.
3.“Prepare the way of the LORD” (3-5).
The second instruction is for the preparation for the coming of the LORD, so that the glory of the LORD would be revealed. In the immediate setting, the restoration would be evidence of God’s glorious intervention (so “glory” would be metonymy of cause or adjunct); but in the advent of the Messiah, the glory of the LORD would be present and revealed—in part at the first advent, for the flesh of Jesus was the tent that covered the glory except when He chose to reveal it; in full at the second coming when He comes in glory. At the first advent, many saw it (“we beheld His glory”); but at the second coming, “all flesh” will see it.
This section begins with the voice of one crying. We learn from the New Testament that this is ultimately a prophecy about John the Baptist—although others could have cried this message in the original period, and others in our age could also be such a voice. His identity is not important; the message is. John represented this so well: “I am a voice” (Mark 1:3). He made it very clear, using Isaianic images, that he was not the light.
4. The desert
The “desert” represents the wasteland and the barren places; and so it speaks of need in the human heart, or even obstacles and impediments to life. These are found in the spiritual life: valleys, crooked places, ridges, and the like are all sinful things, problems in the life that need to be straightened out. The “straight highway” is the spiritual believer who through repentance leaves nothing in his spiritual condition that would hinder the appearance of the LORD, the coming of the LORD, or participation in the Messianic Age of the LORD.
5. “Cry: The Word of our God shall stand forever” (40:8-8).
We bring the good news of comfort and forgiveness; but there is no comfort in mortal flesh. Flesh changes and dies like grass (simile); its beauty like that of flowers cannot last.85 To see the vivid picture, you need to be familiar with what grows and what does not grow in the land. These comparisons show the fading and transitory nature of human lives. One cannot find comfort there. Humans fail; they cannot save themselves. But the contrast is with the eternal Word of God that cannot fail. So the message of hope comes from God’s word. That is truth. That can be trusted.
The power is not in the flesh but in the spirit overflowing into the fleah. Not comfortable but comforted in this
6. What should we say to others needing comfort ?“Say: Here is your God” (9-11).
Now the heralds are people who bring good tidings to Zion, possibly the returning remnant if not the faithful who live in the expectation of divine intervention. They can point to the reason for the restoration, the comfort, the hope—God will make Himself known to deliver them. These heralds are to announce to Jerusalem and to the cities of Judah—the people in the land : “Here is your God.” John would announce, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” And from his initial announcement through all subsequent prophets, apostles, preachers, and laity, the heralds of the kingdom hold out this promise of the coming. But when He comes again the words will be self evidently true—”Here is your God.” At the end of the age, then, Zechariah the prophet says that Israel will look on Him whom they have pierced, and realize this is their Messiah, this is their Saviour, this is their God.
We need to show people who God is and guide them to an understanding of who God is in our own lives as we dedicate ourselves to sharing his Love.