Can we really depend upon God and trust him. Is it really true that we do not have to be worried and anxious about our circumstances? Isaiah 40 looks forward beyond the judgement coming upon Judah to a day when sin will be forgiven and the fortunes of God’s people restored bringing peace and comfort.
Read Isaiah 40-41
Comfort is announced. The reason for this comfort is that Jerusalem’s time of judgement and suffering is coming to an end. She has paid the penalty for her sin. The word “double” here carries the sense of completeness (40:1-2). God is on the move, he will return to his city and so, the call goes out to prepare for his coming. Just as your prepare for a king’s arrival by repairing the roads, so the whole of creation prepares for God’s arrival with a cosmic highway, if we fill in potholes and resurface roads when human dignitaries are coming, well then, the very mountains and valleys should be levelled out for God (40:3-5).
The people can depend upon God to keep this promise because he is not like them. Humans are like the grass and flowers, short lived, easily blown about and scattered (40:6-8). Jerusalem and Mount Zion will also be exalted and become a symbol or testimony, a spokesman for God’s deliverance and care for his people, comparing the Lord to a shepherd who cares for his flock. Again, this emphasises the certainty of God’s promise (40:9-11).
Isaiah then asks a series of questions, challenging his hearers, is it possible to measure, evaluate, analyse, compare or define God? The response to each question has to be a resounding no. God cannot be measured or contained. He is incomparable and in fact any attempted comparison with false gods only serves to demonstrate his uniqueness (40:12-26).
Such rhetoric is designed to silence the complaints and unbelief of God’s people. Given God’s unique greatness and goodness, given the evidence of history, they have no reason to doubt or question him. Yes, God does see them and know them. He is not unaware of their circumstances. Yes., God will keep his promises. He will lift up and restore the faint and the fallen (40:27-31).
Just as people seek to encourage one another and embolden friends to courage, so Israel can be encouraged, not because they have human friends and allies on their side but because God is their friend. He is the one who will save them (41:1-20). This of course means that their trust must be completely in him. It is ridiculous and futile to put your trust in idols. The false gods are invited to respond to God by bringing evidence of their own saving works but they have nothing to offer because they are not real gods at all (41:21-24). It was God alone who warned of coming judgement and who brought that judgement. So, he is the one that the people need to trust for salvation(41:25-29).
Mediate on these words from Isaiah 40:1
Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.
- What is the nature of God’s comfort for us?
- The Holy Spirit is sometimes named “The comforter” why do you think that is?
- How can we be sure that God’s comfort is real and reliable?
Thank you Lord God that you have sent the comforter, the Holy Spirit. Thank you that we can trust your word and depend upon your character in the whole of life.