The Book of Isaiah contains eight major divisions. Thus far, we have examined the first five. These include: I. The LORD is the Holy One of Israel (1-12); II. Oracles Against the Nations (13-23); III. The Little Apocalypse (24-27); and IV. Judgment and Salvation (28-35); and V. A Historical Interlude, featuring Isaiah and King Hezekiah (36-39).
The sixth major division of Isaiah features the theme of the Glorious Kingdom of God (40-48). The Prophet Isaiah heralds words of comfort and deliverance to God’s people.
The overall outline is as follows. A. The Proclamation of God’s Presence and Israel’s Restoration (ch. 40); B. The LORD’s Sovereign Power Over History (ch. 41); C. The People and Witnesses to the LORD’s Redemption (ch. 42:1-13); D. The Restoration of Israel (ch. 42:14-44:23); E. The LORD’s Use of Cyrus (ch. 44:24-45:25); F. The Fall of Babylon and Her False Gods (ch. 46-47); and G. A Call to Escape the LORD’s Judgment on Babylon (ch. 48).
Isaiah 40, addresses the theme of God’s sovereign presence and Israel’s restoration. The chapter describes eight attributes of God.
First, God is a God of mercy (40:1-2). He not comforts His people, but He also forgives them of their sin.
Second, God is glorious (40:3-5). It is within these verses that the ministry of John the Baptist is prophesied. John’s ministry will be one of calling the people to repentance and to prepare the way for the Messiah.
Third, God is eternal (40:6-9). God’s word stands forever, unlike people, and his people are called to proclaim the message of the Lord’s coming.
Fourth, God is gentle (40:11). God will treat His people like a gentle shepherd.
Fifth, God is omnipotent (40:10, 12, 26). He is sovereign over all creation.
Sixth, God is omniscient (40:13–14). He is all-knowing. He understands all things and needs no one to counsel or advise him.
Seventh, God is sovereign (40:15–17, 21–24). Isaiah says that all nations are as a drop in the bucket, as dust on the scales to the LORD (40:15–17). Additionally, the LORD is enthroned above the circle of the earth (40:21–22): He spreads out the heavens like a curtain and makes his tent from them. Finally, the LORD rules over all people (40:23–24).
Eight, God is unique (40:18–20, 25). He is incomparable.
Israel’s problem in the 8th century B.C. is much the world’s problem today. Humanity has forgotten God’s wonderful attributes and has concluded that God either does not know them or does not care about them (40:27-28).
God’s promise to Israel then, and the church today, is that if people ask in earnest prayer, God will renew their strength (40:29-31).
Dr. Stephen J. Nichols writes that, “Isaiah 40 may very well be one of the most beautiful chapters of the Bible. From the first words—“Comfort, comfort my people”—to the last words of mounting up with wings like an eagle, this chapter is sheer poetry. If I were British, I would simply say, “Brilliant. No obstacle, however formidable, will ever prevail against Him (the LORD). We must see this in our day. The nations rage. The false gods and idols of our age present themselves. We know all too well our own limitations and weaknesses. Our temptation may be to place our confidence in the wrong place. We may rather foolishly put our confidence in ourselves. We might look to the state, to politics as the solution. That temptation has always seemed to be alluring to American Christians in particular. In the face of such temptations, we must put our confidence in God.”
Read and meditate upon the character of God presented in Isaiah 40. Your strength will be renewed.
Soli deo Gloria!