The Messiah in Isaiah Bible Study
Chapter 40: Behold... Here is your God!
by I Gordon
The book of Isaiah is amazing. Why? Well, it was written over 700 years
before Jesus came to this earth yet it contains clear and accurate
prophecies concerning His birth, life and death. Due to this clear
revelation about the coming Messiah, it has often been called 'the 5th gospel'. To back this up, the New Testament contains
sixty six direct quotes from the book of Isaiah and twenty of the
twenty seven books contain a quote from Isaiah.
Along with other topics, this study series will look at a lot of those
prophecies that are found in the second part of the book of Isaiah.
Starting from chapter 40, we will examine what Isaiah foresaw
concerning the coming Messiah. Along the way we shall hopefully see
that in some specific areas
there is more revelation in Isaiah concerning Jesus than is even
presented in the four gospels. Now this study will look at verses 1-10,
25-31 and it starts, as any half decent study should do, with...
A Mathematical Oddity
As you may or may not know, the book of Isaiah is split into two main
sections. The first section encompasses chapters 1-39 and the general
theme is the judgement of God. The second section, from chapter 40-66
presents a different theme of God's grace and comfort through the
coming of the Messiah. So where, I hear you ask, is the mathematical
oddity in that? Well, thanks for asking. Let me ask you a few
questions... Firstly how many chapters are there in the book of Isaiah?
Easy you say, 66. That's correct. And how are those 66 chapters divided
up? Well, we saw above that the first 39 chapters focus on judgement
and the last 27 chapters focus on the coming Messiah and the grace of
God. So now comes the easy bit... How many books are there in the Bible
and how is the Bible split up? The Bible has 66 books. The first 39
books focus on the law and judgement where as the last 27 books focus
on Jesus and the grace of God. Can you see how the book of Isaiah is a
picture of the whole Bible? Now, I can hear what you are saying... If
the second half of Isaiah represents 'the New Testament' then it should
surely start with grace, the coming of the Messiah and maybe even a
reference to the ministry of John the Baptist (like the start of the
New Testament). I like your thinking! Let's have a look...
Comfort O Comfort My People!
Isaiah 40:1-2 'Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. 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.'
Have you ever been given the 'silent treatment'? I'm sure you have.
Well, several times isn't it? Leading up to the coming and birth of
Jesus the Messiah, God kind of gave His people 'the silent treatment'.
You see, for hundreds of years God sent His prophets who spoke to the
people saying 'Thus says the Lord...' Most of their messages concerned
repentance and asked Israel to turn to the Lord once again. And then,
just like that, the prophets stopped coming. For about four hundred
years leading up to the birth of Jesus there were no prophets sent to
the nation from the Lord. Theologians often call this period of time
'the silent years'.
Now what would you expect after such silent treatment? Is God bubbling
away behind the scenes ready to burst forth in anger? When you read the
prophets and the Old Testament you would expect that if God ever turned
up in person then Israel, and probably the whole world, would be in
trouble! You would expect judgement, justice, anger and vengeance...
and the people would deserve what they got. And then He came, saying
, O comfort my people!' The apostle John stated this by starting his
book saying 'The Law was given through Moses; Grace and truth came
through Jesus Christ.' But the freaky thing is that the justice,
judgement and vengeance that the law demanded was not just forgotten or
by-passed. It was poured out upon Jesus Himself!
You will also notice that the scripture from Isaiah above says that God
has forgiven her and repaid her double for all her sins. That is the
true gospel! If God simply forgave someone's sins, that would leave
them in a neutral position. But God has done so much more than that in
Christ. Not only have our sins been forgiven but He has also given us a
gift of righteousness. (Rom 5:17, 2 Cor 5:21) Now that
is giving double!
Make way for the Lord
Isaiah 40:3-5 A voice of one calling: "In the desert prepare the way
for the LORD; make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the
rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain. And the
glory of the LORD will be revealed, and all mankind together will see
it. For the mouth of the LORD has spoken."
The coming of the Lord was obviously preceded by the coming of a
messenger whose task it was to prepare the hearts of the people to
receive their coming King. That man was John the Baptist.
He was the voice in the wilderness that cried out to the people
requiring their repentance. As we see from the scripture above, there
was a highway being built upon which the Lord would come. Every valley
should be raised; every hill made low and any obstacle that stood in
the way of His coming should be removed. Obviously this is speaking
. It is our hearts that need to be prepared correctly for His ultimate
purpose: for the glory of the Lord to be revealed. That is His ultimate
goal in our lives! That the light of the Lord would shine through our
lives and we would be conformed to the image of His Son. 'Rugged' and
'rough' is a good description of some of us is it not? But God has His
means of smoothing things out for His glory. But just as constructing a
new road takes time, effort and is fraught with difficulties and
challenges, so too is the work that God undertakes in our lives. But
thankfully He is the master engineer. Just don't fight Him in this
Lift up your voice
Isaiah 40:9-10 You who bring good tidings to Zion, go up on a high
mountain. You who bring good tidings 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!" See, the Sovereign LORD comes with power, and his
arm rules for him. See, his reward is with him, and his recompense
The first part of this passage speaks to those that have met their
king. They have prepared their hearts, received Him as King and are now
asked to do something for Him. The scripture says 'You who bring good
tiding, lift up your voice, lift it up and do not be afraid; say to the
towns 'Here is your God''. And that is the responsibility of all those
that have come to know the Lord. They are not asked to remain silent
but should share with others the 'good news' of what they have found.
As if to back this thought up, the scripture then gives us a reason why
we should do this... it gives us a glimpse into the future when the
Lord shall return in power and rule over this earth. And on that day
His reward and recompense will be given to all who have served and
followed Him here and now. Never forget or underestimate the following
statement of the Lord Jesus:
Rev 22:12 "Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me,
to render to every man according to what he has done.
How great is our God? How small is our faith?
Isaiah 40:25-27 "To whom then will you liken Me That I would be his
equal?" says the Holy One. Lift up your eyes on high And see who has
created these stars, The One who leads forth their host by number, He
calls them all by name; Because of the greatness of His might and the
strength of His power, Not one of them is missing. Why do you say, O
Jacob, and assert, O Israel, "My way is hidden from the LORD, And the
justice due me escapes the notice of my God"?
Jump with me if you will to the end of the chapter and let us examine
how this great chapter ends. For the chapter starts with the promise
that there will be comfort for God's people and it ends a great promise
showing the way in which that comfort and strength shall come. (And
before that we have Israel saying that they are not feeling
comforted!). But let's not get ahead of ourselves! We see above that
God asked His people if there is anyone that He can be compared with. I
can't think of any! Obviously the answer is no. He is the God who
declares the end from the beginning as we have seen in the first part
of this study. But now we learn something else about Him. He is the one
who not only created all the stars but also calls them by name!
All of them. Amazing. Not only that but they are all kept by His power.
So note what God says next - He says 'Why do you say O Jacob, and
assert O Israel, 'My way is hidden from the Lord, and the justice due
me escapes the notice of my God'?' What was Israel saying here? Well,
Israel was saying that 'God may be great and He may be massive, but He
doesn't care about me. He doesn't notice what I'm going through. I
don't ever see the justice that I should get. What I've had to deal
with seems to have been totally missed by God.'
Have you ever found yourself saying this? I have. When things go on for
years it is quite possible for your trust to start moving to blame. Not
because God deserves to be blamed but because there is something wrong
with our hearts that seek to blame someone - and that someone
eventually becomes God.
We all need to beware of turning our problems into goliaths and our God
into a grasshopper. But let's have a look at God's response to this
claim of neglect by Israel.
Waiting on the Lord leads to new strength
Isaiah 40:28-31 Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting
God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth does not become
weary or tired. His understanding is inscrutable. He gives strength to
the weary, And to him who lacks might He increases power. Though youths
grow weary and tired, And vigorous young men stumble badly, Yet those
who wait for the LORD Will gain new strength; They will mount up with
wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and
not become weary.
God's answer to the claim that He is unaware or uninterested in what
Israel is going through gives us one of the most well known passages in
the Old Testament. First of all He reminds His people that He is not
someone that becomes weary or tired and nor is His understanding
limited. Nothing escapes His notice or catches Him by surprise. He is
aware of all that His people are going through. So the question must be
asked then, does God help us in our troubles?
Ok, so that was a stupid question because the answer is of course YES!
Look at what God says in answer to this. He says that He gives strength
and power to the weary
. Those who wait for the Lord WILL gain new strength!
It is a great promise and you can count on it. If you are going through
a tough time thank the Lord for this promise. God has said it. He will
fulfil His word and promises. Our God is a great God. He does not
overlook or miss the needs of His people. Yes, He does work in
mysterious ways at times. Yes, He does often work in unseen ways. But
He will supply strength to walk, run and fly.
So what is our task? Our need is to wait on the Lord. This is not a
passive sitting and waiting for something to happen. It is an active
seeking, relying and hopeful expectation upon the Lord to supply the
strength that you need. Let me close with this text from the Amplified
Bible for it brings this out really well.
Even youths shall faint and be weary, and [selected] young men
shall feebly stumble and fall exhausted; But those who wait for the
Lord [who expect, look for, and hope in Him] shall change and renew
their strength and power; they shall lift their wings and mount up
[close to God] as eagles [mount up to the sun]; they shall run and
not be weary, they shall walk and not faint or become tired.