Comfort and Deliverance: Isaiah 40, 41 (1)
Pray Psalm 126.4.
Bring back our captivity, O LORD,
As the streams in the South.
Read Isaiah 40.1-5.
1. Chapters 40 and 41 open with a word of comfort. Why should God’s people take comfort?
2. What is the sense of the “straightening” and “leveling” mentioned in these verses?
Now that Israel’s riches have been exposed to the Babylonians, it will not be many years before they come calling, and Jerusalem will fall to Nebuchadnezzar. But that’s not God’s last word to His people. The remaining chapters of the book of Isaiah (40-66) are comprised of precious and very great promises of redemption and restoration – a salvation so great that it embraces even the Gentiles and extends beyond time.
This part of Isaiah’s prophecy thus begins with a word of comfort. Though they will shortly be carried away into captivity to Babylon, the people should take comfort, because God is going to bring them forgiveness and peace (v. 2), once His wrath against them is satisfied (v. 3). All this has historical significance for the three generations that would succeed Isaiah. But its deeper significance reaches far beyond that.
Verse 3 launches us beyond the scope of the Old Testament to the time of John the Baptist, who identified himself with this prophecy (cf. Jn. 1.19-23). A day of leveling and straightening is coming, to make access to the Lord easy for all who will come to Him (vv. 3, 4). But men must make preparation for meeting the Lord (v. 3), and John would explain to them how (Lk. 3.1-18).
The “highway for our God” is the route by which He will come to His people and His people will come to Him. Jesus is that Highway (Jn. 14.6), and in His presence, the glory of the Lord is revealed (v. 5; cf. Jn. 1.14) and the proclamation of that glory will reach to “all flesh” (v. 5).The God Who humbled Sennacherib, healed Hezekiah, and dialed back the sundial has spoken it. Surely it will come to pass.
“Comfort, yes, comfort My people!”
1. How would you describe the comfort we know in the forgiveness and peace of God? How can that comfort sustain us during times of trial (such as being carried away to Babylon)?
2. What is the sense of this large-scale smoothing of the hilly terrain around Jerusalem, proclaimed in verses 3 and 4?
3. What is the glory of the Lord? How is that glory made known to “all flesh”?
He [Christ] was a reproach but at the same time also the majesty of the Lord, as it is written, “And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh together shall see the salvation of God.” What had he lost if he had nothing less? He had neither comeliness nor beauty, but he had not ceased to be the power of God. He appeared a man, but the divine majesty and glory of the Father shone on earth. Ambrose of Milan (333-397 AD), Letter 27
Show me Your glory, O Lord! And let Your glory show through me today as I…
Pray Psalm 126.
Use this psalm to seek a vision of the promised restoration of the Lord. Though we’re not there now, we must “sow” toward that day. Commit yourself to sowing by prayer, obedience, and witness.
Sing to the Lord.
Psalm 126 (Truro: Shout, for the Blessed Jesus Reigns)
When God restored our fortunes all, we were like those who sweetly dream.
Our mouths with joy and laughter filled, made Him our constant song and theme.
Then the astonished nations said, “The Lord has done great things for them!”
Indeed, great things our God has done, Whose Name we praise, Amen, Amen!
Restore our fortunes, Lord our King! Let grace like flowing streams prevail.
All they with tears of joy shall sing who sow while yet they weep and wail.
They who in tears of sorrow sow, and cast their seed on every hand,
with joy shall reach their heav’nly home, and bring the harvest of their land.
T. M. Moore
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All psalms for singing adapted from The Ailbe Psalter. All quotations from Church Fathers from Ancient Christian Commentary Series, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006).All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (available by clicking here).
Comfort and Deliverance
- T.M. Moore
- April 1, 2019
Isaiah's message turns far-seeing and hopeful.
Comfort and Deliverance: Isaiah 40, 41 (1)
T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.