Comfort and Deliverance: Isaiah 40, 41 (3)
Pray Psalm 79.8, 9.
Oh, do not remember former iniquities against us!
Let Your tender mercies come speedily to meet us,
For we have been brought very low.
Help us, O God of our salvation,
For the glory of Your name;
And deliver us, and provide atonement for our sins,
For Your name’s sake!
Read Isaiah 40.12-31.
1. How does the Lord use creation and culture to help us think about His greatness?
2. How should we be encouraged by the fact that God is so overwhelmingly great?
At this strategic turning point in Isaiah’s prophecy, the Lord presents Himself as the incomparable God.
God summons all the scope and majesty of creation and culture as measuring sticks of His greatness and power, and yet He is far beyond them all. He takes no advice or counsel from anyone, for He knows everything and understands all truth (vv. 12-14). All the nations taken together are a drop in the bucket, a mite of dust on a scale, compared to the God of Jacob. Indeed, they are nothing before the Lord of glory (vv. 15-17).
Compared to God, the idols men make are a joke (vv. 18-20) – the product of men’s puny imaginations and vain labors. God rules all things, every man and his silly idols, every nation, all the heavens, every prince and ruler and judge throughout all the earth (vv. 21-23). Their fates are in His hands, to do with as He pleases (v. 24).
Look at the Lord! Cities of Judah, behold your God! He rules the cosmos by His Word and strength (vv. 25, 26). Is it conceivable that a single Word of His mouth should ever fail?
The people of Jerusalem were discouraged, and feeling forgotten and alone (v. 27). They had escaped Sennacherib, but they knew Nebuchadnezzar was coming. Isaiah’s message to them was, “Behold your God!” (v. 9) He is all their hope, and all the hope they needed. Who is like God? Who can resist whatever He might wish to do? His people should know that He intends to be strong for His weak people, to give strength to their youth, and to cause them to rise with the wings of eagles above every trial and tribulation to walk with Him in His strength (vv. 28-31).
These words are so bold, refreshing, and encouraging. Yet only “those who wait on the LORD” (v. 31) can expect to realize the benefit of His great salvation. We wait on the Lord when we look to Jesus, meditating on His greatness and glory, and live boldly and courageously toward the promises of His Word.
1. What situations or trials are threatening to overwhelm you today? Look to our incomparable God! Look to Jesus! What does He promise you in these verses?
2. God reveals Himself through creation and culture, but we need the light of His Word to understand His revelation there. What does this passage teach us about how we should view the world and its cultures?
3. Verse 21 can be paraphrased, “How many times do I have to tell you?” How does God expect us to respond to what He reveals about Himself? What does it mean to wait upon the Lord?
The wonder of God is not only found rightly in the magnificent work he did in the creation. For he has done nothing less than save the inhabitants of the earth, delivering the human race from death and destruction and the devil’s snare. For he has condemned the sin that had become master through our sins, so that he has justified through faith those who are able to be with him. He became for us righteousness and redemption and sanctification before God the Father. Cyril of Alexandria (375-444 AD), Commentary on Isaiah 126.96.36.199
Lord, today I will have many opportunities to honor Your Name. Help me to prepare for them, so that…
Pray Psalm 79.
Whatever troubles or oppresses us, and whatever vexes our churches, God is greater, and He can deliver. Offer your trials and challenges to the Lord in prayer.
Sing to the Lord.
Psalm 79 (Passion Chorale: O Sacred Head, Now Wounded)
O God the nations all Your inheritance have spoiled!
Your City have they ruined, Your temple they have soiled!
Your servants’ bodies all to the birds of heav’n are thrown;
The flesh of all Your faithful the jaws of beasts now own.
The blood of faithful servants like water flows around;
And none are there Your saints to commit into the ground.
Our neighbors mock and scorn us: How long, O Lord, how long?
How long will You be angry and scorn our mournful song?
Pour out, O Lord, Your wrath on all who deny Your Name;
Who trust You not nor seek You, bring down to deepest shame!
For they have with great rancor Your precious saints devoured;
Lay waste their habitation at this late dreadful hour.
Why should the nations mock and say, “Where now is their God?”
Let there be known among them harsh vengeance for our blood!
Hear, Lord, our groans and sighing; preserve us by Your pow’r.
For we are fairly dying each day and hour by hour.
Reproach those who reproach us with judgment sevenfold!
Let thanks and praise to You by Your precious flock be told.
We are Your sheep, O Savior, we thank You all our days.
Look on us with Your favor as we declare Your praise.
T. M. Moore
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Forward today’s lesson to some friends, and challenge them to study with you through this series on Isaiah. Each week’s lessons will be available as a free PDF download at the end of the week. Get a copy for yourself and send the link for the download to your friends. Plan to meet weekly to study Isaiah’s important message.
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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).