Journey Through The Scriptures
Lesson 6: Comfort for God’s People
(Scripture to Read: Isaiah 40:1–41:29)
Many commentators on the Scriptures have noted the dramatic change in tone that begins with Isaiah 40:1. The word “comfort” occurs in various forms some thirteen times in Isaiah 40–66. The prophet was looking far into the future, to a time when Israel’s seventy-year exile in Babylon was nearly over. A brief outline of the remaining portion of Isaiah includes promises that Israel will be restored to her land (chapters 40–48), prophecies of the coming Messiah (chapters 49–57), and the blessings that will characterize the Messianic age (chapters 58–66).
Jerusalem, standing for the people of Israel, was to be spoken to “tenderly” because the time of exile for the nation’s sin was drawing to a close. The Lord would go before His people and prepare the way as they journeyed home to the Holy Land from Babylon, a trip of about 900 miles. Those who fell weary along the way would be renewed in their strength (40:29–31). The “one from the east” (41:2) is a reference to King Cyrus of Persia, who would arise many years after Isaiah and become Israel’s liberator by issuing a decree in 538 BCE allowing the Jews to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the Temple. God could accomplish all of this because He is the true God as opposed to the false idols of the nations around Israel.
- What assurance did God give His people through Isaiah that what He had said would come to pass?
- What example does God use in Isaiah 40:25–26 to remind His people that there is no other god like their God?
- Why was it important for the people of Israel to be reminded that they were the descendants of Jacob and of Abraham, God’s “friend” (41:8)?
- What act of God on behalf of His people is suggested by the term “Redeemer” (Isaiah 41:14)?
Something to Think About
Isaiah 40:31 contains one of the most beloved promises in all of the Bible—the assurance that “those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength” and soar as eagles without growing weary or faint. Offer God a prayer of thanksgiving and praise for His mercies, which are “new every morning” (Lamentations 3:23).