ISAIAH 40:1-11  



The previous chapters 36-39 provide a historical record of the events in 711 BCE (3414 AH).
Prior to that, chapter 34 prophesied of the wrath of God that will come upon the earth
during the day of the Lord.

And chapter 35 prophesied of the kingdom blessing that will come upon Israel
as a result of the Day of the Lord judgments.
Here at chapter 40:1-11, Isaiah writes about the future blessing upon Israel that will come
when her cycles of discipline have been completed.
This will occur in connection with the TWO advents of the Messiah. So verses 1-9 give us –

1. Israel’s restoration: removal of her discipline. Verses 1-2
This will occur AFTER the day-of-the-Lord judgments. But it is based on the arrival and work of the Messiah. So Isaiah “backs up” from Israel’s restoration and looks to the first coming of the Messiah in verses 3-8

2. Events in connection with the arrival of the Messiah at His first coming. Verses 3-8
3. Evangelism to Israel prior to the second coming of the Messiah. Verse 9
4. The arrival of Messiah to provide deliverance for Israel. Verses 10-11

Verses 1-2
The restoration of Israel through the removal of her national discipline.
“Comfort, O comfort My people, says your God. Speak kindly to Jerusalem
And call out to her that her warfare has ended,
That her iniquity has been removed,
That she has received of Yahweh’s hand
double for all her sins.”

1. The word for warfare is tsAbhA. It can refer to warfare or hard service.
Israel has been out under the 5th cycle of national discipline since 605 BCE.
And actually many years before that in the 4th cycle of discipline.
See Topic: Israel’s National Discipline

2. Even though the nation was restored from the Babylonian captivity in 536 BCE
with the decree of Cyrus, it still remained under the 4th cycle until 70 AD.
In 70 AD, the nation was once again placed under the 5th cycle of discipline
where it will remain until the Messiah delivers it during the Day of the Lord.
The DOUBLE comfort is for the DOUBLE payment for her sins.
The double payment is (1) the Babylonian captivity from 605 to 536 BCE,
and (2) from 70 AD until the restoration of the nation after Armageddon.
That is why Isaiah teaches about the Messiah’s first advent (verses 3-8)
and His second advent (verses 9-11) as the basis for national restoration.

3. The period of her “hard service” is the period of Hosea 3:4-5
”For the sons of Israel will remain for many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or sacred pillar, and without ephod or household idols.  AFTERWARD, the sons of Israel will return and seek Yahweh their God and David their king; and they will come trembling to Yahweh and to His goodness in the last days.”
Hosea 5:14-15
”For I will be like a lion to Ephraim, and like a young lion to the house of Judah,
I, even I, will tear to pieces and go away,
I will carry away, and there will be none to deliver.
I will go away and return to my place
Until they acknowledge their guilt and seek My face;
In their affliction they will earnestly seek Me.”

And Luke 21:22-24
”Because these are the days of vengeance, in order that all things which are written may be fulfilled . . .  for there will be great calamity upon the land, and wrath to this people, and they will fall by the edge of the sword, and will be led captive into all the nations; and Jerusalem will be trampled under foot by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.”

4. Her iniquity has been removed. This refers to the NATIONAL sin of Israel from two perspectives.
    A. The failure of the nation prior to 605 BCE that lead to her 70 years of captivity in Babylon.
       2 Chron. 36:15-16
       “And Yahweh God of their fathers, sent word to them again and again by His messengers,
       because He had compassion on His people and on His dwelling place; but they continually
       mocked the messengers of God, despised His words and scoffed at His prophets, until the
       wrath of Yahweh arose against His people, until there was no remedy.

       Verses 17-21, “Therefore He brought up against them the king of the Chaldeans . . . and
       those who escaped the sword he carried away to Babylon; and they were servants to him
       and to his sons until the rule of the kingdom of Persia, to fulfill the word of Yahweh by the
       mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed its Sabbaths. All the days of its desolation it
       kept Sabbath until seventy years were complete.”

   B. The rejection of Jesus as their Messiah in 30 AD.  Matthew 21:33-45; 23:29-38
      “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her!
       How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks
       under her wings, but you were not willing. Behold, your house is being left to you desolate.”

5. She has received from Yahweh’s hand DOUBLE for all her sins.
The double payment is (1) the Babylonian captivity from 605 to 536 BCE, and (2) from 70 AD until the restoration of the nation after Armageddon.

Isaiah 40:3-8
Events in connection with the arrival of the Messiah at His first coming

Verse 3
    1. The voice (qol): the emphasis here is not on the person but on the message (voice).
        This VOICE is the messenger of Yahweh mentioned at Malachi 3:1a.
“Behold, I am going to send my messenger before Me,
        and he will clear the way before Me.”

   This is quoted at Mark 1:2 as being fulfilled by John the Baptizer.
       And Jesus Himself applied it to John at Matthew 11:10-11

    2. of one proclaiming:  qAra as a qal active participle. Again, this is the focus of his ministry.
        It is not even on the character of the messenger, other than he is characterized by his
   3. in the wilderness: The PHYSICAL location of the messenger carries an even deeper
       message. It speaks of the spiritual depravity of the nation of Israel.
       This is determined by the next sentence. “Make smooth IN THE DESERT, a highway for
       our God.” It is NOT that a pathway is needed IN THE DESERT. The idea here is that the
       spiritual condition of the nation and the people is a DESERT – a place devoid of spiritual
   4. Clear the way: the verb is pAnAh. It means to clean away any obstacles to progress.
       It is a piel imperative as an INTENSE appeal to the souls of the populace.
            (The piel stem is the intensive stem of the Hebrew verbs)
   5. for the LORD: YAweh is the personal name of God.
       See Topic:
LORD: (Yahweh, Jehovah) Technical Background
       It refers here to God’s arrival and His claim upon the lives of the people of Israel.
       The people need to PREPARE for the arrival of  God who will lay claim to their lives
       and authority over the nation of Israel.
       The arrival of Yahweh refers to the Messianic promise that God would send a Savior. 
A. The seed of the woman: Gen. 3:15; fulfilled ā Gal. 4:4
      B. Seed of Abraham: Gen. 12:7;
13:15; fulfilled ā Gal. 3:16
      C. From Israel: Numbers 24:17 fulfilled ā Mat. 1:1-17
      D. From Judah: Gen. 49:10 fulfilled ā Mat. 1:1-3
      E. From David: Isaiah 11:1, 10 fulfilled ā Luke 1:31-33
      F. Virgin birth: Isaiah 7:14 (600 years before) fulfilled ā Mat.
      G. Born in
Bethlehem: Micah 5:2 (600 years before) fulfilled ā Luke 2:4-7
      H. Isaiah 52:13-53:12
       I.  Isaiah 61:1-2a:  fulfilled ā Luke 4:16-21; John 1:32-34

   6. This is a prophecy for the arrival of John the Baptizer.
       It is quoted at Matthew 3:1-4 as referring to John.   

      John exhorts this “clearing the way” by announcing that the kingdom of God is at
      hand and that the Messiah has arrived.  Matthew 3:11-12; John 1:29-30; Acts 19:4
      The command itself is quoted at Mat. 3:3; Mark 1:3; Luke 3:4-6; John 1:23.

   Verse 4: The issue of creating volitional neutrality
   “Let every valley be lifted up
   And every mountain and hill be made low;
   And let the rough ground become a plain,
   And the rugged terrain a broad valley.”

   These images speak of a SPIRITUAL leveling maneuver. All distractions and
   encumbrances must be removed so that the issues of Messiah’s person and message can
   be heard and faced.
   This was accomplished in John’s ministry by the intensity of his message. He used
   language that was designed to SHOCK the soul into listening to the message. It did not
   automatically PRODUCE positive response, but it ALLOWED the self-consciousness of the
   soul to initially face the issues without distraction.  Matthew 3:7-10; Luke 3:7-9, 18

   Verse 5:  The revelation of God’s salvation glory
   “And the glory of Yahweh will be revealed,
   And all flesh will see it together;
   For the mouth of Yahweh has spoken.”

   The GLORY of Yahweh here refers to the salvation provision made available by the
   Messiah’s arrival on the earth, and subsequent sin sacrifice on the cross.
   This is suggested in the context and confirmed by the Holy Spirit through the quote
   at Luke 3:6, “And all flesh shall see the salvation of God.”
   This is also consistent with the Greek of the Septuagint translation at Isaiah 40:5.
   The word, glory, refers to some aspect of God’s CHARACTER and plan. 

   In this case, it is the revelation of God’s love and mercy that provides the savior
3:16; Romans 5:8; Ephesians 2:4).

   The idea of “together” communicates the universality of God’s salvation provision.
   It does not mean, “at the same time.” Since the focus by the Holy Spirit in the ministry of
   John, quoting the LXX, is salvation provision at the first coming, we should not look
   beyond that focus here at the source.

   This is not the same as the PHYSICAL revelation of His glory at the second coming.
   Revelation 1:7; Isaiah 52:10;

   However, as the context continues in Isaiah at verses 9-11, the focus changes to the
   second coming. Accordingly, as is the normal style, there could be BOTH advents in view
   at verse 5. Quite often the message of the prophet would use a “first-coming” factor as a
   launching pad for a “second-coming” factor. But the point I am making is that this MUST
   FIRST be taken as a reference to the first advent salvation provision through Messiah’s
   sacrifice on the cross.

   Verse 6

1.      “A voice says, ‘call out.’ Then he answered, ‘What shall I call out?’”
 The human messenger responds in true humility to the authority of the divine
 messenger. The following indictment on humanity is quoted by Peter at 1Pet

2. All flesh is grass: This compares humanity to the fragile nature of vegetation (the
       stem) in order to communicate the CERTAINTY of divine judgment at the second
       coming of Messiah.

   3. and all its loveliness: This refers to the general character of humanity; mans attitudes
       and works; his PRIDE and self-righteousness. At 1Peter
1:24, the word glory (doxa) is
       used to describe that which is produced by humanity by way of human goodness and
   4. is like the flower of the field:  the analogy shows the frailty and inadequacy of human
       works in man’s attempt to relate to God.
       Isaiah 41:24, “Behold, you are of no account, and your work amounts to nothing.”
       Isaiah 64:6, “All our righteous deeds are like an unclean garment.”
       Isaiah 57:12, “I will proclaim your righteousness and your deeds, but they will not
                         profit you.”
   Verse 7
   1. The grass withers, the flower fades: Both stem and flower are indeed, temporary in the
       realm of nature. But this analogy is used to show the inadequacy of human works and
       the fact that all attempts of man to relate to God on human terms will fail.
   2. because the breath of Yahweh blows upon it: The conjunction is kiy, which means
      BECAUSE. It is the judgment of God that demonstrates all the works of man as
      inadequate, and will destroy those works and unbelieving humanity as well through the
      Day-of-Lord judgments.

      Isaiah 2:11-12
      “The proud look of man will be abased,
      And the loftiness of man will be humbled,
      And Yahweh alone will be exalted in that day.
      For Yahweh of armies will have a day
      Against everyone who is proud and lofty
      And against everyone who is lifted up
      That he may be abased.”

   3. Surely the people are grass: repeated for emphasis. This is designed to get the
      people’s attention so that they will focus on the truth of God’s character and plan.
   4. Thus at verse 8, the analogy-indictment is repeated with a DIRECT reference to the
      only solution available to man for salvation from sin and unrighteousness –
      the word of God.

   5. And John’s message announced the severe consequences for rejecting God’s plea.
       Both PERSONAL and NATIONAL judgment is on its way.
       “And the axe is already laid at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does
        not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”

   6. John also makes reference to the future end-times judgment at the day of the Lord.
       Matthew 3:12
       “And His winnowing fork is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clear His threshing floor;
       and He will gather His wheat into the bare, but He will burn up the chaff with
       unquenchable fire.”

   Verse 8:  The only solution is the word of God
   1. The grass withers; the flower fades:
   2. But the word of our God: specifically the message that indicts human works and
       righteousness as inadequate, and the Messianic promise as the only solution.
   3. stands forever: the verb is qūm as a qal imperfect to state a fact as true and absolute.
   4. forever is – le olAm. It means, PERPETUALLY. The nature of the perpetuity depends on
       the context. In this case, of course, it refers to ETERNITY.
   5. Thus the message of salvation is constant and unchanging from generation to
       generation. It is always to believe in the person and work of the Messiah.

   Verse 9-11 the message of the NEW priestly body (the church) TO ISRAEL

   Verse 9a
   “Get yourself up on a high mountain
Zion, bearer of good news, Lift up your voice mightily,
   O Jerusalem, bearer of good news;”

   This refers to the message of the new priestly body that temporarily takes the place of the
   nation of
Israel when that nation rejects Jesus as the Messiah (Mat. 21:43-44).

   The new priestly body (the church) began WITH Jews.
   And the initial focus of its ministry was TO THE JEWS.

   Of course, the message was provided for and extended to all peoples.
   But initially, the Jews were the primary recipient of the new covenant teaching.
   However, in the end-times, during the SEASON of the tribulation prior to the second
   coming of the Messiah, the focus once again will be especially directed to the Jews.
   To them, the message will be, “BEHOLD your God!”
   This is hinā in the Hebrew. It should be translated as BEHOLD. That is, observe, pay
   attention. But the idea of “here is” is not foreign to the use or to the context of the
   tribulation context.
   And the proclamation right after that announcement is the promise of the Messiah’s
   This ministry of the church to
Israel is also taught at Daniel 11:35.

   “And some of from among the wise ones (the Messiah worshipers of the church)
   will be overthrown, (martyrdom) in order to refine, purge,
   and make them pure, (evangelistic outreach to Israel)
   until the time of the end; (Day of the LORD)
   because {it is} still {to come} at the appointed time"

   And taught by Jesus at Matthew 10:21-23
   “But whenever they persecute in this city, flee to the next; for truly I say to you ,
   you shall not finish with the cities of Israel until the Son of Man comes.”

   And Matthew 24:10
   "And this gospel of the kingdom shall be proclaimed in the whole world
   for a witness to all the nations, and then the end shall come."

   Verse 10
   Matthew 24:29-31; Joel 2:30-32; Isaiah 2:12-22; Revelation 6:12-17; Isaiah 66:15-18.

   “Behold the Lord Yahweh will come with might,
   With His arm ruling for Him.
   Behold, His reward is with Him
   And His recompense before Him.”
   This is the arrival of Jesus the Messiah right after the season of the tribulation is CUT
   SHORT. When He comes at that time, he will . . .

   1. Rescue the living saints from the earth through the rapture. Mt. 24:31; 1Thes. 4:13-17
   2. Establish the 144,000 Jewish servants to take over for the church in evangelizing the
       world. Revelation 7:1-8
   3. Begin the judgments that will express His wrath upon the unbelievers.
       The trumpets and bowls of Revelation
   4. And through those judgments prepare the world for the Messiah’s righteous reign on
      the earth. Revelation 11:18

   Verse 11

   “Like a shepherd He will tend His flock
   In His arm He will gather the lambs,
   And carry them in His bosom;
   He will gently lead the nursing ewes.”

   The gathering process and judgment process will begin upon Messiah’s arrival.
   But it won’t be completed until after His enemies are destroyed at Armageddon.
   At that time, Jesus will remove the lean sheep (righteous) from the fat (unrighteous).

   The fat sheep will be removed from the earth and the lean sheep will go alive into the
   earthly kingdom.  Ezekiel 34:17-22;
20:33-38; Malachi 3:1a-3

Isaiah 40:12-26
GENERAL focus on the character, plan and works of God throughout history.
And a plea to encourage creature humility and trust.


Questions and comments are always welcome

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