Isaiah Chapter 40: Israel’s Return to Favor, Jesus’ Second Advent, God Compared to IdolsDec 11th, 2009 | By admin | Category: Isaiah, Verse by Verse --Studies led by Br. Frank Shallieu (Click on Book name)
Isaiah Chapter 40: Israel’s Return to Favor, Jesus’ Second Advent, God Compared to Idols
Isa. 40:1 Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God.
From Chapter 40 to the end, the Book of Isaiah consists of prophetic sermons and prophecies.
There is a definite character change in the book. Dates are not pinpointed, and the words are not tied down to any one king’s reign. Based on Isaiah 1:1, we know the prophet’s public ministry extended from King Uzziah’s reign into Hezekiah’s reign, but whether Isaiah’s death occurred before or after Hezekiah’s death we do not know. Because the nature of the book is considerably different in the 40th through the 66th chapter, these wholly prophetic chapters may have been written when Isaiah was in “retirement” from actively going before kings. At any rate, they seem to be the result of one who was in meditation and of one who was giving considerable thought to the subject. (Of course the Lord helped to exercise Isaiah’s mind in the proper channels so that the results would be an expression of the mind of God.) Verse 1 is a directive, a mandate, to the Church to comfort natural Israel: “Comfort ye my people.”
Isa. 40:2 Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the LORD’S hand double for all her sins.
This message of comfort was to be given when Israel’s warfare was accomplished, when she had “received of the LORD’S hand double for all her sins.” One of the ingredients of the Harvest message at the Second Advent is related to this message. Based on certain parallelisms, the Pastor explained the fulfillment, or expiration, of this mysterious “double” of disfavor as occurring in 1878.
Verse 2 tells the nature of the message of comfort for natural Israel. “Speak ye comfortably” suggests a softer, more private approach, whereas “cry unto her” implies a more public message, or pronouncement. “Cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished [ended].” What “warfare”? Israel’s punishment, her “appointed time” (KJV margin), her “time of service” (RSV footnote). In other words, Israel’s “warfare” is not merely a date but a period of time that terminates with a date.
The “appointed time,” or “time of service,” is the “double”; that is, it is the time period of Israel’s punishment, or sentence. A “double” is a fixed period of time having a beginning and an ending that correspond to a previous beginning and ending. The first part of the double was a period of favor of 1,845 years, and the second part of the double was a period of disfavor of equal length, or 1,845 years. The turning point in the double was the year AD 33, the middle of the 70th week. (Messiah was cut off in the midst of the last week of the 70-week prophecy in Daniel.) The 1,845-year period of favor began with the death of Jacob, for at that time, God began to deal with Jacob’s 12 sons as a nation (of 12 tribes). The blessing that had previously been on Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob passed on to the 12 sons of Jacob. From Jacob’s death through AD 33 was the period of favor when God dealt directly with Israel and only with Israel out of all nations (Amos 3:2).
Why is this period of 1,845 years called a period of favor when, throughout its duration, Israel was punished many times with defeats in battle, including the destruction of Solomon’s Temple and the 70-year period of Babylonian captivity? God dealt directly with Israel as a parent deals with a child. While there were occasions in which He temporarily withdrew His face from them (for their own good), it was for a relatively short duration of time compared with the 1,845 years of disfavor or rejection. In AD 70, Herod’s Temple and the city of Jerusalem were destroyed, the surviving Jews were sold into slavery and dispersed throughout the nations, and God no longer communicated to them through prophets. During the 1,845 years of Diaspora, the Jews seemed to be wandering aimlessly, and their lot was a very forlorn one.
Another ingredient of the message in verse 2 is to inform Israel that a change in dispensation occurred in 1878 and that God is now dealing differently with them. In 1878, a Jewish colony was established in Israel called Petatikva (meaning “Door of Hope”). Disraeli, the first Jewish prime minister of England, negotiated a treaty with Turkey that was favorable for Jews to return to Israel and purchase real estate. Only a handful of Jews went back, however. After World War I, the Balfour Declaration helped open up Israel for the Jews. Other nations began to recognize Jewish rights regarding Israel. Hence the fig tree began to put forth green leaves, but the fruitage is still future.
Also, the directive was to “cry unto her … that her iniquity is pardoned.” This element of the message has not been sufficiently emphasized. The Diaspora was due to sin, and we should not compromise this fact. Israel’s sin is now pardoned because she has received of the Lord her “double” of punishment. As regards the nation (not as regards the people, their flesh), there has been a radical change since 1878—even though since that date, millions were put to death under Hitler, pogroms were carried out in Russia, etc. After all, during Israel’s earlier double of favor, Jews were brutally treated and massacred such as in Nebuchadnezzar’s day. In Israel’s earlier period of favor and now since 1878, the nation is being divinely guided. The people have been weaned from the various countries where they were scattered to yearn for a homeland.
God is disciplining and instructing the Jew as a father would discipline and instruct a child.
Herzl, Weizmann, Pastor Russell, and others have been raised up to give direction and guidance. Therefore, Israel’s experience since 1878 should not be confused with disfavor any more than trouble in a Christian’s life. Jesus was crucified, but he still had God’s favor. He was being dealt with as the Son of God in preparation for his future office. And so some of the experiences of Israel since 1878, though very harsh, have been disciplinary to prepare the Jews for their role in the Kingdom as the blesser nation. The weaning and whittling down will continue until eventually a Holy Remnant emerges. This dealing with the Jew is quite different from the previous aimless experiences, and the land of Israel has been developing and growing in material prosperity since 1878, when the double of favor began. Each of the World Wars resulted in further progress toward a Jewish homeland. In 1948, the nation of Israel was officially recognized. Although it will not be a recognized nation from God’s standpoint until after Jacob’s Trouble when He institutes His own government under the Ancient Worthies, we do, nevertheless, see a government and rulers there as preparatory work. (However, the individual people should not be confused with the nation, for many Jews are becoming more ungodly and even atheistic.)
The prophecy states that “Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled” (Luke 21:24). This prophecy applies to Israel (to the land or the nation), and not to the people. Jesus spoke of this occurrence as being future to his day. Therefore, even though the double of disfavor started in AD 33, the trodden-down condition did not commence until AD 70. In AD 70, the land suffered, and Jerusalem was suppressed. Liberties were no longer enjoyed in Israel.
Isa. 40:3 The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
At the First Advent, John the Baptist was “the voice” crying in the wilderness. In referring to John, Jesus quoted this prophecy in Isaiah (Matt. 3:1-3), and John also so identified himself (John 1:23). However, that does not end the fulfillment of this prophecy. The Pastor showed that John the Baptist represents a class, the Church in the flesh at the end of the age. The difference between John the Baptist and Elijah is that John represents only the feet members and Elijah represents the Church over a longer period of time, from 539 to the end of their experience. John the Baptist’s ministry occurred during the days of Jesus’ First Advent. The feet members, the antitypical John the Baptist, are on the scene during the days of Jesus’ Second Advent. Or it could be stated that the antitypical John the Baptist class represents only that segment of the Elijah class who are living at the end of the age.
The Voice Introducing Jesus
At First Advent: John the Baptist
At Second Advent: Feet members
The Pastor is the one who called attention to the end of Israel’s double of punishment. His role is pictured back in Israel’s history in connection with Moses, Aaron, and the plagues. When God instructed Moses to go back to Egypt to deliver the Israelites, He commissioned Aaron as Moses’ mouthpiece. In the audiences with Pharaoh, Moses was the representative of God, and Aaron was the representative of Moses. (Incidentally, contrary to the usual thought that Moses had a speech impediment, he spoke very well and was the mouthpiece of God on many other occasions.) When Moses was originally in Egypt, he represented Jesus at the First Advent, who manifested interest and love for the Jews, for example, by weeping over Jerusalem. When “his own” rejected him, he had to go away—to heaven. And Moses, whose heart was burdened by the injustices and suffering of his people under the Egyptian taskmasters, manifested his love for the Israelites when he killed one of the taskmasters. However, his brethren rejected him for this act and he went away for 40 years. When Moses returned to Egypt, when he went to Egypt the second time, Aaron was his mouthpiece. And so when Jesus returned at his Second Advent, the Laodicean Messenger was his mouthpiece. This reasoning harmonizes with Matthew 24:45-47, which shows that at his Second Advent, Jesus would select a servant to feed his people.
Type: Moses’ second going to Egypt. Aaron was his mouthpiece.
Antitype: Jesus’ Second Advent. The Laodicean Messenger was his mouthpiece.
(It could also be said that the Pastor was the most prominent mouthpiece and that others associated with him in the Harvest work are pictured by Aaron.)
Notice: “Prepare ye the way of the LORD”; that is, “Prepare ye the way of JEHOVAH.” We should keep this thought in mind throughout the 40th chapter of Isaiah.
“Make straight in the desert a highway for our God.” The word “our” indicates that “the voice” who will utter this cry is a class. While John the Baptist was “the voice” at the First Advent, his work was only a miniature picture or fulfillment of what the feet members will do at the Second Advent. The John the Baptist class—that is, the feet members—are to prepare the way of God.
Trinitarians use this verse to prove that Jesus is Jehovah. They quote Scripture to prove that John the Baptist was “the voice” who introduced Jesus at his First Advent. Next they reason that if John the Baptist, “the voice,” introduced Jesus at his First Advent and verse 3 here in Isaiah says that “the voice” will prepare the way of Jehovah, then Jesus and Jehovah are synonymous terms. Fortunately, many other Scriptures show that Jesus is not Jehovah, but his representative. He came at the First Advent as the messenger of God; he came to earth to die in harmony with God’s plan. Therefore, in regard to the First Advent and John’s role, the implication is, “Prepare ye the way of Jehovah’s representative,” “Prepare ye the way of the one who is coming in the name of Jehovah.”
Isa. 40:4 Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain:
This is another part of the message to Israel. Ingredients of the message so far are (1) Israel’s warfare is accomplished, (2) her iniquity is pardoned, and (3) she has received double of the Lord’s hand for her sins. Notice that iniquity and sins are a part of the message. Of course this portion can be handled tactfully with a statement such as, “We have all sinned. All are born in sin and shapen in iniquity.” Caution: we must be careful not to be so exuberant and enthusiastic in speaking comfortably to Israel that we forget to say Israel’s iniquity is pardoned and she has received double for her sins. In preaching the whole message, we are preparing the Jews for their future experiences in Jacob’s Trouble and for their need to seek meekness and righteousness to be part of the Holy Remnant. A fourth part of the message, therefore, is that God is seeking and preparing a faithful remnant.
“Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low.”
“The crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain.”
Notice the contrasts: (1) valley vs. mountain and hill, (2) low vs. exalted, (3) crooked vs. straight, and (4) rough vs. plain.
What is the difference between the valley and the mountain? Both are large and/or on a large scale. A “mountain” is a symbol of a kingdom. In other words, the present and past exalted kingdoms of this world, the large autocratic governments, will be lowered. Governments will be adjusted to be subservient to Christ. The great ones (individuals) of earth are the leaders of these nations. On the other hand, the “valleys” will be exalted. “Valleys” represent the common people, those who are ruled and oppressed (racially, financially, in castes from birth, etc.). Thus the mountains and valleys pertain to rulership—a rulership adjustment.
“Crooked” and “straight” pertain to character—a moral or character adjustment. That which is crooked in this life will be made straight. What is immoral and dishonest will be made right. In the Kingdom, the laws and the government will be righteous, and conformity thereto will be required. The mountains and the valleys are a vertical adjustment. The crooked and the straight are a horizontal adjustment.
“The rough places [shall be made] plain.” Stumbling blocks will be removed. These are still finer adjustments to level the remaining little bumps. In other words, adjustments will be made in the life of each individual. Each person must individually bow the knee.
Isa. 40:5 And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.
The glory of Jehovah will be revealed to all flesh during the Second Advent. (This verse does not refer to the First Advent, for Christ was humiliated and rejected as the messenger at that time.) Beginning with the conclusion of Jacob’s Trouble when God miraculously defeats the forces of Gog, delivers the Holy Remnant, and resurrects the Ancient Worthies, His glory will be revealed to all nations. And all of the living generation will “see it [God’s glory] together,” not piecemeal. All peoples will be apprised of the fact that God reigns.
Isa. 40:6 The voice said, Cry. And he said, What shall I cry? All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field:
Isa. 40:7 The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: because the spirit of the LORD bloweth upon it: surely the people is grass.
See the RSV: “A voice says, ‘Cry!’ And I said, ‘What shall I cry?’” First, God instructs the consecrated to comfort Israel. Now He tells them to “Cry,” and the inquiry is, “What shall I cry?” The rather long answer that follows seems strange, for it starts as a dirge. What is the purpose of such an instruction? The answer to this question will be given after subsequent verses are discussed.
Verses 6 and 7 continue, as paraphrased: “Flesh is as grass, and the beauty of the grass is the flowers that are intermingled among it. In due time, both the grass and the flowers perish.” Decay normally occurs because of seasonal changes; grass and flowers wither and die in the fall, and winter levels them. However, in this case, the grass and the flowers of the field wither not because of a seasonal change but because “the spirit of the LORD bloweth upon it.”
Isa. 40:8 The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever.
Verses 7 and 8 both begin with the refrain “The grass withereth, the flower fadeth,” but why do they wither and fade? Because the spirit of the Lord God blows upon them—just as in winter, a blast of wind comes and causes the decay. What is the lesson? The permanence, the enduring quality of God’s Word, is contrasted with the transience of the grass and flowers of the field. How different God’s Word is—it is not like the grass that withers but is an eternal hope, a sure promise. We would do well to wait patiently for its fulfillment.
Why is this type of reasoning embedded in this prophecy? Chapter 40 began with God’s instruction to comfort natural Israel in three ways. Next came the prophecy about “the voice” of one crying in the wilderness, followed by a Second Advent application where not only would the mountains and valleys be adjusted, etc., but the glory of God would be revealed.
Then comes this mandate to cry that all flesh is as grass, that the beauty of the flower will fade, but that the Word of God endures forever. (We should keep in mind that the segments of this prophecy are all related, notwithstanding the paragraph indication of the translators.) So again the question is asked: Why was the reasoning of verses 6-8 introduced into this prophecy?
Comment: It is somewhat like the situation prior to Noah and family entering the Ark. The rest of the people, preoccupied with their daily affairs, were oblivious to the coming Flood. But what God had predicted regarding coming events was a sure thing.
Reply: That reasoning is somewhat related to the prophecy here. At the end of the age, the great Time of Trouble will humble man and prepare him for the Kingdom. When, in the Time of Trouble, God blows on the earth, as it were, the people will realize that all of their dreams, hopes, joys, sports, and pleasures are ephemeral. When there is no food on the table and no heat in the furnace, people will radically change their values. The basic rudiments of life, which have been taken for granted—food, shelter, etc.—will then be seen to be all important. Lacking these in the anarchy, the people will curse their god and their king and look up to the Lord God for deliverance and pray to Him as the only hope. They will recall having heard that God’s Kingdom is coming, that God’s purpose is to humiliate man, and that thus there is a reason for the trouble. As the people see society crumble and anarchy prevail, they will be encouraged when they remember having heard not only that the trouble would come but that it would be cut short lest all flesh be destroyed.
We must preach the whole Word. Our message should be that trouble is coming because of sin and iniquity as well as that the Kingdom, restitution, and blessings will follow. As we near the Time of Trouble—and since 1914 has come and gone, ending Gentile Times—the message of the Day of Vengeance is becoming more important. The time is coming for a stronger message. In the earlier part of his ministry, Jesus gave beautiful sermons, such as the Sermon on the Mount, but his message got stronger toward the end of his ministry, as when he cast out the money changers. And so restitution was a prominent theme earlier in the Second Advent, but as we near the Time of Trouble, the message should correspondingly change or adjust. Restitution should not be omitted, but the tenor of the message should change because it will help people more to tell them of the coming trouble. The feet members will have to give this message before they die, as shown in the next verse.
Isa. 40:9 O Zion, that bringest good tidings, get thee up into the high mountain; O Jerusalem, that bringest good tidings, lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God!
Here “Zion” and “Jerusalem” are spiritual. This is a message for the Church to give. The instruction for the feet members is to “get thee up into the high mountain.” In other words, they are to take the initiative and to “be not afraid [to give the message]”! The message will be given on this side of the veil and under great pressure. The Zion class are to get up into the mountain and shout this message of “good tidings” as if they are shouting it from a mountaintop. “Lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid.”
As we near the very end of the age, we are to boldly and energetically preach this message. We are to get to a vantage point and shout down to the people. We must seek opportunities to preach far, wide, and near.
Notice the instruction: “Say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God!” This message is to be given not to the world but to Israel. The feet members are told to preach to Judah.
Q: How will the message given to Israel by the feet members differ from that given later by the Great Company?
A: The feet members will have an opportunity to give this message to Israel, perhaps on television to a worldwide audience, but the opportunity will be very brief, possibly only two or three minutes. The Great Company will subsequently have more time to speak (and with clarity of detail) because they will enter into the Time of Trouble.
First, a general popular message will be given by both Elijah and Elisha. All the workers will be active in the vineyard just before the penny is given. They are to speak to many nations, peoples, and tongues (Rev. 10:11). At his First Advent, Jesus became popular with thousands following him up to five days before his crucifixion. The height of his popularity occurred the very week of his death and rejection. When he rode into Jerusalem on the white donkey, the people hailed him and spread palm branches. Next a hard, smiting message will be given by the Elijah class. In smiting the Jordan, they will reprove Babylon, Christendom, and give a message to Israel.
Comment: The KJV margin has, “O thou that tellest good tidings to Zion” and “O thou that tellest good tidings to Jerusalem.” Therefore, it would seem that in both cases, either Zion and Jerusalem are doing the speaking or Zion and Jerusalem are receiving the message.
Reply: Zion and Jerusalem (synonymous terms) would have to be either both natural Israel or both spiritual. If Zion and Jerusalem are the recipients of the message, they would be natural Israel (KJV margin). However, if Zion and Jerusalem give the message, the terms are spiritual (KJV as it reads) and would be the feet members. There is one other possibility: that Zion and Jerusalem, as the speakers, are a broader term that includes both the feet members (Little Flock) and the Great Company. If so, the terms would be used in the same inclusive way as the church of the firstborn.
At any rate, the good tidings will be given to natural Israel, and the one delivering the message will do so on this side of the veil and is to lift up the voice and not be afraid. The bringer of the good tidings has to be a spiritual class, and it is probably the Little Flock. In that case, Zion and Jerusalem are spiritual and Judah is natural.
The only question is whether Zion and Jerusalem are the giver or the recipient of the message. If they are the recipient, the implication is broader, namely, that both the Little Flock and the Great Company can give this message.
The reason for the alternate reading in the KJV margin is probably based on Isaiah 52:7, “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!” The only problem is that Isaiah 52:7 applies to a different time period; the fulfillment is future when the Church is complete beyond the veil.
The instruction to “be not afraid” suggests that a period of depression will come on the feet members but that they will be given a dispensation of the Holy Spirit to overcome the depression. Similarly in Gethsemane, Jesus was exceedingly sorrowful, even unto death, and questioned his own relationship to the Father. He agonized with tears until an angel came and comforted him. After that, he was calm, and when Judas entered the garden, Jesus submitted.
A second wave of great depression came upon Jesus on the Cross when he said, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” But he finished his course triumphantly when he cried in a very loud voice, “It is finished!” It was necessary for Jesus to feel forsaken in order to pay the price of Adam, who hid naked behind a tree when the Logos went through the garden. A person can be completely innocent of a crime and yet psychologically feel guilty because of circumstantial evidence, false witnesses, and extreme pressure. Innocent victims can be brainwashed by evil powers into feeling guilty. And so, like their Master, the feet members will have periods of depression and strengthening. Peter’s experience in the storm on the Sea of Galilee illustrates their experience. When they hear the roar of the wind and the waves, they will begin to sink, but then the Lord will put out his hand and save them. Momentary fear is not necessarily an indication of unfaithfulness of any kind.
Isa. 40:10 Behold, the Lord GOD will come with strong hand, and his arm shall rule for him: behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him.
The title “Lord GOD” (Adonai followed by “God”) belongs to Jehovah. He will “come with strong hand” at the time of Jacob’s Trouble to save Israel, the Holy Remnant. “His arm [Jesus] shall rule for him [God].” In the Old Testament, Jesus is frequently referred to as the “arm” (instrument) of Jehovah.
“His reward is with him.” God’s reward will be with Jesus at that time. The emphasis is on God’s role. God’s Kingdom will be set up in power and glory through Jesus, God’s agent and representative. Isaiah is describing the setting up of God’s Kingdom. God’s promises are to be in the custody of Jesus, who will dispense them.
“His work [is] before him.” God’s work is before Jesus. Possibly this clause can be understood as Jesus’ work being before God. Either way the primary credit goes to God because of the previous part of the verse.
What “reward”? What “work”? The reward can be considered two ways. Since Jesus died for the Church and for the world, dispensing the blessings will be his pleasure and privilege. It will be a blessing for the Church to be associated with Christ, and it will be a blessing for the recipients of the reward. The reward that Jesus has is one that all will enjoy. “For the joy that was set before him,” Jesus endured the Cross (Heb. 12:2). That “joy” includes the Kingdom, restitution, and especially having a Church class to divide the spoil with (Isa. 53:12). Thus the reward can be considered two ways: from the standpoint of Jesus’ own personal satisfaction of being able to dispense the blessings and from the standpoint of those who receive the blessings. Jesus will joy over his Bride as well as over dispensing restitution blessings—what he originally came to earth to prove worthy to be able to do. The reward will be a great radiating happiness for all who are involved.
Isa. 40:11 He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.
Why is the illustration of a shepherd’s role introduced here? From the natural standpoint, out of Jacob’s Trouble will come deliverance to a remnant of Jews. Through Jesus, God will gently succor them as a Shepherd in three ways: (1) He will feed them, (2) He will hold them close to His bosom, and (3) He will gently lead those who have young. A shepherd would be very careful with all types: with a ewe heavy with young lest she be hurried and have a miscarriage, with the lambs, and with all the sheep to help them find food. In other words, God, through Jesus, will treat gently, as a Shepherd, individuals as well as all, like a flock. “The Father himself loveth you” is the principle, even though that text refers to the Church (John 16:27). God is the Great Shepherd, and Jesus is the Good Shepherd.
Isa. 40:12 Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out heaven with the span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance?
Verses 12-31 give a reassurance of God’s GREAT power so that there will be courage to SPEAK OUT! What is man but a drop in the bucket? But when the ALMIGHTY GOD, who created the planet, says to lift up the voice, do so and MAKE IT HEARD!
The “voice” at the Second Advent (verse 3) may have started in 1878 with the Pastor, but the context shows that there will come a time when God’s providence enhances the volume of the message so that it enlightens the Holy Remnant. The primary objective of Chapter 40 is to comfort Israel (verse 1). The Church should try to comfort Israel even now, but the effective comfort will come later through the Great Company. The comfort message will be successful when the Church is gone. In fact, one of the responsibilities of the feet members is to enlighten the Great Company class, who will be giving this message.
Verses 12-17 are not exaggerations. From a materialistic standpoint, all the nations are less than nothing before God! Negative (minus) values, used in mathematics, are very real. No matter how impressive natural phenomena and scenery are on both land and ocean, the earth is tiny compared with the rest of the universe; it is like dust on the scale.
Because of God’s love and compassion (His Shepherd qualities), He can be approached and sees our smallest need. If He lacked this attribute and were just intellectual and powerful, sinful mankind would not be of interest to Him.
The Jews need to be depressed so that they will cry to God for help instead of to the United States and other nations. God will then truly be before them. Israel is being weaned away from earth toward God. When the time comes that they cry to Him alone, He will answer them.
The universe is held together by gravity. The moon stays in orbit because it is attracted to the earth. The earth, in turn, stays in orbit because it is attracted by the sun. All of the heavenly bodies are moving through space, even the sun. They were twirled at a certain speed, and they were thrust in a certain direction or orbit, and they all maintain their speed. Moreover, the planets and the stars had to be weighed accurately, down to the last atom, in order to stay in their orbits and fit in God’s plan. Even the seas were measured. God manifested such care with these tremendous heavenly bodies—the measuring, the meting, the weighing. He measured the seas, He meted out the heavens with a span, and He weighed the mountains in a scale.
Comment: Similarly the Lord very carefully weighs every inch of the cross that each of us must carry. Our trials (crosses) are weighed exactly to what we can bear.
Reply: Yes, the same principle applies to Christian life. A Christian’s trials and experiences are tailor-made.
Comment: If the Lord took such care in preparing the planets, the seas, and the mountains of earth, then He also took care as to where He placed earthquake faults.
Reply: Yes, certain eccentricities were intentionally calculated or built into the earth to cause events to happen at exactly the right time. Examples are the collapse of the last water ring to cause the Flood in Noah’s day and the earthquake and volcanic eruption that destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. Mathematics is generally the root of trees of knowledge. That is true here as well, but love is the soil in which it grows.
Isa. 40:13 Who hath directed the spirit of the LORD, or being his counsellor hath taught him?
Isa. 40:14 With whom took he counsel, and who instructed him, and taught him in the path of judgment, and taught him knowledge, and showed to him the way of understanding?
Isa. 40:15 Behold, the nations are as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance: behold, he taketh up the isles as a very little thing.
Isa. 40:16 And Lebanon is not sufficient to burn, nor the beasts thereof sufficient for a burnt offering.
Isa. 40:17 All nations before him are as nothing; and they are counted to him less than nothing, and vanity.
Isa. 40:18 To whom then will ye liken God? or what likeness will ye compare unto him?
Verses 13-22 contain many questions. There is a sequence that pertains to the making of images. “To whom then will ye liken God?” Man tries to make a likeness of God. First, gold (the king of the metals) is used, then silver, then wood (descending order). The wealthy had gold and silver images; the ordinary, poor people carved images out of wood. The point is that man wants to create with his own hands a likeness of God.
Isa. 40:19 The workman melteth a graven image, and the goldsmith spreadeth it over with gold, and casteth silver chains.
Isa. 40:20 He that is so impoverished that he hath no oblation chooseth a tree that will not rot; he seeketh unto him a cunning workman to prepare a graven image, that shall not be moved.
The “graven image … shall not be moved.” The statue was placed in a spot where it was not to be moved; it was to be a permanent memorial in a permanent place of worship and veneration. But trees will rot, and statues or images will crumble!
Isa. 40:21 Have ye not known? have ye not heard? hath it not been told you from the beginning? have ye not understood from the foundations of the earth?
Isa. 40:22 It is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers; that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in:
The expression “circle [sphere] of the earth” revealed back in Isaiah’s day that the earth is round.
Comment: What a powerful picture! Just think of Jehovah sitting on the earth and the inhabitants appearing as grasshoppers in comparison.
Reply: God condescends to picture His greatness, majesty, and power in comparison to our smallness as “grasshoppers.” We do not realize just how tiny we literally are. And in order for God to measure out the Atlantic and Pacific oceans in His hand, He would have to be much larger than is expressed by His sitting on the circle of the earth. In fact, even the whole heavens cannot contain Him (1 Kings 8:27). One purpose of the expression is to show that the earth is under His control.
Comment: Size-wise, as the grasshopper is to the earth, so the earth is to God. These are staggering proportions!
Isa. 40:23 That bringeth the princes to nothing; he maketh the judges of the earth as vanity.
Isa. 40:24 Yea, they shall not be planted; yea, they shall not be sown: yea, their stock shall not take root in the earth: and he shall also blow upon them, and they shall wither, and the whirlwind shall take them away as stubble.
Isa. 40:25 To whom then will ye liken me, or shall I be equal? saith the Holy One.
Isa. 40:26 Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things, that bringeth out their host by number: he calleth them all by names by the greatness of his might, for that he is strong in power; not one faileth.
The fact God created the host of the heavens should give us some idea of His size, power, and intellect. He has a name for each of the heavenly bodies, and not one fails. Science, astronomy, tells us that the stars are failing, that they are exploding and dying, but astronomers are seeing things that occurred billions of light-years ago. (Light travels at 186,000 miles per second.) They have many unproved theories, such as the black holes. Also, much of what they see can be vapor or gases, or even the creation of new planets. The Apostle Paul said the things that are not seen can be more real than the things that are seen (2 Cor. 4:18). The majestic verses in Chapter 40 furnish keys for other thoughts.
Isa. 40:27 Why sayest thou, O Jacob, and speakest, O Israel, My way is hid from the LORD, and my judgment is passed over from my God?
Jacob (Israel) is saying, “My way is hid from the LORD.” This sentiment will be felt more in the future, just before Jacob’s Trouble and after a period of respite, peace, and prosperity when they are increased with cattle and much goods and dwell with unwalled villages, having relaxed their preparedness for warfare (Ezek. 38:11,12). With anarchy prevailing in other parts of the earth at that time, including Magog (Ezek. 39:6), the booty in Israel will attract the forces of Gog. With no transportation, no police or fire department, no supermarkets, etc., those with guns and ammunition will band together and head for Israel, robbing and pillaging as they go.
In this common circumstance, all distinctions of race, nationality, and religion will cease. Anarchy will be a leveler among the forces of Gog, the unifying factor being a common animal instinct of survival. Their intention will be to seize food and control from the strategic location of Israel.
Isa. 40:28 Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding.
Isa. 40:29 He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.
Isa. 40:30 Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall:
Isa. 40:31 But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.
In context, this prophecy applies to the Holy Remnant. (A secondary application, or at least the principle, is for the Christian too. One might experience depression, sorrow, or fear, but strength comes after praying to God.) This verse applies to the very end of the age and Israel’s extremity, and the Jewish element who have the hearing ear at that time will survive. Their names are written in a book and nothing will kill them (Isa. 4:3; Dan. 12:1). They will be strengthened and encouraged as individuals as they realize God is on their side.
Chapter 40 begins with the thought of giving comfort to Israel, and this thought continues throughout the chapter. It can also be considered in a secondary sense as a broad message to all the right-hearted everywhere. We should urge people to seek righteousness and meekness so that they may be hidden in the Time of Trouble (Zeph. 2:3). In other words, the same principle applies in a general way to all those who have a right heart attitude. “Comfort ye, comfort ye my people” (first the Jew and then the Gentile who wants to do the Lord’s will). They should get out of the way of the Lord’s steamroller. The difference is that the obedient Jew will be hid and the Gentile may be hid, so the message of Isaiah 40 is especially for the Holy Remnant.