Isaiah 36-39 Edit

Historical chapters dealing with the attacks of Assyria and the coming captivity in Babylon.

Isaiah 40 Edit

  • TO: Judah and Jerusalem
  • ABOUT: The New Israel and the New Jerusalem
  • CONTEXT: John the Immerser and events coming in the last days.

40:1 Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. 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.

Comfort ye...speak ye comfortably - This is a false comfort like those of Isaiah 30:10 who speak deceitfully, assuring comfort when destruction is upon them.

Warfare is accomplished - This is part of that false comfort, that the conflicts of Judah because of the nation's disobedience to God have come to an end.  In the time period that Isaiah is referring to, they would decieve themselves into believing they were righteous before God, unlike their forefathers who were constantly punished for their disobedience (through the period of Judges and kings, Egypt, Babylon, Greece, and even Rome).  The Jews of this time would be convinced that this kind of punishment would not come upon them, that any conflict they entered into, God would be with them because of their righteousness and that they would finally be free of the yoke of foreign powers.  They looked to return to the glory days under David.

That her iniquity is pardoned - This is indicative of the self-righteous view of themselves the Jew had.  Paul expresses this in Romans 10:1-2.  The Jews believed they were righteous before God.

She hath received...doulbe for all her sins - The comforting words are a deciet that God allows the Jews to convince themselves with because in truth, the iniquity of the Jews would be filled up to overflowing.  They would be considered guilty of all the things they believed themselves clean of compared to their fathers.  Jesus brings this point out in Matthew 23:32-36.

40:3The 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.

John the Immerser (Matt. 3:3; Mark 1:2-3; Luke 3:4-6; John 1:23).

In chapters 1-35 we have predictions of the coming destruction of Jerusalem and Judah like the nations about them. Chapter 40 transitions into a whole section on the coming Messiah and the church. It is important to note that this is exactly the format Revelation takes, first the destruction, then the establishment and triumph of the church.

In this passage, we have establishment of the beginning point of the last days.  With the coming of John, the voice crying in the wilderness, the last days would begin.

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: 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.

This is quoted in Luke 3:5 by John himself.  He is the Herald for Jesus who would soon come to be immersed by John just before Jesus began His ministry on Earth.  Jesus was the "salvation of God" (Luke 3:6).  To those who humbled themselves before God and repented, they would be lifted up, be made part of the dominion of Christ (valleys into a mountain).  To those who believed in their own righteousness and dominion, they would be brought low "in the wrath to come" (Luke 3:7).  John's cry was a final warning in defiance of the self deceit from verses 1-2.

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: 7 The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: because the spirit of the Lord bloweth upon it: surely the people is grass.8 The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever.

Here is the explicit definition of the symbol grass representing the common people.  This symbol is used in a number of places throughout the New Testament.  (James 1:10-11; 1 Peter 1:24; Revelation 8:7; 9:4).  The common people of Judea would suffer greatly in the final conflict of the last days if they did not turn to God as John's message called for.

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!  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.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.

Zion/Jerusalem that brings good news in this context is the church.  During the last days, when the church would be established, they would be given a period to preach to the cities of Judah this final warning.  Many of the Jews would be converted and rewarded as members of the church.  They would be protected (as a group) when the strong hand of the Lord would come to reward everyone according to their works.   This is not Judgment Day such as seen in 1 Cor. 15.  It is a reference to the judgment between the Old and New Jerusalems.  This passage is echoed Isaiah 62:11, which also puts this at the end of the age rather than the end of the universe, as well as Matthew 16:27-28 and Matthew 25.

These three verses are not dealing with judgment.  They are dealing with the ministry of Jesus while on Earth, as He was called their Shepherd then and throughout those establishment years before the end of Judaism (Matt. 26:31; John 10:11-16; Heb. 13:20; 1 Peter 2:25).  The strong arm is about guidance, teaching, the gathering of the flock and being their shepherd.  These few verses are about the first coming of Jesus in the flesh and protecting the flock during the time when they would be sorely persecuted.

Keep in mind, this time period that Isaiah is referring to is not just the events of AD 70 and the destruction of Jerusalem.  It is much broader than that.  It covers the whole time from the ministry of John the Immerser to the end of Judaism and the full establishment of the church by the end of the first century AD.

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? 13 Who hath directed the Spirit of the Lord, or being his counsellor hath taught him? 14 With whom took he counsel, and who instructed him, and taught him in the path of judgment, and taught him knowledge, and shewed to him the way of understanding?

There is actually a bit of an echo from the book of Job here.  Who is superior to God?  Who is capable of judging the Creator of the Universe?  Who, then, is capable of condmening the actions of God to bring about the final destruction of those whom He called out to a specific purpose as He called out the children of Israel?

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. 16 And Lebanon is not sufficient to burn, nor the beasts thereof sufficient for a burnt offering. 17 All nations before him are as nothing; and they are counted to him less than nothing, and vanity.

In the grand scheme of creation, physical nations are nothing, even the nation of Israel.  They are tools for fulfilling God's ultimate purpose for mankind, the restoration of man to Himself so that mankind can live in eternity with its Creator.

Some of the apocalyptic symbols are used here.  Taking up the isles is about the Gentiles becoming reconciled during the last days.  This began with Cornelius in Acts 10.  The Cedars of Lebanon and beasts are references to the Jews no longer being an acceptable living sacrifice to God and so, like the other physical nations of the world, their time will end.

18 To whom then will ye liken God? or what likeness will ye compare unto him? 19 The workman melteth a graven image, and the goldsmith spreadeth it over with gold, and casteth silver chains. 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.

God is here compared to a metalsmith fashioning a beautiful image.  The word "melteth" is better translated "cast".  So here God is the metalsmith shaping a new thing, not destroying one that is not liked.  It is made of gold, silver, and wood -- echoed by Paul in 1 Cor. 3:12 and 2 Tim. 2:20.  The crafting of the church will be like this during this period, the making of an image that is a reflection of God, a perfect working that has a firm foundation and cannot be moved (mowt - to shake greatly, stir, cause to totter, dislodged, toppled, overthrown).

The continuity here is that the cedars of Lebanon, used to build the first Temple under Solomon, are representative of the Jewish people.  The cedars of Lebanon are not considered a suitable wood for building the spiritual Temple of God, the church, because they have become rotten from within.  Those who remain adherents to Judaism would be worthy of being cast into the fire and burned up, not used as lumber.  Only those who became Christians would be used to build the Temple (the church) in the last days.

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? 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: 23 That bringeth the princes to nothing; he maketh the judges of the earth as vanity. 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.

A quick reminder here, that metaphors have their anchor in the physical realities or they mean nothing.  So though this passage is metaphor for physical Israel, the concept of the "sphere of the Earth" is rooted in the literal sphere that is planet Dirt.  This is one of the many many scientific corroborations that shows the omniscience of God and verifies the Bible as from God.

The foundations of the earth, is a reference to the establishing of the nation of Israel starting with its founding on the Eastern shores of the Red Sea and through the 40 years of wandering.  During that time, God took care of them, preserved them through all their conflicts with the other nations of the area who would see them destroyed, provided mana and a place to dwell for this nation.

The One who brought Israel through all of that is now going to be the One to destroy them because of their unfaithfulness.  In their place, a new people, a new temple, a new earth will be made.  This new nation is incorruptible because it is a spiritual nation.  It will not fall like Israel did.

25 To whom then will ye liken me, or shall I be equal? saith the Holy One. 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.

Those who turn to God -- "lift up your eyes on high" -- during these last days, will not be subject to the destruction of the old earth, but will be preserved into the new.

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? 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. 29 He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. 30 Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: 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. The last of John's message, of God's message, to Israel in the last days is to call them out on their self-inflicted blindness.  The Jews would believe that their sins would not be seen (or at least acknowledged) by God and that His judgment would be withheld from them.  John's message, though, is that God does not grow tired or weary.  He does not forget or have other human limitations.  He has seen their wickedness and will bring judgment against them except they repent.

Those who look to themselves will be faint and weary and shall utterly fall.  This is the Jews.

Those who look to God, who follow after His ways, though they may be faint for a time, God will be renewed, will endure.  This is the church coming through the persecution at the hands of the Jews to the other side.  The Jews would be destroyed and the church would triumph and be that enduring kingdom prophesied in Daniel 2.

The Last Days

So, to summarize this chapter.  The last days begin with the ministry of John.  His message to the physical nation of Israel is repent or be destroyed.  During this time, the Jews would be confident in their own righteousness believing themselves the children of God and unconquerable.  They would persecute the church, the kingdom of Christ, which was founded during the last days [Pentecost - can't persecute something that doesn't exist yet].  Israel would be destroyed for their unfaithfulness, for murdering Jesus, God's Son, and for persecuting the church, Jesus' wife (Eph. 5:22-23).  The church would be fully established and last throughout time and on into eternity.

NT References:
Isa. 40:3 - Matt. 3:3; Mark 1:2-3; Luke 3:4-6; John 1:23
Isa. 40:6-8 – 1 Pet. 1:24-25
Isa. 40:10 - Rev. 22:12
Isa. 40:11 – Matt. 25:32; John 10:2-16; Heb. 13:20; 1 Pet. 2:25; 1 Pet. 5:4
Isa. 40:13 – Rom. 11:34; 1 Cor. 2:16

Isaiah 41Edit

  • TO: Judah and Jerusalem
  • ABOUT: The New Israel and the New Jerusalem
  • CONTEXT: Events coming in New Testament times.

41:22Let them bring them forth, and shew us what shall happen: let them shew the former things, what they be, that we may consider them, and know the latter end of them; or declare us things for to come. 23Shew the things that are to come hereafter,

A great key verse for this whole section, and specifically this chapter.

NT References:
Isa. 41:4 – Rev. 1:8, 11, 17; 21:6; 22:13

Isaiah 42Edit

  • TO: Judah and Jerusalem
  • ABOUT: The New Israel and the New Jerusalem
  • CONTEXT: The coming of the Messiah as king, judge, and conqueror.

42:1Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles. 2He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the street. 3A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench: he shall bring forth judgment unto truth. 4He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set judgment in the earth: and the isles shall wait for his law.

This verse is quoted in Matthew 12 concerning Christ. It is here that we see a direct equation of the isles (Isa. 42:4) to the Gentiles (Matt. 12:21).

42:7To open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house.

Actually fulfilled numerous times in the NT in a literal sense, but this is more a reference to spiritual ignorance ending and freeing those who are in bondage to sin.

42:9Behold, the former things are come to pass, and new things do I declare: before they spring forth I tell you of them.

The old is being fulfilled and passing away and the new things are coming. (Heb. 8:13; 2 Pet. 3; Rev. 21:1-2)

42:10Sing unto the LORD a new song, and his praise from the end of the earth, ye that go down to the sea, and all that is therein; the isles, and the inhabitants thereof.

The whole world, Jews and Gentiles, praise God with a new song for they have found salvation in God as Christians.

42:12Let them give glory unto the LORD, and declare his praise in the islands.

The Gentiles are finally able to glorify God as part of the church.

42:13The LORD shall go forth as a mighty man, he shall stir up jealousy like a man of war: he shall cry, yea, roar; he shall prevail against his enemies.

This is the picture of the rider on the white horse in Revelation, the mighty conqueror (Rev. 6:2; 19:11)

NT References:
Isa. 42:1-4 – Matt. 12:17-21
Isa. 42:9 – 2 Pet. 3; Rev. 21:1
Isa. 42:10 – Rev. 5:9; 14:3
Isa. 42:13 – Rev. 6:2; 19:11

Isaiah 43Edit

  • TO: Judah and Jerusalem
  • ABOUT: The New Israel and the New Jerusalem
  • CONTEXT: Redemption of Israel because of the love of God for them who formed them.

The key to this context is verses 18-19:

43:18Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old. 19Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.
The contrast of old to new is found throughout the New Testament. Most of the books contain some reference to the transition from old to new. The books of Hebrews and Revelation are concerned almost wholly with that concept.

God promises to remember their sins no more, an even that transpired under the new covenant according to Hebrews 8:12 and 10:17. Yet the current descendants of Jacob in Isaiah’s day would not do what they were supposed to. God would include them in the “things of old” that would not be considered any longer if they did not repent. This is pointed out in Heb. 3.

43:11 I, even I, am the LORD; and beside me there is no saviour.

Jehovah God claims that there is no other saviour besides Himself. If Jesus was the saviour, then Jesus must be God.

NT References:
Isa. 43:18-19 – 2 Cor. 5:17; Gal. 6:15; Eph. 2:15; Hebrews (specifically 8:13); 2 Pet. 3
Isa. 43:25 – Heb. 8:12; 10:17

In Truth and Love.

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