November 24: Behold Your God (Isaiah 40:1-31)
Isaiah 40:1-31 (We will study the whole chapter, although only verses 1-11 are cited below)
Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
and cry to her
that her warfare is ended,
that her iniquity is pardoned,
that she has received from the Lord's hand
double for all her sins.
A voice cries:
“In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord;
make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be lifted up,
and every mountain and hill be made low;
the uneven ground shall become level,
and the rough places a plain.
And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed,
and all flesh shall see it together,
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”
A voice says, “Cry!”
And I said, “What shall I cry?”
All flesh is grass,
and all its beauty is like the flower of the field.
The grass withers, the flower fades
when the breath of the Lord blows on it;
surely the people are grass.
The grass withers, the flower fades,
but the word of our God will stand forever.
Go on up to a high mountain,
O Zion, herald of good news;
lift up your voice with strength,
O Jerusalem, herald of good news;
lift it up, fear not;
say to the cities of Judah,
“Behold your God!”
Behold, the Lord God comes with might,
and his arm rules for him;
behold, his reward is with him,
and his recompense before him.
He will tend his flock like a shepherd;
he will gather the lambs in his arms;
he will carry them in his bosom,
and gently lead those that are with young. (ESV)
As we turn to the second half of the book of Isaiah, we are met with much hope and comfort. For the first 39 chapters the message of the prophet Isaiah has been condemnation and judgment over the sin of the people. We finished the 39th chapter with the promise that due to their sin they would be sent to exile in Babylon. But now in chapter 40 Isaiah preaches comfort to the people to whom God will exercise restorative and forgiving mercy, despite their continued failure. Few chapters will give you more encouragement as Isaiah not only speaks of the comfort of God but also of his incomparable power to demonstrate it. Please read through this chapter a few times, first quickly to get a "lay of the land;" then slowly to meditate on the unique truths in it. Keep in mind these promises are given in the context of a coming exile. God is comforting us so that even in trial, we will yet wait and trust in him.
Review and Apply
- What characteristics of God are you drawn to in this passage?
- Why does Isaiah ask so many questions?
- Why is it so important to have a 'right' view of God? How do you view God and Why?
- How do you view God in the midst of darkness and trial?
- Is it easier for you to see God as one who rules or one who gently tends his sheep? Why?
- Why does Isaiah compare God to idols (18-20)?
- How do faithful people ultimately respond to God in trials (28-31)?
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