Verse of the Day Devotion. Isaiah 40:1
“Comfort, O comfort My people, says your God.” – Isaiah 40:1
Chapters 1-39 of Isaiah certainly had passages of comfort and hope, but they also have a strong tone of judgment and warning throughout them. Now, beginning with Isaiah 40, the tone shifts to being predominantly full of comfort and blessing, full of the glory of God. Isaiah 39 ended, announcing the conquest of Jerusalem and the exile of the nation. “Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, “Hear the word of the LORD of hosts, Behold, the days are coming when all that is in your house, and all that your fathers have laid up in store to this day shall be carried to Babylon; nothing shall be left,’ says the LORD. And some of your sons who shall issue from you, whom you shall beget, shall be taken away; and they shall become officials in the palace of the king of Babylon.” Isaiah 39:5-7. The announcement that the Babylonians would someday capture Jerusalem and take the people into exile was a bitter blow. How could Judah celebrate the downfall of Assyria when everyone knew that a more powerful invader was on the way?
Our focus verse is the general subject of this and the following chapters. The commencement is abrupt, as often happens in Isaiah and the other prophets. The place where this vision is laid is in Babylon, the time near the close of Judah’s captivity. “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 the LORD’s hand Double for all her sins.” Isaiah 40:2. The main subject of the consolation is stated in the above verse, that their captivity and warfare was about to end, and that brighter and happier days were to succeed their trials and their exile. The exhortation to ‘comfort’ the people, seen in our focus verse, is understood as a command of God to those in Babylon whose office or duty it would be to address them, that is to the ministers of religion and the prophets. Jerusalem needed to be comforted because of all they had experienced in Babylon.
Then in the next three verses we find, “A voice is calling, Clear the way for the LORD in the wilderness; Make smooth in the desert a highway for our God. 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; Then the glory of the LORD will be revealed, And all flesh will see it together; For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.” Isaiah 40:3-5. Here, Isaiah speaks for the LORD’s messenger, who cries out to the barren places. The idea is that the LORD is coming to His people as a triumphant King, who has the road prepared before Him so He can travel in glory and ease. Every obstacle in the way must be removed. Whatever was wrong in the road must be corrected. The problems were not the same everywhere. Sometimes, the road in the valley needed to be lifted up; other times a road had to be cut through a passage in the mountains. The idea of preparing the way of the LORD is a word picture because the real preparation must take place in our hearts. Building a road is very much like the preparation God must do in our hearts. They are both expensive, they both must deal with many different problems and environments, and they both take an expert engineer. And God’s glory is revealed in the prepared hearts described above. And it is revealed without regard to nationality; all flesh shall see it together. This glory of the LORD is not revealed only to Jerusalem or Judah, but to every prepared heart. The certainty of this word is assured because the mouth of the LORD has spoken.
God desires the best for His people, and sometimes that means difficult trials in order for us to turn back to Him. This may be hard to see it as best for us, but He knows all things and does what He needs to do. But in the end, if we look to Him, He will as our focus verse states, “Comfort, O comfort My people, says your God.” And Isaiah closes out chapter 40 with the following. “Why do you say, O Jacob, and assert, O Israel, My way is hidden from the LORD, And the justice due me escapes the notice of my God? Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth Does not become weary or tired. His understanding is inscrutable. He gives strength to the weary, And to him who lacks might He increases power. Though youths grow weary and tired, And vigorous young men stumble badly,” Isaiah 40:27-30. God will strengthen us in these times, and He does not grow tired in giving us what we need. And because of this, we read in the last verse in chapter 40. “Yet those who wait for the LORD Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary.” Isaiah 40:31.
William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.