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Saturday, September 30th, 2023
the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25
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Bible Commentaries
Isaiah 40

Bell's Commentary on the BibleBell's Commentary

Verses 1-11

  1. Intro:
    1. St. Patricks Day – He was neither Irish nor Roman Catholic. He was bornin Britain. Carried off by pirates at age 16, & forced to work as a slave inIreland. After 6 years there, during which he experienced a conversion, he escaped & returned to Britain & his family. He had a night vision in which he received a call to evangelize Ireland. He became the greatest single force in the Christianization of Ireland. (The Church in the Middle Ages; pg.53,54)
    2. Prayer – May we cry as Samuel did, “Speak Lord your servant hears.”
    3. This is the 2nd division of Isaiah. (My favorite)
      1. You’ll see there is more to God’s character than judgment…he is full of Mercy & Grace & eager to lavish His love on His people.
      2. You’ll hear how different it is & why some claimed there must have been 2 Isaiah’s!
        1. Until you read Jn.12:38-40 where Jesus quoted from both divisions of Isaiah, & said it was the same Isaiah.
      3. Isaiah will now focus on God’s deliverance of & His comfort & care for His people.
      4. 2nd Division Outline: The Purpose of Peace(40-48); The Prince of Peace(49-57); The Program of Peace(58-66). (G. Campbell Morgan.)
  2. HEARING VOICES! (1-11)
    1. Hearing voices? (see 3,6,9)
      1. Voice of Comfort; Voice of Confidence; & Voice of Consolation.
    2. A VOICE OF COMFORT! (1-5)
    3. (1) Q: Remember the weeks/months following 9-11?
      1. If America received words of encouragement like, “you’ll rebuild again”, “planes would fly again” before Sept.11 they would have meant nothing to us…but they sure would be words of comfort afterward!
      2. Isaiah is writing words of comfort 1 century before they were needed. [before Judah would fall to Babylon]
        1. They sure would become words of hope during their exile in Babylon. And words of hope still for us today!
    4. Wow! Double comfort from God!
      1. Such tender speaking, wooing love, speaking to the heart.
      2. True religion must always grip the heart.
      3. The world is full of hurting & comfortless hearts.
      4. Even in the church, as Joseph parker said, “There is a broken heart in every pew.”
      5. To accept God’s comfort, it necessitates some hurt in your life in which to comfort!
        1. Yes, your own life becomes a hospital ward where you are taught the divine art of comfort.
        2. You will be wounded so you can bind up.
        3. Q: Do you ever wonder why you are having to experience some great sorrow?
        4. God will apply the anesthetic He once used on you to them.
          1. Then you will know why you were afflicted.
        5. “God comforts us not to make us comfortable, but to make us comforters.” John Henry Jowett
      6. Poem: They tell me I must bruise the rose’s leaf, Ere I can keep & use Its fragrance brief. They tell me I must break The skylark’s heart,Ere her cage song will make The silence start.They tell me love must bleed, And friendship weep, Ere in my deepest need I touch that deep.Must it be always so With precious things? Must they be bruised & go With beaten wings?Ah, yes! By crushing days, by caging nights, by scar Of Thorn & stony ways, These blessings are!
    5. (2) Q: What were the 3 words of comfort? [ended, pardoned, received]
    6. Double ( ∅κ∅ κεπηελ)– two sided, fold over, 2 sided. {ie. One side mirroring the other} Fair judgment not double judgment.
    7. Be Comforted - The Lord knows how to measure your chastening, & that He forgives, & gives you new beginnings.
    8. (3,4) Using hyperbole, the prophet called the people to smooth a highway in the desert.
      1. These words demand a spiritual renewal in preparation for Messiah’s advent.
      2. Hearts must be prepared in repentance, & then Messiah can come.
        1. Mt.3:2 "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!"
    9. This was claimed by John the Baptist in his unique ministry preparing the coming of Christ. [But this task is also for us all]
      1. It is the picture of us making a Highway for God, along which He will move toward His ultimate accomplishment.
      2. (4) Our highway system seeks to do the same thing.
        1. Get on the I-15 South. Just south of Tem part of the valley is filled in. And then through the great arced bridge where the hill is cutaway for the road to go through.
      3. There are no mountains too high for God, nor for the people of faith.
        1. I guess we could sing with the Supremes, “Ain't no mountain high enough. Ain't no valley low enough. Ain't no river wide enough to keep me from loving you!”
      4. Q: Which mountain is in front of you?
      5. Q: Are there any obstacles that need to be removed in your life?
      6. Q: Have you rolled out the Red Carpet for Christ in your life?
    10. (5) The Lord’s glory would be seen in the deliverance of Israel from exile.
      1. Just as they were delivered from Egypt; & were to be in the NT at Calvary through the Resurrection, & at the 2nd Coming of Christ.
        1. There it will be seen in the fullest measure!
    11. A VOICE OF CONFIDENCE! (6-8)
    12. In contrast to the world’s transience is the permanence of the Word of God.
      1. Appl - If it feels like you are in a spiritual exile(feel cast out, or banished), then you need to make God’s Word central again in your life.
      2. Q: What plans can you come up with to make His Word more central in your life?
    13. Be Confident…His Word will stand in spite of the frailty of man.
    14. A VOICE OF CONSOLATION! (9-11)
    15. (9) High mountain – When you’re at the base you see little. Go higher & you can see for a few miles. Higher the scene expands. But, the summit it is breath taking! [Ex: Gettysburg platform]
      1. The Christian life is the same. When we 1st believe in Christ we see little of Him. The higher we climb the more we discover His beauties. One day we will gain the summit & be able to say, “I know whom I have believed”! (Spurgeon; June 25th.)
      2. Get up dear saints to the High mountain! - “Upward to heaven! Nearer to God!”
    16. “Behold your God” -Share the good news with others. Shout it aloud!
      1. Often times Christians are very good at offering loud praises to God in church, but are much less vocal when facing an unbelieving & questing world.
        1. Sing of God’s power…but also Speak of it!
      2. Ps.96:2 “Proclaim the good news of His salvation from day to day.”
      3. Ps.71:15 “My mouth will tell of your righteousness, of your salvation all day long, though I know not its measure.”
      4. Only God could have empowered his exiled people to speak of good news.
        1. Like a couple days ago when Ashley Smith read to her captor during her seven-hour hostage ordeal. She read to him ch.30 of The Purpose Driven Life. Resulting in being freed and ended the Atlanta standoff?
    17. (10,11) Now look at this wonderful linkage of the Power of God(10), & the Love of God(11).
      1. He is Powerful & Mighty; yet Careful & Gentile.
        1. See “arm” in both verse.
      2. There are 2 reasons for Jesus return! (Judgment & Blessing)
        1. Picture here Mt.25:31-34.
      3. Here is a gentle picture of a shepherd leading his sheep w/all the qualities of loving concern for each individual sheep w/in the flock.
        1. He’s bound not to lose one!
        2. It’s the theme of Ps.23 & John 10.
      4. This isn’t some “soft skinned, hand manicured shepherd” you’ve seen in some children’s book.
        1. This shepherd is a leader who risks his life for the sheep’s protection & safety.
        2. He’s not a hireling that flees in times of danger.
        3. He would even die for them that they might live!
    18. (10) He will right all wrongs.
    19. (11) A prediction beautifully lived out by Jesus Christ.
      1. A Good shepherd will provide for His sheep. He protects them from harm.
      2. He uses his rod to chase off the enemy & his staff to lift them out of precarious places they get themselves into!
      3. Feed – Actually the entire work of a shepherd.
      4. Gather & Carry – the young lambs recently born.
        1. They are the weakest members of the flock.
        2. You know what He is talking about here, those of you who have/had babies. You respond to their cry at night. You go in & pick them up in your arms & hold them tightly to your chest. You shhh them, you bounce them, you rock them. Their fears flee, they’re calm again.
        3. Note: Not over his shoulders but against His chest!
      5. Gently lead – The ewes that were nursing.
        1. They couldn’t be forced along by driving them, so He tenderly leads them.
    20. Q: Which work of the Good Shepherd do you need most tonight?
      1. [1] Are you feeling spiritually dry? – Let him feed you in his Word!
      2. [2] Do you just need to be held? – Feel His closeness!
        1. He will carry them – sometimes He does it by pulling them from some trials. Other times he could carry them by giving them a very simple faith. [ex: They take Gods promises just as they stand. With every trouble they run straight to Jesus(Joe & Amish)]
      3. [3] Are you so worn-out you need to be carried? – Let Him do it!
      4. [4] Do you need direction in your life? – He seeks to lead you!
      5. Sheep, He already knows you are prone to wander, lag behind, grow weary, or get into mischief.
    21. Verses 1-11 are the introduction to the rest of Isaiah’ book.
      1. Note then, the conclusion here is the same as was the intro.
    22. Be Consoled…Surely goodness and mercy shall follow you All the days of your life; And you will dwell in the house of the LORD Forever.

Verses 12-31

  1. Intro:
    1. This week – The dominant theme is the awesome greatness of God. And, the complete inability of His people to understand who He really is. [Incomprehensible yet knowable!]
      1. See vs.21,28 {Have you not known/heard?}
        1. The prophet Isaiah is not afraid to use satire. It is a dangerous weapon, but of course he wields the sword well.
      2. In ch.’s 40-48(9 ch.’s) there are 216 verses, in which 115 speak of God’s greatness & power!
      3. Again, we learned last week that there is more to God’s character than judgment…He is full of Mercy, Grace, & He is eager to lavish
    2. His love on his people!
    3. Outline: [1] The God Who Created all Things [2] The God Who Reigns Over Us [3] The God Who Cares for Us.
      1. If we only had this ½ a chapter on the subject of God, let’s see all that we can learn about Him!
    1. He is Vast! (12)
    2. Time to regroup. Israel would be in Babylon & they would need this reminder of God’s greatness.
      1. Q: Do you need that reminder tonight for your thorny situation you find yourself in?
    3. He has Perfect Knowledge! (13,14)
      1. Lean not on your own understanding!
      2. God IS greater than the burden you bear & the challenge you face!
    4. He is Mighty over the Nations! (15-17)
      1. (Message Bible) “There aren’t enough trees in Lebanon nor enough animals in those vast forests to furnish adequate fuel and offerings for his worship.”
      2. To God, Babylon wasn’t but a drop in a bucket to God(a bug in a windshield) & neither are they today(pray for the healing of Iraq).
    5. He is Difficult to Contrast! (18-20)
      1. Be astonished at the bridging of the great gulf between God and not God.
      2. This picture is most ridiculous because it is framed by 2 paragraphs full of the Glory of the true God.
    6. (20) will not totter –
      1. Q: What was Gideon’s nickname, & where did he get it?
      2. Read Judges 6:25-23. (emphasize vs.26,31)
    1. ​​​​​​​He has Infinite Power! (21-24)
    2. (22) The great novelist Thomas Hardy thought, “if God existed he was a watchmaker who had wound the world up, but was letting it run down.”
      1. I would say, “if God was a watchmaker you would also find He was also the watch repairman. Who watches over us w/great watchfulness, from His Watch Tower. And He even has a Watch Pawn Shop in which he redeems watches!…so you better watch it!”
      2. Isaiah knew better, he sees God still on His throne, that is, in control! (see 23)
    3. He has Infinite Power! (25,26)
    4. (26) Lift up your eyes – i.e. from earthly things, & look upwards to God.
      1. Don’t be like the centipede who was doing fine until someone asked him which of his one hundred legs came after which. He'd never thought of that before. The more he thought about it, the more he couldn't remember, and then he found he couldn't walk at all. - - - Lift up your eyes!
      2. Sir Isaac Newton, “This most beautiful system of the sun, planets, and comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being. This Being governs all things, not as the soul of the world, but as Lord over all; and on account of his dominion he is wont to be called Lord God.”
      3. Q: Wow! And if the bottom side of heaven is this beautiful, just think how wonderful the other side must be!
    5. He calls them by name –Such a God can be trusted to know our deepest need.
      1. The Milky Way numbers 100,000 million stars, many of them brighter than the sun. Yet one quasar is 200 times as bright as the entire Milky Way galaxy!
        1. Yet Look at Gen.1:16 it’s almost lost in the creation account. And yet that was a huge feat!
    6. Not one is missing – From a poetic eye, it sounds like a vast flock following the Shepherd, who calls each by name! (Meyer)
      1. Will not Jehovah do so much for us? – He has a name for each, & He will guard & guide each!
      2. He loves us more than stars!
      3. Q: Can God miss even one of your problems?
  4. THE GOD WHO CARES FOR US! (27-31)
    1. ​​​​​​​He Cares & Empowers! (27-31)
      1. Isaiah’s profound theology ends with a practical climax, as all theology should!
    2. (27) /“GOD has lost track of me. He doesn’t care what happens to me?” (Message)
    3. (29) Trust in the power of God!
    4. (Phillips Brooks) Do not pray for easy lives; pray to be stronger people! Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers; pray for powers equal to your tasks.
      1. (John Knox) “Mark what has been the practice of the Devil from the beginning, most cruelly to rage against God's children, when God begins to show them his mercy. And therefore marvel not, dearly beloved, though this should happen to you. If Satan fume and roar against you, whether it be against your bodies by persecution, or inwardly in your consciences by a spiritual battle, do not be discouraged, as though you were less acceptable in God's presence, or that Satan might at any time prevail against you. No!... I have good hope, and my prayer will likewise be, that you may be so strengthened, that the world and Satan himself may understand and perceive, that God is fighting your battle.”
      2. He is not too great to care, he is, however, too great to fail.
    5. (30,31) Remember what God spoke to Israel in Ex.19:4 “You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Myself.”
      1. He does the same for us tonight Christian!
      2. There are two tiny towns in North Carolina, not very far apart. One is named Trust and the other Luck. In each case, the population is quite small. But, in fact, everybody lives in one or the other of these towns! We live by trust or we live by luck.
        1. Our response should be to put our hope & trust in the Lord!
    6. There are three stages of life.
      1. You can be like an eagle, a runner, or a pilgrim.
      2. Sometimes we mount up with wings as an eagle and fly. We're on top of the world.
      3. Q: How do Eagles mount up?…they soar!
        1. Stop flapping like a spastic duck! (flying bowling pins)
      4. Q: Where are you being asked to soar w/vision?
      5. Sometimes we run, and we don't grow weary.
        1. But is it just routine?
      6. Q: Where are you being asked to run w/consistency?
      7. Sometimes it's all we can do to walk and not faint.
        1. This can be the daily routine of life, that often times people seek to escape from!
        2. Often time it is more difficult to walk than mount!
        3. Every cyclist knows that it is hardest to keep your cycle at walking pace.
      8. Q: Where are you being asked to walk w/patience?
    7. He will help you all 3,all 3 require His might power (29,30b)
Bibliographical Information
Bell, Brian. "Commentary on Isaiah 40". "Bell's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/cbb/isaiah-40.html. 2017.
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