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Bible Commentaries

Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures

Isaiah 40

Verses 1-2

Isaiah 40:1-2 God’s Compassion after Judgment - Isaiah 40:1 is a turning point in the book of Isaiah. After thirty-nine chapters of judgment, God turns to comfort His people. Therefore, it is no coincidence that God reveals in these next chapters the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, His passion and His eternal exaltation with God's children in heaven. This is God's way of bringing eternal comfort to His people through the redemptive work of Calvary and Christ Jesus’ shed blood.

Although God’s hand of judgment had fallen, His love for Israel never grew any less. It is just like when our children stumble and fall into wicked sin and bear the consequences; we still keep on loving them with a complete love. God’s great love and promises held strong throughout those horrible years of judgment. When a father is punishing a child, his love for that child is not any less. Likewise with us, God still loves us just as much in our worst sins as in our best obedience (Isaiah 54:7-8).

Isaiah 54:7-8, “For a small moment have I forsaken thee; but with great mercies will I gather thee. In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the LORD thy Redeemer.”

How often have I seen my wife comfort our children after a spanking. The more severe her punishment, the more tender her heart towards the child after the punishment. I saw her take a wet rag and doctor my child's buttock after she had made it red with a spanking.

A parent who genuinely loves a child will bring punishment out of love, and they will bring great comfort after the punishment out of love for having to inflict the pain.

A good illustration of this compassion from God is found when He judged Israel for David's sin of numbering the people. After destroying 70,000 people, God repented and stopped His judgment (2 Samuel 24:16).

2 Samuel 24:16, “And when the angel stretched out his hand upon Jerusalem to destroy it, the LORD repented him of the evil, and said to the angel that destroyed the people, It is enough: stay now thine hand. And the angel of the LORD was by the threshingplace of Araunah the Jebusite.”

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

Isaiah 40:1 “Comfort ye, comfort ye” Comments - The words “Comfort ye, comfort ye,” are repeated for emphasis.

Isaiah 40:1 “my people, saith your God” - Comments - God shows His affection towards His covenant people. They are His people and He is their God, by virtue of covenant. The rest of the book of Isaiah will reveal that He has not forsaken them and that He has a great plan of redemption and restoration for them.

Isaiah 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.

Isaiah 40:2 Comments This passage of Scripture in Isaiah predicts the coming of John the Baptist and Jesus Christ, who will offer redemption for Israel even before His pays for their sins on Calvary. When Jesus Christ entered His public ministry after His water baptism by John the Baptist, He never condemned any sinner. He forgave everyone and healed all who were sick. Every before His atonement on Calvary, Jesus offered atonement to everyone. Jesus spoke comfort to Jerusalem and told them that God loved them, and forgives the sins of those who believe in Him.

Verses 3-11

The Coming of the Gospel of Jesus Christ Isaiah 40:3-11 predicts the coming of John the Baptist and Jesus Christ, as well as the proclamation of the Gospel throughout the world.

Isaiah 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.

Isaiah 40:3 John the Baptist quotes Isaiah 40:3 as a biblical fulfillment of his public ministry. Thus, Israel’s restoration is made available at the First Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, a coming announced by John the Baptist.

Matthew 3:3, “For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.”

Mark 1:3, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.”

John 1:23, “He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias.”

Isaiah 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:

Isaiah 40:4 “Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low” - Comments In the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the humble will be exalted, and the proud will be made low.

“and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain” - Comments The rough path that man walks in life will become smooth. Those obstacles that bound man in sin and made life difficult will be removed and every child of God will be able to walk along an easy path. This description is given in Isaiah 43:2, “When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.”

Isaiah 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.

Isaiah 40:5 “And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together” Comments - The glory of God was revealed when Jesus became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14).

John 1:14, “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory , the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.”

Application - Paul Crouch uses Isaiah 40:5 to say that the Trinity Broadcasting satellite network, which broadcasts the Gospel around the world today, is being used to reveal the glory of God to all mankind simultaneously as a partial fulfillment of this prophecy. He reads the next verse where God says to “Cry!” He then quotes Isaiah 42:11 where God tells them to “shout from the mountaintops.” He sees these verses as a reference to the thousands of TBN television towers that are placed upon the highest points around many cities of the world. [55]

[55] Paul Crouch, “Praise the Lord,” on Trinity Broadcasting Network (Santa Ana, California), television program.

Isaiah 42:11, “Let the wilderness and the cities thereof lift up their voice, the villages that Kedar doth inhabit: let the inhabitants of the rock sing, let them shout from the top of the mountains.”

Isaiah 40:5 “for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it” Comments - The certainty of a prophetic event is confirmed from the mouth of the Lord.

Isaiah 40:3-5 Comments - Luke’s Prophecy of the Ministry of John the Baptist Of the four Evangelists, the Gospel of Luke offers the lengthiest quotation from the book of Isaiah regarding the ministry of John the Baptist. Luke 3:4-6 quotes Isaiah 40:3-5.

Luke 3:4-6, “As it is written in the book of the words of Esaias the prophet, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low; and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways shall be made smooth; And all flesh shall see the salvation of God.”

Isaiah 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:

Isaiah 40:7 The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: because the spirit of the LORD bloweth upon it: surely the people is grass.

Isaiah 40:8 The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever.

Isaiah 40:7-8 Comments The Eternal Gospel of Jesus Christ - The apostle Peter cites Isaiah 40:7-8 to explain that “the Word of our God that stands forever” is the blessed, eternal Gospel of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:24-25).

1 Peter 1:24-25, “For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.”

Isaiah 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!

Isaiah 40:9 Word Study on “good tidings” HALOT says the Hebrew word ( בשׂר ) literally means, “to bring news.” It is used to describe the delivery of news, whether good, bad, or neutral. Within the context of Isaiah 40:9 the word implies “good news.” This Hebrew word is used in 1 Kings 1:42, Isaiah 40:9; Isaiah 52:7, and Nahum 1:15 to describe the announcement of good news. In Isaiah 40:9 the LXX translates ( בשׂר ) with the Greek word εὐαγγελίζω (to bring good news).

Isaiah 40:9 Comments The early Church immediately embraced the word εὐαγγέλιον to describe their message to the world. Matthew and Mark use the word εὐαγγέλιον twelve times in their Gospels. The Gospel of Mark opens with the phrase “The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” The term “Gospels” has been used to collectively describe the four books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John since the early years of the New Testament Church. However, the prophet Isaiah speaks of the preaching of the Gospel as God’s means of bringing comfort to Zion. Isaiah speaks of the coming of John the Baptist (Isaiah 40:3-5) to herald the arrival of the Jesus Christ, God manifested in the flesh, the Eternal Word of God.

Isaiah 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.

Isaiah 40:10 Comments At His resurrection and ascension to the right hand of the Father, Jesus was given all authority to rule and reign forever. Jesus then delegated this authority to the New Testament Church and sent His disciples forth to preach the Gospel with signs and wonders (Matthew 28:18-20).

Isaiah 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.

Isaiah 40:11 Comments - The repetitive description of how a shepherd feeds and tends his sheep with tender love in Isaiah 40:11 is similar to Jesus’ plea to Simon Peter to “Feed my lambs…Feed my sheep…Feed my sheep.” (John 21:15-19) It reveals God’s tender love for His people. God’s wrath has been appeased at Calvary and He now extends His hands to comfort mankind.

Verses 12-22

Isaiah 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?

Isaiah 40:16 And Lebanon is not sufficient to burn, nor the beasts thereof sufficient for a burnt offering.

Isaiah 40:16 Comments - Even if all the cedars of Lebanon were cut and burnt as a giant altar into God Almighty and every boast of the earth laid upon it into the Lord, it is not sufficient into God.

Isaiah 40:18 To whom then will ye liken God? or what likeness will ye compare unto him?

Isaiah 40:18 Comments - When we try to describe something that we do not understand, we naturally use familiar illustrations to explain the unfamiliar. For example, the American Indians called the trains “iron horses” in an attempt to describe their nature and function. But how does man describe the character of Almighty God? Isaiah explains in Isaiah 40:18 that there is nothing on earth with which to compare His majesty. The prophet will then illustrate man’s attempt to describe God in Isaiah 40:19-20 by making graven images of Him. Isaiah had seen Him in His glory (Isaiah 6:1-13), sitting upon a throne, so he makes a comment about His majesty in Isaiah 40:21-22.

Isaiah 40:18 repeats this rhetorical question in Isaiah 40:25.

Isaiah 40:19 The workman melteth a graven image, and the goldsmith spreadeth it over with gold, and casteth silver chains.

Isaiah 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.

Isaiah 40:20 “that shall not be moved” Comments - The NIV reads, “that will not topple.” These small idols were crafted so that they did not topple over (Isaiah 41:7). I have seen poor quality carvings in craft shops that were too crooked to stand up right.

Isaiah 41:7, “So the carpenter encouraged the goldsmith, and he that smootheth with the hammer him that smote the anvil, saying, It is ready for the sodering: and he fastened it with nails, that it should not be moved.”

Isaiah 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?

Isaiah 40:21 Comments - The testimony of the divine Creator has been proclaimed since the creation of the world (Romans 1:19-20).

Romans 1:19-20, “Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:”

Isaiah 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:

Isaiah 40:22 “It is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth” Comments - In Isaiah 40:22 the Scriptures tells us that the earth is round, but, as late as the 1400's, when Christopher Columbus discovered America, many Europeans believed that the world was flat.

Isaiah 40:22 “that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain” Scripture References - Note a similar verse in Psalms 104:2, “Who coverest thyself with light as with a garment: who stretchest out the heavens like a curtain :”

Verses 12-31

The Revelation of God as Creator - In Isaiah 40:12 to Isaiah 41:29 God challenges backslidden Israel to produce her reasons for trusting in idols (Isaiah 41:21) while revealing Himself as the Creator of all things. God establishes His omnipotence and omniscience through irrefutable testimony cited in this section of Isaiah as the Creator of the universe. Thus, He is able to bring to pass anything He declares.

We find a similar passage of Scripture in Job 38:1 to Job 41:34 where God challenges Job to produce his reasons for trusting in his own righteousness. In a similar manner God reveals to Job his frailty and weakness in the midst of His majestic creation that reveals Him as the divine creator of all things.

Verses 23-26

Isaiah 40:23 That bringeth the princes to nothing; he maketh the judges of the earth as vanity.

Isaiah 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.

Isaiah 40:25 To whom then will ye liken me, or shall I be equal? saith the Holy One.

Isaiah 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.

Isaiah 40:26 “he calleth them all by names by the greatness of his might” Comments - In Isaiah 40:26 we are told that God has given a name to every star in the universe. This is stated again in Psalms 147:4.

Psalms 147:4, “He telleth the number of the stars; he calleth them all by their names.”

One thing that is important to note by this statement is that we have the names of some of these stars as well as constellations recorded in Scriptures. In the books of Job and Amos, we find the names of the constellations Pleiades, Orion, Arcturus and Castor and Pollux. Although these are Latinized names, the Hebrew text hands down to us a more ancient name for these constellations. We also find as well as a reference to the twelve constellations of the Zodiac called by the Hebrew name Mazzaroth.

Job 9:9, “Which maketh Arcturus , Orion , and Pleiades , and the chambers of the south.”

Job 38:31-32, “Canst thou bind the sweet influences of Pleiades , or loose the bands of Orion ? Canst thou bring forth Mazzaroth in his season? or canst thou guide Arcturus with his sons?”

Amos 5:8, “Seek him that maketh the seven stars and Orion , and turneth the shadow of death into the morning, and maketh the day dark with night: that calleth for the waters of the sea, and poureth them out upon the face of the earth: The LORD is his name:”

Acts 28:11, “And after three months we departed in a ship of Alexandria, which had wintered in the isle, whose sign was Castor and Pollux .”

The phrase “the crooked serpent” found in Job 26:13 is a possible reference to a number of constellations with which the serpent is identified.

Job 26:13, “By his spirit he hath garnished the heavens; his hand hath formed the crooked serpent .”

Isaiah 40:26 “not one faileth” Word Study on “faileth” Gesenius says the Hebrew word “faileth” ( עָדַר ) (H5737) means, “to make oneself naked, to be naked,” and it means, “to be helpless, void of aid.” Strong says it means, “to arrange, as a battle, a vineyard (to hoe); hence, to muster and so to miss (or find wanting).”

Comments - Modern English versions translate this Hebrew word as “missing” ( DRC, ESV, God’sWord, NAB, NASB, NET, NCV, NKJV, NRSV, Rotherham, RSV), or “lacking” ( ASV, WEB, YLT). Brenton reads, “nothing has escaped thee.” However, the BBE reads, “all of them are in their places,” which implies that each star has been set in a particular place in the universe. It would imply that God has placed each star in its place in order to form the constellations. Every star in the universe has its place and order in serving in its divine role as signs and seasons for mankind (Genesis 1:14) (see Albert Barnes). [56]

[56] Albert Barnes, Isaiah, in Barnes' Notes, Electronic Database (Seattle, WA: Hendrickson Publishers Inc., 1997), in P.C. Study Bible, v. 3.1 [CD-ROM] (Seattle, WA: Biblesoft Inc., 1993-2000), comments on Isaiah 40:26.

Genesis 1:14, “And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years:”

Isaiah 40:26 Scripture Reference - A similar verse:

Romans 1:20, “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:”

Verses 27-31

Isaiah 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.

Isaiah 40:28 “there is no searching of His understanding” Scripture References - Note:

Romans 11:33, “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!”

Isaiah 40:29 He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.

Isaiah 40:30 Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall:

Isaiah 40:30 Comments - Youth have the most energy of any age group of people. Young men have the most strength of any age.

Isaiah 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.

Isaiah 40:31 Word Study on “wait” Strong says the Hebrew word “wait” “qavah” ( קָוָה ) (H6960) is a primitive root that literally means, “to bind (together) (perhaps by twisting), to collect,” and figuratively, it means, “to expect, to gather (together), to look patiently, to tarry, to wait (for, on, upon).” The Enhanced Strong says it is used 49 times in the Old Testament, being translated in the KJV as, “wait 29, look 13, wait for 1, look for 1, gathered 1, misc 4.”

Isaiah 40:31 “they shall mount up with wings as eagles” Scripture References - Note a similar verse:

Exodus 19:4, “Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles' wings, and brought you unto myself.”

Isaiah 40:31 Comments - Unless we wait upon God, we will not have the stamina or strength to resist Satan’s attacks. The amount of time we spend waiting upon God is a direct reflection of how much strength we will have. Note these insightful words from Frances J. Roberts:

“O My beloved, ye do not need to make your path (like a snow plow), for lo, I say unto thee, I go before you. Yea, I shall engineer circumstances on thy behalf. I am thy husband, and I will protect thee and care for thee, and make full provision for thee. I know thy need, and I am concerned for thee: for thy peace, for thy health, for thy strength. I cannot use a tired body, and ye need to take time to renew thine energies, both spiritual and physical. I am the God of Battle, but I am also the One who said: They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. And Jesus said, Come ye apart and rest a little while.

“I will teach you, even as I taught Moses on the back side of the desert, and as I taught Paul in Arabia. So will I teach you. Thus it shall be a constructive period, and not in any sense wasted time. But as the summer course to the school teacher, it is vital to thee in order that ye be fully qualified for your ministry.

There is no virtue in activity as such neither in inactivity. I minister to thee in solitude that ye may minister of Me to others as a spontaneous overflow of our communion. Never labor to serve, nor force opportunities. Set thy heart to be at peace and to sit at My feet. Learn to be ready, but not to be anxious. Learn to say ‘no’ to the demands of men and to say ‘yes’ to the call of the Spirit.” [57]

[57] Frances J. Roberts, Come Away My Beloved (Ojai, California: King’s Farspan, Inc., 1973), 145.

Isaiah 40:31 Scripture References - See a similar verse in Isaiah 30:15.

Isaiah 30:15, “For thus saith the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel; In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength: and ye would not.”

In contrast, an example of “fainting” is found in Isaiah 51:20.

Isaiah 51:20, “Thy sons have fainted, they lie at the head of all the streets, as a wild bull in a net: they are full of the fury of the LORD, the rebuke of thy God.”

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Bibliographical Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on Isaiah 40". Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. 2013.