Sunday, January 25, 2004

Keith, here are the notes from Isaiah 40.


40:6 (The Command to Speak For God)

Isaiah is told to “cry out”, or to proclaim God’s message. This is what a prophet does. God commissioned special people to do this. Baptist often say God “calls” people into special ministry. He called Isaiah and Paul by exposing them to and overwhelming them by his glory. Jeremiah and Moses both tried to decline, but God sent them anyway. Jeremiah 1 even talks about his being chosen before he was born.

Jesus also told the disciples that they did not choose him, he chose them.

God also gives gifts to believers for the building up of the church, such as apostles, evangelists, and pastors. Ephesians 4:11-13 tells us this. 1 Corinthians 12:28 in fact says that God appoints these people to position requiring these gifts.

Isaiah is still a willing witness. He does not complain about the task or question God’s choice of him. He just asks, what is the message you want proclaimed?

That message is: men and women are temporary and fragile. We are like grass in that respect. See also Job 14:1-2 and James 1:10-11. Our physical life is fleeting. 2 Corinthians 4:7 describes our bodies as jars of clay.

40:7 (The Frailty of Humankind)

“Because the breath of the Lord blows on them” means God is in control of life and death. See Psalm 139:16 and Job 14:15. James even warns us of presumptuous plans for the future. See James 4:13-17.

40:8 (God’s Eternal Word)

In contrast, God’s word will stand forever. Jesus said the same thing in Luke 21:33. This is important to the Israelites, because the current generation will not live to see the end of a 70 year captivity. God is telling them that their descendants will experience the promised deliverance, but neither God nor his word will ever end.

The permanence of God’s word is important to us also, for it means our salvation can be permanent. If the one who saves you, or his promise to save you, can ever pass away, then you cannot count on your salvation. 1 Peter 1:23-25 calls it imperishable.

So there is no glory in the flesh, only in God.

40:9 (Proclaim The Coming of God)

Isaiah proclaims the deliverance of believers in the future. First, he is telling the Israelites that the day will come when the good news of their deliverance from captivity will come, and the Lord will come to set them free.

But, he is also referring to the coming of Christ. The prophets proclaimed the coming of Christ to Israel. This concluded with John the Baptist preparing the way for Jesus by preaching repentance and teaching that Christ was coming. Jesus himself taught throughout Israel. Matthew 9:35 says that Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness.

In Acts 1:8, Jesus sent the disciples first to Jerusalem, then to Judea, then to the Gentile nations. Paul even kept the spirit of this instruction as he preached throughout Europe and Asia, as he first went to the synagogue and taught, then went to the Gentiles.

40:10 (Coming In Power)

This verse emphasizes Christ’s coming in power with the authority to rule. In Luke 1:32, the angel Gabriel told Mary that the Father would give Jesus the throne of David and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.

40:11 (Coming In Tenderness)

Jesus not only comes in power, he comes in tenderness. He acts as a shepherd, tending the flock, gathering the lambs and carrying them, and gently leading.

There are several analogies in the Bible for Jesus as shepherd, including Micah 5:4, John 10:11-16; Revelation 7:17, and Psalm 23.

Notice that he carries the lambs close to his heart. Children, new believers, and the weak all get his special concern. This is a picture of love and tenderness.

I also like the phrase “he gently leads those that have young”, as parents often need encouragement and strength for the job.

40:12-14 (Tribute To God’s Greatness)

This same tender and loving God is so far beyond us that there is no comparison. Here Isaiah points out God’s greatness through a series of hypothetical questions. He said that God did not have to consult anyone, his wisdom encompasses everything. The Lord spoke to Job in a similar fashion in Job 40:6. There is no one with whom God can be compared.

40:15-17 (Nations Are Insignificant)

Not only are humans unable to compare to God, so are nations. He also said that (verse 16) if we had to sacrifice according to God’s greatness, there would not be enough wood in the forest or altars built to conduct that many sacrifices.

40:18-20 (Idols Are Insignificant)

Not only are individuals and nations unable to compare to God, so are the idols that they make. It does not matter if they are rich or poor men, their idols are just crafted images. They rejected knowledge of God for the service of idols. See Romans 1:20-22.

Mankind has a need to worship. Science and government have tried to end Christianity. But the alternative is not the atheism they seek, rather it is pantheism and idol worship, as man will always try to find something or someone bigger than themselves to look to, for they are hard wired to look for God.

40:21-22 (God is Enthroned)

God cannot be contained in an idol. He is enthroned above the earth. He displays his power in creation, and in sustaining the earth.

40:23-24 (Rulers Are Insignificant)

He also controls princes, or governments. They serve at this pleasure and he can remove them at any time. God said the he raised up Assyria for his purposes. See Isaiah 37:26. He also raised up Pharaoh in Egypt. See Romans 9:17.

40:25-26 (God Is Unique)

40:27-28 (God Is Eternal)

40:29-31 (God Gives Strength To Those Who Trust Him)

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