Day 208: Isaiah 38-40; Comfort Comfort

Today we begin a new section of Isaiah.  Yesterday we talked through the historical interlude that led up to the prophecy of the fall of Jerusalem to Babylon that would come.  Those words, many believe, we actually the last words that Isaiah himself wrote in the Book of Isaiah.  We have actually skipped over many years of Babylonian rule, when the people of Israel are in exile, taken captive to the city of Babylon.  It is during this time that the second section of the book of Isaiah is written spanning chapters 40-55.  While there are many arguments that can be made around the actual authorship of this particular section of Isaiah, the fact remains that it has been included in the Cannon of Scripture and is therefore the Word of God.  It is also clear here that Isaiah, or the pseudo-Isaiah writer of this section has made a dramatic turn from the talk about judgment and punishment to deliverance and restoration of the people of God from the hands of the Babylonians.

The Babylonian Empire Photo Credit:

The Babylonian Empire
Photo Credit:

There are a lot of political and historical things that are going on at this time.  If indeed the second section of Isaiah was written during the Babylonian captivity it would be happening just as the world power was in decline and the rise of the Medes and then the Persians was taking place.  This would ultimately lead to the return of the exiles to Jerusalem, a decree first put in place by Cyrus the Great, King of Persia.  If this sounds familiar to you, it is because we talked about this in the books of Ezra and Nehemiah, as well as at the end of the book of 2 Chronicles.  Whether this is prophecy, history, or a mix I guess is up to the reader and the scholars, but the message that comes from this section of the book is clear: God has not forgotten His people and is still working to bring about their restoration.

There is considerable talk in Isaiah 40-55 about the coming “servant of the Lord” who will bring justice, righteousness, and peace to the world.  We also will find in here some familiar ideas about the exodus and the movement through the wilderness, a theme that would have been picked up by the Hebrew people almost immediately.  There are some differences though that we will cover in the coming days.

Finally, today we talk of the comfort that the writer speaks towards the people of Israel.  God’s people have been defeated, uprooted, and exiled from their lands.  In many ways, there is nothing left of who they are as their identity was so closely tied to the land that God had given them and the Temple in which they worshiped God.  Being dislocated from that, for them, was like removing the head from the body.  Into this grief and confusion though, God speaks words of comforting assurance.  Yes, she has been punished.  Yes, she is lost.  Yes, God allowed this to happen.  But God has not forgotten them and this exile is not permanent for once again God will act, continuing the work that He has been doing to restore all things on Earth and usher in His Kingdom.  The writer reminds the people that God is everlasting, that He is higher than any earthly thing, and He will not be shaken by any army, any government, and is greater than any physical distance.  Into their grief and confusion, the Lord gives a message to the writer, one that they have so longed to hear.  Israel, you are not forgotten, you are not lost, God is still at work with you and within you.  Wait on the Lord like a watchman waits for the morning, for you will indeed see His great works once again!

Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
    the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
    his understanding is unsearchable.
He gives power to the faint,
    and to him who has no might he increases strength.
Even youths shall faint and be weary,
    and young men shall fall exhausted;
but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
    they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
    they shall walk and not faint.

4 Responses to “Day 208: Isaiah 38-40; Comfort Comfort”

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  3. […] Isaiah 40:18-25 – With whom, then, will you compare God?  To what image will you liken him?  As for an idol, a metalworker casts it, and a goldsmith overlays it with gold and fashions silver chains for it.  A person too poor to present such an offering selects wood that will not rot; they look for a skilled worker to set up an idol that will not topple. […]

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