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Isaiah Forty

by Dr. Henry M. Morris

(taken from the Defender's Study Bible)

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

Comfort ye. This verse begins the second part of Isaiah's prophecy. By a remarkable providential arrangement, it is noteworthy that the two divisions of Isaiah (chapters 1-39 and 40-66) contain thirty-nine and twenty-seven chapters, respectively, providentially corresponding to the thirty-nine canonical books of the Old Testament and the twenty-seven books of the New Testament. Appropriately, Part I emphasizes law and judgment, while Part II stresses grace and salvation, as centered in the promised Messiah. The “New Testament” portion of Isaiah begins with the ministry of John the Baptist (Isaiah 40:1-5) and ends with the “new heavens and a new earth” (Isaiah 65:17-66:24), along with the unquenchable fire that awaits the ungodly (Isaiah 66:24). It is also noteworthy that Isaiah 53, the greatest gospel chapter in the Bible, is the central chapter of the New Testament section of the book. And since this fifty-third chapter should really have been selected to begin with Isaiah 52:13, the central verse of this central chapter is Isaiah 53:5: “But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed.”

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 40:3 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.

voice of him. This prophecy was fulfilled seven hundred years later when John the Baptist came to “prepare the way” for Christ (Matthew 3:1-3).

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:

rough places plain. A remarkable change in the very shape of the earth's surface will take place during the tribulation, preparing the earth for the glorious kingdom age. The terrible earthquakes (among other geophysical catastrophes that are coming) will destroy the great mountain masses of the world (e.g., Revelation 16:20) and fill up the ocean deeps, smoothing out the topography so that the earth's lands will all be pleasantly inhabitable, as in the beginning.

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.

shall be revealed. When the earth's surface is prepared, and the sinners consumed out of it, then the Lord Jesus will be revealed in all His “power and great glory” (Matthew 24:30).

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.

stand for ever. The universal curse (Genesis 3:17-19), pronounced by God because of sin (called scientifically the law of increasing entropy), affects everything in the physical world except the incorruptible Word of God (compare Matthew 24:35; etc.). Isaiah 40:6-8 is cited in 1 Peter 1:23-25.

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 40:10 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 40:11 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 40:12 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?

measured the waters. This series of rhetorical questions—to which the only answer can be the omniscient God—stresses the precise accuracy with which the various components of the creation have been designed. The amount and distribution of the earth's waters (unique to the earth, so far as known, in all the universe), as studied in such sciences as hydrology, meteorology, oceanography, is probably the most important question of all.

with the span. The almost infinite number and variety of stars have all been carefully planned and even named by God (Isaiah 40:26). This is the domain of astronomy.

dust of the earth. The “dust of the earth,” out of which all things are constructed (e.g., Genesis 2:7), must refer to the basic elements of matter. The precise divine measurements of these chemical elements suggests the valence structure of their molecules, whereby the structure and properties of all the various materials and compounds in nature are controlled.

weighed the mountains. Geophysics is structured around the principle of isostasy (“equal weights”), the growth and motions of the earth's physiographical features all interrelated with their sizes, densities, etc.

Isaiah 40:13 Who hath directed the Spirit of the LORD, or being his counsellor hath taught him?

hath directed the Spirit. This section (Isaiah 40:13-14) is applied in Romans 11:34, climaxing Paul's profound discourse on God's divine sovereignty.

Isaiah 40:14 With whom took he counsel, and who instructed him, and taught him in the path of judgment, and taught him knowledge, and showed to him the way of understanding?

Isaiah 40:15 Behold, the nations are as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance: behold, he taketh up the isles as a very little thing.

the nations. The old cliche, “like a drop in a bucket,” originated in this verse, with its striking evaluation of the world's great nations in comparison to the greatness of God.

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

Isaiah 40:17 All nations before him are as nothing; and they are counted to him less than nothing, and vanity.

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

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.

oblation. That is, “sacrificial offering.”

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 40:22 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:

circle of the earth. Hebrew khug, translated “compassed” in Job 26:10 and “compass” in Proverbs 8:27. All three, in context, clearly refer to the sphericity of the earth.

stretcheth out the heavens. This phrase is possibly a reference to the expanding universe, as envisioned by modern astronomers. There are numerous references in Scripture to the “stretching-out,” or “spreading-out” of the heavens (space), when God created the universe. See, for example, Job 9:8; Psalm 104:2; Isaiah 42:5; 44:24; 51:13; Jeremiah 10:12. Alternatively the “heavens” referred to here may refer simply to the atmospheric heavens, spread out like a curtain, or “tent to dwell in,” around the circle of the earth. This atmospheric “tent,” refracting and spreading light over the hemisphere, is sharply distinct from the darkness outside.

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.

hath created these things. One of the strongest evidences that all “these things” were created, and did not evolve by themselves is the law of entropy, also known as the second law of thermodynamics. This best-proved law of science describes the universal tendency of all physical systems to decay. Ordered systems tend to become disordered; highly programmed systems tend to become garbled; dynamic moving systems tend to run down. Since everything is now winding down, it all first must have been wound up, and this requires a Creator.

number. The infinite Creator has placed an endless number of highly ordered and energized heavenly bodies throughout His creation.

by names. Each created system is given a distinctive name corresponding to its own complex structure and function by the omniscient Creator.

strong in power. Every system in the cosmos has been empowered to carry out its purpose by the omnipotent Creator.

Isaiah 40:27 Why sayest thou, O Jacob, and speakest, O Israel, My way is hid from the LORD, and my judgment is passed over from my God?

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.

fainteth not. The available energy of the creation may decrease, in accordance with the law of entropy, but the power of the Almighty Creator, who imposed that law on His creation because of sin, does not run down.

his understanding. The high organization of God's complex creation may disintegrate and become garbled, but His omniscient understanding is not diminished.

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 40:31 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.

wait upon the Lord. The Hebrew word for “wait upon” does not mean “serve,” but rather “wait for” or “look for.” It was used by Jacob in Genesis 49:18, when he cried out, “I have waited for thy salvation, O Lord.” It appears prophetically on the lips of the dying Savior, when He said: “I waited patiently for the Lord” (Psalm 40:1).

renew their strength. Literally, “renew” means “exchange.” Those who look to the infinite, omniscient, omnipotent Creator for their supply of order, intelligence and power shall exchange their weakness and foolishness for His strength and wisdom. This is a marvelous energy conversion process!