Comfort for God’s People (40:1–31)
12–14 In the remainder of the chapter, Isaiah describes this Lord who is soon coming to redeem His people. Isaiah poses a series of rhetorical questions in order to help his hearers trust in the Lord and wait patiently for Him. Isaiah’s description of God in verses 12–31 reminds us of God’s own words when He finally revealed Himself to the suffering Job (Job Chapters 38–41); God is bigger, greater, and more awesome than any human can imagine. “Who can understand Him?” Isaiah asks. “Who can teach Him?”155
15–17 To God, the nations are like a drop in the bucket (verse 15). No amount of sacrifices can do justice to the greatness of God—even if all the firewood and animals of Lebanon were available! (verse 16). All the nations are regarded by Him as worthless (verse 17). The worth of any nation, of any person, is derived from God alone. We are of worth only because He has chosen us, redeemed us, and made us members of His family—through Christ.
18–20 Here Isaiah shows us the folly of worshiping idols. What lifeless idol—even if covered with gold—can compare with the living God?156 Idols are so helpless they have to be made with wide bases so they don’t topple over! (verse 20).
21–24 Isaiah continues his praise of God the Creator. God also is a Destroyer of the wicked: He brings princes to naught (verse 23). Wherever evil rulers are planted or take root, God blows them away like chaff (verse 24).
25–26 God not only created the universe; He also sustains and upholds it—every star in its place. In the New Testament, we learn that the eternal Christ—being God Himself—was the agent of creation, in whom all things hold together (Colossians 1:16–17).
27–31 Having described God’s power and majesty (verses 12–26), Isaiah next describes God’s goodness and compassion. The people are wrong to think that God has abandoned them (verse 27). God not only upholds the stars (verse 26); He also upholds His weak and weary people (verse 29). They are to hope (trust) in God and draw their strength from Him (verse 31). He will give them strength for seemingly impossible tasks; they will soar on wings like eagles. He will give them strength to face challenges and surmount obstacles; they will run and not grow weary. And most important of all, He will give them strength, abiding grace, for daily living; they will walk and not be faint.
As we study these remaining chapters of Isaiah (and indeed all of Scripture), let us remember that they weren’t written only for the ancient Jews; they were written for us as well. These powerful words of comfort and encouragement speak to us in our need. We too are weak and weary; we too face challenges and obstacles; we too are on our way from captivity in “Babylon” to the heavenly Jerusalem. We too need to hope in the LORD who gives us strength.