- Isaiah 40 (Contemporary English Version)
- Our God has said: "Encourage my people! Give them comfort.
- Speak kindly to Jerusalem and announce: Your slavery is past; your punishment is over. I, the LORD, made you pay double for your sins."
- Someone is shouting: "Clear a path in the desert! Make a straight road for the LORD our God.
- Fill in the valleys; flatten every hill and mountain. Level the rough and rugged ground.
- Then the glory of the LORD will appear for all to see. The LORD has promised this!"
- Someone told me to shout, and I asked, "What should I shout?" We humans are merely grass, and we last no longer than wild flowers.
- At the LORD's command, flowers and grass disappear, and so do we.
- Flowers and grass fade away, but what our God has said will never change.
- There is good news for the city of Zion. Shout it as loud as you can from the highest mountain. Don't be afraid to shout to the towns of Judah, "Your God is here!"
- Look! The powerful LORD God is coming to rule with his mighty arm. He brings with him what he has taken in war, and he rewards his people.
- The LORD cares for his nation, just as shepherds care for their flocks. He carries the lambs in his arms, while gently leading the mother sheep.
- Did any of you measure the ocean by yourself or stretch out the sky with your own hands? Did you put the soil of the earth in a bucket or weigh the hills and mountains on balance scales?
- Has anyone told the LORD what he must do or given him advice?
- Did the LORD ask anyone to teach him wisdom and justice? Who gave him knowledge and understanding?
- To the LORD, all nations are merely a drop in a bucket or dust on balance scales; all of the islands are but a handful of sand.
- The cattle on Lebanon's mountains would not be enough to offer as a sacrifice to God, and the trees would not be enough for the fire.
- God thinks of the nations as far less than nothing.
- Who compares with God? Is anything like him?
- Is an idol at all like God? It is made of bronze with a thin layer of gold, and decorated with silver.
- Or special wood may be chosen because it doesn't rot-- then skilled hands take care to make an idol that won't fall on its face.
- Don't you know? Haven't you heard? Isn't it clear that God created the world?
- God is the one who rules the whole earth, and we that live here are merely insects. He spread out the heavens like a curtain or an open tent.
- God brings down rulers and turns them into nothing.
- They are like flowers freshly sprung up and starting to grow. But when God blows on them, they wilt and are carried off like straw in a storm.
- The holy God asks, "Who compares with me? Is anyone my equal?"
- Look at the evening sky! Who created the stars? Who gave them each a name? Who leads them like an army? The LORD is so powerful that none of the stars are ever missing.
- You people of Israel, say, "God pays no attention to us! He doesn't care if we are treated unjustly." But how can you say that?
- Don't you know? Haven't you heard? The LORD is the eternal God, Creator of the earth. He never gets weary or tired; his wisdom cannot be measured.
- The LORD gives strength to those who are weary.
- Even young people get tired, then stumble and fall.
- But those who trust the LORD will find new strength. They will be strong like eagles soaring upward on wings; they will walk and run without getting tired.
Beginning with this chapter Isaiah shifts from a theme of judgment to one of comfort for Judah. Jumping ahead nearly two centuries, he speaks of comfort for Judah when the judgment for her sin has been fulfilled and she has been pardoned. This speaks of the fulfillment of Judah's 70 year exile in Babylon. At the time of this prophecy, Assyria was Judah's threat. But God eliminated this threat and it was another 100 years before Babylon accomplished what Assyria threatened to do.
Following Isaiah's reference to Judah paying for her sin through servitude in Babylon, he speaks of preparing the way for the Lord. This is a reference to the coming Messiah. Ethically and spiritually, Judah needed to be smoothed out to prepare the way for the Lord to come. When the Lord comes, He will pay the penalty for sin instead of we ourselves, if, indeed, we will accept it.
Then Isaiah attempts to expand Judah's worldview. Their worldview was wrapped up in the power of nations and of idols. Which nation and which god was the most powerful? But God's message to them was that all humanity is as grass and flowers which quickly wither and fade. The nations are "like a drop in a bucket; they are conidered as a speck of dust on the scales." (40:15) And the other gods? They are crafted by the hands of craftsmen who use materials created by God. But the true God sits enthroned above the circle of the earth whose inhabitants appear to Him as grasshoppers. And, His word remains forever. It does not fade.
If Judah's reliance is in God, He will protect them as a shepherd, gently leading them, and will bring them His reward and His gifts. So the challenge to Judah is, "why do you assert: 'My way is hidden from the LORD, and my claim is ignored by my God'?" Has Judah not heard, "Yahweh is the everlasting God, the Creator of the whole earth. He never grows faint or weary; there is no limit to His understanding." If Judah will only trust in the Lord, He will "renew their strength; they will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not faint."