James Gray - Concise Bible Commentary
Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God.Isaiah 40:1-48:22
ISAIAH INTRODUCTION TO PART TWO
The chapters of Part 2 (chaps. 40-46) are chiefly millennial, and so different from the prevailing themes preceding, as to raise a query whether they were not written by some other author a second, or deutero-Isaiah, as some call him. We do not hold that opinion, the reasons for which are briefly stated in the author’s Primers of the Faith.
In Synthetic Bible Studies, it was found convenient to treat this part as a single discourse though doubtless, such is not the case in fact. As such its theme may be discovered in Isaiah 40 :l-2 “Comfort.” The prophet, through the Holy Spirit, sees the nation in the latter days, forgiven and at rest in Judah again. This is the “comfort” he is to minister to the faithful, and in the chapters following the elements of this comfort are explained. Or, to change the figure, on the assumption that the nation shall be forgiven and restored, these chapters reveal the factors or events leading up to that experience and that happy time.
These are in brief, seven:
1. God’s providential care for the people of Judah during their scattered condition (for example, see the last half of chap. 40) 2. The work of the Messiah on their behalf, suffering for them first, and triumphing for them afterwards (see chaps. 42, 50, but especially 53) 3. The outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon them (chap. 44) 4. The overthrow of Babylon and all Gentile power as opposed to them (chaps. 45-48) 5. Their recall to God’s service (chap. 49) 6. The divine oath concerning their redemption (chaps. 54-59) 7. The predicted millennial glory (chaps. 60-66).
Another way to treat this part of the book is to subdivide it again into three sections to which consideration will be given in the lessons following.
1. What chapters are included in Part 2?
2. What is the general character of the discourses of Part 2?
3. To what question has Part 2 given rise?
4. Is this opinion here entertained?
5. How may these chapters be treated homiletically?
6. What theme might be given them in such event?
7. How would you explain or justify this theme?
8. What other figure of speech might be applied to the interpretation of these chapters 9. Can you name in their order the seven elements of comfort?
10. How much of Isaiah 53 can you repeat from memory?
DELIVERANCE THROUGH CYRUS
In this lesson Israel is seen prophetically in Babylon, but about to be delivered and restored. Primarily, the reference is to her restoration after the seventy years captivity, in which Cyrus, King Persia, is the instrument.
In chapter 40, the people are comforted (Isaiah 40:1-11), in the thought that God is so great they cannot be forgotten (Isaiah 40:12-31). The first and second coming of Christ are blended in the first part of the chapter, and John the Baptist is the voice crying in the wilderness (Luke 3:1-6; John 1:23).
In chapter 41, Cyrus and his plans are predicted (Isaiah 41:1-7, but Israel is seen as God’s chosen servant, and comforted in the midst of the coming turmoil (Isaiah 41:8-20). Jehovah challenges all false gods to foretell things to come, as He does (Isaiah 41:21-29).
Chapter 42 returns to the thought of the Servant of Jehovah, only now that Servant is the Lord Jesus Christ, rather than national Israel (Isaiah 42:1-4, compare with Matthew 12:14-21). Observe His work among the Gentile nations which is still future (Isaiah 42:5-16), and the appeal to deaf and blind Israel which must be awakened before that work shall begin.
Chapters 43-45 are connected, in which God is comforting Israel. See what he is and promises to be (Isaiah 43:1-7); How He will chastise their enemies (Isaiah 43:8-17); the good things to come (Isaiah 43:18-20); especially the forgiveness of their sin (Isaiah 43:22-28); accompanied by an outpouring of the Holy Spirit, producing a great revival (Isaiah 44:1-5). Idolatry is again rebuked (Isaiah 44:6-20), the faithful are called upon to rejoice (Isaiah 44:21-23), and Cyrus is definitely named as their deliverer, between two and three hundred years before his birth (Isaiah 44:24-28). Josephus, the historian of the Jews, says, that when the attention of Cyrus was called to this fact, probably by Daniel, he was stirred to fulfill the prophecy. In chapter 45 Cyrus is first addressed (Isaiah 45:1-13), then Israel (Isaiah 45:14-17), and then the ends of the earth (Isaiah 45:18-25).
Chapters 46-47 belong together, describing the fall of Babylon under Cyrus, and yet carrying us forward to her final destruction at the end of the age (see chapter 14). Her idols are carried by beasts (Isaiah 46:1-2), while Jehovah carries His people (Isaiah 46:3-7). Chapter 47 shows its application on its face.
Chapter 48 is a review of Jehovah’s messages to Israel in the preceding chapters.
1. What is the title of this lesson?
2. Under what condition is Judah seen?
3. What Gentile potentate is prominent?
4. What is the means of comfort in chapter 40?
5. What New Testament prophet is predicted?
6. What two servants of Jehovah are referred to?
7. Quote Isaiah 44:3-4.