July 27, Isaiah 40-44

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40 “Comfort, comfort my people,”
says your God.
“Speak tenderly to[a] Jerusalem,
and announce to her
that her time of hard service is over,
her iniquity has been pardoned,
and she has received from the Lord’s hand
double for all her sins.”

A voice of one crying out:

Prepare the way of the Lord in the wilderness;
make a straight highway for our God in the desert.
Every valley will be lifted up,
and every mountain and hill will be leveled;
the uneven ground will become smooth
and the rough places, a plain.
And the glory of the Lord will appear,
and all humanity[b] together will see it,
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.

A voice was saying, “Cry out!”
Another said,[c] “What should I cry out?”
“All humanity is grass,
and all its goodness is like the flower of the field.
The grass withers, the flowers fade
when the breath[d] of the Lord blows on them;[e]
indeed, the people are grass.
The grass withers, the flowers fade,
but the word of our God remains forever.”

Zion, herald of good news,
go up on a high mountain.
Jerusalem, herald of good news,
raise your voice loudly.
Raise it, do not be afraid!
Say to the cities of Judah,
“Here is your God!”
10 See, the Lord God comes with strength,
and his power establishes his rule.
His wages are with him,
and his reward accompanies him.
11 He protects his flock like a shepherd;
he gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them in the fold of his garment.
He gently leads those that are nursing.

12 Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand
or marked off the heavens with the span of his hand?
Who has gathered the dust of the earth in a measure
or weighed the mountains on a balance
and the hills on the scales?
13 Who has directed[f] the Spirit of the Lord,
or who gave him counsel?
14 Who did he consult?
Who gave him understanding
and taught him the paths of justice?
Who taught him knowledge
and showed him the way of understanding?
15 Look, the nations are like a drop in a bucket;
they are considered as a speck of dust on the scales;
he lifts up the islands like fine dust.
16 Lebanon’s cedars are not enough for fuel,
or its animals enough for a burnt offering.
17 All the nations are as nothing before him;
they are considered by him
as empty nothingness.

18 With whom will you compare God?
What likeness will you set up for comparison with him?
19 An idol?—something that a smelter casts
and a metalworker plates with gold
and makes silver chains for?
20 A poor person contributes wood for a pedestal
that will not rot.[g]
He looks for a skilled craftsman
to set up an idol that will not fall over.

21 Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
Has it not been declared to you
from the beginning?
Have you not considered
the foundations of the earth?
22 God is enthroned above the circle of the earth;
its inhabitants are like grasshoppers.
He stretches out the heavens like thin cloth
and spreads them out like a tent to live in.
23 He reduces princes to nothing
and makes judges of the earth like a wasteland.
24 They are barely planted, barely sown,
their stem hardly takes root in the ground
when he blows on them and they wither,
and a whirlwind carries them away like stubble.

25 “To whom will you compare me,
or who is my equal?” asks the Holy One.
26 Look up and see!
Who created these?
He brings out the stars by number;
he calls all of them by name.
Because of his great power and strength,
not one of them is missing.

27 Jacob, why do you say,
and Israel, why do you assert,
“My way is hidden from the Lord,
and my claim is ignored by my God”?
28 Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the whole earth.
He never becomes faint or weary;
there is no limit to his understanding.
29 He gives strength to the faint
and strengthens the powerless.
30 Youths may become faint and weary,
and young men stumble and fall,
31 but those who trust in the Lord
will renew their strength;
they will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not become weary,
they will walk and not faint.

The Lord versus the Nations’ Gods

41 “Be silent before me, coasts and islands!
And let peoples renew their strength.
Let them approach; let them testify;
let’s come together for the trial.
Who has stirred up someone from the east?
In righteousness he calls him to serve.[h][i]
The Lord hands nations over to him,
and he subdues kings.
He makes them like dust with his sword,
like wind-driven stubble with his bow.
He pursues them, going on safely,
hardly touching the path with his feet.
Who has performed and done this,
calling the generations from the beginning?
I am the Lord, the first
and with the last—I am he.”

The coasts and islands see and are afraid,
the whole earth trembles.
They approach and arrive.
Each one helps the other,
and says to another, “Take courage!”
The craftsman encourages the metalworker;
the one who flattens with the hammer
encourages the one who strikes the anvil,
saying of the soldering, “It is good.”
He fastens it with nails so that it will not fall over.

But you, Israel, my servant,
Jacob, whom I have chosen,
descendant of Abraham, my friend—
I brought[j] you from the ends of the earth
and called you from its farthest corners.
I said to you: You are my servant;
I have chosen you; I haven’t rejected you.
10 Do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be afraid, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you; I will help you;
I will hold on to you with my righteous right hand.

11 Be sure that all who are enraged against you
will be ashamed and disgraced;
those who contend with you
will become as nothing and will perish.
12 You will look for those who contend with you,
but you will not find them.
Those who war against you
will become absolutely nothing.
13 For I am the Lord your God,
who holds your right hand,
who says to you, “Do not fear,
I will help you.
14 Do not fear, you worm Jacob,
you men[k] of Israel.
I will help you”—
this is the Lord’s declaration.
Your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel.
15 See, I will make you into a sharp threshing board,
new, with many teeth.
You will thresh mountains and pulverize them
and make hills into chaff.
16 You will winnow them
and a wind will carry them away,
a whirlwind will scatter them.
But you will rejoice in the Lord;
you will boast in the Holy One of Israel.

17 The poor and the needy seek water, but there is none;
their tongues are parched with thirst.
I will answer them.
I am the Lord, the God of Israel. I will not abandon them.
18 I will open rivers on the barren heights,
and springs in the middle of the plains.
I will turn the desert into a pool
and dry land into springs.
19 I will plant cedar, acacia, myrtle, and olive trees
in the wilderness.
I will put juniper, elm, and cypress trees together
in the desert.
20 so that all may see and know,
consider and understand,
that the hand of the Lord has done this,
the Holy One of Israel has created it.

21 “Submit your case,” says the Lord.
“Present your arguments,” says Jacob’s King.
22 “Let them come and tell us
what will happen.
Tell us the past events,
so that we may reflect on them
and know the outcome,
or tell us the future.
23 Tell us the coming events,
then we will know that you are gods.
Indeed, do something good or bad,
then we will be in awe[l] when we see it.
24 Look, you are nothing
and your work is worthless.
Anyone who chooses you is detestable.

25 “I have stirred up one from the north, and he has come,
one from the east who invokes my[m] name.
He will march over rulers as if they were mud,
like a potter who treads the clay.
26 Who told about this from the beginning,
so that we might know,
and from times past,
so that we might say, ‘He is right’?
No one announced it,
no one told it,
no one heard your words.
27 I was the first to say to Zion,[n]
‘Look! Here they are!’
And I gave Jerusalem a herald with good news.
28 When I look, there is no one;
there is no counselor among them;
when I ask them, they have nothing to say.
29 Look, all of them are a delusion;[o]
their works are nonexistent;
their images are wind and emptiness.

The Servant’s Mission

42 “This is my servant; I strengthen him,
this is my chosen one; I delight in him.
I have put my Spirit on him;
he will bring justice[p] to the nations.
He will not cry out or shout
or make his voice heard in the streets.
He will not break a bruised reed,
and he will not put out a smoldering wick;
he will faithfully bring justice.
He will not grow weak or be discouraged
until he has established justice on earth.
The coasts and islands will wait for his instruction.”

This is what God, the Lord, says—
who created the heavens and stretched them out,
who spread out the earth and what comes from it,
who gives breath to the people on it
and spirit to those who walk on it—
“I am the Lord. I have called you
for a righteous purpose,[q]
and I will hold you by your hand.
I will watch over you, and I will appoint you
to be a covenant for the people
and a light to the nations,
in order to open blind eyes,
to bring out prisoners from the dungeon,
and those sitting in darkness from the prison house.
I am the Lord. That is my name,
and I will not give my glory to another
or my praise to idols.
The past events have indeed happened.
Now I declare new events;
I announce them to you before they occur.”

A Song of Praise

10 Sing a new song to the Lord;
sing his praise from the ends of the earth,
you who go down to the sea with all that fills it,
you coasts and islands with your[r] inhabitants.
11 Let the desert and its cities shout,
the settlements where Kedar dwells cry aloud.
Let the inhabitants of Sela sing for joy;
let them cry out from the mountaintops.
12 Let them give glory to the Lord
and declare his praise in the coasts and islands.
13 The Lord advances like a warrior;
he stirs up his zeal like a soldier.
He shouts, he roars aloud,
he prevails over his enemies.

14 “I have kept silent from ages past;
I have been quiet and restrained myself.
But now, I will groan like a woman in labor,
gasping breathlessly.
15 I will lay waste mountains and hills
and dry up all their vegetation.
I will turn rivers into islands
and dry up marshes.
16 I will lead the blind by a way they did not know;
I will guide them on paths they have not known.
I will turn darkness to light in front of them
and rough places into level ground.
This is what I will do for them,
and I will not abandon them.
17 They will be turned back and utterly ashamed—
those who trust in an idol
and say to a cast image,
‘You are our gods!’

Israel’s Blindness and Deafness

18 “Listen, you deaf!
Look, you blind, so that you may see.
19 Who is blind but my servant,
or deaf like my messenger I am sending?
Who is blind like my dedicated one,[s]
or blind like the servant of the Lord?
20 Though seeing many things,[t] you pay no attention.
Though his ears are open, he does not listen.”

21 Because of his righteousness, the Lord was pleased
to magnify his instruction and make it glorious.
22 But this is a people plundered and looted,
all of them trapped in holes
or imprisoned in dungeons.
They have become plunder
with no one to rescue them
and loot, with no one saying, “Give it back!”
23 Who among you will hear this?
Let him listen and obey in the future.
24 Who gave Jacob to the robber,[u]
and Israel to the plunderers?
Was it not the Lord?
Have we not sinned against him?
They were not willing to walk in his ways,
and they would not listen to his instruction.
25 So he poured out his furious anger
and the power of war on Jacob.
It surrounded him with fire, but he did not know it;
it burned him, but he didn’t take it to heart.

Restoration of Israel

43 Now this is what the Lord says—
the one who created you, Jacob,
and the one who formed you, Israel—
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by your name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you,
and the rivers will not overwhelm you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be scorched,
and the flame will not burn you.
For I am the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel, and your Savior.
I have given Egypt as a ransom for you,
Cush and Seba in your place.
Because you are precious in my sight
and honored, and I love you,
I will give people in exchange for you
and nations instead of your life.
Do not fear, for I am with you;
I will bring your descendants from the east,
and gather you from the west.
I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’
and to the south, ‘Do not hold them back!’
Bring my sons from far away,
and my daughters from the ends of the earth—
everyone who bears my name
and is created for my glory.
I have formed them; indeed, I have made them.”

Bring out a people who are blind, yet have eyes,
and are deaf, yet have ears.
All the nations are gathered together,
and the peoples are assembled.
Who among them can declare this,
and tell us the former things?
Let them present their witnesses
to vindicate themselves,
so that people may hear and say, “It is true.”
10 “You are my witnesses”—
this is the Lord’s declaration—
“and my servant whom I have chosen,
so that you may know and believe me
and understand that I am he.
No god was formed before me,
and there will be none after me.
11 I—I am the Lord.
Besides me, there is no Savior.
12 I alone declared, saved, and proclaimed—
and not some foreign god[v] among you.
So you are my witnesses”—
this is the Lord’s declaration—
“and[w] I am God.
13 Also, from today on I am he alone,
and none can rescue from my power.
I act, and who can reverse it?”

God’s Deliverance of Rebellious Israel

14 This is what the Lord, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel says:

Because of you, I will send an army[x] to Babylon
and bring all of them as fugitives,[y]
even the Chaldeans in the ships in which they rejoice.[z]
15 I am the Lord, your Holy One,
the Creator of Israel, your King.

16 This is what the Lord says—
who makes a way in the sea,
and a path through raging water,
17 who brings out the chariot and horse,
the army and the mighty one together
(they lie down, they do not rise again;
they are extinguished, put out like a wick)—
18 “Do not remember the past events;
pay no attention to things of old.
19 Look, I am about to do something new;
even now it is coming. Do you not see it?
Indeed, I will make a way in the wilderness,
rivers[aa] in the desert.
20 Wild animals—
jackals and ostriches—will honor me,
because I provide water in the wilderness,
and rivers in the desert,
to give drink to my chosen people.
21 The people I formed for myself
will declare my praise.

22 “But, Jacob, you have not called on me,
because, Israel, you have become weary of me.
23 You have not brought me your sheep for burnt offerings
or honored me with your sacrifices.
I have not burdened you with offerings
or wearied you with incense.[ab]
24 You have not bought me aromatic cane with silver,
or satisfied me with the fat of your sacrifices.
But you have burdened me with your sins;
you have wearied me with your iniquities.

25 “I am the one,I sweep away your transgressions
for my own sake
and remember your sins no more.
26 Remind me. Let’s argue the case together.
Recount the facts, so that you may be vindicated.
27 Your first father sinned,
and your mediators have rebelled against me.
28 So I defiled the officers of the sanctuary,
and set Jacob apart for destruction
and Israel for scorn.

Spiritual Blessing

44 “And now listen, Jacob my servant,
Israel whom I have chosen.
This is the word of the Lord
your Maker, the one who formed you from the womb:
He will help you.
Do not fear, Jacob my servant,
Jeshurun[ac] whom I have chosen.
For I will pour water on the thirsty land
and streams on the dry ground;
I will pour out my Spirit on your descendants
and my blessing on your offspring.
They will sprout among[ad] the grass
like poplars by flowing streams.
This one will say, ‘I am the Lord’s’;
another will use the name of Jacob;
still another will write on his hand, ‘The Lord’s,’
and take on the name of Israel.”

No God Other Than the Lord

This is what the Lord, the King of Israel and its Redeemer, the Lord of Armies, says:

I am the first and I am the last.
There is no God but me.
Who, like me, can announce the future?
Let him say so and make a case before me,
since I have established an ancient people.
Let these gods declare[ae] the coming things,
and what will take place.
Do not be startled or afraid.
Have I not told you and declared it long ago?
You are my witnesses!
Is there any God but me?
There is no other Rock; I do not know any.

All who make idols are nothing,
and what they treasure benefits no one.
Their witnesses do not see or know anything,
so they will be put to shame.
10 Who makes a god or casts a metal image
that benefits no one?
11 Look, all its worshipers will be put to shame,
and the craftsmen are humans.
They all will assemble and stand;
they all will be startled and put to shame.

12 The ironworker labors over the coals,
shapes the idol with hammers,
and works it with his strong arm.
Also he grows hungry and his strength fails;
he doesn’t drink water and is faint.
13 The woodworker stretches out a measuring line,
he outlines it with a stylus;
he shapes it with chisels
and outlines it with a compass.
He makes it according to a human form,
like a beautiful person,
to dwell in a temple.
14 He cuts down[af] cedars for his use,
or he takes a cypress or an oak.
He lets it grow strong among the trees of the forest.
He plants a laurel, and the rain makes it grow.
15 A person can use it for fuel.
He takes some of it and warms himself;
also he kindles a fire and bakes bread;
he even makes it into a god and worships it;
he makes an idol from it and bows down to it.
16 He burns half of it in a fire,
and he roasts meat on that half.
He eats the roast and is satisfied.
He warms himself and says, “Ah!
I am warm, I see the blaze.”
17 He makes a god or his idol with the rest of it.
He bows down to it and worships;
he prays to it, “Save me, for you are my god.”
18 Such people[ag] do not comprehend
and cannot understand,
for he has shut their eyes[ah] so they cannot see,
and their minds so they cannot understand.
19 No one comes to his senses;[ai]
no one has the perception or insight to say,
“I burned half of it in the fire,
I also baked bread on its coals,
I roasted meat and ate.
Should I make something detestable with the rest of it?
Should I bow down to a block of wood?”
20 He feeds on[aj] ashes.
His deceived mind has led him astray,
and he cannot rescue himself,
or say, “Isn’t there a lie in my right hand?”

21 Remember these things, Jacob,
and Israel, for you are my servant;
I formed you, you are my servant;
Israel, you will never be forgotten by me.[ak]
22 I have swept away your transgressions like a cloud,
and your sins like a mist.
Return to me,
for I have redeemed you.
23 Rejoice, heavens, for the Lord has acted;
shout, depths of the earth.
Break out into singing, mountains,
forest, and every tree in it.
For the Lord has redeemed Jacob,
and glorifies himself through Israel.

Restoration of Israel through Cyrus

24 This is what the Lord, your Redeemer who formed you from the womb, says:

I am the Lord, who made everything;
who stretched out the heavens by myself;
who alone spread out the earth;
25 who destroys the omens of the false prophets
and makes fools of diviners;
who confounds the wise
and makes their knowledge foolishness;
26 who confirms the message of his servant
and fulfills the counsel of his messengers;
who says to Jerusalem, “She will be inhabited,”
and to the cities of Judah, “They will be rebuilt,”
and I will restore her ruins;
27 who says to the depths of the sea, “Be dry,”
and I will dry up your rivers;
28 who says to Cyrus, “My shepherd,
he will fulfill all my pleasure”
and says to Jerusalem, “She will be rebuilt,”
and of the temple, “Its foundation will be laid.”

What a great verse for us to latch onto this morning: The grass withers, the flowers fade,
but the word of our God remains forever.” In an everchanging, ever hostile world, we can hold on to the truth that God’s word remains forever. Don’t worry about what is happening around you. God’s Word remains and His Word promises that He is in control.

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