There is good news in Isaiah!
After all the hard news, comes beautiful Isaiah 40,
leading the way into much good news.
Many of you are facing severe trials — even death.
Some of you have the severe pain of division in your family.
All of us have had times of feeling defeated by sin or by Satan.
The words of comfort Isaiah spoke
were not just for Judah,
but for us, His children, as well.
This life, so often, is a battle.
So often we fail and become discouraged.
But one day our “warfare will be accomplished,”
and there will be no more sin nor sorrow nor death.
As Albert Motyer says:
At this darkest of moments,
the call goes out to speak the word of comfort, (vs. 1)
to proclaim hardship finished and sins forgiven (v. 2)
to announce that Yahweh himself is on his way with worldwide significance (vv. 3-5),
that his word and promises can never fail (vv.6-8)
and that Zion’s people are the flock he has worked for
and now holds in his tender care. (vv. 9-11)
In this beautiful chapter we cannot help but hear strains of the Messiah.
Here is Albert Motyer commenting on Handel’s Messiah.
1. What stands out to you from the above and why?
Monday: Speak Tenderly
Listen to this rendition of Handel’s “Comfort Ye, My People” and note how the music fits the words.
2. Comment on the above — anything that stood out to you and why.
3. Read Isaiah 40:1-2
A. “Speak tenderly” is the same phrase that Ruth uses in Ruth 2:13. What do you learn from this (look at the context too.)
B. It is also used in Genesis 34:3. Motyer says it is “like an ardent lover wooing us.” Comment?
Motyer says it means “to speak to the heart.” I love this picture of Edrena, one of the volunteers with Discipleship Unlimited, when she is speaking to Pam and washing her hands as a sign of forgiveness. I think it captures “speak to the heart.”
C. Share a time when God or one of His own spoke tenderly to your heart and it soothed you.
D. What promises does God make to Judah in verse 2?
E. These promises are for us as well, whatever our warfare. What does this mean to you?
Tuesday: A Voice Cries in The Wilderness: Prepare the Way of The Lord
Last week we saw repentance in Psalm 137 from the captives in Babylon. Their release is a picture of what can follow repentance. The idol I’ve been concentrating on this Lent is worry. Almost without fail I have tech troubles at retreats and those hours up to when I speak are full angst about if things will work. It happened again this weekend — but I was able to remember how this is such a pattern and how God does always come through one way or another. And I talked to my soul, and yes, in the last half hour, He came through. My worry is a sin of not trusting Him and I see a little progress! I’m hoping to hear other progress reports!
4. Read Isaiah 40:3-5
A. Isaiah may be seeing three mountain peaks here — the captives home from Babylon, John the Baptist announcing that the Messiah has come, and perhaps, the second coming of Christ as well. How can you see two or three mountain peaks here?
B. How did John the Baptist tell people to prepare for the Lord?
C. Share any progress you see with your idol this Lent.
D. Who will one day see the glory of the Lord according to verse 5?
What thoughts do you have about this day?
Wednesday: Behold Your God
6. Read Isaiah 40:9-20
A. What is the news and what are we to do, according to verse 9?
B. What do you behold in verse 11 about your God and what does this mean to you?
C. What do you behold about your God in Isaiah 40:12, and what does this mean to you?
D. Compare this God to your idols according to Isaiah 40:18-20. How do your idols fail you?
7. Read Colossians 3:1-4. How does this relate to what Isaiah is preaching?
8. Share your notes and comments.
9. What is your take-a-way and why?