Read: Isaiah 40:1-11, 28-31
Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. (v. 1)
Scholars hold various views on the authorship of the next section of Isaiah. As recorded in Isaiah 39, envoys from Babylon visited Hezekiah about 712 BC. Chapters 36-37 record Sennacherib’s departure from Jerusalem (about 701 BC), when Isaiah was around 70 years of age. Three years later, Hezekiah’s son Manasseh became king.
A century later Babylon conquered and destroyed Judah and Jerusalem and took many captives as Isaiah had predicted. These chapters seem to reflect the defeat by Babylon, so they may have been written after Isaiah’s death and attributed to him. However, for simplicity, we will continue to refer to the author as Isaiah.
Comfort my people. Isaiah brings this message of comfort to the captives and to all who have experienced judgment and feel far from God. They are still God’s people. God loves them. Their sins have been paid for (v. 2); their hard labor is over! God has provided a straight, level highway for them to return home (v. 3), and they will see the glory of God. Their confidence is based on the eternal character of God expressed through his Word (v. 9). In elegant poetry Isaiah describes the tender, loving care of God (vv. 11, 28-31). How wonderfully this chapter has been fulfilled in the gospel of Jesus Christ. It offered comfort to the exiles, and it still offers comfort to all who need it today. —Gordon Van Wylen
As you pray, thank God for his comforting grace.