Luke 3:1-6 tells us of John the Baptist’s preaching of our passage Isaiah 40:1-11 (John the Baptist cherry-picking verses 3-5). According to Luke, John is the voice that Isaiah looks forward to, and Jesus is the LORD and King who comes and is proclaimed by his people.
NOTE: Pay attention to how the inspired New Testament authors use the Old Testament texts. That is how you and I are to interpret them. All are presently applicable and future fulfilled.
This is not merely for “National Israel”. This word is for the faithful exile, the remnant, the elect people of God who have believed by faith and are waiting for the promised one to come.
- We should gain some insight into what Jesus has done for us.
- We should get some ideas on how to respond during our Christmas season.
- We should grow in faith that God does what he says, and we should grow in love for God’s word.
- We should get a little better at reading the Old Testament and hitching our New Testament cart even tighter to it as we see the gospel deeper in the text than ever before.
How Isaiah Fits Together
Chapters 1-39 of Isaiah are the prophet’s message to his own generation confronting their sin.
Chapters 40-55 shift to Spirit given prophetic foresight regarding Judah in Babylonian exile and the Lord’s comfort for his people as they suffer.
Chapters 56-66 are a prophetic exhortation to make application of the truths of chapters 1-55 to their time and place.
- There is comfort for God’s people, because sin has been atoned for. Isaiah 39-40:1-2
“There is an end to the discipline of God. Faith is not all struggle. It is also release and hope and new beginnings. God’s deepest intention toward us is comfort. How could it be otherwise? If the focus of Christianity were our sins, our future would be shut down. But in fact Christianity is all about the saving grace of God. He overrules our stupidity with his own absolute pardon through the finished work of Christ on the cross. Do we sin? Yes. Do we suffer for it? Yes. Is that where God leaves us? No. When his discipline has done its good work, God comes back to us with overflowing comfort. See in God not a frown but a smile, not a distance but a nearness.”
- They suffered the consequences of their rebellion (“double for all her sins), but how did their sin get pardoned?
- Romans 3:21-26 – God pardons until he pays for the pardon by the death of Jesus.
- God counts their sin payed for because they have repented and believed.
- God’s promise is that he will come and save his people and all will see it. Isaiah 40:3-5
- God’s promise is certain. Isaiah 40:6-8
- God’s promise is to be proclaimed by his people. Isaiah 40:9-11
- God is so good and magnificent that his people are to invite others to come and see just how magnificent he is.
- He is mighty. v. 10
- He rules. v. 10
- He rewards. v. 10
- He gives back what was taken (recompense) / makes things right v. 10
- He tends to us like a good shepherd. v. 11
- He gathers us to his protection. v. 11
- He leads us gently. v. 11
- We take comfort in our pardoned sinthrough faith in Jesus. (40:1-2)
All sin has temporal consequences. But for the one who trusts in Jesus, the eternal consequences have been completely pardoned in Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection.
- We have confidence that God is for usand loves us not just tolerates us. (40:1-2)
“No one will ever reverence God but he who is confident that God is favorable toward him.” – John Calvin
- We experience the personal and presentsalvation of God. (40:3-5)
- We receive pardon by faith. 40:2
- We repent. 40:3-4
- We produce the actions of repentance.
- We prepare for thepresent-futurerestoration of God.
- Colossians 1:18-20
- We rest in then certainty of God’s promise to save, love and care for us. (40:6-8)
- We joyously invitethe world to be disciples of Jesus with you.
Our delight and great joy comes to its satisfying pinnacle as we express it in the joyous invitation to the world to join us in our joy. (40:9-11)
“The world rings with praise – lovers praising their mistresses, readers their favorite poet, walkers praising the countryside, players praising their favorite game – praise of weather, wines, dishes, actors, motors, horses, colleges, countries, historical personages, children, flowers, mountains, rare stamps, rare beetles, even sometimes politicians and scholars….Just as men spontaneously praise whatever they value, so they spontaneously urge us to join them in praising it: ‘Isn’t she lovely? Wasn’t’ it glorious? Don’t you think that magnificent?’…. I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation.”
Ortlund, Raymond. Isaiah. Edited by Kent Hughes. Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2005. p. 235.
C.S. Lewis, Reflections on the Psalms(New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1958), pp. 94-95.