THE “FOUR VOICES” OF ISAIAH REVEALED IN STUDY
Scripture Study: ISAIAH 40:1-11
VOICE #1, “Comfort God’s People” – (40:1, 2).
“COMFORT, COMFORT my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.” [New International Version, NIV].
God Loves to Comfort His People!
Follow along with how the apostle Paul refers to God in 2 Corinthians 1:3:
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ…(and here is the description) “the Father of sympathy (pity and mercy) and the God [who is the Source] of every COMFORT.”
And this isn’t the only place in the bible where we find God described as a COMFORTER…
PSALM 23, the psalmist says of God the Good Shepherd, “Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.”
“As one whom his mother comforts, so will I COMFORT you; you should be COMFORTED in Jerusalem.” (Isaiah 66:13)
So God does love to COMFORT His people.
And…He is a great source of comfort…BUT…God recognizes we need someone with skin on them too!
A Mother’s Words of Comfort (See Footnote [i]):
Dr. George W. Truett, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Dallas, Texas for 50 years, told a story of a young, unbelieving couple in a sermon.
The young couple, who had lost their baby, came to Dr. Truett, asking him to conduct the funeral, so he did. He said later, he had such joy of seeing them both trust the Lord Jesus Christ.
Many months later, he said the young mother who had lost her child stepped forward, went to a young girl’s side and said, “I passed through this and I know what you’re passing through. God called me, and through the darkness I came to Him. He’s comforted me, and He’ll comfort you.”
God recognizes that just like that young girl in the story, sometimes we need someone in the FLESH to come and sit with us, hold our hand and listen to our heartache.
In the first verse of the text, God says, “Comfort, Comfort My People…”
This command [“comfort” spoken in succession] is of God to comfort His people is directed not only to Isaiah, but to ALL of God’s prophets.
BUT before COMFORT can come…SIN was dealt with–that God calls His prophet to comfort.
The first 39 Chapters of Isaiah…
God doesn’t call Isaiah to “comfort” His people. It’s only after “their” sin has been absolved that He can send the prophet Isaiah with words of COMFORT.
So in reading Chapters 40-66 of Isaiah, the words will show TRUE COMFORT consists (not in telling people what their ‘itchy’ ears want to hear), BUT in presenting the whole truth concerning their tragic condition. AND…in causing them to SEE GOD as their only HOPE.
It is only when reality and ugliness of SIN raises its head that the announcement of DELIVERANCE can be made.
There’s A Prerequisite for COMFORT…
Apart from the Declaration of Judgment found in Chapters 1-39 of Isaiah, the WORDS OF COMFORT in 40-66 are without much point.
The prerequisite for comfort seen here in Isaiah is much the same as JESUS taught on the Sermon On The Mount–(Matthew Chapter 5).
He too talked about people being “comforted”–But before they could be comforted, JESUS SAID, they must be “poor in spirit” and acknowledge their absolute dependence upon God–and then they must “mourn” over their sin and hopeless condition…
“Blessed are those who mourn for they will be
VOICE #2 – “PREPARE THE WAY FOR THE LORD” – Isaiah 40:3-5
 “A voice of one who cries: Prepare in the wilderness the way of the Lord [clear away the obstacles]; make straight and smooth in the desert a highway for our God!  Every valley shall be lifted and filled up, and every mountain and hill shall be made low; and the crooked and uneven shall be made straight and level, and the rough places made plain.  And the glory (majesty and splendor) of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken it.”
Pope Francis was visiting the USA this past week, and as I watch all the proceedings on TV, I thought what preparations must have been made ahead of time for his arrival.
Isaiah here, pictures the scene played out by the Royal Road Builders–smoothing the way for their King, working diligently, removing barriers and obstacles in order to make the King’s journey somewhat easier.
Though all the prophets had a part in preparing the way for JESUS’ entry into the world–this PROPHECY ultimately was fulfilled in the person of John the Baptist.
Three of the Gospel writers, Matthew, Mark, and Luke quote this verse from Isaiah and apply it to the Baptizer.
JOHN the Baptist Prepared the Way…
John prepared the way by shouting out in the wilderness that the only way to get right with God–was to REPENT and be IMMERSED in baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
John also helped prepare the way by grooming some of JESUS’ first disciples – Peter, John, Andrew, and James.
Once John prepared the way–removed the obstacles–showed the futility of religious ritual–preached repentance–
Once John did this, then…the GLORY of the LORD was revealed. John the Baptist prepared the way “FOR” (“I AM the way, the Truth, and the Light”)…
We still got some “PREPARING” to do today!
Is there now no more PREPARING for the Lord–since John the Baptist, clothed in camel’s-hair, eating wild locust, shouted in the wilderness?
In a way, YES. But, in the way, NO.
YES, there is no preparing in the sense of preparing for the Lord’s earthly arrival. JESUS has already come in the flesh. John the Baptist prepared the way.
But in another sense, this PRINCIPLE still applies today.
The LORD still wants to REVEAL Himself in Glory to His church.
But, before He can do this, there are OBSTACLES that must be removed; BARRIERS that must be torn down and ROUGH PLACES that must be made smooth again…So that JESUS can arrive and be EXALTED–LIFTED UP!
TODAY’S BARRIERS, OBSTACLES, AND ROUGH PLACES REVEALED: What has to be removed before the LORD’S GLORY shows up!
Making The Way Smooth…
What are we in the CHURCH lifting up rather than Christ Jesus?
We are lifting up…
- Personal Sin,
- Worldly Pleasures.
In a word, we are lifting up SELF. If we want to see the Lord’s Glory revealed in His Church, we too must LISTEN to the voice of God and prepare the way…there is way too much talking and not enough listening to God’s Spirit.
We must make a straight path/raise valleys/lower mountains/level the rough ground and make the rugged places a Plain.
VOICE # 3 Is Crying, “Invest in the Eternal” – Isaiah 40:6-8:
 “A voice says, Cry [prophesy]! And I said, What shall I cry? [The voice answered, PROCLAIM:] All flesh is as frail as grass, and all that makes attractive [its kindness, its goodwill, its mercy from God, its glory and comeliness, however good] is transitory, like the flower of the field.  The grass withers, the flower fades, when the breath of the Lord blows upon it; surely [all] the people are like grass.  The grass (a) withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.”
(a.) The apostle Peter quotes this verse (1 Pet. 1:24-25) and then adds, “and this Word is the good news which was preached to you” –which confirms as fact that Isaiah is here referring to the times of Christ the Messiah, the Anointed One *** (Amplified Bible footnote, Page 1029.).
PETER then goes on to say,
“SO BE done with every trace of wickedness (depravity, malignity) and all deceit and insincerity (pretense, hypocrisy) and grudges (envy and jealousy) and slander and evil speaking of every kind. Like newborn babies you should crave (thirst for, earnestly desire) the pure (unadulterated) spiritual milk, that by it you may be nurtured and grow unto [completed] salvation” (1 Peter 2:1, 2).
Since God’s Word is ETERNAL and everything in this world is NOT–we should rid ourselves the things of the world and crave God’s Word.
Unfortunately, we find that many people more often than not are CRAVING the temporary…craving the things of this world (money, looks, physic, career, pleasure) with passion.
While they pursue God’s Word with casual indifference…“I’ll get God’s Word from my pastor on Sunday.” God says INVEST in something that will last!
Making Foolish Investments In The Temporary, Ignoring the Eternal…
JESUS addressed this issue in a parable–Luke 12:16-21: “What good is it to gain the world, yet lose your very soul?”
DO YOU HEAR WHAT I HEAR?
DO YOU HEAR THE VOICES?
The VOICES are calling God’s people and they’ve been calling for centuries…
- “Comfort, Comfort My people”
- “Prepare the way for the Lord”
- “Invest in the eternal”
And there is one more voice, and the VOICE IS CRYING out to us,
“GO TELL IT ON THE MOUNTAIN” – Isaiah 40:9-11:
 You who bring good tidings to Zion, go up on a high mountain, You who bring good tidings to Jerusalem, lift up your voice with a shout, lift it up, do not be afraid; say to the towns of Judah, “Here is your God!”  See, the Sovereign LORD comes with power, and His arm rules for Him. See, His reward is with Him and His recompense accompanies Him.  He tends His flock like a shepherd; He gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them close to His heart; He gently leads those who have young (NIV Bible).
The Announcement of the Presence of God Must Be Proclaimed Far and Wide…
GOD’S PEOPLE are not to be silent; keeping the Good News of the Lord’s arrival to themselves. We are to go up on a mountain, but not just any mountain.
We are to go on a HIGH MOUNTAIN. And we are not to just softly speak about the Lord’s presence, we are to SHOUT! Lift up our VOICE…
We are not to be intimidated but rather to shout…
“Here’s your God!!! He is powerful and mighty!!! He is a God who rewards greatly!!!”
The VOICE compels us to “Go Tell It On The Mountain” –
 You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.  Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a peck measure, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house.  Let you light so shine before men that they may see your moral excellence and your praiseworthy, noble, and good deeds and recognize and honor and praise and glorify your Father Who is in heaven.
ISAIAH began the second half of his ministry by hearing the VOICES OF GOD calling him to:
#1. Comfort My people…
#2. Prepare the way for the Lord…
#3. Invest in the eternal…
#4. Go tell it on the mountain.
And ISAIAH WAS FAITHFUL and answered those VOICES…
And the voices, are they still calling today?
Do you hear the voices?
Will you respond to what you hear?
Or, will you ignore them?
Footnotes & Credits:
Photo Credits- Google Image Search & Photo Pin.
Bible Translation: The AMPLIFIED BIBLE, except where noted in the text.