Isaiah 40:1 (ESV)
Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.
Isaiah 40:28-29 (ESV)
Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The LORD is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
his understanding is unsearchable.
He gives power to the faint,
and to him who has no might he increases strength.
Isaiah 40 is one of my favorite chapters in the Bible. It speaks of the awesome greatness of God. But that is not its point. The chapter starts with “Comfort my people, says your God” (Is 40:1). The first eleven verses speak comfort to the People of God who have been told repeatedly that God’s discipline is coming. After eleven verses of comfort, the chapter moves into a powerful description of the greatness of God.
Isaiah 40:12 (ESV)
Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand
and marked off the heavens with a span,
enclosed the dust of the earth in a measure
and weighed the mountains in scales
and the hills in a balance?
One of my favorite lines is this section is, “the nations are like a drop from a bucket, and are accounted as the dust on the scales” (Is 40:15). God is going to use the nations to discipline his people, but ultimately, they and their gods are nothing. The text moves from the greatness of God to the impotence of the gods. They are nothing but man’s creations. “He does not faint or grow weary” (Is 40:28), but “He gives power to the faint” (Is 40:29). He ends the chapter with the promise, “They who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength” (Is 40:31).
Isaiah 40 ties the comfort of his beleaguered people to an expression of his own greatness. He does not awe them with a description of his power to intimidate them into submission. He speaks of his power to assure them of his protection and comfort. The security of the People of God is tied to the greatness of the God they serve. “Comfort, comfort my people” (Is 40:1).
The nations are nothing to God. The gods of the nations are less than nothing. Even if we cut down all the forests of Lebanon for firewood, and brought every animal of the forest for a sacrifice, it would not be enough to honor the magnitude and majesty of God. And yet, he speaks comfort.
As the People of God, we can know that even in the blackest, darkest nights of our souls the great God of all creation holds us in his hand, loves us deeply, and renews us faithfully. He can be trusted. Discipline may come; consequences for sin and disobedience will fall; bad things will happen; but the God of all creation loves us. He speaks comfort, gentleness, love, and restoration. Perhaps we hope too little, worry too much, and rest too seldom because we have too small an understanding of the God we serve. Reflect on Isaiah 40, and find peace.