The Prophets (03): Isaiah 40 - Comfort after Exile
David Dorsey ( Literary Structure of the Old Testament, The: A Commentary on Genesis-Malachi ) outlines Isaiah as a sevenfold chiasm:
A. Condemnation, pleading, promise of future restoration, 1:1-12:6
B. Oracles to the nations, 13:1-26:21
C. Woes, 27:1-35:10
D. historical narrative, 36:1-39:
C’. Yahweh triumphs over idols, 40:1-48:22
B’. Servant Songs, 49:1-54:17
A’. Condemnation, pleading, promise of future restoration, 55:1-66:24
Isaiah 40:1–11 “Comfort, O comfort My people,” says your God. “Speak kindly to Jerusalem; And call out to her, that her warfare has ended . . . A voice is calling, “Clear the way for the LORD in the wilderness; Make smooth in the desert a highway for our God. “Let every valley be lifted up, And every mountain and hill be made low; And let the rough ground become a plain, And the rugged terrain a broad valley; Then the glory of the LORD will be revealed. . .
The Comfort of the Shepherd comes to His people because His Chastisement is Complete (40:1-2). Isaiah 40 is a striking change of theme from chs. 1-39. Now after the chastisement of the exile, the Covenant Lord promises restoration (deliverance, redemption, salvation) to Zion.
The Comfort of the Shepherd comes to His people because His Call will Clear (the Way) (40:3-5). God prepared for the Good Shepherd by clearing the way. Literally John the Baptist was preparing as “A voice is calling, “Clear the way for the LORD in the wilderness.” But the poetry should not be misunderstood. This clearing turns everything upside down and inside out.
The Comfort of the Shepherd comes to His people because His Commission is Coming (40:6-11). The “call” of this “voice” declares what God will do for salvation. The news of a Redeemer in Zion is a “commission” which is revealed to Zion. We are to “Lift it up, do not fear” and we are to say “Here is your God!”
Gregg Strawbridge, Ph.D., is the pastor of All Saints Church in Lancaster, PA. He became a committed follower of Jesus Christ at age 20, discipled in the context of a University Navigator Ministry. As a result of personal discipleship he went on to study at Columbia Biblical Seminary (M.A., Columbia, SC, 1990), as well as a Ph.D. in education and philosophy... read more