The Lord Is at Work
Explore the Bible Series
April 19, 2009
Background Passage: Isaiah 40:1-43:28
Lesson Passage: Isaiah 45:1-7, 9-13
Introduction: ďComfort, yes, comfort my people, says your God.Ē† These striking words begin the second major section of the Prophecy of Isaiah.† The transition to this new portion of Godís word seems abrupt and unexpected.† Godís mercies often come with unanticipated suddenness.† The Lord often interrupts life with fresh measures of his mercy to sinners, mercy often unsought and always undeserved.† To the troubled and chastened heart, his words of comfort come with great effect. O, dear reader, bless the Lord for his gracious interruptions!
Isaiah grounded his message of comfort in two great
emphases.† First, he refocused the
What blessing it is to retreat to the Scriptures and find help in time of need.† This passage comes as medicine to a dying man and food for the hungry.† Sit with me for a time, and let us feast at his table.† I promise, you will find the Savior your great satisfaction. He has made you for his glory and designed you for his fellowship. The Savior has good intents for you, and he freely invites all who will come, to sit at his feet, no, at his side.† You will find in him a thousand delights, and, most amazing of all, he will gladly receive you into his presence.† He graciously awaits your arrival and will greet you with compassion and grace.† Do not tarry.† Do not wait until a more convenient hour or deceive yourself that you will be fit to meet him at some later time.† Leave your delusions of fitness, and come to fellowship with him now.†
God is exalted, but, dear friend, he has bent low for you to meet him in his word and cast yourselves upon his promises. Do not despise this opportunity to consider the exalted Lord of Hosts and delight in the promised Son.
Background Passage Outline:
I. Behold Your God (40:1-31)
of comfort (vv. 1-2): God instructed the prophet to declare comfort for
warfare is endedĒ:†
iniquity is pardonedĒ: Isaiah somewhat changes the analogy of grace.† The second promise depicts
she has received from the Lordís hand double for all her sinsĒ:
forerunner of the Savior (vv. 3-5): A voice shall rise in the wilderness, a
voice that will herald the coming of the Savior.† The Lord will come on the heels of the
forerunner, and he will reveal the glory of the Lord to all flesh. This text
unfolds the scope of Godís mercy.† Not
frailty of man and the security of the word of the Lord (vv. 6-8): Isaiah
compared mankind to the grass of the field.†
It flourishes for a time, but its glory proves transitory. How useless
are the devices of men to find comfort and help.† The wicked alliances
renewed vision of the Lord (vv. 9-31): Isaiah called upon
1. Love and tenderness (vv. 10-11): Isaiah compared the Lord to a tender shepherd tending to his flock.† He meets every need with abundance and affection.
2. Omniscience and power (v. 12): Then Lord possesses perfect knowledge of creation.† He has measured the heavens, calculated the dust of the earth, and weighed the mountains.†
3. Wisdom and understanding (vv. 13-14): Godís wisdom is perfect.† No one has ever taught him or served as his counselor.
4. Sovereignty over the nations of the earth (vv. 15-17): The most powerful of nations are lightsome and inconsequential before the Lord.† He regards them as dust on the scales.
5. Incomparability (vv. 18-20): Who can compare to the Lord?† Workmen fashion idols, but their images of wood rot and topple.
6. Immensity (vv. 21-26): Isaiah marveled at the ignorance of his readers.† Did they not know of Jehovahís greatness?† How could they, as the privileged people of God, not know about his grandeur?† He sits on the horizon of the earth and spreads out the heavens like the flaps of a tent.† His glory reduces the mighty and powerful to inconsequential pretenders. The prophet admonishes his readers to lift their eyes to the heavens and behold the majesty of the Lord (vv. 25-26).
7. Mercy (vv. 27-31): God has not forgotten his people.† In his time, he takes up their cause and bestows mercy.† He does not grow weary in grace. The weakness of the powerless does not weary him or deplete his resources of mercy.† He gives strength to the weak and lifts them up on wings like an eagle.
II. The Summons and Silence of the Nations (41:1-29)
A. Jehovah summons the nations and demands their initial silence before him (v. 1): The sequence here must be followed carefully.† All the coastlands of the earth must appear before the judge, and requires their reverential silence before him.† Having recognized Godís sovereignty, the nations must give an account of themselves.†
Judge asks indicting, rhetorical questions to highlight Godís sovereignty over
the nations (vv. 2-7): Verse two, no doubt, refers to Cyrus, King of the
Persians, who allowed the Hebrews to return to
C. God will comfort his elect despite the threatenings of the raging nations (vv. 8-20): Godís purpose of grace will not be frustrated, and he will honor his covenant with Abraham.†
D. Jehovah mocks Idolatry (vv. 21-19): The dumb idols remain silent before the challenges of the Lord.† His perfect knowledge of the future and his power over the creation stand in stark contrast to the powerless images.
III. The Elect Servant (42:1-9): This is the first of four Servant Hymns in the Book of Isaiah. Of course, these verses are Messianic (See Matthew 12:17-21). This particular hymn has two features.
A. Jehovahís delight in the Servant (v. 1)
1. Jehovah upholds the Servant: Though the Promised One will come as a Servant; yet, God will sustain him.† O, what great condescension that the Majestic Son of glory would come in the form of a lowly Servant, and one through whom the worlds were made would place himself in a position of dependence.†
2. Jehovahís choice of the Servant: Among the multitudes of men, the Servant is the elect of the Father.
3. Jehovah delights in the Servant: The Servant will receive the full affirmation and approval of the Father.† He is suitable to hold exalted office and fulfill the redemptive designs of the counsels of heaven. Jehovah finds his greatest in the character and work of the Servant.
will place his Spirit upon the Servant: This text, of course, reminds us of the
descent of the Spirit, on Jesus, in the
B. The Servantís redemptive work (vv. 2-9)
1. He will come in meekness and gentleness (v. 2).
2. He will deal with his fragile people tenderly and gently (v. 3).
3. He will certainly achieve the purposes of the Lord (v. 4).
4. He will be given, by the Father, as a covenant to his people and a light to the Gentiles (vv. 5-7).
5. He shares the divine nature of Father (v. 9). Jehovah declared that he would not give his glory to another because he is jealous for his name.† No one other than the Servant will share Jehovahís glory.
IV. A Hymn of Praise (42:10-20)
A. A call to worship (vv. 10-13): Isaiah called all the nations of the earth to sing a new song to the Lord (v. 10).† The old songs serve Godís people well, but new music must fill hearts as well.† Godís people must not live on yesterdayís manna.† New songs signal fresh mercies, renewed unto Godís people every day. The prophet portrayed the Lord as a mighty warrior who will prevail against all of his enemies (See v. 13).
B. The refrain of the Lord (vv. 14-20): Jehovah has remained silent, but he pledges to cry out conspicuously, like a woman in the travail of childbirth.† O, dear reader, that our land might hear the cry of the Lord, in our day!† God will come on the scene quickly and unexpectedly.† He will not whisper; indeed, his voice will prove unmistakable and piercing.† He will lay waste to his enemies, and bring light to the blind and hearing to the deaf.†
The Redeemer of
obstinance of sinners (42:21-25): Despite the chastening of the Lord,
B. Godís wondrous mercy to sinners (43:1-15)
calms the fears of
2. God promises that no calamity will overcome his people, and he will bring them safely to his redemption (43:2-3).
3. God declares his love and honor for his people (43:4).
4. God pledges that he will gather his people to himself (43:5-7).
5. God will call the nations to witness his mercy to his people (43:8-15).
C. Godís promise to do a new thing among his people (43:16-21): The old, lifeless patterns of the past will give way to the renewed and glorious work of the Lord (v. 18). Great blessings will come upon the Lordís elect, and they will declare his praise (v. 21).
2. The persistent grace of God continues to invite the stubborn people to have their transgressions blotted out and their sins remembered no more (v. 25).
VI. Godís Unique Relationship with His People (44:1-28)
election of his people (vv. 1-5): The prophet called the people to attention,
ďBut hear, O Jacob my servantÖĒ† Twice
(verses one and two) this passage affirms Godís sovereign choice of his people.
Jehovah brought forward two evidences of his unique relationship with
will identify with his children by allowing them to bear his name (v. 5):† This, of course, is an extension of the first
blessing.† The child bears the Fatherís
name.† Gladly, this promise extends
B. The foolishness of idolatry (vv. 6-20):
1. God asserted his preeminence over all other ďgodsĒ (vv. 6-8). He alone is the first and last, preeminent in knowledge and power.† He appointed an ancient people and declared what will come. There is no one besides him.
2. The foolishness of the craftsmen who fashion idols (vv. 9-20). Isaiah mocked the foolish woodsman who plants a cedar tree, waters it and cares for it; then, in time, he cuts down the tree.† He uses some of the tree to warm his home and cook his food, and he fashions some of the cedar into a god.† The carpenter bows before the wooden idol and worships it.† He seeks deliverance and help from cedar, a piece of wood!† These idols cannot replace the covenant relationship God has with his people.† He alone is the Father of Judah.
redemption of his people (vv. 21-28): God had blotted out their sins, and
invited them to return to him.† Singing
and joy should accompany their return, and great blessing will come upon those
who return.† Certainly, these verses
anticipate the end of the Babylonian/Persian Exile, but they foreshadow the
gospel invitations as well.†
VII. Godís Sovereignty Over the Kings of the Earth (45:1-25)
A. Cyrus, King of the Medo/Persians, served the purposes of God (vv. 1-13).
anointed Cyrus to help return the Jews to
2. God ruled over Cyrus (vv. 5-13): The plan of God did not depend on Cyrus.† God controlled the situation, and Cyrus simply served as an instrument in Godís hand.† Jehovah held Cyrus in his hands like a potter holds clay.†
B. Godís redemptive purposes toward his people (vv. 14-25)
planned to bless
2. Godís ways are often hidden and mysterious (vv. 15-19).† Verse fifteen reminds us of our inability to fully understand the ways of God.† He does not explain or justify himself to man.† Idolaters fashion gods whom they can control, but the Living God confuses them.† He will not be controlled or manipulated (v. 16).† However, while the mysterious things of the Lord are often hidden from the eyes of men, the things God reveals are clear and certain (vv. 17-19).† He does not speak in secret, and the clear and evident things of the Lord must be believed and obeyed.
C. The Lordís redemptive invitation (vv. 20-25): God summoned the nations, and invited all the ends of the earth to turn to him and be saved, for there is no other.† Idolatry would avail them nothing, but they will find salvation and righteousness in the God of Israel.
The Judgment of
the failing gods of the Babylonians, God had ďgiven birthĒ to and sustained his
children (46:3-4). His faithfulness in the past guaranteed that he would remain
incomparable God (46:5-11): God asserted his government over the nations of the
D. An appeal to the stubborn hearted (46:12-13): God pleaded with his reluctant people to hear his voice, and he gave them every incentive to listen to his words.
IX. A Powerful Appeal to Persuade the House of Jacob to Listen to the Lord (48:1-22)