QUESTION:  Please explain Isaiah 40:1-2 with an emphasis on verse 2.


ANSWER:   Let’s read those two verses.  Isaiah 40:1-2, “Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the LORD’S hand double for all her sins.”  At the closing of Isaiah 39, Isaiah had prophesied to Hezekiah that Judah would be taken into captivity by Babylon.  He said in Isaiah 39:6, “Behold, the days come, that all that is in thine house, and that which thy fathers have laid up in store until this day, shall be carried to Babylon: nothing shall be left, saith the LORD.”

Isaiah, chapter 40 marks a great turning point in this important book.  The first 39 chapters of this book deal specifically with the nation of Israel.  Almost all the words of the prophet had direct and immediate reference to the times in which the he lived.  However, beginning with chapter 40, the prophecies looked beyond the life of the prophet and dealt with future events involving the nation of Israel.  While chapter 39 speaks of the impending capture of the nation by Babylon, chapter 40 looks beyond that time in captivity and speaks of a time of repentance and restoration.  As he writes of the restoration of Israel, his words also tell of a greater deliverance under the Messiah, the Savior of Jews and Gentiles.

In Isaiah 40:1, the Lord directs the prophet to comfort His people.  Twice he sends out this singular message, “Comfort my people.”  Having just announced the coming captivity of the Jews in Babylon, the Lord now desires His servant to comfort them.  Verse 2 continues with the message of comfort due to the restoration of the Lord’s people.  Their warfare was over, their iniquities had been forgiven, and the Lord restored to them twice all they had lost.  Oh, what a glorious and loving God we serve!  Upon repentance, the Lord would cause their latter state to be greater than their former state.

Of course this prophecy goes far, far beyond the mere return of the Lord’s people out of captivity in Babylon.  Notice the words of Isaiah 40:3, “The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.”  Without a doubt, this is prophetic of the forerunner of Christ, John the Baptist.  We read in Matthew 3:1-3, “In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.”

So the words of Isaiah speak of the restoration of Israel out of Babylon, but also look on to the complete restoration of Israel at the Second Advent of Christ when He returns to the earth to establish his millennial kingdom.  Of course, before there can be any restoration, there must be proper repentance.  We read of that day in Zechariah 12:10 which tells us, “And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.”  Going back to Isaiah, we read of that future day in Isaiah 40:5, “And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.”  (188.10)