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The exiles in Babylon faced three insurmountable obstacles: the nations, their rulers and their religions. These 3 obstacles dominated and permeated every aspect of their daily lives. How could they be overcome? In 40:12-31, Isaiah contrast these three formidable adversaries with the power of God as author and creator of history. He concludes this new kingdom God is announcing is so powerful nothing will threaten it and it will stand forever because it is build by the word of the Lord.
The glory of God vs. the nations (40:12-17)
And marked off the heavens by the span,
And calculated the dust of the earth by the measure,
And weighed the mountains in a balance,
And the hills in a pair of scales?
13Who has directed the Spirit of the LORD,
Or as His counselor has informed Him?
14With whom did He consult and who gave Him understanding?
And who taught Him in the path of justice and taught Him knowledge
And informed Him of the way of understanding?
15Behold, the nations are like a drop from a bucket,
And are regarded as a speck of dust on the scales;
Behold, He lifts up the islands like fine dust.
16Even Lebanon is not enough to burn,
Nor its beasts enough for a burnt offering.
17All the nations are as nothing before Him,
They are regarded by Him as less than nothing and meaningless.- Isaiah 40:12-17 NASB
- God has measured the finite universe.
- If people cannot measure (metaphorically, comprehend) the fullness of God’s creation, how much less can we measure the Spirit of God behind that creation?
- The nations are as insignificant as a drop in the bucket.
- Not only do they have no political significance, the nations have no moral significance either.
The glory of God vs. idols and kings (40:18-24)
Or what likeness will you compare with Him?
19As for the idol, a craftsman casts it,
A goldsmith plates it with gold,
And a silversmith fashions chains of silver.
20He who is too impoverished for such an offering
Selects a tree that does not rot;
He seeks out for himself a skillful craftsman
To prepare an idol that will not totter.
21Do you not know? Have you not heard?
Has it not been declared to you from the beginning?
Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth?
22It is He who sits above the circle of the earth,
And its inhabitants are like grasshoppers,
Who stretches out the heavens like a curtain
And spreads them out like a tent to dwell in.
23He it is who reduces rulers to nothing,
Who makes the judges of the earth meaningless.
24Scarcely have they been planted,
Scarcely have they been sown,
Scarcely has their stock taken root in the earth,
But He merely blows on them, and they wither,
And the storm carries them away like stubble.- Isaiah 40:18-24 NASB
- Idols require great expense and human effort, but give nothing in return.
- Compared to God, idols are nothing.
The glory of God vs. the stars (40:25-31)
26 Lift up your eyes on high And see who has created these stars,
The One who leads forth their host by number, He calls them all by name;
Because of the greatness of His might and the strength of His power, Not one of them is missing.
27Why do you say, O Jacob, and assert, O Israel, “My way is hidden from the LORD,
And the justice due me escapes the notice of my God”?
28Do you not know? Have you not heard?
The Everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth
Does not become weary or tired.
His understanding is inscrutable.
29He gives strength to the weary,
And to him who lacks might He increases power.
30 Though youths grow weary and tired,
And vigorous young men stumble badly,
31Yet those who wait for the LORD Will gain new strength;
They will mount up with wings like eagles,
They will run and not get tired,
They will walk and not become weary. – Isaiah 40:25-31 NASB
- Look not to the stars, but to the One who made them.
- God not only made the stars, He cares for them like a shepherd.
- Therefore, wait on the Lord (vs. 27-31)
- Israel objects, “if God is so powerful, where is he?”
- Their distress does not result from God’s weakness, but from their need for humility.