Lesson 2: Isaiah 40-41 (A Song of Worship)

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Isaiah: Lesson 2 Audio

If you were to read the entire book of Isaiah, you would notice a marked contrast in style and tone and language beginning with chapter 40. That is because chs. 1-39 refer to events that transpired before the people went into exile.  And in these chapters, God’s people were called to repent from serving the gods of other nations.[1] We know from history, however, that because the people would not repent, God used the nations they craved as a means of judgment in their lives.

However, chs. 40-66 refer to events that transpire while the people are in exile or after they have been released from exile. And it is within these chapters that a mural emerges – a breathtaking portrait of the big picture of God’s activity in the world. This portrait reveals that the purposes of God hinge on the servanthood of the Ideal Servant, through whom all people and all creation are restored back to God for service to God.

So, chapter 40 begins a new section in the book Isaiah and a new day in the lives of God’s people – a day in which God gives a word of comfort to His people that is grounded in his very nature. And in this chapter, Isaiah will present two aspects of God’s nature – He is the Lord of Comfort and He is the Lord of Creation. And it is because of these two aspects of God’s nature, that Isaiah says, the people should reserve all our worship for Him alone. Isaiah 40 is a song of worship.

And even though this word is given to Israel, this principle of worshipping God based on His nature is 100% applicable to us today. Why? Because we know God’s nature never changes. And so the reason why Israel was called to be unequivocal in her worship stands true for us today as well.


Read Is. 40:1-11

The Lord offers comfort.[2] And look at all the ways in which God offers comfort to His people in the first few verses.

  • Vs 1 – He reminds them they are “His people” with beautiful language of covenant.[3]
  • Vs 2 – He “speaks comfort” to them – literally God “speaks to their hearts.”[4]
  • Vs 2 – He promises to intervene into human history on their behalf in two ways:
    • by “ending her warfare” with His just rule
    • and by giving her salvation – “her iniquity is pardoned”
    • Vs 3-5 – He promises that His plan will overcome because His Word is eternal while the things of creation are like the grass that withers and blows away it says in vs. 7-8.

In verses 3-9, God calls His people to prepare a way for Him – to prepare for His arrival. And the verses build in tone as if the people were preparing for the entrance of their king into their city, preparing for a triumphal march. Once scholar said this was a call to faith in that the people were being called to build a road for the arrival of a king they had not seen and they did not know when he would come.[5] And this coming king is not just coming for Israel, but rather for “all flesh.”[6] Verse 5 tells us that “all flesh will see God’s glory.”[7] And so, the people are called to herald this good news not just to the city’s inhabitants, but to all cities and all people. The people are to mount their walls and shout the good news to all that might hear (vs. 9). What are they to shout, call out? “Behold your God!” The Lord is Coming!

In vs. 10-11, the King comes – the rightful ruler comes to reclaim His throne in all His glory. And reclaims His throne with one weapon – His Arm.[8] This chapter reveals that God’s Arm brings comfort to His people in three ways: the Arm of the Lord re-establishes his rule, his justice, and his salvation. These activities had huge implications for Ancient Israel – but also for us today!

i. The Arm of the Lord re-establishes His RULE (10a)

It is through the mighty, strong Arm of the Lord that He re-establishes His reign: “And His arm shall rule for Him” it says in 10a. We know God is Creator. He created the world and all that flows from it, but sometimes we forget to make the connection that because He created it, He owns it.  Just like a master artist would own his own painting. That’s why artists today scrabble over copyrights and royalties. They created their artwork and they desire sole ownership over it. In a similar way, God owns us. But the metaphor that Scripture uses to convey this principle of ownership is of kingship. Because God created the world, He is King of the world. He rules it.

This aspect of God’s nature as the Creator-King has huge implications for us today, because we have been created to worship. At the time of creation, God created you for a purpose – to have a relationship with Him that is ordered around His kingship. So, inherent in God’s nature as the Creator-King is the implication that you are called to serve and worship Him. You were created to worship the King.

This means that you are constantly worshipping. Everyday, every second. It is who you are. It is how you were created. You are a worshipper. You are never just a neutral being.[9] It is like you have a throne permanently etched into your heart. A throne permanently and eternally designed for one Person – the King who created you, the King who created your heart.

And when the King sits on the throne of our hearts, our worship and our lives are rightly-ordered. We reflect what living in the kingdom of God and gracious rule of God looks like; we are at peace with God and at peace with others.

But with the entrance of sin into the world, mankind is continually dethroning the King and elevating other objects of worship to the seat of the throne within us.

In Rom 1:18-25, Paul tells us that because God has revealed Himself to all men, all men are obligated to worship Him alone. Yet, Paul says, all men choose to suppress God’s truth (vs. 18-19). We either respond to the truth of God with faith (worship God) or we suppress the truth in unrighteousness (worship creation). Those are the only two choices. And notice that simply ‘not worshipping’ is not listed as a third option in Rom. 1.  We are all worshippers, and Paul says that all humanity has a tendency to worship the creation. And so, since man and woman first rebelled against his throne in the Garden of Eden, God has been at work in the world to restore His rule and His throne.

ii. The Arm of the Lord re-establishes His JUSTICE (10b)

But, the King’s throne cannot be restored without first re-establishing justice in His kingdom. Look in v. 10b. It says: “Behold, His reward is with Him, And His work before Him.” God’s Arm is pictured as coming in great power and meting out justice to all men. Scripture tells us that the “wages of sin are death” in Rom. 6:23. So in order for His gracious rule to be restored, the King must re-establish justice and that requires conquering the enemy of sin. The word for reward in the Hebrew can also mean “wages.” These are the wages that God comes to pay out to all creation in verse 10 so that He might re-establish justice. In lesson 3, we will look at the term ‘justice’ in detail. But for the Jews suffering under the oppression of pagan nations, the image of God’s mighty Arm re-establishing His rule and His justice would have been great cause for joy and comfort.

iii. The Arm of the Lord re-establishes His SALVATION (11)

Yet, we also see that the very same Arm that rules in power and orders the world in justice also lovingly gathers His people to Himself. Verse 11 tells us, that God’s Arm will also re-establish His salvation. It says: “He will feed His flock like a shepherd; He will gather the lambs with His ARM, And carry them in His bosom, And gently lead those who are with young.”

Look at the beauty of verse 11, The Shepherd seeks out the lost sheep of His flock even when their own actions, stubbornness, and willful disobedience have separated them from the flock. Even the smallest sheep, He will lead back to himself. This is more than just an expression of loving rule, but an expression of a loving relationship.

This is the first reason why Isaiah says God is worthy to be worshiped – God DESIRES to save His people. What comfort we see for Israel – that God desires to save them and restore their relationship with Him. That message of comfort does not change with time either. The principles behind the text are the same today. God DESIRES to restore your relationship.  He is the comforting King who seeks you out, desiring to restore you to Himself with His mighty Arm.


So Isaiah tells us that God is worthy to be worshipped because of His nature as a comforting God, but we see in verses 12-26 that God is worthy to be worshipped because of His nature as a creating God as well.

In these verses, Isaiah constructs a foundation of logic concerning why we should worship God alone. And then over this line of reasoning, the prophet is going to lay some specific prophecies concerning the people’s future. So, let’s look at Isaiah’s logic concerning why God being the Creator makes Him worthy to be worshipped over all others. Isaiah is going to give us three reasons. The Creator is:

  • the Lord of the Heavens and earth;
  • the Lord of History; and
  • the Lord of Holiness.

i. Lord of heavens and earth (40:12-14)

Read Is. 40:12-14

Through a series of rhetorical questions, Isaiah makes the case that God is trustworthy because He is God over all the cosmos. And Isaiah intends for the answers to these questions to be quite obvious. “12 Who has measured the waters[c] in the hollow of His hand, Measured heaven with a span And calculated the dust of the earth in a measure? Weighed the mountains in scales And the hills in a balance? 13 Who has directed the Spirit of the LORD, Or as His counselor has taught Him?  14 With whom did He take counsel, and who instructed Him, And taught Him in the path of justice? Who taught Him knowledge, And showed Him the way of understanding?”

Isaiah asks ‘who created all the material world?’Who is wise enough to offer wisdom to the One who is wisdom personified?’ The answer to all the questions is, of course, no one. In the same way we are unable to measure the physical world, we could not expect to grasp God’s greatness (40:12). God is completely set apart from creation, particularly in regard to wisdom (40:13). Isaiah is appealing to God’s nature as transcendent.

Transcendence of God: God is separate from the world, standing beyond creation and beyond human comprehension.

God is wholly other than His creation. This is the principle known as discontinuity, and it is wildly important for us today. Why? Because many Eastern religions and pagan religions are founded on the opposite principle – a principle of continuity. A principle of continuity posits God as the same as His creation. This would have been a prevailing worldview in the ancient near east in the time of Isaiah. And it is still a worldview today. Pantheism, the belief that god is everywhere in creation – in every animal, rock, tree, person – is still alive and well today. This very subtle worldview is seen everywhere from Sesame Street to adult literature. If you read the book Eat Pray Love, this principle of pantheism or continuity is inherent in the heroine’s pursuit of “spirituality.”

But Isaiah is building a logical case here based on God’s nature as transcendent. Isaiah tells us that God is separate, He is discontinuous with our created reality. He is separate, wholly other. He transcends it.

Paul talks about God’s transcendence in Rom. 1 (the passage we turned to earlier to discover God created us to worship). And in this passage, Paul links God’s transcendence to humanity’s sin problem. In Rom. 1:22-25 he says:  “22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things. 24 Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, 25 who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.”

Paul summarizes mankind’s problem as such: we have begun to worship the creation instead of the Creator. Paul says mankind has a worship disorder. We have unordered worship. We haven’t merely selected another viable option for worship, rather, we have chosen to worship wrongly! This truth is echoed by Isaiah in ch. 40. Israel repeatedly demonstrated her worship disorder by dethroning the Holy One of Israel and crowning the gods and handmade idols of other nations on the King’s rightful throne.

So, while the historical situation speaks to the worship of graven images, both Isaiah and Paul are addressing a larger issue here – an issue of the heart. In Rom. 1, Paul tells us that the worship of graven images was a direct reflection of the worship of the heart.

This is the principle for today. While we might not worship graven images in our cultural context, we worship more “subtle” idols of the heart that have dethroned the King in our lives. When we think of idols – we think of money, sex, power. And yes, those can be objects of worship. But that doesn’t go deep enough to reveal the worship disorder. Those are simply manifestations of idol worship. We must ask ‘why do we worship those things?’ James gives us in the answer in James 4:1-3. He says we worship those things because of our desires, our motives, our wants, our goals, our hopes, our expectations.[10] James says in James 4:1-3 (NIV): 1What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? 2You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight.”

James tells us our hopes, desires, wants are the real idols. In short, we are the real idols, not the things, but ourselves. We are guilty of worshiping ourselves.

Consider how an idol gets made in your life. How does an idol emerge from a simple desire, like James says? Let’s try a step-by-step recipe for making our own idol.

  1. Add any DESIRE (good or bad) to a medium-sized pot.
  2. Allow this desire to simmer until it has thickened to the point where it controls your heart – your thoughts, actions, words, emotions. This is the elevation of that desire into a DEMAND – to the level of a need. You might say or think something like this:  “ I need X in order to be happy/fulfilled.” When we take a desire (good or bad) and elevate it to the position of demand, we are dethroning the King, where our happiness and trust should be placed, and crowing the desire in His stead.
  3. Then when that demand is unmet, add a dash of JUDGMENT into the pot. When someone doesn’t bow down to your idol, judge them by criticizing them or condemning them even if it’s just in your heart. James tells us there is one Judge (James 4:11). And when we take upon ourselves that role that is rightfully associated with the throne of God, we are not functioning in God’s image. We aren’t reflecting God’s grace and love. Instead we are reflecting someone else – the Accuser, evil. (James 3:14-18).
  4. Last, turn up the heat to high and PUNISH the person who doesn’t bow down to your idol, your unmet demand. Give someone the silent treatment, hold a grudge, withhold praise. You know the drill. When our desires are unmet, our first reaction is to hurt someone or inflict pain, and “when we do so, we are essentially placing others on the altar of our idol and sacrificing them, not with a pagan knife, but with a sharp edge of our tongue.”[11]

The easiest way to identify an idol is to look at areas of conflict in your life – marital conflict, parenting conflict, work conflict. Remember back to the last time you entered into a conflict with someone and the result was anger or resentment in your heart. Remember, James told us that conflict (quarrels and fights) begin with the desires in our heart. So, let’s take our recipe for idol making and work backwards beginning with the last step.  I’ll use a hypothetical situation as an example.

  • Step 4: PUNISH: You got in a fight husband and later criticized him to your family or girlfriends. You said something like this: “So-and-so never does anything around the house” or “I wish so-and-so would help out once in a while. It is too much to ask to actually put the dish into the dishwasher?”
  • Step 3: JUDGE: You told yourself that your husband should really be helping you with the kids instead of sitting down to watch TV like a coach potato or checking his sports figures or whatever your husband likes to do in his free time. You are determining what he should do and condemning him for not doing so.
  • Step 2: DEMAND: You get frustrated and snap when the kids hang around both of your legs screaming at you while you cook dinner. You remind yourself that you are with the kids all day by yourself, and you really need some ‘alone’ time or ‘me’ time this evening in order to be sane again. You are allowing a desire to master you by determining your thoughts and emotions concerning yourself, and your words and behavior to your kids. Congratulations you might have spotted your first idol.
  • Step 1: DESIRE: You just want some peace and quiet.

The desire to rest is not inherently a bad thing! Everyone needs rest and relaxation – time to recharge. God himself rested after creating the world. But it became an idol at the point that you said “I need rest and I won’t be happy or ‘sane’ until I get it.”

And so your seemingly innocuous desire (to get some rest) quietly and subtly morphed into an idol, the result of which was a conflict with your husband. The fight with your husband was the manifestation of an unmet idol/expectation. So, perhaps the problem wasn’t really that your husband wasn’t helpful or sensitive or talkative. Perhaps the problem began with in heart – the elevation of a desire in your heart to a demand. And when that demand was unmet by your unsuspecting husband, you went ‘mom-zilla’ on him. You judged him in your heart, and then punished him by biting off his head, not talking to him, or withholding praise or even nagging.

Look for the areas of conflict in your life. Ask yourself ‘why’ you reacted so negatively by working backwards in our recipe. And you might possibly find an idol situated squarely on the throne of your heart – on the throne reserved solely for the Lord of the heavens and the earth.

This passage speaks volumes to us today, because we are just as guilty as ancient Israel of dethroning the King in our hearts and replacing him with our own desires – in short – ourselves. We were created to worship, but we have a worship disorder. We are taking the Transcendent God, who is Lord over all creation – separate from creation – and making him into our image, instead of reflecting His image to those around us.

ii. Lord of history (40:15-20)

Read 40:15-20

God is the Lord over heavens and earth (transcendent and separate) and worthy to be worshipped. But Isaiah gives us that another reason why we should rightly order our worship -because God is the Lord of history. This is Isaiah’s logic in vs. 15-20, because if God and creation are separate, it follows that God is Lord over history too.

And Isaiah uses some strong language to make his case:

  • Vs 15-17: All the coastlands[12] and nations of all history do not compare to the eternal God.
  • Vs 16: Even glorious Lebanon does not produce enough wood for the sacrifices needed to appease God’s wrath. God is so great that we can’t even worship Him in the way that He deserves!
  • And then in 17, the argument culminates with this statement – we are nothing compared to Him! This doesn’t mean God doesn’t care for the nations, but rather, that the most powerful nation is nothing compared to a God is wholly separate from His creation in His being and glory. He is not merely greater than the nations, rather, God isn’t even on the same plane of existence.[13]

Isaiah is going to draw a crucial implication from his logic. Verse 18 presents us with the following conclusion: if God is separate from creation and we cannot measure His spirit or teach Him His counsel or even discern His wisdom or even worship Him in a means that adequately reflects His glory, then how could we ever expect to adequately reflect Him and His glory in a physical image, or a carving, or an idol? The very fact that God is transcendent means you can’t make an image/idol of Him.

And then in verses 19-20, Isaiah employs sarcasm; he describes the process used in making an idol. “The workman molds an image, The goldsmith overspreads it with gold, And the silversmith casts silver chains. Whoever is too impoverished for such a contribution Chooses a tree that will not rot; He seeks for himself a skillful workman To prepare a carved image that will not totter” or topple (NIV). No matter the value of the materials (gold, silver, special woods), by the time the craftsman has completed his idol the result is “it cannot move.” It is worthless, because it is incapable of producing or affecting any result. Why not?  Precisely because it is a creation. Having been created by human hands, it is part of the created order. This man-made creation is by its very nature, not transcendent.

And according to Isaiah, this is the ultimate folly – worshiping a man-made idol. Because the idol is a creation, it is locked into the created order and not free to act on its own. Now that may sound pretty obvious to you. But the whole point Isaiah is making in these verses is that because God stands outside of creation and is free to act on behalf of Israel, He is the only God worthy of worship. He is the only God that both DESIRES TO SAVE (remember from our previous section) and is ABLE TO SAVE.

That is why God is the Lord of over history, because He created history. He stands apart from it, and as such, is free to dip His fingers into the world’s timeline to guide events to the good ends He has planned (Rom 8:28).

But what does it mean to be “free to act?” Well in the next few chapters, Isaiah will continue with this theme of the folly of worshipping false gods.

Read Is. 41:22-29

In this section, God is challenging all other so-called gods to reveal their power. He calls them to the witness stand. And God challenges these other gods on two counts:

1) to ‘show what will happen’ – to predict the future and

2) to ‘show the former things’ – to explain the past (41:22)

Because a god who truly possessed power would be able to do both – to know what is to come and to know the meaning of the past. And in verses 23-24, the powerlessness of these gods is revealed. Because these gods are ‘created things,’ they are distinguished in being and nature from the Creator of the Universe. Only a Transcendent God, who stands over and apart from the created order would be able to predict the future and explain the past.

And look at the verdict in 41:29: Indeed they are all worthless; Their works are nothing; Their molded images are wind and confusion.” Worshipping a god or idol other than the rightful Lord of history results in confusion and is as futile as worshipping the wind. When we put an idol of our desires on the throne purposed for God, there is never a good end. This isn’t a threat – it is a natural consequence of our choice to worship the wrong God. We were created to worship one God in particular. And when we do not fulfill that created purpose, our lives are compared to “wind” and “confusion.”

But this court case is not over, because God Himself takes the witness stand. And listen to God’s testimony in 41:25: “ I have raised up one from the north, And he shall come; From the rising of the sun he shall call on My name; And he shall come against princes as though mortar, As the potter treads clay.”

Unlike all the other gods, God is predicting a future event. There will be a person from the north who will come in the Name of God (to do His work). And this person will easily defeat princes and nations. We know from history this is Cyrus, the king of Persia, who defeat Babylon and returned God’s people from exile back to their promised land.[14] God is predicting a future event (through the prophet Isaiah) 500 years before the people of God ever went into exile. So, this prediction would have given the people comfort in the mist of exile – knowing help was coming.

But more than that, it would have given them comfort in their choice to worship a Transcendent Holy God. A Transcendent God who stands outside of creation, who is able to explain the past and predict the future. And precisely because He stands outside of creation, He is the only God capable of doing something new in human history (Is. 43:18-19). All other “gods” are locked into the created order. Their worshippers could never expect their gods to do something new. Their choice of worship was futile.

So, for those of you who have already made the choice to worship God and put your trust in Him alone and allow Him to guide your heart, thoughts, words, behavior –  you can be confident in your worship. And when you are tempted to begin elevating desires onto that throne in your heart, look back at Isaiah 40 and remember that God is infinitely more worthy than any desire that haunts our hearts.

iii. Lord of holiness (40:21-26)

However, Isaiah has another point to make in this chapter concerning the transcendence or ‘otherness’ of God. The point is: the transcendent God who stands over creation and history is holy.

Read Is. 40:21-26

In verses 21-26, Isaiah summarizes the reasons why Israel should be confident in her worship. God is the God of heavens and earth (21-22). God is the Lord of history (23-24). But the prophet gives us another difference to consider – God is the Lord of holiness (25-26). God is different from pagan gods/idols because He is the Holy One. The word ‘holy’ means “sacred, set apart.” And we see this in respect to God’s nature.

Holy One - A description of God’s character as both “morally perfect” and “separate” from all creation.[15] In Is. 40:25, Holy One is used as personal name for God.[16]

So, there are two elements to this descriptor of God:

  • First, God is holy which means He is “morally perfect.”[17] This is a reference to God’s character as sacred, holy. God always does the right things, says the right thing, thinks the right thing, responds the right way. His operates out of the right motives.
  • Second, God is holy because He is set apart. He is set apart from creation – transcendent. And God’s holiness is a part of his transcendence.[18] Isaiah is trying to tell us that we should choose to worship God over all other gods because only this God is truly and perfectly holy.

And the importance of God’s character as holy is intrinsic to the discussion of worship. Because the point is this: God is perfectly holy, and we are not! God’s holiness separates us from Him.[19] Only the Holy One merits our worship.

And the problem in Is. 40 is this: Israel made the wrong choice in worshipping the gods of other nations. Israel, who was called to be the servant of the Holy One was mired in unholiness. Her worship was disordered. How then, could she ever expect to fulfill her role as the servant of the throne when she had dethroned the King and crowned other gods in her heart?

This is a problem that reaches across time. God’s nature as the Holy One logically requires we worship Him alone. Now we may think that we can avoid the proposition altogether – avoid worshipping God, as if it’s a neutral decision. As if the decision never gets made then we’re in the safe zone. But here’s the kicker, by NOT choosing to worship God (by ignoring him) we are choosing to worship something.

But the good news is it is never too late to re-order our worship. It is as simple as ‘trust and obey.’  When you return the King to His rightful throne in your heart, you are demonstrating trust in Him. And we will only enjoy true peace and rest and fulfill the purpose for which we were created when we return the King to His rightful throne.

But Isaiah knows it is not in our nature to keep the throne free from the idolatrous desires that entangle our hearts. So, look at how Isaiah closes this chapter of comfort.

Read Is. 40:28-31

We’ve heard these verses quoted time and time again, but have ever considered the context in which Isaiah wrote them? Rightly ordered worship is difficult to maintain, and it will be that way until the King returns once again to permanently and eternally defeat sin. But God promises to provide us with divine resources to aid us in keeping our worship rightly-ordered (directed toward Him). He promises to renew our strength with His strength. He promises to aid us in fulfilling that purpose for which we were created – to worship and serve the King.

I think it is safe to assume the promise contained in Is. 40:28-31 is not a blanket promise for endless supplies of divine strength. Rather, this passage is situation squarely in the context of rightly-ordered worship. That means we are only able to claim the promise of Is. 40:28-31 and enjoy the renewal of strength when our hearts are rightly directed toward the King, when we have placed our trust in Him alone rather than the desires that consume us.

I hope Is. 40 challenged you to think about rightly-ordering your worship around the Comforting God, the Transcendent God, the Holy God.

  • The only God who DESIRES to save you.
  • The only God who is ABLE to save you because He stands outside of creation and is free to act on your behalf.
  • And the only God who is TRUSTWORTHY because He ‘renews your strength’ with His very own mighty strength.

Ladies, please contact me or leave a comment if you would like to re-order your worship.

[1] Isaiah calls the people blind (6:9-10; 35:5; 42:7, 16, 18-19; 43:8; 44:18;48:4); disobedient (30:12-13: 42:24; 48:18); obstinate (48:4); and in need of forgiveness (43:25: 44:22).

[2] To whom is comfort extended? It says “to Jerusalem” in vs 2. Scholar Gary Smith believes Is. 40 could also refer to a future setting in Jerusalem long after a remnant of God’s people have returned from exile -  a future Jerusalem in the last days. See Gary Smith, The New American Commentary: Isaiah 40-66 (Broadman & Holman 2009).

[3] John Oswalt, The Book of Isaiah: Chapters 40-66 in The New International Commentary on the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1998), pg 49. See also Ex. 6:7; 19:5; Lev. 26:12, Deut. 26:17-18.

[4] Oswalt, 49. Oswalt says “in all cases its purpose is to move someone who might be paralyzed by circumstances to take heart and believe.”

[5] John Oswalt, 52.

[6] Smith, 96-97. That is why some scholars believe this chapter refers to the coming kingdom at the end of the age. This setting echoes Is. 6:3 in which “the whole earth will be full of his glory.” See also 4:4-6. Smith says the gospel writers pick up on this day in Matt. 16:27; 24:30; Mark 8:38; and John 17:22-24.

[7] Vs. 6-8 tell us that all flesh stands as fading, withering grass in contrast to the glory of God’s eternal Word. Peter quotes vs. 6-8 to encourage the early Christians in their faith in 1 Pet. 2. The early church was experiencing terrible persecution by the Roman Empire. And Peter tells them it only makes sense to direct worship toward what lasts over what is withering and fading.

[8] Arm of the Lord (See also 30:30; 33:2; 48:14; 50:2; 51:5,9; 52:10; 53:1).

[9] This section adapted from the writings of Paul David Tripp, Ken Sande, and Timothy Lane. See Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands: People in Need of Change (New Jersey: P&R Publishing, 2002), pgs. 57-112. To apply this reality to parenting, see his book Shepherding a Child’s Heart (Wapwallopen: Shepherd Press, 2005), pg. 19. To apply this reality to family life, see Ken Sande, Peacemaking for Families: A Biblical Guide to Managing Conflict in Your Home (Carol Stream: Tyndale House Publishers, 2002).

[10] Tripp, Shepherding a Child’s Heart, 21.

[11] Ken Sande, Peacemaking for Families: A Biblical Guide to Managing Conflict in Your Home (Carol Stream: Tyndale House Publishers, 2002), pg. 22.

[12] Coastlands refers to the nations – the edges of the continents or literally the ‘ends of the earth.’

[13] Oswalt, paraphrase 62.

[14] Cyrus rose around 540 BC. Smith thinks it is very difficult to identify Cyrus as the ruler from the North because it is “difficult to defend the notion that Cyrus actually called on the name of Yahweh in 41:25.” See Smith, 104. Smith believes the army from the North is the Assyrian army which attacked Jerusalem in 701 BC “when God raised up Sennacherib to subdue many nations and defeat Judah (22:1-13; 29:1-8).

[15] Oswalt, 69.

[16] Oswalt, 68.

[17] Oswalt, 69.

[18] One scholar puts it this way:  God’s holiness is an antidote to all idolatry because it means that God can never be equated with anything finite and fallen.” George, Timothy, “The Nature of God: Being, Attributes, and Acts,” in A Theology for the Church (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Academic, 2007), pg. 225.

[19] When Isaiah had his first encounter with God’s holiness in Is. 6, what was the prophet’s response? Isaiah could only do one thing – worship. He said in Is. 6:5: “Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, The LORD of hosts.” He admitted where proper worship should be directed – to God who is wholly other in his nature, activity, and character.

About the Author

Melissa Deming is a freelance writer transplanted from Texas to Pennsylvania with her husband of ten years, Jonathan, and two-year-old identical twins, Zacharias and Jonah. The family serves at a Southern Baptist church plant in Pittsburgh - Living Faith Community Church. Melissa is a regular correspondent for The Southern Baptist TEXAN newspaper and Crossroads magazine of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention. She is also the creator and author of HiveResources.com - a site designed to sweeten a woman's walk with Christ through devotional articles, book reviews, and giveaways. Melissa holds a Masters of Divinity in Women’s Studies from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Wake Forest, NC, and a B.A. in Journalism from Texas A&M University.