Summary of passage: Isaiah 39: Hezekiah shows envoys from Babylon all his storehouses of riches after he recovered from his illness. Isaiah chastises him furiously for this, saying the time will come when everything in your palace will be carried off by the Babylonians and even some of your descendants will become eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon. Hezekiah flippantly thinks, “There will be peace and security in my lifetime.”
Isaiah 40:1-2 God tells Isaiah to speak words of comfort to his people, the people of Jerusalem. Tell them her hard service has been completed, her sin has been paid for, and she has received from the Lord’s hand double for her sins.
3a) Comfort means strengthening aid; assistance, support; consolation in time of trouble or worry, solace; a feeling of relief or encouragement
b) To my people, the people of Jerusalem who had just found out from Isaiah that Assyria is no longer a threat but Babylon is coming. The words were to be spoken gently and encouragingly. It seems obvious as to why: who wouldn’t want to be comforted after coming to the brink of being conquered, then told prepare to be deported to Babylon but then told your hard service is over and sin paid for?
c) Because Isaiah had just said Babylon is coming. Who doesn’t want to be comforted? I want to be comforted in my miniscule daily trials so I can’t imagine the terror of the people of Jerusalem. It’s just like a child who comes running to mommy or daddy when they get hurt.
2 Corinthians 1:3-7 “…the God of all comfort who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.”
4a) 1: Her hard service has been completed (Assyria’s threat is over) 2: Her sin has been paid for (people could be free of sin: who wouldn’t want that?) 3: She has received from the Lord’s hand double for her sins (sins been completely paid for). I would imagine this is comforting and joyful news.
b) Isaiah 53:4-5 Isaiah is predicting the Messiah who will carry our infirmities and sorrows; he was punished for our sins which brought us peace and healing. In Isaiah 40, our sins have been paid for in the same sense as how the Messiah will pay for our sins. Both are comforting.
1 Peter 2:24 “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.”
Conclusions: I am a bit disappointed with question three. The passage is great but I think the questions miss it here. For example, 3b and 3c. Who doesn’t want to be comforted? Why do you and I need words of comfort? It seems a bit obvious. We all need comfort (especially from God) just to live our lives and just to make it through the day sometimes. It’s innate from our birth. It’s like when babies cry just so you will hold them. We all need to know life will be okay, we are okay, we will make it through this, and there is light, hope, and promises on the other side of this. So why wouldn’t Isaiah speak words of comfort to his people? This is a guy whom the King of Judah, Hezekiah, a very holy man, consults. He is revered by the people. It’s like the Pope speaking to Catholics. Isaiah has a direct line to God. I would want Isaiah to speak comforting words to me!
God is a God of comfort. God is everything. He promises to comfort us. We pray and we are comforted. We read His word and we are comforted. We visit his Holy places (churches, synagogues, temples, Jerusalem, etc) and we are comforted. God comforts us when we don’t want Him to and He comforts us when we don’t even know He is. Everywhere we turn God will comfort us if we allow Him to.