KEY VERSE FOR MEMORIZATION
“Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.” (Isaiah 41:10)
Moving from chapter 39 to chapter 40 of this book, the theme changes from that of judgment to one of salvation. The prophet Isaiah saw beyond Israel’s current distress and Judah’s prospect of captivity to a future day of salvation.
God was to spare Judah from Assyria’s threat of destruction and later deliver His people from the Babylonian captivity. Along with warning the people of impending judgment, Isaiah offered them hope and comfort. He foretold the time when Babylon — a future evil world system — would be destroyed.
This section of Isaiah’s prophecy (Isaiah 40:1 — 48:22) is often called the Book of Consolation. The first words of the 40th chapter, comfort ye meant both “repent” and “console,” which indicated that comfort comes after true repentance. The words my people referred to the people of God who had a covenant relationship with Him. These chapters also introduce God’s chosen Servant, who would be Israel’s means of redemption.
Some refer to this section of Isaiah as the New Testament in miniature, since it opens with the words used by John the Baptist (Isaiah 40:3), and contains many references to the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior and King.
Within these chapters, Isaiah also emphasized the greatness of God in contrast to the vanity of heathen idols. Note how often God said to His people, Israel, “Fear not” and how often He assured them of His pardon and His presence.
God’s message of comfort in this section was not merely a strengthening of the people of Israel in their outward deliverance. It was a deep and inner work of God in their hearts.
It is no surprise that for centuries God’s people have turned to these chapters to find encouragement and assurance when encountering difficult days in their lives. God says to all of His people, “Fear thou not, for I am with thee.” He encourages us to take comfort in Him.
These chapters detail the futility of wickedness and idol worship, and also explain the peace God gives to those who follow Him. Today, like the people of Isaiah’s day, we must make the choice whether or not to follow God and have His peace.