Isaiah 40:12-24 “The LORD is Beyond Compare”
40:12-14 Sometimes we might be tempted to question God. What truths do you see here regarding the foolishness of that thought?
- The sarcastic and sobering taunt “who has ever understood the mind of the Lord.”
- Not all the great trees are enough for an altar for him. Great nations are just like dust in his eyes.
- This is one of Isaiah’s major themes: the incomparableness of God.
Share some ways that the sinful heart acts as if it can be God’s advisor and give him insight and teaching.
- Various answers possible. Mostly done by theologians who change the Word of God to fit their desires. Consider those who reinterpret Scripture.
40:15-17 “All the nations are nothing to him.” When do we need this reminder?
- Anytime we fret about waring nations or put our hope in them. Consider Israel’s circumstance at this time and how much they needed to hear this truth.
- Powerful nations think they know what is best. But all in their greatest hour are nothing before God.
- “the islands” will reoccur as a reference to distant Gentile nations. He is Lord over all the earth.
40:18-20 List some of ironic aspects about fashioning idols. Apply these truths to secret idolatry.
- They are created. They are only an overlay of gold. The wood that is carved can rot. It takes skill to make. It might topple one day.
40:21 Do you not know!? In what way have all people known and heard the truth declared from the beginning about the unsurpassable glory of the Creator?
- The natural knowledge of God (compare Ps 19, Romans 1)
- The natural knowledge of God points to a Creator who is above all that he has made.
- The Jews also had a clear revelation of him as the Creator God with the revealed knowledge in the Word.
40:23-24 Compare this picture with the cry of 40:6-7.
- There it applies to everyone. Here the emphasis is: Even powerful rulers must eventually face the breath of the Lord which brings them down to nothing.
Give some examples of ways which people might treat God as if he is a small God and not a gloriously powerful God.
Share some examples of ways in which we might be tempted to give God advice or question his plans.
Describe the comfort we have when evil rulers and dignitaries toss their weight around and seem to have a strong sway over us.
Relate some of the pathetic pictures of trying to fashion our own gods.
Contrast the incarnation of Christ and his exaltation with the false idols people fashion.
Isaiah 40:25-31 “The LORD Never Grows Weary”
40:25 The Israelites were surrounded by nations worshipping false gods. Those nations were starting to conquer their cities and tear down their fortresses. Discuss how this might have made them feel about those other gods.
40:25 Apply: share some ways that the “defeated” believer can give into defeatism when they see the influence and power of evil. Find the comfort offered in this verse.
40:25 What does the title “Holy One” say about God?
- He is without sin, without wrong, without mistake. This title “holy One of Israel.” Will be used to specifically refer to God’s servant Jesus, the redeemer. It is most often found in Isaiah.
40:26 God can keep close track of all the stars he has created. He commands the hosts of heaven (his angels). He sustains the heavens with his power. How does that make you feel about his knowledge and power?
- He doesn’t get tired of watching over us or grow weary. His omnipotence is exercised for our benefit! And he is our source of strength.
40:27 “My way is hidden from the Lord.” God knew that his people were complaining that it felt like he wasn’t watching over them anymore. When do we need to be reminded that he isn’t unaware of our struggles?
- Consider the disciples when they assumed Jesus didn’t care they were about to drown.
- How do we respond in despair or anger when hard times come and assume God’s plan has gone off the rails!
Explain how the closing verses of this chapter are fulfilled.
- By faith, trusting in the Lord, not works of our own.
- Right now, as God sustains us with hope.
- In the last day and for eternity in his new creation.
We tend to think that God is like us. Share some of your favorite pictures in this section which describe how incomparably different he is from us.
- Various answers. Eternal. Tireless. Aware of our plight. Giving strength to make us tireless.
- Compare this section with Psalm 121.
Explain how we can stave off the following line of thought: “Maybe my God is great, but he has his limits it seems. He might miss something in our life or fail to do something he promised.”
- Wait for the Lord. Reflect on all his power in creation and preservation.
- Reflect on his promise that he will not grow weary. Lift up your eyes and ponder the truths revealed that he controls all things!
- Don’t question him or seek to give him advice but trust that his wisdom and knowledge are good and immeasurably great.
How does this section emphasize that we cannot be saved by our own works?
- This whole chapter speaks of our weakness and inability verse the limitless power and glory of God.
- “Those who hope in the Lord, wait for the Lord” (40:31)