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Volume 33 - Page 75 of 253 Index | Zoom | |
#22. Isaiah 40: 12 - 42: 17.
The Structure of the section and introductory notes.
pp. 178, 179
The reader may remember that the three great divisions of Isa. 40:-66: are:
a | 40:-48: COMFORT AND CONTROVERSY.
b | 49:-60: LIGHT AND PEACE.
c | 61:-66: THE ACCEPTABLE YEAR.
We have seen that Israel's comfort is intimately associated with the "Good tidings"
that were preached to Zion. These good tidings are in view throughout this second great
portion of Isaiah, whose prophecy is occupied with the provision made in Christ, the
promise that restoration shall come to pass, and the ultimate performance of the word of
the Lord. Further, inasmuch as this blessed restoration deals, not simply with the land
and its desolation, but with the people and their sin, we must not expect the unfolding of
the purpose to go forward with the directness that characterizes the response of the
mechanical universe (See also Volume XXX, page 138).
It is not without interest that we discover that the word basar, "To bring good tidings",
occurs seven times in Isaiah, all in the second half of the prophecy. The passages are,
Isa. 40: 9; 41: 27; 52: 7 and 61: 1, where the A.V. translates "to bring" or "to preach
good tidings", and Isa. 60: 6, where the response to this blessed message is found in the
words, "They shall show forth the praises of the Lord", an aspect of "preaching" that is
In the attempt to comprehend its significance as expressed in its structure, the section
before us, like most of the passages already examined, taxes the powers of the mind to
the utmost. We can however perceive that the challenging reference to the utter failure of
the flesh, under the figure of "grass that withers", so prominent in Isa. 40: 1-11, meets us
afresh in this second section, where the challenge is addressed by the Creator to the dumb
idols and graven images in which Israel had so often put their trust.
Intermingled with this theme is that of service; "Israel, thou art My servant", "Behold
My Servant". This relationship, coupled with the fact that "No man can serve two
masters", is, in itself, a protest and a provision against the folly of idolatry, for "bowing
down" to graven images is associated with "serving them" (Exod. 20: 5). Contrast with
this the glory of such blessed service as is seen in the opening of Isa. 42:, where the
Messiah Himself is spoken of as "My Servant".
Before we can deal with the teaching of this section, either as a whole or in its parts, it
will be necessary to discover the underlying structure, so that we may concentrate our
attention upon those features which carry forward the burden of the prophecy. By the