Isaiah 40

God's promises

1 ‘Say kind words to my people. Say kind words to them,’ says your God.

2 ‘Speak to the minds of the people in Jerusalem and tell this to them:

· Your time as soldiers in a war has finished.

· God has forgiven you for your sins.

· And the Lord's hand has punished you twice for all your sins.’

3 A voice is shouting, ‘Prepare a road for the Lord in the sandy places. Make a straight road in the desert for our God. Make it on higher ground.

4 God's servants will raise up the lower parts of every valley. And they will make every mountain and hill lower. The ground that nobody has dug will become like a garden. And they will make the hilly places flat.

5 Then, people will see the glory of the Lord. Everybody who lives on the earth will see it together. Those are words that the Lord himself has spoken.’

6 A voice is saying, ‘Shout something aloud!’ But I say, ‘What should I shout?’ The voice answered, ‘Everybody is like grass and all their glory is like a flower in the field.

7 Grass will die and a flower will fall to the ground. That will happen because the Lord's breath will blow on them. Surely, everybody is like grass.

8 Grass will die and a flower will fall to the ground. But a word that our God speaks will be true for all time.

9 You, the servant who is bringing good news to Zion, go up on to a high mountain. You, the servant who is bringing good news to Jerusalem, shout loudly with your voice. Shout aloud, and do not be afraid. Say to the towns in Judah, “Here is your God!”

10 Look! The Lord God is coming with power. And his arm will rule the people for him. Look again! He is bringing his gifts with him. And he will pay something to his people.’

40:10‘his arm will rule’ may mean ‘he will rule by his power’. But ‘the arm of the Lord’ means something special in Isaiah's book. See Isaiah 53:1. Many Bible students say that it is a special name for Christ.

11 ‘He will be like a shepherd who feeds his sheep. He will carry the young sheep in his arms. And he will hold them near to his heart. He will carefully lead the sheep that have young sheep.’

40:11A shepherd is a sheep-farmer. He is like a picture of somebody who is careful for his people. God often thinks about his people like sheep. And sheep always need a shepherd.

12 Only God has done these things:

· He measured the water in all the seas in one of his hands.

· He used his hands to measure the sky.

· He carefully weighed the soil of the earth.

· He weighed the mountains on his scales.

· He carefully weighed the hills too.

13-14 There is nobody who has done these things:

· Nobody understood the mind of the Lord.

· Nobody, as his helper, told him what he should do.

· He did not ask anybody to be his advisor.

· Nobody taught him the proper way to do things.

· Nobody taught him what things to know about.

· Nobody showed him the way to understand things.

15 Surely, the countries are like a very small quantity of water in a bucket. They are like small bits of dirt on the scales. The Lord weighs the islands like small bits of dirt.

16 All the trees from Lebanon are not enough to make a fire for his altar. Neither are its animals enough to burn on the altars as a gift to him.

17 All the countries in the world are like nothing in front of the Lord. He thinks about them like they had no value. They seem less than nothing to him.

18 You cannot find anyone else who is like God.

You cannot say that he is like any false god.

19 An able man makes a false god. An able worker covers it with gold. He also makes something from silver for it.

20 Some people are too poor to give a gift like that. They choose a wood that will not soon fall into pieces. They will look for an able man who will make a false god from the wood. But that false god cannot move.

21 Think about certain things.

· You should know certain things.

· You should have heard those things.

· Somebody should have told them to you from the beginning.

· You should have understood them since God made the earth.

22 These are the things: God sits on a special seat where the earth and the sky meet. And the people on the earth seem like small insects to him. He hangs out the skies like a curtain. And he makes them like a tent for him to live in.

23 He is the God who makes kings into nothing. He takes away the power from world leaders, so that they have no power.

24 Those leaders are like plants. As soon as somebody plants them, God will blow on them. And as soon as somebody puts them into the ground, they will die. As soon as they put roots down, a strong wind will blow them away like dead plants.

25 The Holy God says these things:

· ‘You cannot say that I am like anybody.

· Nobody is as good as (or better than) I am.’

26 Turn your eyes up and look at the skies. He is the God who created them. God made the very large number of stars and he gave a name to each one. He did not forget to give a name to any of them, because of his great power. God is very, very strong.

27 You descendants of Jacob say, ‘The Lord has forgotten what I am doing.’ And you people in Israel say, ‘My God is not fair to me.’ But you should not say those things.

28 You surely know this. You surely have listened to it! The Lord is the God who will always be alive. He is the Creator of even the parts of the earth that are a very long way from here. He will never become tired and he will never lose his strength. Nobody will ever understand his mind.

29 He makes tired people strong and he gives more strength to weak people.

30 Even young people get tired and they lose their strength. And young men will fall over something and they will fall to the ground.

31 But people who hope for help from the Lord will get back their strength. They will fly high on wings like (large birds called) eagles. They will run and they will not become tired. They will walk and they will not fall over.