Introduction: We just celebrated Mother’s Day in my home. Although my
mother died four years ago, and disappeared into the dark world of
Alzheimer’s many years before that, I will never forget the feeling
of comfort that she would give me. I like to avoid sick people so I
will stay well. Not my Mom. When I was sick, she was there to try to
make the sickness as comfortable as possible. This week God our
Father, the One who has been disciplining His people, now sounds more
like “God our Mother” as He turns to comfort His people. Let’s charge
into our lesson!

  1. A Call for Comfort after Punishment

    1. Read Isaiah 40:1-2. For what reason has the time of
      comfort come? (God’s people have finished their service of
      paying for their sins.)

      1. I thought Jesus paid the price for our sins (Hebrews
        9:15). What kind of theology is this? (Our studies in
        Isaiah so far have shown us that the sins of God’s
        people brought penalties. Reliance on other gods
        brought the Assyrians (and other countries) who
        defeated Israel and did a great deal of damage to
        Judah. Ultimately, God’s people were taken into
        captivity by Babylon. This is the captivity which is
        described by Daniel.)

        1. 2 Peter 2:13-15. What does this suggest about
          the relationship between sin and punishment?
          (This agrees with Isaiah that sin brings

        2. Have you found in your life that you have
          suffered because of your sins?

      2. Notice that Isaiah 40:2 refers to paying “double” for
        sin. Is God unfair?

        1. Compare Leviticus 26:18 with Ezra 9:13. Which is
          it? Does God punish us multiple times for our
          sins? Or, does He punish us less than what we

        2. When Bible teachers teach the idea of a
          perpetually burning hell which eternally
          tortures sinners, my first reaction is that this
          is impossible given God’s justice. Assume 70
          years of sin. Is it just to “repay” that with
          millions of years of torture? If God is in the
          “multiple-payback business” maybe this makes
          sense. What do you think?

        3. Read Revelation 18:4-7a. Here is a specific
          discussion about “payback” which uses the term
          “double portion’ at the same time claiming to be
          an equivalent punishment (“give back to her as
          she has given”). What sense do you have about
          “double portion” here? (“Double” may simply mean
          “bountiful” according to The New Bible
          Commentary. Serious sins call for serious
          punishment. We recognize this idea in American
          law. We call it “punitive” damages. The
          punishment is not “unfair,” but rather is
          intended to “punish” the person (or entity) so
          that it will remember not to do this in the

      3. How many times was Jerusalem destroyed? (Twice. It is
        possible that “double” refers to the double

  2. A Call for Preparation

    1. Enough discussion about punishment. Remember that our
      lesson is about comfort! Our lesson tells us that Isaiah
      chapter 40 moves past the time of punishment and ahead 150
      years to the time of the return of God’s people after the
      Babylonian captivity.

    2. Read Isaiah 40:3. Of what does this text remind you?
      ( Matthew 3:1-3. This text refers to John the Baptist.)
      What has John the Baptist to do with God’s people coming
      out of captivity in Babylon?

      1. Think about this a minute. God says to His people
        that their troubles are over, they have suffered
        enough. Then a voice is heard to make a highway in
        the wilderness. When were God’s people in the
        wilderness? (This is a repeated theme in the history
        of Israel. They were punished by Egyptian slavery.
        They escaped through the wilderness. They were
        punished by Babylonian captivity. They made their way
        back through the “wilderness” to rebuild the temple.
        They were punished for the sins of Adam and Eve. John
        the Baptist came out of the wilderness to announce
        freedom and salvation through Jesus. God’s people
        hear a call from the wilderness to return to the
        comfort of freedom.)

    3. Read Isaiah 40:4-5. If you believe that your job is to
      help draw others to Jesus, what do these texts tell you to
      do? (Don’t create barriers for those who want to come.)

      1. What kind of barriers do we create? (For my children,
        worship style is a big barrier. They want a
        contemporary worship service. At my last Elders’
        meeting the group was asked, “What would you give up
        for your children? Would you give up your life? If
        so, are you willing to give up your preferred worship
        style?” Good question. Because I wear a suit to
        court, I feel I should wear a suit to church. But
        wearing a coat and tie may be a barrier to some. I
        struggle with the balance between “barriers” and the
        proper worship of a Holy God.)

  3. A Call to Proclaim

    1. Read Isaiah 40:6-8. How long does grass live?

      1. Is hearing this a comfort?

      2. What is compared to the short lives of humans? (The
        Word of God.)

        1. Why does Isaiah compare our life span with the
          Word of God? Isn’t this like comparing apples
          and oranges?

    2. Read Isaiah 40:9. Okay. All you short-lived people, what
      are you called on to do? (Introduce God (“Here is your
      God”) to others.)

    3. Read Isaiah 40:10. Is the picture about the Word and our
      short lives more clear now? Why are our short lives
      compared with the Word of God? (There is a solution to our
      “short life problem.” If we believe and proclaim the Word
      of God, He will return and reward us with eternal life.)

      1. How does this message compare to where we started in
        this chapter? (We started out with a message of
        comfort. Judah has suffered for its sins during the
        short time it has here on earth. However, if we trust
        God, as opposed to the temporary things of life, then
        God will reward us and comfort us with a permanent

    4. Read Isaiah 40:18-20. None of my neighbors has an idol in
      their yard which they worship. Is this a message for us

      1. To whom do we compare God today?

      2. What is the common denominator for idols – whether
        created for a poor or rich person? (They are all
        dependant upon humans. Today, we basically stop with
        idol worship at the human level. The issue today is
        whether you depend on ideas created by man or ideas
        created by God. Human worship is the prevalent
        “religion” of the day.)

    5. Read Isaiah 40:25-26. There have been a number of science
      books which have broken into the best-seller list in
      recent years. I’ve read all of them and am currently
      reading The Fabric of the Cosmos by Brian Greene. Based
      on this slender claim to scientific knowledge, it seems to
      me that the “Big Bang theory” is the leading scientific
      explanation for (v.26) how the heavens were created.
      Although the “Bang” had to be just right to work (and keep
      working), science thinks it happened without a Master
      Intelligence. Who does the Bible say created the heavens?

      1. Is this another “idol worship” issue? (The ironic
        thing about idol worship then and now is that the
        idols of Bible times were obviously made by humans.
        Today, some scientists attribute to chance or
        whatever, things that obviously could not be created
        by humans, much less chance. Do you see God’s logic?
        He says “How can you believe that an idol, which you
        had to create with your hands, could create the
        heavens?” Today we take an equally illogical
        position. We claim that something that even humans
        could not create, created itself.)

    6. Read Isaiah 40:27. Aside from the claim that there is no
      God, what is the next popular claim? (God pays no
      attention to me. He does not notice.)

    7. Read Isaiah 40:28. Again Isaiah says God is the Creator.
      How does he explain the charge that God does not notice
      our problems? (God does not lack the energy or power to
      help us. The reason we think God does not notice or help
      us is that we do not understand God’s wisdom.)

    8. Read Isaiah 40:29-31. To those of you who need comfort, to
      those of you discouraged by life, what does God promise

    9. Friend, if you place your hope in the Lord, He promises
      you renewed energy. He promises that you can soar. He
      promises you comfort. Will you put your hope in Him and
      not in yourself?

  4. Next week: To Serve and to Save.