Isaiah 40 is one of the most famous chapters in the Bible, although few can find it. It is full of famous lines, that many people don’t know where they came from. “Comfort ye my people.” “Do you not know, have you not heard?” “A voice is calling in the wilderness…” “Let every valley be raised up and every mountain be made low.” “All flesh is grass…” “Those who wait on the Lord… will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not get weary.”
Some might know the passage as a great treatise on the power and nature of God, expressing his omnipotence, creation and eternity with powerful language, beautiful and majestic. It is certainly one of the greatest sermons ever taught.
But it is also often misunderstood.
The original context was written to refugees, forced immigrants to a strange land that is not their own. They were forced to move out of the land God gave them, the land which they grew up in and loved to a land of oppression, under a people who mocked them and even tried to kill them. They desperately tried to make a home in their new land, but every time they tried, they failed. They wanted to move back to the land where they were raised, but they were not allowed. They were a people between, a nation with no home.
After many decades of living as refugees, they were ready to accept that they would have no home. They were giving up on their faith in God, realizing that He had forgotten them, that they were no longer on God’s agenda. They would never find justice.
At this crux point, in which they were about to give up, that’s when God called a preacher. Not a preacher to tell them how sinful they were or to tell them that they were bound for hell. Rather, this preacher was to give good news. He was to proclaim hope. And faith.
“You homeless, you refugees, you people between lands, listen to me!
God has not forgotten you.
God has not forgotten you.
"You have spent too many years being pushed around by men without mercy.
You feel so weak compared to those who shove weapons in your face and scream at you.
"But I’m here to tell you that your God is more powerful than they!
Your God created the heavens and earth and they cannot even put their clothes on right!
"Your God takes the most powerful rulers in the world and disposes of them without a thought!
"Stop worrying about these fools!
"God doesn’t look their way, they do not concern him at all.
"They throw around their gods, money and power, but they are only man-made, empty of power. Your God orders the stars!
"They think they know all wisdom, and can determine your fate. But your God controls all the seas. Your God tells them what to think, not the other way around.
"You may think that your God has forgotten you—but he hasn’t.
"You may think He has forgotten his promise to deliver you, to give the poor justice—but he hasn’t.
"He is ready to release you, to give you another chance.
"He is approaching you, opening the road up, giving you a new home.
"Don’t give up on God, because he has not given up on you.
"Feel within yourself the strength you need to keep walking, to keep running.
"He is there and your oppressors will fail to keep you under their thumb.”
And it is amazing to note that within a few years, the nations that had oppressed these refugees for decades were suddenly no more and they were going back home. After oppression and long travel, they finally arrived back home, ready to make a new life with God.
We just need to wait on Him.