New Defender's Study Bible Notes
40:1 Comfort ye. This verse begins the second part of Isaiah’s prophecy. By a remarkable providential arrangement, it is noteworthy that the two divisions of Isaiah (chapters 1–39 and 40–66) contain thirty-nine and twenty-seven chapters, respectively, providentially corresponding to the thirty-nine canonical books of the Old Testament and the twenty-seven books of the New Testament. Appropriately, Part I emphasizes law and judgment, while Part II stresses grace and salvation, as centered in the promised Messiah. The “New Testament” portion of Isaiah begins with the ministry of John the Baptist (Isaiah 40:1-5) and ends with the “new heavens and a new earth” (Isaiah 65:17–66:24), along with the unquenchable fire that awaits the ungodly (Isaiah 66:24). It is also noteworthy that Isaiah 53, the greatest gospel chapter in the Bible, is the central chapter of the New Testament section of the book. And since this fifty-third chapter should really have been selected to begin with Isaiah 52:13, the central verse of this central chapter is Isaiah 53:5: “But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed.”
40:3 voice of him. This prophecy was fulfilled seven hundred years later when John the Baptist came to “prepare the way” for Christ (Matthew 3:1-3).
40:4 rough places plain. A remarkable change in the very shape of the earth’s surface will take place during the tribulation, preparing the earth for the glorious kingdom age. The terrible earthquakes (among other geophysical catastrophes that are coming) will destroy the great mountain masses of the world (e.g., Revelation 16:20) and fill up the ocean deeps, smoothing out the topography so that the earth’s lands will all be pleasantly inhabitable, as in the beginning.
40:5 shall be revealed. When the earth’s surface is prepared, and the sinners consumed out of it, then the Lord Jesus will be revealed in all His “power and great glory” (Matthew 24:30).
40:8 stand for ever. The universal curse (Genesis 3:17-19), pronounced by God because of sin (called scientifically the law of increasing entropy), affects everything in the physical world except the incorruptible Word of God (compare Matthew 24:35; etc.). Isaiah 40:6-8 is cited in I Peter 1:23-25.
40:12 measured the waters. This series of rhetorical questions—to which the only answer can be the omniscient God—stresses the precise accuracy with which the various components of the creation have been designed. The amount and distribution of the earth’s waters (unique to the earth, so far as known, in all the universe), as studied in such sciences as hydrology, meteorology, oceanography, is probably the most important question of all.
40:12 with the span. The almost infinite number and variety of stars have all been carefully planned and even named by God (Isaiah 40:26). This is the domain of astronomy.
40:12 dust of the earth. The “dust of the earth,” out of which all things are constructed (e.g., Genesis 2:7), must refer to the basic elements of matter. The precise divine measurements of these chemical elements suggests the valence structure of their molecules, whereby the structure and properties of all the various materials and compounds in nature are controlled.
40:12 weighed the mountains. Geophysics is structured around the principle of isostasy (“equal weights”), the growth and motions of the earth’s physiographical features all interrelated with their sizes, densities, etc.
40:13 hath directed the Spirit. This section (Isaiah 40:13-14) is applied in Romans 11:34, climaxing Paul’s profound discourse on God’s divine sovereignty.
40:15 the nations. The old cliche, “like a drop in a bucket,” originated in this verse, with its striking evaluation of the world’s great nations in comparison to the greatness of God.
40:20 oblation. That is, “sacrificial offering.”
40:22 circle of the earth. Hebrew khug, translated “compassed” in Job 26:10 and “compass” in Proverbs 8:27. All three, in context, clearly refer to the sphericity of the earth.
40:22 stretcheth out the heavens. This phrase is possibly a reference to the expanding universe, as envisioned by modern astronomers. There are numerous references in Scripture to the “stretching-out,” or “spreading-out” of the heavens (space), when God created the universe. See, for example, Job 9:8; Psalm 104:2; Isaiah 42:5; 44:24; 51:13; Jeremiah 10:12. Alternatively the “heavens” referred to here may refer simply to the atmospheric heavens, spread out like a curtain, or “tent to dwell in,” around the circle of the earth. This atmospheric “tent,” refracting and spreading light over the hemisphere, is sharply distinct from the darkness outside.
40:26 hath created these things. One of the strongest evidences that all “these things” were created, and did not evolve by themselves is the law of entropy, also known as the second law of thermodynamics. This best-proved law of science describes the universal tendency of all physical systems to decay. Ordered systems tend to become disordered; highly programmed systems tend to become garbled; dynamic moving systems tend to run down. Since everything is now winding down, it all first must have been wound up, and this requires a Creator.
40:26 number. The infinite Creator has placed an endless number of highly ordered and energized heavenly bodies throughout His creation.
40:26 by names. Each created system is given a distinctive name corresponding to its own complex structure and function by the omniscient Creator.
40:26 strong in power. Every system in the cosmos has been empowered to carry out its purpose by the omnipotent Creator.
40:28 fainteth not. The available energy of the creation may decrease, in accordance with the law of entropy, but the power of the Almighty Creator, who imposed that law on His creation because of sin, does not run down.
40:28 his understanding. The high organization of God’s complex creation may disintegrate and become garbled, but His omniscient understanding is not diminished.
40:31 wait upon the LORD. The Hebrew word for “wait upon” does not mean “serve,” but rather “wait for” or “look for.” It was used by Jacob in Genesis 49:18, when he cried out, “I have waited for thy salvation, O LORD.” It appears prophetically on the lips of the dying Savior, when He said: “I waited patiently for the LORD” (Psalm 40:1).
40:31 renew their strength. Literally, “renew” means “exchange.” Those who look to the infinite, omniscient, omnipotent Creator for their supply of order, intelligence and power shall exchange their weakness and foolishness for His strength and wisdom. This is a marvelous energy conversion process!