A Comparison The Book of Isaiah is in many ways a miniature of the Bible. Isaiah has 66 chapters; the Bible has 66 books. The Old Testament contains 39 books. The 40th chapter of Isaiah introduces the “voice of Him that cries in the wilderness,” a prophecy fulfilled in the ministry of John the Baptist at the opening of the New Testament. Every chapter of Isaiah beginning with the 40th contains a concept that is unfolded in the New Testament. Here are topics found in each chapter, along with their New Testament counterparts, a few of which we will take up in more detail.
|Isaiah||Quote||New Testament Quote||Reference|
|40:3||The voice||I am the voice (John the Baptist)||Jn. 1:23|
|41:14||The Holy One||Jesus of Nazareth ... the Holy One||Mk. 1:24|
|42:1||My Servant||Behold! My Servant||Mt. 12:18-21|
|43:3||Thy Savior||Jesus Christ our Savior||Ti. 1:4|
|44:3||My Spirit||Filled with the Spirit||Acts 2:4, 38|
|45:23||Every knee shall bow||At the name of Jesus every knee ...||Phil. 2:10|
|46:1||Their idols||Covetousness, which is idolatry||Col. 3:5|
|47:1||Babylon||Babylon is fallen||Rev. 14:8|
|48:12||I am the first ... the last||I am Alpha and Omega||Rev. 1:8,17|
|49:5||A light to the Gentiles||A light to lighten the Gentiles||Lk. 2:32|
|50:4||Tongue of the learned||Knows letters, having never learned||Jn. 7:15|
|51:4||Hearken unto me||He that has ears to hear||Mt. 13:9|
|52:7||Beautiful ... feet||How beautiful are the feet||Rom. 10:15|
|53:2||No beauty to desire Him||Away with Him||Jn. 19:15|
|54:7||Gathering of Israel||God hath not cast away His people||Rom. 11:2|
|55:3||Incline your ear and hear||Hear My voice and open the door||Rev. 3:20|
|56:7||House of prayer for all||The house of God, the Church||1 Tim. 3:15|
|57:15||With contrite and humble||Humble yourselves||1 Pet. 5:6|
|58:7||Bread to the hungry||A brother ... destitute of daily food||Jas. 2:15|
|59:8||Way of peace they know not||Way of peace have they not known||Rom. 3:17|
|60:19||Lord ... an everlasting light||The Lamb is the light thereof||Rev. 21:23|
|61:10||Garments of salvation||Clothed in white raiment||Rev. 3:5|
|62:2||A new name||A new name||Rev. 2:17|
|63:16||Our Father||Our Father||Mt. 6:9|
|64:4||God has prepared||God has prepared||1 Cor. 2:9|
|65:17||New heavens new earth||New heavens and new earth||Rev. 21:1|
|66:24||Their worm dies not||The worm dies not||Mk. 9:44|
The God of all comfort (2 Cor. 1:3 KJV) opens chapter 40 with “Comfort ye My people.” The “Lo-Ammi” (not my people) of Hosea 1:9 is now “Ammi” (my people). What has occurred to make the difference? Jerusalem’s “warfare is accomplished, her iniquity is pardoned.” God looks off to the fulfillment of chapter 53 and considers the reconciliation to be accomplished – “It is finished” – by the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world (Jn. 19:30; Rev. 13:8).
Nevertheless, to prepare the way of the Lord, to heap up and elevate a highway for our God in this desert scene, a voice is sent. John the Baptist was that voice, preaching repentance for the remission of sins and seeking to turn all hearts to the One who would come after him (Lk. 3:2-18).
We really are like grass, ready to wither and be carried away; judgment is upon us. Do we recognize this? Are we ready to change our minds concerning our own goodness? Can we stand still and see the salvation of God? Then there are good tidings, good news that today we call the gospel: “Behold your God!” Jesus Christ is come in the flesh (Isa. 40:9). John’s work was to declare, “Behold the Lamb of God which takes away the sin of the world” (Jn. 1:29).
As chapter 53 describes, that lamb was offered even as His people rejected Him, for when nearly all the Israelites of Jesus’ day saw Him, they saw no beauty that they would desire Him. To them He was despised and rejected, esteemed worthy to be crucified. What do we see in Him? Is He not the sensitive one, a tender plant, a root out of the dry ground of religious ritual? Is He not the sorrowing one, who bore all our grief as His own? Is He not the silent one, who opened not His mouth in retaliation or self-defense? Is He not the smitten one, struck and pierced by the soldiers at the cross, and having His name used as a curse to this day? Is He not the stricken one, cut off out of the land of the living? Is He not the sincere one, having done no violence and no deceit coming from His mouth? Is He not the satisfied one, justifying many by the sacrifice of Himself?
Surely He is all this and much, much more. His death was vicarious because His soul was an offering for sin – my sin, and the sin of the whole world. His death was victorious because in resurrection “His days were prolonged,” and when a sinner trusts in Him “the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand.” No wonder the Ethiopian eunuch wanted to know who Isaiah was talking about! Philip preached Jesus to him, and he went away rejoicing (Acts 8:26-39). Are we on our way rejoicing, knowing that we have passed from death to life? Are we beholding the Lamb of God? Do we desire Him? Do we see His beauty?
Soon after Jesus was tested by the devil in the wilderness and proved invulnerable to his temptations, He returned to Nazareth, His boyhood home, and stood up to read in the synagogue (Lk. 4:18-19). He started at Isaiah 61:1: “The Spirit of the LORD God is upon Me; because the Lord has anointed Me to preach good tidings unto the meek; He has sent Me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD.” Here He stopped, closed the book, and sat down. Is it any wonder that everyone was staring at Him? He had stopped in the middle of the sentence! But this portion was all He needed to proclaim His purpose in coming, and to note, “This day is this Scripture fulfilled in your ears.” To show us the Father, to proclaim the good news of reconciliation of sinners with a holy God, to go about doing good, healing and comforting, was why He came. To proclaim “the day of vengeance of our God” (the next part of that broken sentence) and the restoration of Israel to its rightful position must wait until He comes again – the subject of chapter 66.
In the final chapter of Isaiah, Israel fulfills the purpose for which God called the nation: to be witnesses of the grace of God and the God of grace to the whole earth. The time will be characterized by peace and rejoicing for a thousand years: “Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river” (Isa. 66:12).
At the very last, the rejecters will be rejected; those who have transgressed against Him will be cast out (Isa. 66:24). What is the great transgression from which David desired innocence? (Ps. 19:13). John 16:9 defines that sin; it is unbelief. We need first to be convicted of the sin of not believing in Christ and then to turn away from this unbelief in order to receive everlasting life. Every other sin can be taken away, forgiven, thoroughly cleansed through faith in Him.
However, when we die in unbelief, it is unforgivable, provoking the Spirit of God whose job is to convince each one of us to trust in Christ. The only good a sinner can do to escape the judgment of God is repent and believe on His Son. Those who persist in unbelief do evil continually in His sight (Jn. 5:29), and will ultimately be called to the resurrection of damnation. Their worm shall not die and their fire shall not be quenched. For those who have rejected God’s offer of salvation, an eternity of being rejected by God awaits. The loathsome, consuming worm of remorse will never die. Weeping and gnashing of teeth will never end (Lk. 13:28). The torment of knowing that salvation was freely offered and freely rejected, despite every effort of the Spirit of God to persuade them to trust the Son, will always be a fire burning.
Then God will stretch out new heavens and a new earth, and all flesh will worship Him. What a future – what a hope!
By Tom & Susan Steere
With permission to publish by: Sam Hadley, Grace & Truth, 210 Chestnut St., Danville, IL., USA. Website: www.gtpress.org