This famous passage in chapter 40 and verse 9 of the Book of Isaiah follows the announcement at the beginning of the chapter:
‘Comfort, yes comfort My people,’ says your GOD. Speak comfort to Jerusalem and cry out to her that her warfare has ended; that her iniquity is pardoned; for she has received from the LORD’s hand double for all her sins.
The message of comfort includes rest from conflict; forgiveness of sins, and a reconciled GOD. Such a grand message, well nigh overwhelmed the one chosen to be the herald of this good news. To him GOD gave the reassurance that the message was a timeless one, and certain to be fulfilled in due time although the messengers might not live to see that. The task of the herald was to announce this good news which included the promise that,
all flesh would see the glory of GOD.
In our text, Zion, or Jerusalem, is bidden to take up the joyful proclamation. Theirs was the privilege and honour of declaring to all their people that their GOD was coming in person to do all that He had promised. From the mountaintops they called out with all their voice and strength to all the cities of Judah, Behold, your GOD! The promise that the glory of the LORD shall be revealed was another way of saying, ‘ the LORD of glory shall be revealed.’ As GOD came in person to deliver His people in the Exodus, so He was coming in person to save them, not only from Babylon, but from their sins that had driven them into exile. This time however, their GOD would be seen in a way He had never appeared before. This is only the latest of a series of earlier announcements to that effect.
In Chapter 7, verse 14:
Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son and shall call his name ‘Immanu El’. Immanuel means GOD with us. It was never used of any one else but of the Messiah who would be GOD and man in one person and who would be born of a virgin through the creating power of GOD. In Chapter 9, verse 6;
For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given, and the Government shall be upon His shoulder; and His Name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty GOD, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. This prophecy also mentions the fact that our Messiah is Divine in all respects and yet, for our redemption, He is born into this world and among His people Israel, as a human being.
It would be blasphemous for any other to be called ‘Mighty GOD’, but as far as Messiah is concerned, it is His rightful name. In Chapter 35, verses 1 through 4;
The wilderness and the wasteland shall be glad for them, and the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose. It shall blossom abundantly and rejoice, even with joy and singing. The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it; the excellency of Carmel and Sharon. They shall see the glory of the LORD, the excellency of our GOD. Strengthen the weak hands and make firm the feeble knees. Say to those who are fearful hearted, ‘Be strong, do not fear; behold your GOD will come with vengeance with the recompense of GOD. He will come and save you.’ The whole context speaks of the redeemed people; their redemption, and their Divine Redeemer.
Behold, your GOD! He will come and save you.
This glad message was entrusted to Zion, or Jerusalem, as the representative of her people. It was not sufficient to proclaim comfort. It was also absolutely necessary to announce the One through whom we find the comfort we need. Anything less than this is a betrayal of our mandate and our responsibility. The word ‘behold’ is used three times in verses 9 through 10;
Behold your GOD. Behold the LORD GOD shall come with a strong hand, and His own arm shall rule for Him. Behold, His reward is with Him, and His work before Him.
He is coming to bestow the promised blessings called His reward in these verses, and His work of recompense will be the fruit of His labours, the joy of seeing His people reconciled to GOD. And now the description of our Divine Messiah appears in verse 11:
He will feed His flock like a shepherd; He will gather the lambs with His arm and carry them in His bosom and gently lead those who are with young. To make sure we understand that He is referring to His people in a figure, GOD says in Ezekiel, Chapter 34, verse 31;
‘You are My flock, the flock of My pasture. You are men and I am your GOD,’ says the LORD GOD.
Throughout the Scriptures GOD is depicted as the shepherd of His people, and in the passage we have been looking at, this shepherd is no other than the Messiah. For example, in this 34 Chapter of Ezekiel, GOD has been rebuking the leaders of Israel because they did not look after the spiritual welfare of their people. He then says in verses 11 through 16;
For thus says the LORD GOD, ‘Indeed I Myself will search for My sheep and seek them out. As a shepherd seeks out his flock on the day he is amongst his scattered sheep, so will I seek out My sheep and deliver them.... I will feed them in good pasture.... I will feed My flock, and I will make them lie down,’ says the LORD GOD. ‘I will seek what was lost, and bring back what was driven away; bind up the broken hearted, and strengthen what was sick.’ It is a passage very reminiscent of the 23 Psalm, and in both cases, we get the picture of the Divine Shepherd.
To confirm that we are referring to none other than the Messiah of Israel, we have only to turn to Zechariah, Chapter 13, verse 7;
‘Awake, sword, against my shepherd, against the man who is My companion,’ says the LORD OF HOSTS. ‘Strike the shepherd and the sheep will be scattered; then I will turn My hand upon the little ones.’This shepherd is described as the
man who is My companion. to emphasize his humanity, but GOD also calls him,
My companion, or ’My fellow to emphasize His deity, His equality with GOD. He is smitten with the sword of judgment, which means He is killed for the sake of His sheep. The sheep are scattered, but GOD turns His protecting hand over them to preserve them. All this was necessary to procure for us the blessings promised in Isaiah Chapter 40, verse 1, especially the pardon of our iniquity.
In the words of YESHUA of Nazareth, John, Chapter 10, verse 11;
I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd gives his life for the sheep. Men and brethren, sons of the family of Abraham and those among you who fear GOD, to you the Word of this salvation has been sent. (Acts 13:26). YESHUA of Nazareth is that Divine Shepherd that was smitten for our iniquities. It is He who is the long awaited Messiah, YESHUA Ha’Mashiach ADONAI ELOHEINU. Shalom!