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Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible, by John Wesley, [1754-65], at

Isaiah Chapter 40

Isaiah 40:1

isa 40:1

Ye - Ye prophets and ministers.

Isaiah 40:2

isa 40:2

Warfare - The time of her captivity, and misery. Double - Not twice as much as her sins deserved, but abundantly enough to answer God's design in this chastisement, which was to humble and reform them, and to warn others by their example.

Isaiah 40:3

isa 40:3

The voice - An abrupt speech. Methinks I hear a voice. Wilderness - This immediately relates to the deliverance of the Jews out of Babylon, and smoothing their passage from thence to Judea, which lay through a great wilderness; but principally to their redemption by the Messiah, whose coming was ushered in by the cry of John the baptist, in the wilderness. Prepare ye the way - You to whom this work belongs. He alludes to the custom of princes who send pioneers before them to prepare the way through which they are to pass. The meaning is, God shall by his spirit so dispose mens hearts, and by his providence so order the affairs of the world, as to make way for the accomplishment of his promise. This was eminently fulfilled, when Christ, who was, and is God, blessed for ever, came into the world in a visible manner.

Isaiah 40:6

isa 40:6

Cry - God speaks unto his ministers. He - The prophet. All flesh - The prophet having foretold glorious things, confirms the certainty of them, by representing the vast difference between the nature, and word, and work of men and of God. All that men are or have, yea, their highest accomplishments, are but like the grass of the field, weak and vanishing, soon nipt and brought to nothing; but God's word is like himself, immutable and irresistible: and therefore as the mouth of the Lord, and not of man, hath spoken these things, so doubt not but they shall be fulfilled.

Isaiah 40:9

isa 40:9

Zion - Zion or Jerusalem is the publisher, and the cities of Judah the hearers. Get up - That thy voice may be better heard. Afraid - Lest thou shouldest be found a false prophet. Say - To all my people in the several places of their abode. Behold - Take notice of this wonderful work, and glorious appearance of your God.

Isaiah 40:10

isa 40:10

His arm - He shall need no succours, for his own power shall be sufficient to govern his people, and to destroy his adversaries. His reward - He comes furnished with recompences as well of blessings for his friends, as of vengeance for his enemies. His work - He carries on his work effectually: for that is said in scripture to be before a man which is in his power.

Isaiah 40:12

isa 40:12

Who hath - Who can do this but God? And this discourse of God's infinite power and wisdom, is added to give them the greater assurance, that God was able to do the wonderful things, he had promised.

Isaiah 40:13

isa 40:13

Who - Who did God either need or take to advise him in any of his works, either of creation or the government of the world.

Isaiah 40:15

isa 40:15

Are counted - By him, and in comparison of him. The dust - Which accidentally cleaves to the balance, but makes no alteration in the weight. The isles - Those numerous and vast countries, to which they went from Judea by sea, which are commonly called isles.

Isaiah 40:16

isa 40:16

Lebanon - If men were to offer a sacrifice agreeable to his infinite excellency, the whole forest of Lebanon could not afford either a sufficient number of beasts to be sacrificed: or, a sufficient quantity of wood to consume the sacrifice.

Isaiah 40:18

isa 40:18

To whom - This is a proper inference from the foregoing discourse of God's infinite greatness; from whence he takes occasion to shew both the folly of those that make mean and visible representations of God, and the utter inability of men or idols to give any opposition to God.

Isaiah 40:19

isa 40:19

Melteth - He melts metal into a mould, which afterwards is graven or carved to make it more exact.

Isaiah 40:20

isa 40:20

He - That can hardly procure money to buy a sacrifice. Chuseth - He is so mad upon his idols, that he will find money to procure the choicest materials, and the best artist to make his idol. An image - Which after all this cost, cannot stir one step out of its place to give you any help.

Isaiah 40:21

isa 40:21

Known - God to be the only true God, the maker and governor of the world.

Isaiah 40:22

isa 40:22

Sitteth - Far above this round earth, even in the highest heavens; from whence he looketh down upon the earth, where men appear to him like grasshoppers. As here we have the circle of the earth, so elsewhere we read of the circle of heaven, Job 22:14, and of the circle of the deep, or sea, Pro 8:27, because the form of the heaven, and earth and sea is circular. Spreadeth - For the benefit of the earth and of mankind, that all parts might partake of its comfortable influences.

Isaiah 40:24

isa 40:24

Sown - They shall take no root, for planting and sowing are in order to taking root. They shall not continue and flourish, as they have vainly imagined, but shall be rooted up and perish.

Isaiah 40:26

isa 40:26

Bringeth - That at first brought them out of nothing, and from day to day brings them forth, making them to rise and set in their appointed times. Faileth - Either to appear when he calls them; or to do the work to which he sends them.

Isaiah 40:27

isa 40:27

What - Why dost thou give way to such jealousies concerning thy God, of whose infinite power and wisdom, and goodness, there are such evident demonstrations. Is hid - He takes no notice of my prayers and tears, and sufferings, but suffers mine enemies to abuse me at their pleasure. This complaint is uttered in the name of the people, being prophetically supposed to be in captivity. Judgment - My cause. God has neglected to plead my cause, and to give judgment for me against mine enemies.

Isaiah 40:30

isa 40:30

The youths - The youngest and strongest men, left to themselves.

Isaiah 40:31

isa 40:31

Wait - That rely upon him. Renew - Shall grow stronger and stronger.

Next: Isaiah Chapter 41