Yahweh calls the victor from the east (Isa 41:2 -41:4)

“Who has roused a victor from the east?

Who summoned him to service?

He delivers up nations to him.

He tramples kings under foot.

He makes them

Like dust with his sword.

He makes them

Like driven stubble with his bow.

He pursues them.

He passes on safely,

Scarcely toughing the path

With his feet.

Who has performed this?

Who has done this?

He is calling the generations

From the beginning.

I!

Yahweh!

I am the first!

I will be with the last.”

Second Isaiah wants to know who has summoned the victor conquer from the east for service. This victor from the east was Cyrus, the King of Persia from 559-530 BCE, more than two centuries after the time of Isaiah. Cyrus the Great created the largest empire in the world with present day Iran the last vestige of that realm. Cyrus took over many countries, trampling kings. He made them like dust or stubble with his sword as well as his bow and arrows. He pursued many people, but he was always safe with his fast feet that barely touched the ground. Second Isaiah points out that Yahweh was behind Cyrus. Who allowed him to do all these things? Why it was Yahweh, who interjected himself in the first person singular, saying that he was eternally the first and the last.

The cities along the Mediterranean Sea should listen (Isa 41:1-41:1)

“Listen to me in silence!

O coastlands!

Let the people renew their strength!

Let them approach!

Let them speak!

Let us together

Draw near for judgment.”

Second Isaiah asks for people in the cities along the Mediterranean Sea to pay attention. They should renew their strength, approach him, and speak together in order to render judgment in some kind of court situation.

Powerful providence (Isa 40:27-40:31)

“Why do you say?

O Jacob!

Speak!

O Israel!

‘My way is hidden from Yahweh.

My right is disregarded by my God!’

Have you not known?

Have you not heard?

Yahweh is the everlasting God.

He is the Creator of the ends of the earth.

He does not faint.

He does not grow weary.

His understanding is unsearchable.

He gives power to the faint.

He strengthens the powerless.

Even youths will faint.

They will be weary.

Young men shall fall exhausted.

But those who wait for Yahweh

Shall renew their strength.

They shall mount up

With wings

Like eagles.

They shall run.

They shall not be weary.

They shall walk.

They shall not faint.”

This chapter concludes with a shout out to the great providence of God. Do not be concerned that God does not know about you. Yahweh is an everlasting God, the creator of everything. Although he is unsearchable, he does not grow faint or weary in his understanding of you. He gives power to the faint. He strengthens the powerless. Even if some young people grow faint, weary, and exhausted, anyone who waits for Yahweh will find renewed strength. They will fly with wings like they were eagles. They will run and not be weary. They will walk and not be faint. They just need to trust Yahweh, their God.

There is no comparison (Isa 40:25-40:26)

“‘To whom then

Will you compare me?

Who is my equal?’

Says the Holy One.

Lift up your eyes on high!

See!

Who created these?

He brings out their host.

He numbers them.

He calls them all by name.

Because he is great in strength,

Because he is mighty in power,

Not one is missing.”

Second Isaiah wants to know who you can compare to God. There is no one equal to him. He created everything. He has numbered everything. He knows the name of everything because he has great strength and power. He never misses anything.

The Creator (Isa 40:21-40:24)

“Have you not known?

Have you not heard?

Has it not been told you

From the beginning?

Have you not understood

From the foundations of the earth?

It is he

Who sits above the circle of the earth.

Its inhabitants are like grasshoppers.

He stretches out the heavens

Like a curtain.

He spreads them

Like a tent to live in.

He brings princes to naught.

He makes the rulers of the earth

As nothing.

Scarcely are they planted,

Scarcely sown,

Scarcely has their stem taken root in the earth,

When he blows upon them,

They wither.

The tempest carries them off

Like stubble.”

Second Isaiah continues to use the questioning style to make his point. He seems to call attention to the ignorance of the people. Do they not understand that God created them? God sits on top of the dome over the earth in the heavens, As Second Isaiah was expressing the cosmology of his day. God has stretched out the heavens like a curtain or a tent. All humans are like grasshoppers since he has such a lofty view. He controls the earthly princes and rulers. As soon as someone plants something and it begins to take roots, he blows on it and it withers. Then he sends a tempest storm to carry it off as stubble. Clearly God is in control as the creator of this world and the things in it.

How can you compare God with idols? (Isa 40:18-40:20)

“To whom then will you liken God?

What likeness compares with him?

An idol?

A workman casts it.

A goldsmith overlays it with gold.

He casts for it silver chains.

As a gift,

One chooses mulberry wood.

Wood that will not rot.

He seeks out a skilful artisan

To set up an image

That will not topple.”

Second Isaiah wants to know how you can compare God to false idols. Now a workman casts the idol and puts gold and silver over it. Or he may choose a mulberry bush wood that would not rot. He then carves an image and makes it so that it will not fall. How are these things comparable to the one true God? This is a fairly common theme in the second half of Isaiah, so that it might have been a serious problem.

The nothingness of all nations (Isa 40:15-40:17)

“Even the nations are

Like a drop from a bucket.

The nations are accounted

Like dust on the scales.

See!

He takes up the isles

Like fine dust.

Lebanon would not provide fuel enough.

Its animals are not enough for a burnt offering.

All the nations are as nothing

Before him.

They are accounted by him

As less than nothing,

Emptiness.”

Second Isaiah has Yahweh compare the value of all the countries and nations. They amount to nothing. They are like a drop in the bucket or dust on a scale. Yahweh considers all the islands like fine dust. Lebanon with all its trees would not be fuel enough for Yahweh. There were not enough animals there to make a burnt offering for him. All the nations are empty nothingness before Yahweh.