At this chapter begins the latter part of the prophecy of this book, which is not only divided from the former by the historical chapters that come between, but seems to be distinguished from it in the scope and style of it. In the former part the name of the prophet was frequently prefixed to the particular sermons, besides the general title (as Isa. 2:1; 7:3; 13:1); but this is all one continued discourse, and the prophet not so much as once named. That consisted of many burdens, many woes; this consists of many blessings. There the distress which the people of God were in by the Assyrian, and their deliverance out of that, were chiefly prophesied of; but that is here spoken of as a thing past (Isa. 52:4); and the captivity in Babylon, and their deliverance out of that, which were much greater events, of more extensive and abiding concern, are here largely foretold. Before God sent his people into captivity he furnished them with precious promises for their support and comfort in their trouble; and we may well imagine of what great use to them the glorious, gracious, light of this prophecy was, in that cloudy and dark day, and how much it helped to dry up their tears by the rivers of Babylon. But it looks further yet, and to greater things; much of Christ and gospel grace we meet with in the foregoing part of this book, but in this latter part we shall find much more; and, as if it were designed for a prophetic summary of the New Testament, it begins with that which begins the gospels, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness” (Isa. 40:3), and concludes with that which concludes the book of the Revelation, “The new heavens and the new earth,” (Isa. 66:22). Even Mr. White acknowledges that, as all the mercies of God to the Jewish nation bore some resemblance to those glorious things performed by our Saviour for man’s redemption, so they are by the Spirit of God expressed in such terms as show plainly that while the prophet is speaking of the redemption of the Jews he had in his thoughts a more glorious deliverance. And we need not look for any further accomplishment of these prophecies yet to come; for if Jesus be he, and his kingdom be it, that should come, we are to look for no other, but the carrying on and completing of the same blessed work which was begun in the first preaching and planting of Christianity in the world.
In this chapter we have, I. Orders given to preach and publish the glad tidings of redemption, Isa. 40:1, 2. II. These glad tidings introduced by a voice in the wilderness, which gives assurance that all obstructions shall be removed (Isa. 40:3-5), and that, though all creatures fail and fade, the word of God shall be established and accomplished, Isa. 40:5-8. III. A joyful prospect given to the people of God of the happiness which this redemption should bring along with it, Isa. 40:9-11. IV. The sovereignty and power of that God magnified who undertakes to work out this redemption, Isa. 40:12-17. V. Idols therefore triumphed over and idolaters upbraided with their folly, Isa. 40:18-26. VI. A reproof given to the people of God for their fears and despondencies, and enough said, in a few words, to silence these fears, Isa. 40:27-31. And we, through patience and comfort of this scripture, may have hope.