GETTING THE MESSAGE/Isaiah 40:9-11
In verses 6-8, the Lord directed us to focus on men, their power and righteousness. He wants us to see that there is a reality beyond what we can see in external appearances. He compares men to the beauty of flowers; their glory is short-lived. There is no hope or future in trusting in yourself or men for salvation.
In verse 9, the Lord now directs our focus upon who he is and what he has done; to look upon his glory. It is a pronouncement of good news; such good news his people are to declare it from "a high mountain," and with "raised voice with strength." We would say make it loud and clear, and so everyone hears it.
This is a prophecy of the gospel, and the church taking it to the ends of the earth; the Lord gathering his people to himself (through this proclamation), saving them from the power of the devil, sin, and death. There is no way of measuring just how good this news is.
The imagery we are given to begin to understand it is manifold. One is God placing an angel with a sword at the entrance of Eden after man has been expelled for sin. It is an unmistakable (and enduring) sign that God's prohibition of man being able to enter his presence tainted with sin will be enforced, and the penalty is death. The apostle Paul says those not in Christ, will be shut out from the presence of God.
In that same verse (2nd Thessalonians 1), he also says they will be cast away from the glory of the Lord's might. In Isaiah 40:10 we see language referring to God's might; "The Lord God comes with might, and his arm rules for him." The Lord's "arm" refers to his strength. Isaiah 53 begins with, "to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?"
The rest of Isaiah 53 describes the suffering servant of God; he is the arm of the Lord. We read of a man crushed by the Lord, assigned a place with the wicked at his death, even though he had done no violence and there was no deceit in his mouth. The reason for his death was the Lord laid on him the iniquity of us all, for we all like sheep had gone astray.
The suffering servant is of course Christ the Lord. With his might he has conquered death, by way of his own death and resurrection from the dead. He only could take away the just recompense of God against sinners by taking it upon himself. Those who do not belong to Christ are shut out forever from the glory of this "might," or great salvation.
But for we who believe; our life comes from his death; our healing by his stripes, our joys by his sorrow; our exaltation, by his humiliation. By death he has conquered, by the shedding of his blood he has gained the victory. Salvation exceeds all the miracles ever wrought by God and those in Christ rest and exult in him forever.
Christ's people in this world are to live by this truth; the gospel. We are told not to fear, both because we have this promise and hope (above all promises and hopes), and because we will have to go through tribulation and opposition to the truth in our lives here.
Verse 11 is a word of great encouragement to Christ's sheep. One of the fears a Christian has is, "Will I be able to endure to the end in faith?" Christians can be very sensitive to their own weakness and struggles with sin. Here he Lord tells them he has special care for his weak, burdened sheep. He doesn't cast them aside when they sin, but picks them up and brings them closer to his heart.
Peter grew stronger, more watchful and humble after his fall. The Good Shepherd knows each of his sheep by name; he knows how to shape and form you, how to keep your foot from slipping while you walk through this world. Those whom he justified he will sanctify.
A Christian shouldn't look at the troubled world, peer into tomorrow, and wonder if he will have faith to meet his trials here. We are told in verse 11, that the same arm of might the Lord wielded to conquer death will be used to bear up his lambs. Nothing can separate you from the love of God in Christ Jesus. Look to him. Call upon him.