Scripture Text: Isaiah 40:1 – 11
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1. What was the most exciting news you ever received? Why was it so welcomed?
2. What is the farthest distance you have ever run or walked? How did you feel at the end?
3. Jerusalem’s deliverance in 701 BC from the Assyrian king Sennacherib (Isaiah 37) climaxes the prophecies of Isaiah chapters 1 – 39. Chapters 40 – 48 deal with events that occur some 150 years later. In 587 BC, Jerusalem was sacked and its people deported to Babylon (the new world power; see 2 Kings 25).
Given this situation, what does Isaiah emphatic “comfort” mean to Israel? What word of comfort do the three “voices” bring (verses 3, 6, 9)? What images does the Lord us to assure His people of their forgiveness?
4. In Isaiah’s time the coming king was announced by a herald. People literally leveled the roads the king would travel. What king is in view in verses 3 – 5? What does it mean to prepare the way for him?
5. How would this message affect you if you were one of these defeated people torn away from your home, your faith and your way of life? After all you’d been through at the hands of foreign kings, how would you feel toward the coming King?
6. What then would the eternal word of God (verses 6 – 8) mean to you? What promises from Israel’s history might be in view here (see Genesis 12:1 – 3; 2 Samuel 7:8 – 16)?
7. The Gospels quote verse 3 in reference to John the Baptist preparing the way for Jesus. What does that imply about the identity of Jesus?
8. How can you “prepare the way” in your life for Jesus? What needs leveling or shoring up?
9. Jesus comes as a Shepherd (verse 11) as well as King. What sort of sheep do you feel like: cradled? wandering? lost? caught? content?