Bible Study Notes
CHAPTER 40:1-2 A Gospel Twofer: Two Gifts for One Sin
1 Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God.
Comfort or speak the sweet, joyful Gospel of the coming Messiah. Speak it to my people. The emphasis is on My/God’s people. It implies a people that God will not forsake. It also implies that there is a people that God does not claim as His own. He claim those who are of a crushed and humble conscience and who with a troubled heart call upon God in their day of trouble. There is another people that rely on themselves or their own resources to get them through their troubles. That people is not the people of God. That people needs no comfort for they are not troubled or emptied and are too full to receive any comfort. Comfort implies an affliction. God’s people are those who have been wounded and terrified by God’s good Law and are empty vessels capable of receiving comfort, God’s good Gospel. Comfort means nothing if there isn’t an affliction. Your God emphasizes your because a troubled conscience does not think it has God but considers God a devil, an enemy, the source of all trouble. Your implies the saying “Do not be afraid” in this affliction.
2 Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished (ended), that her iniquity (immoral behavior) is pardoned (forgiven): for she hath received of the LORD’S hand double for all her sins.
Speak means a bold public statement, not a quiet encouragement. To quote Martin Luther: To speak tenderly, or “to the heart,” is a Hebraism which means to flatter (make someone feel honored and pleased), to cajole (to persuade someone), as in Gen. 34:3: “He spoke tenderly to her.” So here, the heart, groaning and sighing, is comforted by the Spirit, for the Spirit speaks to the heart as He wills. Do you want a gracious God? He answers: “You have a gracious God.” Do you want to be comforted? He answers: “You are comforted.” Here, then, you observe God’s people, afflicted and sad. To them the Gospel is spoken, to their heart and feeling. For Gospel preachers are commanded to say joyful things, more than the heart can grasp, as Paul says (Rom. 8:26), “with sighs too deep for words.” So these groans are comforted with consolations too deep for words. Let the preacher say, then: “I not only preach Christ to you as the One who forgives, but I also give you His righteousness, so that, clothed with Him, you may have all that is His. The comfort is therefore far more excellent than all groanings. Do you want to be holy? I will make you holy, yes, most holy through Christ.”
Warfare is ended
Again Luther, “Here the prophet explains what the words of comfort are and what his treasure is: “Our warfare is ended, and double gifts are given in its stead.” Let these words avail against the advocates of free will. Warfare. In the Sacred Scriptures every striving, attempt, and religious exercise represents this warfare of the Law. May the Spirit change it into the warfare of Christ! For to conduct warfare under the Law is2 to strive and to toil under the Law. Certainly those who are zealous in offering works of the Law have this warfare, like the self-righteous, just as the Jews conducted warfare under the Law with an evil zeal (Rom. 10:2). Warfare is the anxious and agitated concern to render satisfaction to God. For under the Law we are as it were under a custodian (Gal. 3:24). To love and to strive is to conduct warfare, and they are zealous in these works of loving and striving. When these works are finished, it is said that “your warfare is ended.” Thus those who are zealous of works here conduct warfare under the Law. For them another warfare is set forth by the Spirit and the Word, namely, Christ as the Mediator and the One who renders satisfaction, as the apostles teach. Every man must necessarily first be disturbed by the scepter of the Law, of death, and of hell and must experience a confounding of his conscience. Such people truly conduct warfare under the Law. To them properly belongs the comfort of the Gospel which says, “Do not fight any longer. Your warfare is finished and ended through Christ, the Redeemer.”
Your iniquity forgiven
Again Luther, “First, then, the warfare of the Law is abolished, that is, whatever there is of strivings, of works, and of toil outside of grace. (All tyrants, such as the pope and the Turk, are unwilling to see their warfare ended but want it to be perfected. As for you, ...put aside this warfare. The second thing, your iniquity is forgiven, that is, forgiven by grace and mercy. You are set free from sins, not by working and struggling but by forgiveness.
double for all her sins
Again Luther, “For in place of because of is a Hebraism. Grace is wonderful. Not only is a single gift given for sins, but doubled and outstanding gifts are given. Summary: By the pure mercy of God doubled gifts are given for all sins. We have learned this by experience. By our endless works and labors and in endless ways we have resisted this grace and achieved nothing but anguish of conscience. Here, however, you see it said by the wisdom of the Spirit that we attain to all these things by the grace of God alone, not as a result of our merits, but for our sins.