Prophets often delivered bad news that things would get worse. But depending on your circumstances–like, when things are really bad, and each day’s news seems worse than yesterday’s –a prophet has a harder job: to proclaim hope. Pastor Luke preaches from Isaiah 40:1–10 in “Real Help for Real Problems,” part 2 of his 4-part series “Promise Keeper.”
Questions to Consider
OPEN. 1. What’s the best, most exciting news you’ve heard in the past year? (If you can’t think of any, expand the time-frame until you can.)
UNPACK. Read Isaiah 40: 1–11.
2. Read Isaiah 39: 5–8. What does it say (or suggest) is the reason that Babylon would conquer Jerusalem?
3. Why was Hezekiah satisfied with the bad news that Isaiah prophesied?
4. Read 2 Chronicles 36: 15–20. How does it compare with Isaiah’s prophecy to Hezekiah? What reason does it give for Babylon’s conquest of Jerusalem and Judah?
5. What happened next, according to 2 Chronicles 36: 22–23? How did it fulfill the prophecy of Isaiah 40?
6. Read John 1: 19–23. If the prophecies of Isaiah 40 had already been fulfilled (question 5), how could John the Baptist say that he was the “voice” preparing a way for the Lord?
7. How would you interpret Isaiah 40: 5 in light of John the Baptist?
APPLY. 8. When have you received bad news? Were you able to dismiss it as easily as Hezekiah? Why or why not?
9. Read Isaiah 40: 9–11 again, but replace “The Lord GOD” and “He” with “Jesus.” Which seems more characteristic to you: Jesus’ strength (v. 10) or his gentleness (v.11)? Why?
10. Re-read the passage. This time, also substitute your name wherever it talks about sheep. How would it have comforted you during the time you describe in question 8? Is it comforting today? Why or why not?