When I first began the Cycle, verse by verse, it was hypothesis without proof. But evidence poured in as we proceeded, suggesting we were on the right track – we have thousands of verses classified according to the Cycle up to this point, but very few where the Cycle as a whole has come into glaring focus.
Most of this sense of the long road comes because, when we read of the restoration of Israel prophesied by the biblical prophets, we wonder when, and then we think of the establishment of the nation of Israel in 1948 – wasn’t that Israel’s restoration? No, it was not; and it eventually becomes clear that Jesus the Messiah had to die, be raised up to heaven and return again before Israel can experience restoration. Since Jesus has not yet returned, the Cycle becomes magnified in the final 27 chapters of Isaiah and offers critical perspective now on what Jesus might be waiting to see from his children.
This could not be more timely in light of the hurricanes, earthquakes and epic wildfires just over the past few weeks.
Much to my joy and hopefully yours, Chapter 40 presents a complete view of the Cycle in just 31 verses. I cannot remember a section we have studied so far that has included all ten aspects of the Cycle in so few verses. Since God does not work according to Larry’s chronology, the verses must be rearranged a bit to see the elements of the Cycle:
- Command: “…prepare the way of the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God…Go up…lift up your voice…fear not; say…’Behold your God!’” (40:3,9)
- Temptation: “An idol! A craftsman casts it, and a goldsmith overlays it with gold and casts for it silver chains…he seeks…to set up an idol that will not move” (40:19-20)
- Disobedience: “Did you not know? Did you not hear? Has it not been told…Have you not understood?” (40:21)
- Disunity: “Why do you say, O Jacob, and speak, O Israel, “My way is hidden from the Lord and my right is disregarded by my Lord?” (40:27)
- Warning: “It is he…who brings princes to nothing, and makes the rulers of the earth as emptiness” (40:22-23)
- Judgment: “Scarcely are they planted, scarcely sown, scarcely has their stem taken root…when he blows on them, and they wither, and the tempest carries them off like stubble” (40:24)
- Repentance: “A voice says, ‘Cry!’ And I said, ‘What shall I cry?’ All flesh is grass, and its beauty is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever” (40:6,8)
- Never-ending Love of God: “Comfort, comfort my people, says your God…He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom…” (40:1,11)
- Restoration: “Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that her warfare is ended, that her iniquity is pardoned…” (40:2)
- Perfect Unity with God: “And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together…they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint” (40:5,31)
The Cycle suggests total commitment: to obey his commands; recognize temptation; eliminate disobedience; reject disunity; heed his warnings; grow toward him as he judges; repent sincerely; hold close his never-ending love for us; expect restoration in his timing, not ours; and finally, at long last, to join him in perfect unity!