2 Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
and cry to her
that her warfare [time of service] is ended,
that her iniquity is pardoned,
that she has received from the Lord's hand
double for all her sins.
3 A voice cries: [A voice of one crying]
“In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord;
make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
4 Every valley shall be lifted up,
and every mountain and hill be made low;
the uneven ground shall become level,
and the rough places a plain.
5 And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed,
and all flesh shall see it together,
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”
6 A voice says, “Cry!”
And I said, [And someone says] “What shall I cry?”
All flesh is grass,
and all its beauty [all its constancy] is like the flower of the field.
7 The grass withers, the flower fades
when the breath of the Lord blows on it;
surely the people are grass.
8 The grass withers, the flower fades,
but the word of our God will stand forever.
9 Get you up to a high mountain,
O Zion, herald of good news; [O herald of good news to Zion]
lift up your voice with strength,
O Jerusalem, herald of good news; [O herald of good news to Jerusalem]
lift it up, fear not;
say to the cities of Judah,
“Behold your God!”
10 Behold, the Lord God comes with might,
and his arm rules for him;
behold, his reward is with him,
and his recompense before him.
11 He will tend his flock like a shepherd;
he will gather the lambs in his arms;
he will carry them in his bosom,
and gently lead those that are with young.
Isaiah was a prophet in the 8th-century BC Kingdom of Judah. He prophesied 44 years during the reigns of Uzziah (or Azariah), Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah. Isaiah saw at least two invasions and by the 4th king, Hezekiah trusted Isaiah's Word from the Lord, to repell the Assyrians and ended with a peaceful reign.
Isaiah's words move between past - 8th Century BC - present - what we hope for today- & future - what will be God's will, Judah/Israel & God's eternal heaven. And all three, God's word is constant.
Matthew Henry sees this passage as "And may the Lord prepare our hearts by the teaching of his word and the convictions of his Spirit, that high and proud thoughts may be brought down, good desires planted, crooked and rugged tempers made straight and softened, and every hindrance removed, that we may be ready for his will on earth, and prepared for his heavenly kingdom." ( ~ Very beautifully written.)
Geneva Study Bible says that man's life is short, frail, but the magnificence of God and His miracle gives us all of His Promises for always. ( ~ Interesting to see the comparison between the greatness of God and humans.)
Wesley's Notes on the Bible, very wise, see the passage about John the Baptist as also applying to the return of exiles from Babylon. Pointing out God's will and God's word continues and repeats through the generations. (~ I am always so encouraged when we see things repeat in the bible, knowing it repeats today as well.)
Scofield Reference Notes see this passage as prophesy for Israel "Since Israel is to be regathered, converted, and made the centre of the new social order when the kingdom is set up, this part of Isaiah appropriately contains glowing prophecies concerning these events. The full view of the redemptive sufferings of Christ." Israel will be a center for these things on earth. ( ~ Revelation agrees Israel will be something the world looks towards, even in the end days.)
~ Personally, it irritates me when Scripture is taken apart and given different narratives. Even if we sit down to write a letter to someone to explain a lengthy situation or idea, our handwriting and tone will be somewhat different on each page with different emotions coming from the letter writing. For example, this commentary says the difference between Isaiah 39 and 40 is Isaiah's age. This just cannot be known, instead we must see the communication between Isaiah 39 & 40 as the vastness of the Creator of the Universe telling us of different situations and times.
Which one is right? They all are. (I would disagree with anyone who looks at Isaiah & says we can pinpoint when Isaiah's prophecy from the Lord stops.) The Bible is living and active.
The Lord lives within us when we accept Jesus Christ. For each season of our lives, God is for us. In trouble, God is our salvation daily - a wilderness still in God's care. In good times, God in His Glory prevails. We don't need to read the Bible just as history. Or we recognize that portion as the old John the Baptist portion. Not just looking at biblical stories with nostalgia of great times, we can look ahead in hope. God is for us in this time and in this generation. His reward is with Him and He is with us.