Preparation: As you prepare for today’s scripture, it might be helpful to look at a topographical map of Israel (many Bibles have maps in the back), and take note of the terrain around Jerusalem. Imagine the journey to Jerusalem through the rugged mountains, dry, desolate desert and deep craggy valleys. These words of hope are written to a nation in exile, to a people who have suffered much because of disobedience to God.
Read: Read through Isaiah 40:1-11. As you read the passage a second time, highlight or record the words or phrases that stand out to you.
Meditate: Reflect on the words or phrases you noted. Repeat them several times, imprinting them in your mind, allowing the Holy Spirit to speak to your heart.
Pray: Pray for wisdom and understanding as you reflect upon these words. Note the contrast between the frailty of humankind and the power of God. Yet this all powerful God cares for his people like a shepherd, holding us close to his heart.
Contemplate: Reflect upon what these words mean for you today. How does it impact your view of God to know that He is coming, indeed, has come through the person of Jesus Christ, Emmanuel (God with us)? What concrete steps can you take today to share this hope of the world with someone you know?
Going Further: Several of the verses of this chapter are quoted in the New Testament. For further study, read and reflect upon the story of John the Baptist in Matthew 3:1-12 and the words of Peter in I Peter 1:22-25.