God’s Word is everlasting, reliable even when everything else in our lives changes or doesn’t last. The hopeful message of Isaiah 40 reminds us of this, promising that God will always be with us and that we can count on Him no matter what. God loves us and cares for us, nurturing His people like a shepherd and responding when we call. He wants to comfort us and give us His peace. This lesson highlights elements of the passage, including the “fading flowers” verse and the comfort component, to bring to life how marvelous our great God is in our lives.
God is with us no matter what. We know that His promises are reliable and true and that all He says will last. We have the hope of Christ’s coming, death, and resurrection. Recalling this helps us to know that God is faithful to His promises and mighty to save. This passage assures us that God gives us hope and comfort, strengthening us with His care. When all else in life seems great, God is there. When all else seems to fail, God is there!
One Thing Endures Forever – Sunday School Lesson: Isaiah 40
Passage: Isaiah 40:1-11
This lesson is a free sample courtesy of the Sunday School Store.
Target Audience: Kindergarten-6th grade
Materials Needed: Construction paper; decorative supplies; glue; markers or crayons; tape; scissors; paper plate; plants; dying plants; paper bags; small treats; comforting items; Bibles.
Lesson Opening: This passage from Isaiah contains a few special elements to highlight, all of which point to the comfort and hope we have in Jesus. God gives us His joy and comfort, no matter what is happening or changing in our lives. To get students thinking and ready to learn, consider an activity opener along these lines:
- Fading flowers match-up: Provide students with pictures or real like examples of flowers or plants that have died or are dying, along with pictures or the same plants in their more “lively” state. Have students match the living plants with their decaying counterparts.
- Crooked made straight paths: set up two obstacle courses for students, featuring a lot of crooked or bumpy areas. Have students race in two sets of pairs to complete the course, where one partner goes first and tries to straighten out all of the challenges for the next partner to easily race through.
- Smooth it out by hand: provide students with rough pieces of wood and sandpaper. Invite them to observe how the sandpaper, although it is rough, smooths out the wood. In the same way, God comes to smooth our paths, even though that might at times seem like things are harder for a time.
- Shepherd and sheep hide and seek: designate half of the students in the group to be “sheep” and the other half “shepherds.” Call for the sheep to scatter across a field and try to hide away. Then invite the shepherd to go look for them and bring them back to the “flock.”
- Comfort relay: set out several items that might be considered comforting, and split students into two teams. Provide students with papers that have a situation described, and have students race one at a time across a playing area to retrieve the item that might help (for instance, a blanket might help on a cold day). Try to see which team identifies and grabs all of the items fastest.
Explain to students that the focus passage in this lesson talks about how God comforts us, and how He is our hope and salvation even in the midst of life’s difficulties.
The passage in this lesson comes from the prophet Isaiah. It does not lend itself to a story format or acted out version as much, but is a great one to go through together and discuss a verse or two at a time. Have older students take turns reading, or read out loud for younger kids.
Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.
2 Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
and cry to her
that her warfare is ended,
that her iniquity is pardoned,
that she has received from the Lord’s hand
double for all her sins. -Isaiah 40:1-2
Isaiah speaks on behalf of God at the beginning of this chapter. He is literally giving words of comfort as he announces how God has called for a soft and tender message. The “warfare is ended”, meaning that God is not acting out of anger or wrath, but compassion. The people have already been punished as much as needed, and God is ready to love and care for them.
Ask: How do you think God speaks to us? What kinds of things bring you comfort?
A voice cries:
“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.”
For older students, you might mention the prophetic connection here to John the Baptist, who was sent to prepare for Jesus. If that’s a little heavy for younger audiences, simply point out how God’s glory is being revealed. God is acting to make things new and better. He will and is acting like a special concrete truck, in a manner of speaking, making bumpy roads new and smooth and straight. Remind students that these are the words of a prophet. Isaiah spoke about the coming of Jesus, and how He would make things new and better. Isaiah never knew Jesus on Earth, as he preached long before the birth of Christ. However, He knew that His coming would change everything. In a sense, though, we can also prepare the way for the Lord. We can tell others about Him and live in a way that honors and celebrates His coming.
Ask: What are some things that might seem like “rough roads” in your life? How do you think God will make those things “straight” again?
A voice says, “Cry!”
And I said, “What shall I cry?”
All flesh is grass,
and all its beauty 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. -Isaiah 40:6-8
Discuss things that fade away. In different seasons, all things fade and die. Winter can be a somewhat saddening time, as we see plants and trees grow brown and barren. In fact, nothing truly lasts forever. People change and move away. Plants and animals and even loved ones pass away. These verses give us hope, though. Just as we know that winter cold will eventually give way to springtime blossoms, we know that seasons in our lives will transform and the hope of the Lord will prevail. Here we see that “the word of our God will stand forever.” The hope we can cling to in the midst of life’s changes is that God’s word prevails. We can count on that! Not much in this life is reliable…but the word of God is!
Ask: How can we remember that God’s Word remains and gives us hope?
Go on up to a high mountain,
O Zion, herald of good news;
lift up your voice with strength,
O Jerusalem, herald of good news;
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.
This is something of an announcement, providing joyful news to the people. This shout is given to God’s people, reminding them how He is with us always and takes care of us. This is, of course, not the only place in the Bible where God is referred to as a shepherd. A shepherd looks out for the helpless sheep and takes care of them. In this verse, we see a beautiful image of the shepherd gathering lambs in His arms and leading them gently and carefully. God will gather us in His arms, caring for us and leading us with love and strength. There is nothing we need fear when we know that God is with us. He will always be with us, and His might and strength are behind us. We trust in Him and rely on Him as sheep trust their good shepherd. This final part of the passage gives us even more comfort. God is with us always. We have the hope of His presence and of His goodness, now and forever.
Ask: We don’t have many shepherds in this day and age…can you think of something else that God might be like if we consider Him our “shepherd”? (Pet owner, parent, guide, etc.)
Remind students that God loves us and comforts us. In our lives there will be seasons and changes, but we know that God is with us through all of those things. He will never change. Nothing can remove His love, and we have the hope that He is faithful to all of His promises. No matter what else happens, we can be comforted by His love and steadfastness, now and forever.
Close with prayer, thanking God for being present and comforting us, and asking for His help to trust and obey Him through all of life’s changes.