We often think of God bringing comfort to people but so often we imply that all their problems are solved whereas the word of God brings comfort to people in the midst of their problems. Isaiah chapter 40 is an example of this. The people of Israel are in exile, everything has gone terribly wrong. Jerusalem has been invaded and the Temple of the living God has been destroyed. Into this bleak situation comes the words of Isaiah. These are not just nice words but rather the words of the living God to a desolate and despairing people.
Comfort, comfort my people,
says your God.
2 Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
and proclaim to her
that her hard service has been completed,
that her sin has been paid for,
that she has received from the Lord’s hand
double for all her sins.
The Lord knows and recognises the distress of his people, and speaks words of comfort to them. it is interesting to note that that the words speak tenderly, literally mean speak to the heart. These are not superficial words but something that is meant to speak to the core of our being. These are words of hope which when received bring assurance and rejoicing to the soul. These people knew their guilt and they also knew that there was no way to atone for their sins. They felt alone and desperate, the exile made them feel that they had been cast out from the presence of God. Into this situation came the word of God assuring them of forgiveness and restoration. For these people to know that the price has been paid for their forgiveness this is good news indeed. The same can be said for anyone returning to the Lord. This good news is made clearer through the gospel message, which spells out what Jesus has done to redeem his people from their sins. The gospel message is made clear through all that Jesus did in his incarnate life and ministry. All though we rightly concentrate upon his death we must also realise that hjis whole life was one of active obedience to God. Indeed we need to realise that from his birth until his ascension everything is part of our salvation history.
A voice of one calling:
“In the wilderness prepare
the way for the Lord[a];
make straight in the desert
a highway for our God.[b]
4 Every valley shall be raised up,
every mountain and hill made low;
the rough ground shall become level,
the rugged places a plain.
5 And the glory of the Lord will be revealed,
and all people will see it together.
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”
These verses show that by his saving grace God has chosen to overcome everything that is in the way of his saving purposes. Nothing can stop the glory of the Lord being revealed to His people. Problems may seem has high as mountains and he will deal with them. There is to be a pathway in the desert, a highway for God. God overcomes the obstacles by really dealing with them. Notice that God has spoken and therefore his promise will be kept.
A voice says, “Cry out.”
And I said, “What shall I cry?”
“All people are like grass,
and all their faithfulness is like the flowers of the field.
7 The grass withers and the flowers fall,
because the breath of the Lord blows on them.
Surely the people are grass.
8 The grass withers and the flowers fall,
but the word of our God endures forever.”
These verses declare to us the frailty of humankind, everything about us is weak and we are compared to the grass in the field. But the word of God endures forever our comfort and strength is found in the word of God. When we feel our own weakness, we know that our God is almighty and loving and will keep his word to us. When we trust the word of God, we soon realise that our God is a God of amazing grace.At the same time as being an awesome, almighty God and because of this we can trust God with everything.
You who bring good news to Zion,
go up on a high mountain.
You who bring good news to Jerusalem,[c]
lift up your voice with a shout,
lift it up, do not be afraid;
say to the towns of Judah,
“Here is your God!”
10 See, the Sovereign Lord comes with power,
and he rules with a mighty arm.
See, his reward is with him,
and his recompense accompanies him.
11 He tends his flock like a shepherd:
He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart;
he gently leads those that have young.
When we proclaim the good news, we are to proclaim the sovereignty and power of our God, the God who rules with a mighty arm is also the one who tenderly shepherds his sheep. This is tremendously comforting. Our God deals with us gently and holds us in His almighty arms. If this were not good enough we are told that he carries his people close to his heart. Is this a reality for you?