Comfort Ye My People
“Comfort ye my people …” - Isaiah 40:1-8
God speaks in advance of our need. He looks down the road and knows what we are going to face. He sees the challenges before we do. He experiences our pain before it ever comes to us. He understands our sorrows and frustrations. He anticipates our doubts and every temptation we will ever face.
He knows there will come a time when we need a word of comfort.
He knew such a time would come for His people and prompted Isaiah to comfort them. He knew that in the fullness of time that word of comfort would come as the Word made flesh and dwelling among us. Try to hear these words from Isaiah 40 sung by soloist in Handel’s “Messiah” as you read them and experience them as a love song from the Father.
Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God.
It is God Himself who speaks the word of comfort through Jesus Christ. He speaks and we echo His Word to a world in turmoil,
Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem,
His voice is gentle and comforting in Christ. We are to speak that same comfort to His people with gentle strength and quiet confidence.
… and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished,
It is the cessation of hostilities. The war is over. We don’t have to fight for our salvation. He has come in person and freely offers His peace.
that her iniquity is pardoned …
God has taken the initiative to forgive, to heal the breach, to restore His people. What a privilege it is to announce pardon to those who will receive the message.
… The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
Let us join the company of those who proclaim His coming. Let us not miss the opportunity this Christmas season. The world is hurting and listening. Let us be speaking comfort.
2 Peter 3:8-15 (NRSV)
But do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like one day. The Lord is not slow about his promise, as some think of slowness, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, and the elements will be dissolved with fire, and the earth and everything that is done on it will be disclosed.
Since all these things are to be dissolved in this way, what sort of persons ought you to be in leading lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set ablaze and dissolved, and the elements will melt with fire? But, in accordance with his promise, we wait for new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness is at home.
Therefore, beloved, while you are waiting for these things, strive to be found by him at peace, without spot or blemish; and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation. So also our beloved brother Paul wrote to you according to the wisdom given him.
Time is fleeting and expansive.
It is short and it is long.
It is beyond our comprehension while, at the same time, only a glimpse of the possibilities. It exists within our experience and extends beyond it. It is its own dimension. Yet. It defines no ultimate reality.
We live in time. We dance it time. We love in time. We wait in time. At the same time, we are made for timelessness.
In time, our redemption and our Redeemer will appear and there will be fireworks. It will be dramatic.
Let us live in Advent expectation. Peace, holiness, and patience are manifestations of our salvation.
God is patient. Let us be patient.
Mark 1:1-8. (NRSV)
The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
As it is written in the prophet Isaiah,
“See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way;
the voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight,’”
John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. He proclaimed, “The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
In time, there are beginnings, even for that which has always been.
In times, there are ending, even for those things that shall always be.
In time, there is preparation, even for that which is preparing us and for which we have been prepared.
We are baptized in temporal waters knowing that it is the Eternal Spirit into whom we are truly baptized.
This is the good news. God is present. This is the comfort with which we are comforted. He is here. His Kingdom has arrived. We have been visited.
This is the comfort.
This is the voice.
Prepare for it.
Prepare your world!