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.
Comfort, O comfort my people,
says your God.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
and cry to her
that she has served her term,
that her penalty is paid,
that she has received from the Lord’s hand
double for all her sins.
A voice cries out:
“In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord;
make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
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.
Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed,
and all flesh shall see it together,
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”
A voice says, “Cry out!”
And I said, “What shall I cry?”
All flesh is grass;
their constancy is like the flower of the field.
The grass withers; the flower fades,
[[when the breath of the Lord blows upon it;
surely the people are grass.
The grass withers; the flower fades,]]
but the word of our God will stand forever.
Get you 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, do not fear;
say to the cities of Judah,
“Here is your God!”
See, the Lord God comes with might,
and his arm rules for him;
his reward is with him
and his recompense before him.
He will feed his flock like a shepherd;
he will gather the lambs in his arms
and carry them in his bosom
and gently lead the mother sheep.
This is the testimony given by John when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” He confessed and did not deny it, but he confessed, “I am not the Messiah.” And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the prophet?” He answered, “No.” Then they said to him, “Who are you? Let us have an answer for those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” He said,
“I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness,
‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ ”
as the prophet Isaiah said.
Now they had been sent from the Pharisees. They asked him, “Why, then, are you baptizing if you are neither the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the prophet?” John answered them, “I baptize with water. Among you stands one whom you do not know, the one who is coming after me; I am not worthy to untie the strap of his sandal.” This took place in Bethany across the Jordan where John was baptizing.
BEHOLD THE LAMB!
“… Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” – John 1:29
It is not enough to have a theoretical understanding of God’s redemption through Jesus and how He came to fulfill the Old Testament system of sacrifices as the Paschal Lamb – as important as that information may be.
No, it is of greatest importance that we behold Him.
Some translate the word, “Look,” but the meaning is the same. We must linger over the vision of Jesus and stare into His eyes.
We must be captivated by His presence so that to even blink we would disrupt the flow of His radiance into our souls.
We must drink deeply of His beauty that transcends human comeliness. We must experience Him in all His glory and behold Him.
In Jesus Christ, the Living Word, we have beheld the glory of the Only Begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. God has allowed us to glimpse Himself and touch His own incarnate flesh.
Why wouldn’t we stop everything else we might be doing and bathe in the wonder of a moment of Lamb of God?
Oh, Lamb of God
Upon whose sinless shoulders
All sin has pressed down its awful weight,
We pause amidst the frivolous trivialities of our lives
To behold You
In a manger, on the cross, ascending to Your throne
Coming once again in glory