“Comfort, O Comfort My People,” says your God
“‘Comfort, O comfort My people,’ says your God.” -Isaiah 40:1
From Isaiah chapter 40 through the end of the book of Isaiah God seeks to comfort His people through His prophet. The way that God does this stands in stark contrast to the way that many so-called Christian leaders seek to comfort people today. Where they make everything about man, God makes everything about God.
The way that God comforts His people is by telling them who He is, what He has done, and what He will do. We see a beautiful picture of who God is in Isaiah 40:12-14:
“Who has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand,
And marked off the heavens by the span,
And calculated the dust of the earth by the measure,
And weighed the mountains in a balance
And the hills in a pair of scales?
Who has directed the Spirit of the LORD,
Or as His counselor has informed Him?
With whom did He consult and who gave Him understanding?
And who taught Him in the path of justice and taught Him knowledge
And informed Him of the way of understanding?”
He also contrasts Himself with the idols of the Israelites in Isaiah’s day. He mocks the idols who were made by craftsmen and gold- and silversmiths. How much greater is the eternal God who was never made than the idol that was formed by human hands? Then, in Isaiah 41:22-23 God challenges the idols of the Israelites:
“Let them bring forth and declare to us what is going to take place;
As for the former events, declare what they were,
That we may consider them and know their outcome.
Or announce to us what is coming;
Declare the things that are going to come afterward,
That we may know that you are gods;
Indeed, do good or evil, that we may anxiously look about us and fear together.”
God says, “let your idols explain the past or predict the future. Let them do anything, whether good or evil, so that we will know that they are gods.” Then, the God who throughout history had declared the former events and announced what was coming answers His own challenge. God, through His prophet Isaiah, comforts His people by announcing to them what was coming, which He can only do because He is God and He will ensure that what He speaks will come to pass. The most magnificent of these announcements of the future through the prophet Isaiah is found in Isaiah 52:13-53:12. Remember that the book of Isaiah was written around 700 B.C. That is around 700 years before Jesus was born. I have used this passage a few times while doing street evangelism. I like to walk up to a person and ask if he or she wants to play a “game.” I ask if the person knows the difference between the Old and New Testaments. Then I say that my “game” is that I will read a passage from the Bible and he or she has to guess whether it is from the Old or New Testament and tell me to whom the passage refers. Because the passage is so clearly about Jesus, the answer that I expect is “New Testament.” However, this passage is from the Old Testament, as I said 700 years before Jesus was born. The reason we have a prophecy that is so clearly about our Messiah 700 years before His birth is that, unlike any idol that has ever been, is now, or ever will be, and unlike any other so-called-god who has ever been, is now, or ever will be, the God of the Bible can both declare what former events were and announce to us what is coming: http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Isaiah%2052:13-53:12;&version=49;.
God’s Servant in chapters 52 and 53 would have His appearance “marred more than any man,” be “despised and forsaken of men, a man of sorrows acquainted with grief,” who would be pierced through, crushed, chastened, scourged, oppressed, and afflicted so that His people would be free from the penalty of their transgressions and iniquities and be healed.
As John 3:16 tells us, whosoever believes in Jesus will not perish, but will have eternal life. This fits together with the whole picture of the Old Testament.
Just as God- in order to satisfy His holiness, righteousness, and justice- punished the sins of His people in the Old Testament in a sacrificial substitue, namely, a spotless animal; so it is that God- in order to satisfy His holiness, righteousness, and justice- now punishes the sins of His people in a sacrificial substitute, namely, our sinless Lord and Savior Jesus the Christ. Just as God made promises to Abraham, and by believing God Abraham was declared righteous; and just as those under the sacrificial system believed the promises of God through the sacrificial system, and were thereby declared righteous; so it is that now those who believe God’s promises of forgiveness of sins, communion with God, and eternal life through Christ Jesus are declared righteous.
Therefore, by having faith in Jesus, by believing in Him, by trusting Him, we can have the assurance of knowing that God’s words to the faithful Israelites in Isaiah 43 also apply to us:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine! When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, Nor will the flame burn you. For I am the LORD your God, The Holy One of Israel, your Savior… Since you are precious in My sight, Since you are honored and I love you… Do not fear, for I am with you.”
This still leaves several questions unanswered. While I do not know why great suffering is given to some and not others, I believe that both unanswered questions and suffering exist to cause us to long for the day when we will have no unanswered questions and there will be no more suffering. The day when we see the “Lamb who was slain” in all His glory, the Messiah who created all things, sustains all things, and will judge all things with merely the power of His word. The day when there will be no more sickness, no more death, no more suffering, no more mourning, no more grieving. The day when faith is replaced by sight, and hope is replaced by knowledge. When we see the God whom we are to love with all of our heart, soul, and strength with our very eyes. The day when every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.
May these things cause us to react as John reacts to Jesus’ promises in the next-to-last vers in the Bible:
“Amen Come, Lord Jesus.” -Revelation 22:20
No comments yet.
- "The Dawkins Letters"
- "The God Delusion"
- 2 Samuel 20
- 2008 Presidential election
- Acts 17:24-31
- Anglican Church
- Anthony Flew
- Australian Christian music
- Ayn Rand
- Charles Darwin
- child of God
- Christ crucified
- Chuck Norris
- Church History
- David Robertson
- Desiring God
- Doers of the Word
- Dr. Jim Hamilton
- expository preaching
- Gene Robinson
- glory of God
- I Was There
- Intelligent Design
- James Hamilton
- Jesus Christ
- Joel Osteen
- John Piper
- justification by faith
- King David
- Lee Strobel
- Mark Driscoll
- Mars Hill Church
- Mike Huckabee
- Nathan Tasker
- preach the Word
- Psalm 1
- Richard Dawkins
- roe v. wade
- seminary professor
- Sermon on Mars Hill
- Sex and the Supremacy of Christ
- the apostle Paul
- the Bible
- The Case for Faith
- The Law of the Lord
- the rebellion of Sheba
- The Resurrection
- the Word of God
- William Tyndale