God's Declaration of Comfort
Scripture Reading For The Day: Isaiah 40:1-11
What do you feel when you hear the word comfort?
So many thoughts and feelings flood our mind…. peace, calm, rest, hope, caring, ease, love, or being loved.
How would you feel if God said to you, “I’m YOUR God and YOU are my people , I want to speak comfort to you?”
These words were spoken by God almost 3000 years ago to his people, the Israelites, in order that they would not lose heart while being exiled in a foreign nation for 70 years. What was the word of comfort that God would want declared to His people? Does any of this apply to us now?
Crossroads' theme verse this year states: “We are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God.” (1 Peter 2:9) So if we are a people belonging to God and are grafted into his people (Romans 11) then certainly these words also apply to us.
He wants to speak tenderly to us. Yes, your sins have put you in a hard place because I am a just God who is Holy and requires those who sin against Me to pay a price for that disobedience-- such a price that you will never be able to pay. But even though the price is high, I will consider the price paid. I’ll pay so much that your sins will be paid for over double than what you deserve.
What other words of comfort would they ever need to hear? All the pain, all the sorrow, all the broken dreams that they had experienced due to their own rejection of God was being wiped clean. He was about to give them a new beginning-- one of great hope for them as a nation.
What about us? Do we see the indescribable gift that God has given to redeem us to himself? What pain, misery, or heartache do we have that he wants to speak tenderly to and say “I’m paying the price, whether this is from your own sin or just living in this sin filled world. I’m going to redeem you. I’m going to tenderly call you out and make you Mine. “
After God spoke his word of comfort to his people, he wanted to make sure they saw his desire to declare it to all people. “Prepare the way for the Lord,” he says, “by making straight, raising up, making low, become level ground, and making rugged smooth.” When this is accomplished, then the glory of the Lord will be revealed to all mankind.
In these words, God wants us to take an accounting of how we are spiritually to prepare for Him. These words are used directly again in the gospels to describe the work of John the Baptist. So, we have to ask what was John’s ministry? What was he declaring in order to make the preparation for the coming of the King?
John the Baptist’s word of preparation was repent! The first step to prepare for this coming of the Lord is to reckon ourselves as sinners in desperate need of a Savior. You may be saying right now, “ok, what does this have to do with Christmas? Isn’t Christmas supposed to be this joyous time of year where we celebrate the birth of Jesus, along with giving and getting lots of cool gifts?” Yes, that is part of the experience of Christmas, but if we are truly wanting to be people of His word then we have to acknowledge that the heralder of Christ’s coming was this fellow who wanted hearts prepared to celebrate their Messiah and in doing so called people to repentance.
Yup, in order to understand what God has done to pay for our sins, we need to acknowledge what we are. God instructs us that we are like grass and like flowers; we fade under the weight of Gods pure and holy justice. When we acknowledge who we are and who God is, then we can only fall on our knees and cry out for his grace and mercy to wash over all our sin. In doing this, God says his glory is revealed to all mankind. I don’t know about you, but when I think of glory, it’s a powerful, mighty, ostentatious thing! But here God shows us that His Glory is manifested in our being low, humble, and small to show how great He is.
So, are you prepared for Christmas? Is your heart in a place of acknowledging your great need of a Savior? Out of that understanding are you letting others know what a glorious Lord you serve?
Lastly, we see the declaration of good tidings over Gods people and their homes. “Proclaim it! Shout it out! Lift up your voice. Don’t be afraid. Here is your God”. These verses remind me of the angel’s declaration to the shepherds: “Do not be afraid, for behold I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the City of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord (Luke 2:10-11)”.
Not only is he our Savior, but he is our God, the Sovereign Lord, who comes in power and justice. He comes to tend his people like a shepherd tends his flock. He gathers us to himself and carries us close to his heart and gently leads. What great declarations of comfort to hear from the one who calls us “His people” and reminds us he is “Our God”. Do you need to hear these words today? Words of hope, words of truth, words of life in your circumstances today? He wants you to know that you are chosen by Him. You are a priest for him. You belong to him.
Go out and declare his praises!!!