Isaiah 40:1 Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. (NIV)
So what brings people comfort? How do you get comfortable? You have a favorite chair that you have sat in until it fits you just right? Get the temperature set just right on the thermostat and that can bring you comfort.
How do you bring comfort to the homeless? How do you bring comfort to someone whose body is racked with pain? How do you bring comfort to someone who has just lost someone they love? How do you comfort someone who has been suffering with the pain of a terminal illness? The creature comforts are not enough at times.
Isaiah was given the task of comforting God’s people. The kingdom of Israel has been reduced to those who live in Jerusalem. Hezekiah the king has been told he was dying. He prayed and God granted him fifteen more years to live. He has been told that after he is gone, his descendants will be taken into captivity by Babylon.
Hope for Jerusalem is dim, and God tells Isaiah to comfort them. He tells Isaiah to tell them their sin has been paid for. Read verse 2:
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. (NIV)
When we know our sin has been paid for, we can stand before God unashamed. He has forgiven us. The next verses tell of the coming of Christ. John the Baptist claimed for himself the honor of being the voice preparing for the coming of the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Jesus paid our debt. Our failures point out the glory of God who forgives the unforgivable. There is no greater comfort.
In verses 6 to 8 Isaiah says people are like grass, and our faithfulness is like the flowers of the field that dry up and die when the wind blows.
Wait, Pastor, how is this comforting to us? Our faithfulness is no more permanent than the flowers in the fields? Verse 8 contains the answer:
Isaiah 40:8 The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever." (NIV)
We can take comfort in the fact that we are not dependent on our faithfulness that is so fleeting and unsure. Our confidence, our comfort, comes from the truth that God is faithful. His word endures forever.
Verse 9: “Here is your God.” God Himself is the good news that brings comfort to our souls. We walk in fellowship with God. This was made possible because God Himself paid our debt. He is faithful even when we are not.
Verse 10: “See, the Sovereign Lord comes with Power and rules with a mighty arm.” His Lordship accompanies His Love and faithfulness.
In verse 11 Isaiah says the Good Shepherd holds His Lambs close to His heart. It is His Love and His Lordship that bring us comfort. I have not made this up. These are the words of God that He gave through his servant Isaiah.
He is Creator. He is Sovereign. He is Lord. He is Love. With whom will you compare Him? There is no other god.
21 Do you not know? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning?
Have you not understood since the earth was founded? 22 He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers. He stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in. 23 He brings princes to naught and reduces the rulers of this world to nothing. (NIV)
This is the God we serve. This is the God who sent the Gentle Shepherd to bring comfort and peace to our souls. He cannot be portrayed by idols. There is no god like Him. Indeed, there is no other God!
25 "To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?" says the Holy One.
26 Lift your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? (NIV)
There is no one like our God. In fact, there is no other God. We serve the Creator and Lord of the Universe, or if you believe in a Multi-Verse, He is the Creator of them all.
Does it not bring you comfort to know that the great Creator of all things is the God who loves us? He is faithful even when we are not. His faithfulness endures forever!
I want to read the last part of this chapter. To many of us this will be a familiar passage. This is how our God deals with us. Our comfort is not in trusting ourselves. It is in trusting the Love and Lordship of the Creator.
27 Why do you say, O Jacob, and complain, O Israel, "My way is hidden from the Lord;
my cause is disregarded by my God"?
28 Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. 29 He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.
30 Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; 31 but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. (NIV)
Our faithfulness is like the flowers of the field. When we trust in ourselves we fall short of what the great and powerful God of All Creation wants for us.
We will grow tired and weary of life if we are not trusting in the God who loves us and seeks to lead us.
But those whose hope is grounded in the Lord will renew their strength. We will always be enough when we trust God.
Comfort, comfort my people, says your God!
He wants you to know Him. He wants you to be comforted by knowing that your sin has been paid for by His Beloved Son.
When we get our eyes off of Him, we falter and eventually fail. We must believe we are the sheep of His pasture. We are the Lambs The Gentle Shepherd holds in His arms.
We are the family of God. We are His children.
The good news is, “Here is our God!” He is the Loving Heavenly Father to whom we are called to pray by our Lord Jesus:
Our Father, who art in heaven, Holy is Your Name. May Your kingdom come and may Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who have sinned against us.
Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For Yours is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever. Amen! (paraphrased)
There is only one source for true Comfort. He is the One True God who made us and loves us as the Gentle Shepherd loves his sheep. He is the One True God who calls us to cling to Him and trust Him to be Lord and to Love us without fail. He is the God of All Comfort who “gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak… Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” (Isaiah 40:29-31 NIV)
Isaiah 40:1 Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. (NIV)
Share this good news of true comfort with those around you.