The Comfort of Advent (Isaiah 40:1-11)
“The Comfort of Advent” (Isaiah 40:1-11)
Isaiah 40:1–11 - “Comfort, O comfort My people,” says your God. 2 “Speak kindly to Jerusalem; And call out to her, that her warfare has ended, That her iniquity has been removed, That she has received of the LORD’S hand Double for all her sins.” 3 A voice is calling, “Clear the way for the LORD in the wilderness; Make smooth in the desert a highway for our God. 4 “Let every valley be lifted up, And every mountain and hill be made low; And let the rough ground become a plain, And the rugged terrain a broad valley; 5 Then the glory of the LORD will be revealed, And all flesh will see it together; For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.” 6 A voice says, “Call out.” Then he answered, “What shall I call out?” All flesh is grass, and all its loveliness is like the flower of the field. 7 The grass withers, the flower fades, When the breath of the LORD blows upon it; Surely the people are grass. 8 The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever. 9 Get yourself up on a high mountain, O Zion, bearer of good news, Lift up your voice mightily, O Jerusalem, bearer of good news; Lift it up, do not fear. Say to the cities of Judah, “Here is your God!” 10 Behold, the Lord GOD will come with might, With His arm ruling for Him. Behold, His reward is with Him, And His recompense before Him. 11 Like a shepherd He will tend His flock, In His arm He will gather the lambs, And carry them in His bosom; He will gently lead the nursing ewes.
1) The Comfort is because His Chastisement is Complete (40:1-2). The text explains that Judah’s “warfare has ended” and “her iniquity has been removed.” God chastised His people (historically). This broad lesson applies to us individually. Our sin has consequences. Life choices are serious. Is it Chastisement or Judgment for you?
2) The Comfort is because He will Clear the Way (40:3-5). God prepared the setting for the coming of the true Good Shepherd by clearing the way. John the Baptist was preparing to “Clear the way for the LORD in the wilderness.” This clearing turns everything upside down and inside out. Valleys are exalted and mountains are made low. The rough is smoothed and the craggy is flattened. What is exalted is humbled and what is lowly exalted in terms of human pride, position and expectation. Has God Rearranged your Priorities?
3) The Comfort is because of His Commission (40:6-11). The “call” of this “voice” declares what God will do. This word humbles men as fading grass, but exalts the abiding word of our God. The news of a Redeemer in Zion is a “commission” to say, “Here is your God!” The result is a flock this Shepherd will carry and lead. This is fulfilled in that Christ in His earthly ministry a) “comes” and is revealed to Israel, b) declares the gospel word which humbles men, but exalts God, c) forms a new Flock, a new Israel of all kinds of sheep. Are You in the Flock?
Gregg Strawbridge, Ph.D., is the pastor of All Saints Church in Lancaster, PA. He became a committed follower of Jesus Christ at age 20, discipled in the context of a University Navigator Ministry. As a result of personal discipleship he went on to study at Columbia Biblical Seminary (M.A., Columbia, SC, 1990), as well as a Ph.D. in education and philosophy... read more