Be Comforted

Opening Prayer

Lord, You have already paid the price for my sins, once for all. May I rest in the comfort of Your presence and cleansing grace today!

Read Isaiah 40:1–11

Comfort, comfort my people,
says your God.
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.

3 A voice of one calling:
“In the wilderness prepare
the way for the Lord;
make straight in the desert
a highway for our God.
4 Every valley shall be raised up,
every mountain and hill made low;
the rough ground shall become level,
the rugged places a plain.
5 And the glory of the Lord will be revealed,
and all people will see it together.
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

6 A voice says, “Cry out.”
And I said, “What shall I cry?”

“All people are like grass,
and all their faithfulness is like the flowers of the field.
7 The grass withers and the flowers fall,
because the breath of the Lord blows on them.
Surely the people are grass.
8 The grass withers and the flowers fall,
but the word of our God endures forever.”

9 You who bring good news to Zion,
go up on a high mountain.
You who bring good news to Jerusalem,
lift up your voice with a shout,
lift it up, do not be afraid;
say to the towns of Judah,
“Here is your God!”
10 See, the Sovereign Lord comes with power,
and he rules with a mighty arm.
See, his reward is with him,
and his recompense accompanies him.
11 He tends his flock like a shepherd:
He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart;
he gently leads those that have young.

Reflect

What good news would you most like to learn about if you open a newspaper or switch on the television today?

Suppose that a holocaust had swept across our land in the 1960s—and that nothing in the following horrible half-century suggested things getting better. Isaiah is writing to people in a similar situation. We may dwell in apparent security when compared with ancient Israelites, but still, ordinary modern lives can be tough and grim. It is good, then, to consider several aspects of the comfort which is offered in God’s name.

Firstly, it is much more than a soothing, diverting shoulder to cry on. The Hebrew word translated “comfort” here suggests positive encouragement based upon realities to come—truths not to do with us (6,7) but to do with God (10). Secondly, the impact—the advent—of that comfort will be overwhelming and irresistible (4). It will be more powerful than either a Babylonian or a nuclear attack, but utterly wonderful and good. Because of this, the prophet feels free to shout the good news without fear from the hilltops (9). The third aspect, though, reveals the one who is to come not just as a mighty God but as our very own loving Savior Jesus: though so great, he is gentle, tender and concerned intimately with the least of us (11).

Apply

The good news we possess is the most powerful force in the world. How will you use it to transform the world around you today?

Closing prayer

God, twice in verse 10 Isaiah writes, “See.” May I see You in action in my life today.

Syndicated via Scripture Union. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Terry Schneider