Meditating on Isaiah 40 this morning. Here is a shift in the message of the prophet. Through chapter 39, judgment. After chapter 40, there is a coming hope. Chapter 40, just may be THE chapter about comfort.
Isaiah is not just blowing hot air. False prophets in the history of Israel have often brought messages of peace, but their message was a false message of peace. Those prophets were either unaware (because of sin) or blind to coming judgment. They brought a message of peace when there really wasn’t any peace in sight.
Isaiah lived in reality. The coming judgment, though hard to speak and even harder to receive, was coming. Isaiah spoke reality.
I will meditate more on this chapter later, but right away what strikes me is the timing of Isaiah’s message when you connect it to the content of his message (and then how that so perfectly relates to the current journey through hard, suffering times).
Isaiah’s ministry covers a little more than half a century, from the 740s to the 680s BC. This provides the backdrop to the first thirty-nine chapters of the prophecy of Isaiah. The empire of Assyria was on the rise, and it had one thing on its mind: expansion.
Isaiah’s focus was the southern kingdom of Judah. On the horizon, another terror was ascending: Babylon. This mighty power became the preoccupation of the second half of Isaiah, from chapter 40 on.
The question that God’s people would have been mulling over is: Where is the Lord in this calamity? How could he possibly permit such things to occur?
Oh Lord, how this relates to my life right now? The questions of why, for what, what are you doing through this, still rattle around in my mind and deep in my heart.
The words of Isaiah, speaks of a deliverance that is more than a century and a half away from Hezekiah and the current day.
Isaiah’s words of comfort then, in chapter 40, are by no means a promise that life is going to get better for those who heard his words.
How can we be comforted without a guarantee of deliverance, of being delivered from the current trouble?
More than a half a century later, during the coming Babylonian exile, God’s people imagined that they were forsaken and forgotten. God was far away. Hope had forsaken them.
A similar gloom can descend on God’s children now. It has for me. When your home, your life, your friends in Christ, your plans, your dreams, are all stripped away, a gloom can and does descend.
This is where the consolation of chapter 40 steps in and brings with it, timeless value.
Comfort says Isaiah. Comfort.
Lord, forgive me for being so selfish in what I consider comfort. Forgive me for expecting this life to be trouble-free, pain-free, and for then (when reality hits) coming to you and asking you to make it “better”. My understanding of you is so limited, so lacking, so misdirected! Give me eyes to see you for who you really are!!
Isaiah’s comfort then is this (as seen in chapter 40). Know God. Know who he is in the midst of life that is far from trouble-free.
True comfort comes in knowing who God is, not in knowing that life will get easier.
That was God’s message to Judah through Isaiah. Those who heard his message, would not see “comfort” like they wanted. But comfort would come in knowing God deeper (chapter 40’s focus).
God knows the end and the beginning. And when we find ourselves in the fog of despair, He knows the way out. He knows how this story will end because He has planned it and controls it. In the fog, knowing God’s character is our comfort.
Lord, redirect my heart to find You as my comfort. Comfort n knowing your power, your reign, your care that does not always mean no troubles, but that in suffering you showing up and walking close with me brings a comfort that cannot be expressed in any other loving relationship. Thank you that there is no one that can be compared to you!