June 15, 2022 Southshore Bible Church

Isaiah 40

Isaiah 40

The prophet Isaiah has been instructed to quote the words directly from the mouth of God, “Comfort, comfort my people...speak tenderly to Jerusalem and cry to her that her warfare is ended.” This chapter, although a call to reflect on the deliverance of the nation of Israel from Assyrian and Babylonian captivity, is a prophetic look forward to the reconciliation and restoration of lost sinners to God through the work of Christ.


As believers in Christ, we are looking forward to the time when our warfare in the wilderness experience of this world will come to an end. Amidst the din of voices calling out of the chaos in our world, voices of war and political unrest, divisions over covid and increase in the spread of disease, rising food, fuel and housing prices and loss of moral standards, surely, like the nation of Israel in Isaiah’s day, we are in need of a word of comfort from God.


Verse 3 points to John the Baptist, the voice who cried in the wilderness when he saw the Saviour coming towards him, “Behold the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” Just pause for a moment and think about those words... “who takes away the sin of the world.” This is cause for great comfort. The sin of war, the sins of greed and lust for power, the sin of materialism, the sin of strife and the sins of my own heart, are taken away by the lamb of God.


No wonder Isaiah then calls for Zion to ascend a high mountain to lift her voice to testify to the greatness of God (v9), then pours out his heart about the greatness, gentleness, wisdom, glory and incomparable majesty of our GOD (v10-29). Verse 11 bears mention, “He will tend his flock like a shepherd; He will gather the lambs in his arms: he will carry them in his bosom.” The hymn writer John East penned these comforting words:


There is a fold whence none can stray and pastures ever green,

where sultry sun, or stormy day, or night is never seen.


There is a shepherd living there, the Firstborn from the dead,

who tends with sweet unwearied care, the flock for which he bled.


In John 14, the Lord Jesus, before he left this earth to go to the Father, promised he would not leave us comfortless, but that He would send another helper (comforter), the Holy Spirit.


The chapter closes with a crescendo of comforting words. Like we sang together on Sunday “strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord,” this comfort can be ours here and now, in this life, if we wait for the Lord. After all he has said of the sovereignty of God, Isaiah seems to say summarily:


In this struggle called life, we cannot live in our own strength, we must wait upon the Lord. Then we will have renewed strength, then we shall mount up with wings like eagles, then we will run and not be weary, and walk and not faint.


Prayer


Lord help us to realise and live in the knowledge that you alone are our source of comfort, our source of strength, and our deliverer. We cannot walk without you, and we certainly cannot run the race to victory in our own strength. Help us to learn to wait upon you in this world, even as we await the return of the lamb who died for us to redeem us to yourself. We pray this in the name of Christ Jesus, amen.


Scott Black