Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. 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 (Isaiah 40:1,2).
I would like to offer a bit of a personal perspective this week. This passage from Isaiah has been one that God has directed me to over and over again during the past few years. There is much to love in this beautiful passage.
I have tried to take some time away every now and then over the past few years. I would go to a quiet place in the country to spend time with God. I would often start my times asking him what scripture I should read. My regular Bible reading is quite structured, but from time to time I like to see if the Lord will direct me in a special way.
Maybe you don't believe that God directs people this way, but I do. But even though I do, I don't necessarily think that just because I have a sense of something, that it is certainly from God. Often the full realization of being led this way comes in hindsight.
So I would ask God what I should read, and almost every single time, it would be this passage.
I have to admit that each time Isaiah 40 would pop in my head I would think that it was simply because that was what I read the last time. But all I can say is that I don't think that was why. I think that God was actually impressing this passage on me. Since the impression was so clear and strong, I would dutifully read it:
Could it be that this is the time when God will comfort Jerusalem and the Jewish people in the way he promised in this passage? At some point in time it will happen. Perhaps this is that time.
The people of Israel have had a long and difficult history. What isn't always understood is that it has been a history of a people in search of and being sought by God. According to the Torah the reason for our ongoing struggle to find our place in the world, is because of our hesitancy to fully embrace our God-given destiny. But that day is coming - that day is near.
God's comfort is about to be poured out on the Jewish people. The fullness of his promises is soon to be realized.
What then should we do? Like Daniel, when he knew that his people were soon to be released from captivity in Babylon, we should pray. God's purposes in us are most often accomplished as we align our hearts with his in prayer.
But we need to do more than pray. Every aspect of our lives needs to be submitted to God and his purposes. As we seek him I suspect that we will be given very specific things to do. There is no time to weigh whether or not we will obey God's instructions. The time has come to act.
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