Comfort, Comfort Ye My People

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

Isaiah 40:1 – 5

Comfort speaks of the good plans He has for the nation of Israel. It speaks of rescue, of strength. Notice the covenantal relationship – “my” people, “your” God. He speaks tenderly, Israel’s punishment is complete.

It’s interesting that God the Father, the Son, and the Spirit are referred to as a comforter.

In 2 Corinthians 1:3 – 4 (NET), God is described as a comforter – just like he is here in Isaiah. “Blessed is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles so that we may be able to comfort those experiencing any trouble with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”

In 2 Thessalonians 2:16 – 17 (NET), we see that Jesus and God are referred to as our comforter: “Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by grace gave us eternal comfort and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good thing you do or say.”

And in John 14, Jesus tells His disciples that it is better for Him to leave so that He can send the Comforter (Helper, Counselor) – “But the Comforter, even the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said unto you.”

Quote by John Shea, A Star at Its Rising: Advent Meditations

With God’s comfort comes our need to prepare our hearts. The Gospels pick up on these verses in Isaiah when they describe John’s message of repentance. Repentance simply means agreeing with God about what He says, especially what He says about our sin, and doing an about-face. Repentance is turning away from sin, turning towards God.

In this second week of Advent, let’s focus on the peace of Christ, obtained through a right relationship with Him. That right relationship starts with repentance!

Comfort, comfort ye My people, Speak ye peace, thus saith our God;
Comfort those who sit in darkness, Mourning ‘neath their sorrow’s load;
Speak ye to Jerusalem Of the peace that waits for them;
Tell her that her sins I cover, And her warfare now is over.

For the herald’s voice is crying In the desert far and near,
Bidding all men to repentance, Since the kingdom now is here.
O that warning cry obey! Now prepare for God a way!
Let the valleys rise to meet Him, And the hills bow down to greet Him.

Yea, her sins our God will pardon, Blotting out each dark misdeed;
All that well deserved His anger He will no more see nor heed.
She has suffered many a day, Now her griefs have passed away,
God will change her pining sadness Into ever springing gladness.

Make ye straight what long was crooked, Make the rougher places plain:
Let your hearts be true and humble, As befits His holy reign,
For the glory of the Lord O’er the earth is shed abroad,
And all flesh shall see the token That His Word is never broken.

 Johann Olearius (Oelschlaeger), 1671

As you pray today, thank God for the comfort of grace and peace! Thank Him for repentance. Pray David’s prayer from Psalm 139, “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”

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