Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Prepare For Comfort

A voice is calling, "Clear the way for the LORD in the wilderness; Make smooth in the desert a highway for our God. "Let every valley be lifted up, And every mountain and hill be made low; And let the rough ground become a plain, And the rugged terrain a broad valley; Then the glory of the LORD will be revealed, And all flesh will see it together; For the mouth of the LORD has spoken." (Isaiah 40:3-5)

Prepare For Comfort (3-5)
We know these words from the cry of John the Baptist as he came from the wilderness to declare the coming of the King of Kings.  Now in those days John the Baptist *came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." For this is the one referred to by Isaiah the prophet when he said, "THE VOICE OF ONE CRYING IN THE WILDERNESS, 'MAKE READY THE WAY OF THE LORD, MAKE HIS PATHS STRAIGHT!'" (Matthew 3:1-3)

In ancient times, when there were no superhighways.  History tells us that months before a kings arrival a king’s entourage would set out on a journey.  The call would go before them: “Prepare the way for the king. Make a straight way in the wilderness and a highway for the king.”  The people would run before the king to remove any obstacles and fill in the rough places in his path.  They would build a road and fill in small valleys and dig through the hills so the king’s progress would be smooth and unhindered.  Their reward was to see the king coming in all his royal splendor.

The salvation and deliverance which would bring comfort to the people would be in the one sent by God to lead them home.  The people in great distress would be comforted in knowing of His coming.  In this passage, God is on his way to his people who are now in slavery to a foreign nation. He will come to them and deliver them from captivity — bringing them home on the highway which has been prepared for him. The picture is one of God coming to bring his people back to himself and to their home in Jerusalem.

The idea of comfort here is not like the comfort we usually think of. Our concept is more likely related to being “comfortable.”  A nice recliner by the fire in the winter or a cool fan in the summer heat.  But “comfort” comes from the two Latin words: com-fortis – literally translated it means “with-strength.” God’s way of giving comfort is to provide the strength to do what needs to be done. As His strength comes, grief and sorrow go.  The situation may not have changed, but we have a new ability to face it and deal with it.

The people to whom Isaiah was speaking needed strength to face the journey home.  Once there, they had the huge job of rebuilding the temple and the city. They were going to need a lot of strength.  God was comforting and encouraging the people so they would be able to carry out his will. Sometimes God’s comfort comes by forcing us to change and grow. Someone has said, “The Spirit of God comes to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.”

We must prepare our hearts to receive comfort.  Prepare the way with repentance and faith!  What road needs to be built in your life in order to prepare the way for God's comfort?

Scripture to Claim:
“I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we may boldly say: “The Lord
is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” Hebrews 13:5 

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