Friday, February 11, 2022

Comfort for the Broken

Friday, February 11, 2022

Comfort, O comfort My people, says your God. Speak kindly to Jerusalem; and call out to her, that her warfare has ended, that her iniquity has been removed, that she has received of the LORD'S hand double for all her sins. (Isaiah 40:1-2)

The book of Isaiah is divided into (at least) two parts.  The first 39 chapters deal with impending judgment on God’s people, and the second part deals with forgiveness and deliverance.  The first 39 chapters deal with sin, but the last 27 chapters deal with a Savior — 66 chapters in all.  

Note: Many people see Isaiah as a small Bible, for there are 39 chapters in the Old Testament and 27 in the New Testament — 66 books in all. The Old Testament often deals with the sin of the people of Israel, and the New Testament deals with the Savior which came from Israel.  There is a distinctly different tone and message beginning here in chapter 40. 

As Isaiah wrote the first part of his book, disaster had not yet come to the nation.  But Isaiah wrote the second half of his book to the people who would be in exile having been taken away to Babylon.  He was prophesying about a time that was yet to come when the nation would be destroyed and then reborn.  So, the message of the prophet Isaiah was one of, "I've got bad news and I’ve got good news!"  An age-old adage says, "A preacher’s job is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable."  Isaiah was now to share words of comfort and assurance. 

Comfort for the Broken  
Judah thought God had forgotten them and their situation.  But Isaiah suddenly turns his message to speak of God’s compassion and sure deliverance.

Comfort is Strengthened With Assurance - Comfort, O comfort My people, says your God.
In Calvin Miller's book, The Legend of the Brotherstone, we have a story of love and comfort during a difficult time. The mother of a small boy has died. The night following the funeral the boy, Kyrris is trying to go to sleep while staring into the terrible darkness. Although he has asked to sleep with his father, he still cannot see anything in the blackness of the night. Doubts return. "Father ... father ... It is so dark! Are you alive in the darkness?" "I am alive" answered his father. "Father, are you looking at me?" His father replies, "I look your way my son." 

God calls on us to look to Him and find His presence for our comfort and strength.  He is saying, "I'm looking your way."  

Comfort Begins with Cleansing - Speak kindly to Jerusalem; and call out to her, that her iniquity has been removed, that she has received of the LORD'S hand double for all her sins.
It is interesting that the Hebrew word Isaiah uses for comfort is also a word which can be translated “repent.”  The word and its root have the idea of breathing deeply.  It can therefore mean to breathe deeply with sorrow for your sin, or to breathe deeply as you comfort and console someone.  Because they have breathed deeply in repentance, God has breathed deeply as he consoled and comforted them.  Isaiah shares the good news that the consequences of their sin have been completed.  Now they could begin healing.  The cleansing power of consequence is strong.  God will not often remove the consequence for it is a teacher and a cleanser.  In moments of hopelessness we need to remember, God has not forgotten us, nor our plight in this life.  He wants to bring words of comfort. 

Hear, O LORD, when I cry with my voice, and be gracious to me and answer me. When You said, "Seek My face," my heart said to You, "Your face, O LORD, I shall seek." Do not hide Your face from me, do not turn Your servant away in anger; You have been my help; do not abandon me nor forsake me, O God of my salvation! (Psalms 27:7-9)

Devotional Archive