Comfort for God’s People
If the first thirty-nine chapters of the book of Isaiah correspond to the books of the Old Testament, then the following twenty-seven chapters, filled with pictures of Jesus the Messiah, certainly correspond to the books of the New Testament.
In this section of Isaiah (chapters 40-66), the prophet looks forward to Judah’s return from Babylonian captivity and then to the entire nation’s future restoration at the Second Advent of Christ.
from Rebecca: Dear my readers, This is such a beautiful chapter. Take your time. Find rest and comfort in God’s love as it is shown here. Let the peace of these promises sink down deep into your soul. This is for you, for you, whom the Lord loves dearly.
Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.
2 Corinthians 1:3 (NIV)
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort!
2 Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
and cry to her
that her warfare is ended,
that her iniquity is pardoned,
that she has received from the Lord’s hand
double for all her sins.
3 A voice cries:
“In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord;
make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
4 Every valley shall be lifted up,
and every mountain and hill be made low;
the uneven ground shall become level,
and the rough places a plain.
5 And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed,
and all flesh shall see it together,
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”
What else?! You are probably already humming it in your head! From Handel’s Messiah: “Comfort Ye” and “Every Valley Shall Be Exalted” and “And the Glory of the Lord.” HERE is a community Messiah sing-along performance from Scottsdale. HERE is a British performance from Liverpool
The Word of God Stands Forever
6 A voice says, “Cry!”
And I said, “What shall I cry?”
All flesh is grass,
and all its beauty is like the flower of the field.
7 The grass withers, the flower fades
when the breath of the Lord blows on it;
surely the people are grass.
8 The grass withers, the flower fades,
but the word of our God will stand forever.
The Greatness of God
9 Go on up to a high mountain,
O Zion, herald of good news;
lift up your voice with strength,
O Jerusalem, herald of good news;
lift it up, fear not;
say to the cities of Judah,
“Behold your God!”
HERE is another piece from Handel’s Messiah: “O Thou that Tellest Good Tidings to Zion,” sung by American mezzo-soprano Marilyn Horne.
10 Behold, the Lord God comes with might,
and his arm rules for him;
behold, his reward is with him,
and his recompense before him.
11 He will tend his flock like a shepherd;
he will gather the lambs in his arms;
he will carry them in his bosom,
and gently lead those that are with young.
Hebrews 13:20-21 (NIV)
Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
HERE is more Messiah: “He Shall Feed His Flock.”
12 Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand
and marked off the heavens with a span,
enclosed the dust of the earth in a measure
and weighed the mountains in scales
and the hills in a balance?
13 Who has measured the Spirit of the Lord,
or what man shows him his counsel?
14 Whom did he consult,
and who made him understand?
Who taught him the path of justice,
and taught him knowledge,
and showed him the way of understanding?
15 Behold, the nations are like a drop from a bucket,
and are accounted as the dust on the scales;
behold, he takes up the coastlands like fine dust.
16 Lebanon would not suffice for fuel,
nor are its beasts enough for a burnt offering.
17 All the nations are as nothing before him,
they are accounted by him as less than nothing and emptiness.
18 To whom then will you liken God,
or what likeness compare with him?
19 An idol! A craftsman casts it,
and a goldsmith overlays it with gold
and casts for it silver chains.
20 He who is too impoverished for an offering
chooses wood that will not rot;
he seeks out a skillful craftsman
to set up an idol that will not move.
21 Do you not know? Do you not hear?
Has it not been told you from the beginning?
Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth?
22 It is he who sits above the circle of the earth,
and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers;
who stretches out the heavens like a curtain,
and spreads them like a tent to dwell in;
23 who brings princes to nothing,
and makes the rulers of the earth as emptiness.
from This Day with the Master,
by Dennis F. Kinlaw
GOD, THE ULTIMATE OTHER
God is different from you and me. He is really the Other in your life and mine. There is a sense in which other people are not truly other, because we are all remarkably similar. It is our similarity that enables us to know and understand one another. I am either where you are or where you have been or where you will be. Our lives are intertwined in many ways. But when we approach God, we find the One we can truly call Other. He is completely different from us; the uncreated One, beyond our reality; the One whom we cannot trap in our life or our world. He transcends it all.
In this sense he is ultimately the One you and I have to face. I can run away from you, and it is possible for us to live without impinging upon each other. But there is no way for God, the ultimate Other, ever to be excluded from my life. He is the first and the last, the beginning and the end. He is the last authority in your life, whether you acknowledge him or not, and he will have the last word. God is the One you will have to face. Let us not run from him like a Jonah, but allow our lives to be given over to fellowship with the transcendent One.
24 Scarcely are they planted, scarcely sown,
scarcely has their stem taken root in the earth,
when he blows on them, and they wither,
and the tempest carries them off like stubble.
25 To whom then will you compare me,
that I should be like him? says the Holy One.
26 Lift up your eyes on high and see:
who created these?
He who brings out their host by number,
calling them all by name,
by the greatness of his might,
and because he is strong in power
not one is missing.
How many stars are there?
This is a very good question! There are too many stars for scientists to actually count one-by-one, so other methods of estimating the total number of stars are used. We believe that there are on the order of 1021 stars in our Universe. If you write that number out, it looks like this: 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000.
This is a lot of stars!
for the ‘Ask an Astrophysicist’ team
. . . and not one of them is missing.
27 Why do you say, O Jacob,
and speak, O Israel,
“My way is hidden from the Lord,
and my right is disregarded by my God”?
28 Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
his understanding is unsearchable.
29 He gives power to the faint,
and to him who has no might he increases strength.
30 Even youths shall faint and be weary,
and young men shall fall exhausted;
31 but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint.
Waiting on the Lord is work. It is a diligence to give God our complete attention and wait quietly before Him. It is also important to be about the business of doing good and being faithful in the small things even as we are waiting for something else. As my mother used to say, “Busy hands, quiet mind.” So waiting for God to fulfill His promises is not passive; I notice with some chagrin that the verse above does not include “just sitting” as a way to wait upon the Lord!