The Gift of Comfort

Key Verse: “The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever.”
—Isaiah 40:8

Selected Scripture:
Isaiah 40:1-5, 8-11

THE PROPHET ISAIAH’S mind ran forward to events far beyond his prophecy to Israel, when he spoke, “Comfort ye, Comfort ye my people,” recorded in Isaiah 40:1. The thoughts of the prophet move from this comforting message concerning Israel’s release by King Cyrus from seventy years of Babylonian captivity to even more important events connected with the coming and work of the Messiah. Isaiah jumps ahead some seven hundred years to his prophecy pointing to John the Baptist and our Lord Jesus. He said of John and his message, “The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.”—Isa. 40:3

Matthew quoted Isaiah’s prophecy concerning our Lord, saying, “In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.” (Matt. 3:1-3) When Jesus became thirty years of age, the time to begin his ministry, he came to John to be baptized of him and to be immersed into the will of God.—Matt. 3:13-17; Ps. 40:7,8

Jesus further amplified John’s words about the kingdom of heaven as he went about Galilee preaching the Gospel of the kingdom. He taught the multitudes who followed him, “Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.”—Matt. 5:12

Again, moving along to the end of the present age the prophet introduces Christ, the Messiah, as the Arm of God. He says, “Behold, the Lord GOD will come with strong hand, and his arm shall rule for him: behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him.” (Isa. 40:10) He pictures fallen man dying as withering grass and the fading flower, in contrast to the Word of God which stands holding hope forever. The Apostle Peter quotes these sentiments in his epistle; (I Pet. 1:24,25) and adds, “this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.”

Isaiah relates some of the wonderful promise of peace that will bring great comfort to God’s people at the end of this age when he says, “He shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.”—Isa. 2:4

It is refreshing to our hearts and to our faith to know, as the Prophet Habakkuk declared, “The earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.” (Hab. 2:14) Also, Isaiah tells us, “the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose.” (Isa. 35:1) The present process of withering grass and fading flowers will cease, and mankind will come forth from the grave, as the comfort of the resurrection replaces the sorrow of death in Christ’s kingdom.—John 5:28,29 Revised Standard Version

These promises are sure, for Isaiah also says, “The glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.”—Isa. 40:5

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