New American Standard Bible
The Greatness of God
“Comfort, comfort My people,” says your God.
“Speak kindly to Jerusalem;
And call out to her, that her warfare has ended,
That her guilt has been removed,
That she has received of the Lord’s hand
Double for all her sins.”
The voice of one calling out,
“Clear the way for the Lord in the wilderness;
Make straight 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 uneven 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.”
The Lord throughout chapters 1 through 39 of Isaiah has been confronting the people of their wickedness and sin. At that time Assyria was the ruling empire of the world. In chapter 38 we see Assyria surround Jerusalem, but ultimately God in His mercy and grace rescues Jerusalem. He does because Hezekiah chooses to humble himself before God Almighty. The Lord moves.
Now the Lord speaks a word of comfort beginning in chapter 40. What’s amazing about the book of Isaiah is that it mirrors the bible. The bible has sixty-six books and Isaiah has sixty-six chapters. The Old Testament is 39 chapters and its focus is on the Old Covenant and the inability of Israel to live according to that covenant. The first thirty nine chapters of Isaiah are focused on the rebellion of Israel and also God dealing with the nations of the world in judgement.
But the second half of Isaiah which is chapters 40 through 66 focuses on the promise and fulfillment of the coming of the Messiah. The hope that Israel has in the Living God. The New Testament is also twenty seven books and it focuses on the grace found in Jesus Christ and the promise of His second coming.
Here we find the words comfort, comfort. This word means to comfort or console oneself. Israel had a very hard and difficult road ahead of them. In 586 BC they would be sent into exile because of their sin and rebellion. But here the Lord speaks a word of encouragement. He will not abandon them and leave them in their sin. He will be faithful to fulfill the plans and purposes He has for them.
The same stands for us as human beings. How many times have we failed God? How many times have we fallen short? Because our Father loves us He will indeed discipline us, but it will always be for our good and the motivation will be His love for us. The enemy may lie to us and try to overwhelm our hearts with condemnation, we must remember that God indeed is greater (1 John 3:20). We must remember there is no condemnation in Jesus Christ. Just as God chose Israel and never abandoned them, God has chosen us who are born again and we are sealed by the Holy Spirit.
The Lord says speak kindly to her or speak kind words unto Israel. In verse one the Lord used the word comfort twice in a row. Israel at different times in their history faced very hard seasons. Often these seasons were the result of their own decisions. Time and again they rebelled against the Lord. The Lord made it clear in His word the result of failing to live according to His word.
But now the Lord speaks to them words of comfort. He speaks kind words. He says they have paid double for their sins. They have fully experienced the consequence of their rebellion and the Lord has not abandoned them. It is a great comfort to know that we are forgiven. Yes there will always be consequences on this earth for living in rebellion and sin. But to know our sins are forgiven is to know that we will live with Him forever.
We know that this is fulfilled through the ministry of John the Baptist. John the Baptist came as the forerunner to the Messiah. All of the hopes and dreams of Israel rested in the coming of Messiah. It was believed when the Messiah came He would set the nation free. During the time of John the Baptist day the nation of Israel was under Roman rule. It was believed that the Messiah would overthrow Rome. But this was not God’s plan. Jesus came to overcome sin, death, and the grave. What man truly needed to be set free from was his sin.
The word straight also means smooth. In preparation of the coming of the Messiah and the glory of God the way we prepare is to prepare our hearts. Here Isaiah says “make straight in the desert a highway for our God”. It is the picture of a herald going before a king proclaiming his coming. All those who heard these words proclaimed would need to prepare their hearts. Those who were preparing their hearts for the coming of the Messiah needed to repent of all sin.
The Lord continues saying “every valley be lifted up, every mountain and hill made low, the rough ground become a plain, the rugged terrain a broad valley”. It is a picture of the road before the king becoming right so the king may come. You probably have seen the red carpet rolled out for royalty. This is a call to prepare the way.
But ultimately these valleys and mountains point to the hearts of people. What God has always wanted is relationship. When God created Adam He did so in His image. Adam had perfect intimacy with God. What shattered that intimacy was sin. God sent His Son on a rescue mission to redeem us to restore the intimacy that was lost. The way the people of John the baptist day prepare their hearts and the way we do it today is to truly repent. Repent means to change one’s mind. In changing our mind concerning sin we turn from sin and turn our lives to the Living God.
When Jesus came He revealed the glory of God. All flesh beheld the Son of God. During His earthly ministry many saw the signs, wonders, and miracles. But His greatest display of the Father’s glory was upon the cross. It was upon the cross that He who knew no sin became sin for us. Through His resurrection He conquered sin, death, and the grave.
Even though it is Isaiah communicating this message, it is the Lord who is giving Isiaah the words. To be a prophet of the Lord is an incredible responsibility. Every person used by God is chosen by God. As we read these words of Isaiah our hope and our comfort is in Jesus alone. May He always be the center and focus of everything. He is our Shepherd, our deliverer, Our Coming King, Our Sword and Shield, He is our everything. No matter what we face we can bring it all before the Lord in prayer and know we have the victory today because of what He has done for us.