READ:Isaiah 40:1-5 Words of Hope 1“Comfort my people,” says our God. “Comfort them! 2Encourage the people of Jerusalem. Tell them they have suffered long enough and their sins are now forgiven. I have punished them in full for all their sins.” 3 A voice cries out, “Prepare in the wilderness a road for the Lord! Clear the way in the desert for our God! 4Fill every valley; level every mountain. The hills will become a plain, and the rough country will be made smooth. 5Then the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all people will see it. The Lord himself has promised this.”
COMFORTING AND PREPARINGYesterday’s passage was written during a time when the king was distant from God, and the impact of his disobedience was significant: the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem and the temple in 586 B.C., and thousands of Jews were taken captive to Babylon. The Old Testament book of Lamentations (i.e. complaints) was written during the exile in Babylon, and it chronicles their frustration in a foreign land. They felt abandoned by God. “How lonely lies Jerusalem, once so full of people! Once honored by the world, she is now like a widow; the noblest of cities has fallen into slavery” (Lamentations 1:1). Today’s passage is God’s message to his people in the midst of their Babylonian captivity. Their time of slavery and captivity will come to an end. God says, “They have suffered long enough” (v. 2). Just like this passage says, their time living with the enemy would end and they would return to Jerusalem. They would rebuild the city’s walls and the temple. God’s words of comfort for his people in Babylon are also important words announcing Jesus. During that time, the Jews were suffering under Roman occupation and yearning for their Messiah. This passage is comforting because it informs the people of God that he knows their situation. God hears their complaints and prayers. He wants them to be prepared for a bright future. He wants them to be ready. Five hundred years later, the words in verse 3 are used by Matthew as he introduces the ministry of John the Baptist, who announced the coming of the Messiah. “John was the man the prophet Isaiah was talking about when he said, 'Someone is shouting in the desert, "Prepare a road for the Lord; make a straight path for him to travel!”’” (Matthew 3:3). As we prepare for Christmas, may we be reminded that God is in control and that he hears our prayers. An incredible future is ahead for God’s children.
PRAYER:Dear Father, thank you for answering the prayers of your people. I’m thankful for examples like this that remind me that you are in control. You are sovereign. I want to trust you. I want to be prepared for my eternal future with you. Amen.
DIG DEEPER:Share with someone today something that’s impacted you during this journey. We’ll look at more of Isaiah 40 tomorrow as the good news for God’s people continues.
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