“Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God.
Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.” (Isaiah 40:1-2)
“Comfort, comfort my people, saith God” the prophet Isaiah recorded. Let those words soak into your soul. God doesn’t say, “scold, scold.” Notice it’s not “shame, shame” …. not “punish, punish.” It says, “Comfort, comfort my people” says God. “Comfort, comfort …..
The speaker here is God. God Himself speaks comfort over you. Are you in need of comfort? Or strength? Or possibly encouragement? God wants that for you too! God doesn’t want you to hang your harp on a willow tree (a picture of grief from Psalm 137:2).
God doesn’t want you wallowing in the heartaches and disappointments of your life. God doesn’t want you crushed by the burdens you’ve been carrying for a long time …..
“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.” (Matthew 11:28-29).
God wants you to be comforted ~
If you need comfort, God is aware of your need. His words are tender, not harsh. “Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, God said.
“Jerusalem” is euphemistic for God’s people. Just as Washington represents America, so the capital city of Jerusalem stood for God’s people. Through faith in Jesus, we are now God’s people ~ which means these tender words are for us …..
Sometimes life is hard. When we have to suffer the consequences of a broken relationship, or make a difficult visit to a hospital, or we get terrible news, and have to share it with a family member; we may fear we’ll say the wrong thing. Our words require such thought and sensitivity in each of these cases. In this passage, God exhorts Isaiah to choose his words carefully, to “speak tenderly” to my people ….
How often have our words compounded the difficulty of an already strained relationship, often in our clumsy attempts to make things right? And yes, I speak from my own feebleness in trying to restore a relationship with my children, broken as a result or rather from the consequences of my poor choices in life. It hurts indeed …. but look at the rest of the passage:
God wants Isaiah to speak and let the people know “that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.” These are two pieces of fantastic news for God’s people! A message of hope.
First, God announced “her warfare is accomplished”, meaning, our hard service, days of labor, burden, and heartaches are finished. It’s over. Some of the hard things that come into our lives are not of our doing: a health crisis, a financial setback, a trial. When something bad happens that’s not our doing, we need comfort. And yes, we need comfort from the anguish of our mistakes.
Second, God said, “her iniquity is pardoned.” This is the best news! We also need comfort when our own sins, failures, and bad choices have invited hard consequences. How many of us have things that we wish we could do differently? If only we could go back, we would never make those same choices again. And here is what God says to us: “Your sins are forgiven. I’m not counting it against you. I’m not holding it over you.”
Praise God!! What a glorious thing to hear our Creator say to us …. Glory to God!
We can’t evade all the consequences of our choices (Hosea 8:7, Galatians 6:7), but God isn’t keeping track of the heavy consequences of our sinful choices, once we repent of them, that is. God doesn’t take this vengeful stance against us: “If you do this, then take THIS.” It’s not like that. Bound up in the behavior itself are the consequences. Choose to sin; choose to suffer. We reap the natural, bad consequences of our wrong choices. Every choice we make in life has a consequence. Action = reaction … and often lasting consequences.
But when God sees those consequences falling on us, He reminds us, “Forgiven! You are forgiven” In regard to our sin, we are pardoned. In regard to our hard years of labor, they are coming to an end. He gives us rest and comfort.
So whatever the condition of your heart today ~ whether weary or worn down by trials and heartaches or weighed down by the consequences of your own, bad choices ~ because of His unchanging, unconditional love for you, the message is the same: “comfort, my people”
God offers comfort during trials and consequences. Which kind of comfort do you need in this season of life? When you hear God tenderly speaking comfort over you, how does that change you, change your view of Him and change the condition of your soul? Will you release that guilt and shame today and just rest and be comforted? Jesus is waiting …
Let us pray –
Lord God, You are my God. Thank You for comforting your people, more specifically me. Thank You for speaking comfort over me; over those raw and wounded places in my soul. I want to Thank You for the comfort that You provide during trials, when sometimes the end is not always in sight. Thank You for comforting me when I’m feeling the grief and suffering of the consequences from my own rotten choices. But most of all, Thank You for forgiving my sins, through the blood of Your own precious Son, Jesus Christ. Your Word says, if I repent and confess my sins, then You are faithful and just to forgive me, and so I humbly bow before You, and lay all my shame and guilt at Your feet, and I confess before You now any sin that would hinder my growth and my walk with You. Thank You for relieving me of the painful guilt and restoring me to the joy of Your salvation. In Jesus’ holy name I pray, Amen.