Isaiah 40:1-11 (NRSV)
Chapter 40Comfort, O comfort my people, says your God. Verse 2Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that she has served her term, that her penalty is paid, that she has received from the Lord's hand double for all her sins.
Verse 3A voice cries out: "In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Verse 4Every 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. Verse 5Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all people shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken." Verse 6A voice says, "Cry out!" And I said, "What shall I cry?" All people are grass, their constancy is like the flower of the field. Verse 7The grass withers, the flower fades, when the breath of the Lord blows upon it; surely the people are grass. Verse 8The grass withers, the flower fades; but the word of our God will stand forever.
Verse 9Get you up to a high mountain, O Zion, herald of good tidings; lift up your voice with strength, O Jerusalem, herald of good tidings, lift it up, do not fear; say to the cities of Judah, "Here is your God!" Verse 10See, the Lord God comes with might, and his arm rules for him; his reward is with him, and his recompense before him. Verse 11He will feed his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms, and carry them in his bosom, and gently lead the mother sheep.
The writer knows a people who have experienced defeat and destruction. In that situation, it is easy to question what kind of God we have and what that God has in mind for us. It is to these people that Isaiah directs his message. God’s people experience comfort, firm in the knowledge that their Lord is coming. The ephemeral quality of our existence contrasts sharply with the Word that stands forever. Isaiah assures us that God has not forgotten or forsaken God’s people. The one who comes indeed comes with might and comes in a way that changes the very landscape, does not come to destroy us but rather to comfort us, feed us, and gather us to Godself. God’s coming is not to be feared but to be welcomed. Truly, these are good tidings for all people!
We thank you that you have not forsaken us but rather come to comfort us. Help us to tell the good tidings of your coming. Amen.