S (Scripture): Isaiah 40
1 Comfort, comfort my people!
says your God.
2 Speak compassionately to Jerusalem,
and proclaim to her that her compulsory service has ended,
that her penalty has been paid,
that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins!
3 A voice is crying out:
“Clear the Lord’s way in the desert!
Make a level highway in the wilderness for our God!
4 Every valley will be raised up,
and every mountain and hill will be flattened.
Uneven ground will become level,
and rough terrain a valley plain.
5 The Lord’s glory will appear,
and all humanity will see it together;
the Lord’s mouth has commanded it.”
O (Observation): God’s people moved back and forth from faithfulness to unfaithfulness over and over again. In the time of King Hezekiah, the king made many decisions that pleased the Lord. The king sought the Lord’s guidance and protection from the Assyrians and the Babylonians.
Now, on his deathbed, King Hezekiah – the king of Israel – listened to the prophet Isaiah once again. And the king is rewarded. God grants Hezekiah 15 more years of life!
And in the wake of his healing, God gives Israel some rest. Things would still get worse before they got better, but God was not abandoning the people. In fact, God calls the people of Israel to experience Comfort.
Their long-term worries are over, though trouble would still come. Isaiah prophecies that the rough ways would eventually become smooth. Where there is mountainous terrain, a level and direct path. (Remember, they didn’t have ATV’s back then : )
No more surprises. No more arduous journeys back to the Lord. God would find a way to give us direct access to grace and forgiveness.
For us Christians, this prophecy is fulfilled in Jesus Christ.
A (Application): I heard a song on the radio again this morning. The song essentially said that once someone believes in Jesus…all sorrow and pain go away.
Well…yes and no. The idea that we suffer eternally goes away, yes. But do we still feel the suffering of this broken world in both small and immense ways? Absolutely, we do! We don’t celebrate the pain, but we do experience it.
What has changed for God’s people…the leveling of the hills and raising of the valleys…means that our access to God is now on a clear pathway. God’s people didn’t know what that would look like in Hezekiah or Isaiah’s time…but today, we think this looks like Jesus.
This leveling also means that in this life – as followers of Jesus – even though we will experience pain and suffering, we will do so under the yoke of Jesus, whose yoke is easy and whose burden is light.
Maybe the author of the song wanted to convey that life in Jesus has no eternal sorrow…that our pain will be transformed into joy. I just didn’t hear that transformative move in the song. My worry is that people will hear a song like this and come into the Christian life thinking: “well, all my problems are solved now that I have Jesus!”
My friend, if you come into a life in Jesus, your problems are just about to begin. Life in Jesus is great, but it’s not always a walk in the park : )
P (Prayer): Lord, help us to know that you are with us, and that even though this life is full of fears and worries, that you walk through them with us…bringing us comfort in the end. Amen.