Summary: We are not only saved by faith, we are comforted by faith, motivated by faith, and anticipate God’s glorious presence by faith.

Comfort My People

(Isaiah 40:1-5)

1. My view: one Isaiah, this written before 680 BC.

2. Many of our most important NT teachings find their origin in these chapters.

3. Isaiah’s times [Rise of Assyria]

4. The first part of Isaiah has a variety of themes, but heavy on judgment.

5. Latter part has a variety of themes, but heavy on God’s promised blessings.

Main Idea: We are not only saved by faith, we are comforted by faith, motivated by faith, and anticipate God’s glorious presence by faith.

I. Comfort: RESOLUTION Awaits By Faith (1-2)

We are a hurting people in a hurting world. We need to know that one day, things will change dramatically on this planet!

A. Social Peace: No more WAR

• Some of you have family in Afghanistan right now; others have seen war

• War is a symptom of the reign of sin

B. Personal Peace: No more GUILT

• I wonder how many drunks and druggies we would have if people were not burdened by guilt --- some of it false guilt, some of it deserved guilt?

• God made our consciences to pain us when we do wrong…

C. Spiritual Peace: ATONEMENT made

1. Earthly atonement for earthly blessings

2. Spiritual atonement to costly for mortals to make

“To this day, when a leading rabbi dies, it is quite common for mourners to say, ‘May his death serve as an atonement for us!’” [Michael Brown, Jewish Objections to Jesus, Volume II, p. 160]

Psalm 49:7-9, “Truly no man can ransom another, or give to God the price of his life,

for the ransom of his life is costly and can never suffice, that he should live on forever and never see the pit.”

D. Four FULFILLMENTS at least

1. The return of the Jews under CYRUS?

2. The first coming of JESUS

3. Our personal CONVERSION

4. Most literal: Jesus’ SECOND coming

E. God’s peace that passes all understanding is our PREVIEW (Phil. 4:4-8)

II. Motivation: We PREPARE the Way By Faith (3-4)

We are a stubborn people who prefer to maintain our habits, ways, and approaches to living life; we need to be invaded by repentance & we need to help others repent.

A. PERSONAL and national repentance will happen

B. We are to work toward an ENVIRONMENT for the Lord’s return

• Pictured here as leveling mountains and bringing up valleys

• Driving on Interstates in So. Indiana, Kentucky, TN, WV….. lot of labor to work around mountains to make them passable

• Picture: repentance; to correct our walk with God, help us clear our conscience, and learn to forgive and be forgiven…

“…the Messiah can come only after all the sinners have repented; should he come earlier, the unredeemed sinners would become liable to eternal punishment…” [Raphael Patai, The Messiah Texts, p. 43].

Compare this concept with 2 Peter 3:9, “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.”

“…The basis of these [Jewish] stories is the belief that it is possible for men of exceptional saintliness to force the hand of God, and that they would have succeeded in making the Messiah come had it not been for interference by Satan, the ancient enemy of God and Israel…” [The Messiah Texts, p. 65]

Compare this with Peter preaching in Acts 3:19-21, “Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago.”

Also read 2 Peter 3:12a, “waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God…”

C. John the Baptist engaged in this sort of MINISTRY

1. John the Baptist ministered in the wilderness

2. The Dead Sea Scroll people (Qumran) went to the dessert because of this

D. We can have an EFFECTIVE ministry

Part of that ministry can be exemplifying repentance…

1. Acknowledge the wrong we have done to God

2. Seek to make restitution as best you can

3. Take steps to guard yourself from committing the same sin, if you can

III. Anticipation: We AWAIT God’s Glorious Presence by Faith (5)

We are put down as though we worshipped an ancient idea and a God that will not really come down to reign on earth – ever. But he will. We must live in anticipation.

A. God’s GLORY: what is special about him

In Jesus, God’s glory was revealed. God’s glory wasn’t revealed when 45,000 Jews returned from Babylon under Cyrus, nor when they rebuilt the small Temple. But his glory was revealed in Jesus (Mt. of Transfiguration, e.g.).

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