Summary: In our text God speaks in different tones that I hope will bring us comfort and joy, to know we are loved by God.
LISTEN FOR LOVE
It is a traditional English Christmas carol, one of the oldest carols, dating back to the 16th century, the name of its
author long unknown. In Dickens’ A Christmas Carol this song stirred irritation of Ebeneezer Scrooge, causing him to grab up a ruler “with such energy of action that the singer fled in terror”.
God rest ye merry gentlemen, Let nothing you dismay
Remember Christ our Savior, Was born on Christmas Day
To save us all from Satan's pow'r, When we were gone astray
Oh tidings of comfort and joy, Comfort and joy, Oh tidings of comfort and joy
In this season of waiting and expectation, in the Christmas Rush, we seek the comfort and joy that only Christ can bring.
In our text God speaks in different tones that I hope will bring us comfort and joy, to know we are loved by God.
1. Hear God’s Whisper
(Isaiah 40:1-2 “Comfort, comfort my people,” says your God. “Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and announce to her
that her time of forced labor is over, her iniquity has been pardoned, and she has received from the Lord’s hand
double for all her sins.”)
God’s tender gentle speech is unexpected because for 39 chapters Isaiah has delivered the stern condemnation! Isaiah told King Hezekiah that the days are coming when everything in your palace and all that your fathers have stored up until today will be carried off to Babylon; nothing will be left,’ says the Lord. ‘Some of your descendants—who come from you, whom you father—will be taken away, and they will become eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.’” (Isaiah 39:6-7) Judah was running quickly into captivity and there was no stopping it. Isaiah’s message is that God has a tender message also - he hasn’t forsaken them nor forgotten them. He wants them to know that they are forgiven.
In the noise of Christmas rush we can fail to hear the gentleness of God’s voice in our own lives. The world is loudly crashing, spiraling out of control. In our own lives we can experience loud guilt, failure to measure up. We can find it hard to be genuine in our struggles while everyone else is trying to live it up. Whatever the noise is in your life, take time out to just listen to the gentle voice of God who loves you deeply.
2. Listen For God’s Outcry
(Isaiah 40:3-8 A voice cries out: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. 4 Every 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.5 Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all people shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” 6 A voice says, “Cry out!” And I said, “What shall I cry?” All people are grass, their constancy is like the flower of the field. 7 The grass withers, the flower fades, when the breath of the Lord blows upon it; surely the people are grass. 8 The grass withers, the flower fades; but the word of our God will stand forever.)
This is the promise of the Lord that all of the obstacles that Judah would face, he would remove them so that they could see His glory. Glory as God travels his highway in the desert to come to them. Glory as God is eternal and powerful, but any people who stand in his way are like short-lived flowers. Glory as God’s word stands forever.
This reminds us of what was said of John the Baptist and how he was clearing a path way for the Lord Jesus.
I think it’s an outcry against everything that stands in the way of our seeing God’s glory. Circumstances of life (valleys lifted, mountains lowered, rough places smoothed out). People who distract and mislead us (people are like grass). Our own hearts that can keep leading us astray (trust the Word of God, not your feelings each step!) This is an outcry … prepare the way of the Lord in your heart… this is where Christ dwells.
3. Listen for God’s Shout
(9-10 Get 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!” 10 See, the Lord God comes with might, and his arm rules for him; his reward is with him, and his recompense before him.)
Here is Your God! This is the shout of God’s people in Isaiah’s day and in our day as well.