THE KING IS COMING!
Isaiah 40:1-11, "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. The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain: And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it. The voice said, Cry. And he said, What shall I cry? All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field: The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: because the spirit of the LORD bloweth upon it: surely the people is grass. The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever. O Zion, that bringest good tidings, get thee up into the high mountain; O Jerusalem, that bringest good tidings, lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God! Behold, the Lord GOD will come with strong hand, and his arm shall rule for him: behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him. He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young."
In recent days we have been inundated with bad news. The cable news networks, AP and UPI have been humming with news of terrorism and of the war in Afghanistan with the promise that much more of the same bad news is yet to come. As I read this passage of scripture it seemed that God was telling me that I need to bring you some good news this morning. I believe that God is wanting to strengthen and bless His people.
Are you ready to be blessed? Are you ready for some good news for a change? There is no really good news outside of the promises of God.
In this passage of scripture the Prophet Isaiah is given a glimpse of the future of Israel. As those things that happened to Israel are given for our example I think that it would profit us greatly to examine these verses closely.
Isaiah lived at a time when Israel was steeped in idolatry and had forsaken the true God to worship the gods of Bel and Baal. God had enough of their spiritual adultery and He warned Israel, through Isaiah, that they would soon be brought under the horrible chastisement of God’s wrath. It would be only a few more years until they would, once again, be conquered by the Babylonians and led into captivity for 70 years.
Still, through all of this, the mercy, grace and love of God was revealed in the promise to bring Israel home once again.
Isaiah had preached repentance to Israel for a long time now. He knew what was coming and he failed not in his duty to cry out to Israel to return to the Lord God. But, they would not hear his cry. They would not fall down before God in repentance. They were running headlong into destruction because they were blinded to what lay ahead by Satan himself. Now, before Israel was conquered, we hear Isaiah as he begins to reveal the Word of the Lord to a nation steeped in sin.
Surely we live in a world and a nation that has paralleled the nation of Israel in our downward slide into rebellion against God. Who among us can doubt that we are headed for the chastising hand of God’s wrath? The events of Revelation and the prophecies of Jesus in Matthew 24 ring louder in our ears as the Day of the Lord approaches with lightning speed! Signs of the end of the age are everywhere.
1)Wars and rumors of wars
2)Children and parents destroying one another
3)Nation rising against nation
4)Economic conditions running wild
5)Signs in the heavens and in the earth with earthquakes everywhere
6)Peace and safety are gone from the earth
Anyone who has an ability to think can see that this world is headed for one final showdown. I believe that we are living in the final generation before the Rapture of the church.
So, is this the good news that I want to bring to you this morning? Yes, if you’re a child of God. That’s great news for Jesus said when you see these things begin to come to pass, lift up your eyes toward Heaven for your redemption draweth nigh!
It’s good news even if you aren’t a child of God for there is made a way escape for you too. That way of escape from the wrath of God is through the acceptance of Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior and repentance from your life of sin. That is the only way of escape for any of us!
In the midst of warning Israel of the wrath to come, Isaiah’s message changes dramatically. The warnings of judgment to come still are in effect but God’s mercy begins to ring louder as Israel faces its last days as a free people.
Comfort ye my people, speak softly and gently to them, let them know that I have not forgotten them. Let them know that the Lord of Heaven will pardon their iniquity and that they shall return to their land in great victory for I will make a way for them.
Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God.
Are you a child of the King this morning? If so, then God has a word of comfort for you. He will speak to your heart to give you peace in the midst of the storm. He will speak to the winds and waves of the storms of life and say “peace be still”. God wants you know that He has not forgotten you for you are the “Apple of His Eye”. He watches over you in love and compassion and His hand will keep you from destruction. He has promised to be with you always, even to the very end of the world.
Have you heard His still, small voice as He spoke to you? When the whole world is cowering in fear have you heard the Spirit of Peace as He says to you, “My child don’t be afraid for I have it all under control!” When your friends, family and neighbors are consumed with what is going to happen next and they are living on the edge of insanity over worrying about Anthrax, Chemical-Biological terrorist attacks or bomb threats, can you hear the voice of the Holy Spirit as He speaks to your heart to say as He did to David in Psalms 91:7-11, "A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee. Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked. Because thou hast made the LORD, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation; There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling. For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways."
If you have heard the voice of God then praise Him for He is watching over you with love. Praise Him for you can hear His voice. Praise Him for your salvation. Praise Him for His mercy and His grace. Praise Him because He is your Abba, Father; He is your King, He is your elder Brother, He is you Savior and He is your Redeemer!
If you have not heard His voice speaking these words of peace to your heart then perhaps you better do a spiritual checkup and see if you are His child or a child of the Devil. Those who don’t know Jesus as Lord and Savior won’t hear His voice for they don’t know Him at all.
Isaiah 40:2 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, speak softly and kindly to Jerusalem. Cry out to her that her battle with sin is finished and that I have forgiven her unfaithfulness to Me. I have given double the price for her iniquity and she is reconciled back to me.
How can this be true when Israel was yet to go into the Babylonian captivity? How can Israel be comforted with these words when she is yet going to face the hardships of correction and slavery?
These are words from the lips of Almighty God. God was going to bring Israel home again. He would pay the debt for their sin and they would be forgiven. This was a prophetic message foretelling the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ as the Messiah. Through the Gift of His only Son, the Father would bring truth and deliverance to Israel. Through the death on the Cross, Jesus Christ would pay the debt of sin for them. Through the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus, the debt of iniquity would be paid doubly for the sin of Israel and all mankind.
This morning, whether you know Christ as your Savior or not, He has paid the debt of your sin. It was a debt that we owed that we could not pay. No amount of money could pay this debt. Now amount of good works could cover the interest payment. No amount of self-sacrifice for the cause of the gospel can make even small dent in that debt of sin.
It could only be paid by the shedding of blood of the innocent Lamb of God who took upon Himself the sin of the entire world, of every man, woman and child who would ever live, and it was paid by the Blood of God’s perfect Lamb, Jesus Christ!
Isaiah 40:3-5, "The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain: And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it."
There would come a day in the future of Israel that God would send the forerunner of Christ to prepare the way of the coming Messiah. That forerunner would be John the Baptist. In fact we can read in Matthew and in Mark where these words appear once again just before Jesus is baptized by John in the River Jordan marking the beginning of Jesus’ earthly ministry.
In the mind of God these things were already accomplished. That’s why the message to Israel seemed out of time. God is not limited by our time and history. He lived in the eternal where time is non-existent. Everything is now to God, therefore the Crucifixion had already occurred and the sin was forgiven for the repentant hearts of men.
Jesus, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, was soon to arrive upon the earth in the form of man and yet very God. Jesus, God among men, was coming as the conqueror of sin and death for all men.
We, like Israel, are to prepare the way of the Lord to come into our heart and life. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, those deep dark chasms of sin and blackness in our hearts are to be filled with His love, grace and mercy. Through his power, the high places of pride and arrogance are to be leveled so that we don’t think more highly of ourselves than we should. The perverted ways of thinking, and the paths of sin that lead us away from God are to be made straight when his Word lights our path and the Holy Spirit guides our footsteps.
According to historians, when Semiramis marched into Media and Persia with her royal entourage, she came to a place where the mountains were filled with high crags and deep chasms. To go around would require many days and much labor on every trip so Semiramis ordered that every mountaintop be cut down and the boulders and earth be dropped into the deep chasms so that a level road would be made across the tops of the mountains. Even to this day some of these leveled mountains are used as quick passages from one side of the mountains to the other. Everywhere she went, Semiramis had the rocks removed so that highways could be smooth for her to travel in comfort. Every time she saw a mountain it was leveled and the valleys filled so that her path of travel became known to history as the Highway of Semiramis.
In much the same fashion, conquering heroes, kings and generals would enter their conquered lands and return home in great glory upon highways that were prepared much like those of Semiramis. A forerunner would go before them crying, “Prepare the way, make the highway smooth for the King is coming.”
The coming of Jesus Christ is infinitely greater than the arrival of some hero of man. He is coming as King of the Universe. He is coming again to set up His kingdom upon this earth and there shall be a time of peace for a thousand years that has not been known since the Garden of Eden.
The cry is still going forth today to all men, “Prepare the way of the Lord, make yourself ready, for the King is coming!” Have you heard that cry? Can you feel the Spirit stirring within you as you hear that message ring out? The King is Coming, The King is Coming – Get Ready. Your sins have been paid in full and your redemption is accomplished!
Isaiah 40:6-7, "The voice said, Cry. And he said, What shall I cry? All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field: The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: because the spirit of the LORD bloweth upon it: surely the people is grass."
Now Isaiah questions God. Lord you said to cry but why and what should I cry unto Jerusalem and to all Israel for your judgment are surely coming and this message will be lost in their unbelief, pain and suffering. They will not hear and will not believe.
There is no goodness left in Israel. The people are as grass that withers under the hot breath of God as the hot wind of the desert burns up the grass in the field. Surely judgment is coming so how can I cry words of comfort to them now?
Has there ever been a time in your life when you begin to wonder if the message you preach is really doing any good at all? Do you feel as though it has fallen on deaf ears and that there is no use to continue?
If so then you can relate to the feeling of futility that Isaiah felt!
Lord, we have preached your word and no one hears. We have cried out for repentance and there is none to repent. God, to whom shall I cry, to whom shall I preach, who will believe our report, to whom is the Arm of the Lord revealed. Surely the message is great but who will hear it!
We continue to tell people of the soon coming of the Lord. We preach the message of judgment to come. We tell the world that Jesus is the only answer. We cry in the wilderness of Sin that hell is real and that Heaven is the place to go. We preach against the evils of sin, the idolatry and every evil thing on the earth but it all seems so hopeless at times. Give us some hope that all that we do is for a reason and will serve a purpose.
Isaiah 40:8-9, "The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever. O Zion, that bringest good tidings, get thee up into the high mountain; O Jerusalem, that bringest good tidings, lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God!
Here is God’s answer to all of us! Yes, the grass does wither and flower fades away but my Word shall stand forever! No matter how many do not accept the message of the gospel, and no matter how many choose to spend eternity without God, the message must yet go forth for there will be those who will hear and obey. God’s word is eternal. Eternity is a long time and we must not fail in our message of repentance.
Oh Church of the Living God, keep preaching your good tidings of great joy to all people. Keep telling them about Jesus. Now is not the time to be discouraged or fearful! Now is the time to lift up your voice, to be encouraged and strengthened in the fight!
Lift up your voice louder, shout it from the housetops, preach it in the market place, sow the seed of the gospel wherever you go for you don’t know what that seed will bring forth!
Don’t be afraid of what others may say! Don’t be worried about persecution! Don’t be discouraged when no one seems to be listening! God’s Word is true and will never fail.
Keep telling others that Jesus is coming soon! Behold, the King is Coming!
Isaiah 40:10-11, "Behold, the Lord GOD will come with strong hand, and his arm shall rule for him: behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him. He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young."
Take courage this morning and know that Jesus is coming. He is still in control. He knows and sees all things and He is coming with a mighty hand to rule over the entire earth. We are soon going to be caught up to be Him in the air, never to leave Him again. We will be rejoicing around the throne in the twinkling of an eye and this world will pass away into oblivion as we stand in the presence of our Lord forever more.
There is work yet to be done. There are souls that must be reached. There are hard times of labor ahead for we are to occupy until He comes.
But when He comes, it will all be worth it! Jesus has promised us a great reward. His promises of a mansion on golden streets, of absolute joy and peace, of glorious times together for all eternity and, most of all, complete and full access to the very throne of God in all His majesty and glory will be ours forever. This old body will become perfect and never know sickness, pain, sorrow or death ever again. We will see our loved ones who have gone before. We will talk with Isaiah and all the prophets of old. We will have an eternity to visit with one another without any of the problems that seem to fill our conversations now.
What a day that will be when my Jesus I shall see
When He takes me by the hand and leads me through that Promised Land
Then forever I shall be with the one who died for me
What a day, glorious day, that will be.
There will be no dying there, no more burdens to bear
No more sickness, no more pain, no more sorrow over there
All will be peace forever more, on that bright and golden shore
What a day, oh glorious day, that will be
The words of the song may be wrong but you get the idea. What a glorious day that will be!
Be comforted church! Be encouraged! Be strengthened! Lift up your voices and shout it from the housetops that Jesus is coming soon! It will be worth it all!
Lift up your heads, your Redeemer comes and He is coming to make all things right!