Comfort, O comfort my people,
says your God.
Speak 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.
A voice cries out:
‘In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord,
make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
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.
Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed,
and all people shall see it together,
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.’
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.
The grass withers, the flower fades,
when the breath of the Lord blows upon it;
surely the people are grass.
The grass withers, the flower fades;
but the word of our God will stand for ever.
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!’
See, the Lord God comes with might,
and his arm rules for him;
his reward is with him,
and his recompense before him.
He 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.
To me, the book of Isaiah is one of the most significant of the Old Testament, and I find Isaiah to be one of the most interesting characters of the Bible, although there’s not a lot written about him. He lived in Judah (vicinity of Jerusalem), during 739 B.C. to 681 B.C, where he condemned social injustice. He was a well educated man with a personal commitment totally to the Lord. Isaiah prophesied during the reigns of kings Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah. Tradition says that he was martyred by the evil king Manasseh. During this time the Assyrians had expanded their empire, and were the hostile world power that placed pressure on Judah (Does any of this ring a bell?). Isaiah and Micah preached to the people and told them not to fight, but remain true to God and hope for the future. Although the Assyrians did conquer the northern kingdom and besieged Jerusalem they did not capture it. An outbreak of disease forced the Assyrians to depart. As a sign of God’s faithfulness, Isaiah promised that a child would be born who would be called “Immanuel,” God with us.
So, when you feel your life is crumbling around you and all hope is lost; when you think that loving relationships/friendships have dissipated, that your illness or the illness of a loved one is not going to improve, that the stock market has crashed beyond all hope, that the war with Iraq will never end, or don’t know if you can make the next mortgage payment, DON’T GIVE UP! Immanuel, God with us, has come.
If you will trust in God to guide you,
And hope in God through all your ways,
God will give strength, what-e’er betide you,
And bear you through the evil days.
Who trusts in God’s unchanging love
Builds on the rock that will not move.