Advent - Comfort for the People of God - Isaiah 40:1-11
According to the dictionary ‘Advent’ is defined as an arrival. It’s the coming or arriving of someone or something. For the church, the four weeks leading up to Christmas are referred to as Advent and it’s a time set aside for us to think about the meaning of the coming of Christ. He came first to accomplish salvation and He’s coming again to bring the final results of salvation. Just as generations and generations of the people of God waited for His first arrival, we now wait for Him to come again.
This season should serve as a time of comfort and hope. We all know the impact of sin in our lives and we see the results of the fall all around us. Advent is a time for us to eagerly anticipate the day when Christ will return and make all things new. He has come, He is coming, so take heart.
The Book of Isaiah
The book of Isaiah is often divided into two parts. In the first thirty-nine chapters Isaiah speaks to the people of God and tells them of a time of judgment that’s coming because of their unfaithfulness. While there are regular reminders of God’s promises throughout, the first half of the book primarily tells the story of coming exile and judgment.
In chapter 40, however, there’s a transition. While the people of God will endure judgment for a time, God assures them that there is a reason for hope. A day will come when God will send One who will rescue His people. A day of salvation is coming – and the hope of that day should bring comfort to the people of God.
The Pronouncement of Comfort (40:1-2)
- A message of comfort (vs. 1)
- A message for the beloved (vs. 2a)
- A message of deliverance (vs. 2)
- Summary – The people of God had been unfaithful and God had already sent a message of coming judgment – but that’s not the end of the story. Here Isaiah conveys a message of comfort, assuring the people that God will forgive sin and deliver them from their enemies. We have the same hope. We can find comfort in knowing that forgiveness is available and our sins can be pardoned through Christ.
The Person of Comfort (40:3-5)
- Prepare the way for the King (vs. 3) (Luke 3:3-4)
- God will prepare the way of the King (vs. 4)
- The glory of His coming (vs. 5)
- Summary – This first ‘voice’ announces the coming of a king and calls for preparation. The people of God should prepare their hearts through repentance and faith (vs. 3) and at the same time God will ensure that His way is prepared (vs. 4). Our hope is that one day the King will arrive, and on that day all will see His glory (vs. 5). This should encourage us to hope and faithfulness.
The Promise of Comfort (40:6-8)
- The frailty of people (vv. 6-7)
- The surety of God (vs. 8)
- Summary – The second ‘voice’ serves to strengthen our confidence in the surety of God’s promises. It’s a message wrapped in metaphor: Like grass and flowers people are frail and temporary, at least in comparison to God. We are limited and weak but God is limitless and will accomplish all He has promised. Everything He says is true and will come to pass (Isaiah 55:10-11; Psalm 119:89-91; Numbers 23:19).
The Proclamation of Comfort (40:9-11)
- The call for proclamation (vs. 9)
- The method of proclamation (vs. 9)
- The message of proclamation (vs. 10-11)
- The coming of the victorious king (vs. 10)
- The coming of the good shepherd (vs. 11)
- Summary – The final ‘voice’ belongs to the people of God. The people of God are called to herald the coming of the One who will bring comfort and salvation. When Jesus returns, He will come as the victorious and conquering King. He will also come for His people – for whom He’s a good and gentle Shepherd. His coming is our hope both for our salvation and our eternal comfort. As we wait for His coming, we should take heart, knowing that His coming is sure.