Sunday School Lesson
dec. 16, 2001
COMFORT FOR GOD'S PEOPLE
Bible Background—Isaiah 40:1-11
KEEP IN MIND
“The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our GOD shall stand for ever”(Isaiah 40:8)
The lesson deals with GOD’S gift of comfort. If you have been hurting and need comfort, hear the LORD say, “comfort ye my people.” This lesson is also divided into two sections: 1. GOD will comfort His people (Isaiah 40:1-5), and 2. GOD will visit His people (vv. 8-11).
1. GOD WILL COMFORT HIS PEOPLE (Isaiah 40:1-5)
Isaiah begins by encouraging GOD’S people. “Comfort ye, comfort ye people, saith your GOD” (v.1). This is a prophetic word by GOD to future generations. GOD’S period of judgment was nearly over. They could look forward to His salvation and blessings, even during the time of their captivity.
GOD reveals Himself as a comforter who desires to bless His people. Because of Jerusalem’s iniquity and sin against the LORD, Israel had experienced intense warfare from her enemies. Yet, this “warfare” came directly from the hand of GOD… So often Christians blame the devil for problems and confusion that seep into our lives. However, GOD may permit the “warfare” to come against us so that we might 1. Run to Him for shelter and 2. Repent of any known sin to get us in a right relationship with Him again. No matter what we go through, GOD LOVES US. He wants to comfort and bless us even when we are disobedient.
God gives the prophet specific instructions. “Speak…comfortably to Jerusalem.” Let her know that the warfare had ended, that GOD was no longer angry with the people, and that they had received a double portion that atoned for all of their sins (v.2). The people should be comforted because they had paid double for their sins. The Bible calls our Savior “the GOD of all comfort” (2 Corinthians 1:3) who comforts all that mourn in Zion (Isaiah 61:2).
“The comforter” is one of the names given to the HOLY SPIRIT (John 14:16; 15:26; 16:7). Thus, Isaiah’s words are prophetic in nature and joyous in the midst of the people’s struggles. The people can be assured that trouble will not last forever. GOD was concerned about Israel and would see to it that they enjoyed His blessings as they confessed and repented of their sins.
The prophet affirms that we must be living sacrifices and cleansed from our sin. When we are, our lives become a “highway for our GOD” to enter in and abide with us. Once the LORD has entered in, “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” (v.4). It is clear that Isaiah is using symbolism to describe Israel. Those who have been abased will be exalted. Those who have been full of pride will be brought low. GOD will purge us from wicked works so that believers will be straight and holy before GOD.
GOD promised that the people would see His glory once they were delivered and purged (v.5). This would occur when GOD delivered the people from the Babylonian captivity. But the ultimate occurrence will not take place until the Messiah returns again (Matthew 16:27; Revelation 1:17). The word “glory” means the honor and majesty of GOD, which is revealed in our LORD and SAVIOR JESUS CHRIST. Indeed, when the LORD returns, believers will shout the victory, knowing that “all flesh shall see [HIM] together” (v.5).
It is comforting to know that GOD’S promises are as sure today as they were during the time that Isaiah prophesied to Israel. When we are experiencing difficulty, we are assured that GOD will reveal HIMSELF to us because He has told us that He will never forsake us (see Matthew 28:20).
2. GOD WILL VISIT HIS PEOPLE (vv. 8-11)
One day, everything that has been created in this present world will cease to exist except GOD’S WORD. GOD’S WORD will endure forever. Just imagine every promise the LORD has made will be fulfilled, and nothing will nullify HIS redemption plan for believers. Isaiah affirms GOD’S timeless promise to Zion and Jerusalem, which are prophetic names for Israel. The prophet instructed Israel to raise up their heads and voices with strength and share with each other and that the King will soon come (v.9).
When people are oppressed and burdened due to trials and tribulation, it is difficult for them to believe that a better day is coming. They become weak and hopeless. Hopeless people have no voice or strength with which to speak. What we need is a visitation from the LORD to help us take our eyes off the problem and put them on THE PROBLEM SOLVER: JESUS CHRIST!!!!
The prophet assured Israel that the LORD GOD will come to them with a “strong hand” to rule the people and consume their enemies. There will be a time when GOD’S people will no longer be afraid. Because GOD is coming with power, authority, and might, all people who have put their trust in Him will be rewarded according to their works.
Isaiah concludes by declaring that the LORD will come to comfort and bless His people (v.11). The prophet describes the FATHER’S presence as that of a loving Shepherd who cares for His lambs. He gathers them in His arms and leads them into green pastures and still waters (Psalms 23).
As the people of GOD look forward to the day of His return and final redemption, these encouraging words give us hope and increase our faith in HIM. GOD comforts us and delights in caring for HIS people. HE carries us close to HIS heart; therefore HE is able to identify with our hurts, pains, and infirmities. Though HE is ALL-POWERFUL, HIS love and protection are available to everyone who is in need of comfort today.
We are often faced with problems that can weary us and make us discouraged. One of the ways Satan attacks people is to convince them that GOD has forgotten about them and their problems. It is important that people don’t have a distorted view of GOD. Otherwise they will not want to serve HIM. This week, affirm the love and comfort of GOD in the lives of others who may be experiencing challenging and difficult moments. Only as we present the LORD as the GOD of comfort will people be better able to receive HIS love and concern for them.
Rev. Chris Lowe, Sr., DD
Email Dr. Lowe
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