Isaiah 40:1-2 “Comfort, comfort My people,”
says your God.
2 “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.”
Anna loved Jerusalem so much that she prayed for its redemption. But God loved it so much that he planned to pardon her iniquity.
This is yet another prophecy section that makes me hear Handel’s music whenever I read it. So I have to slow it down and actually read it to hear the words and not the music.
What is comfort? That is obviously a key word in this passage. God is not using the noun and the noun is what we tend to think of in the Western world. The noun speaks of luxury and privilege. It tells of earthly pleasure and abundance. How different from the verb!
The verb ‘comfort’ is defined in the internet dictionary as:
The easing or alleviation of a person's feelings of grief or distress: As in
"He offered the grieving mother a few words of comfort."
In other words, when God offers these words to his people, they were miserable.
In the verses it says that the time of her forced labor is over. When did Jerusalem and God’s people have forced labor?
The first time, as slaves in Egypt, is fairly obvious. But in their captivity, both Assyrian and Babylonian, they had to work land that was not theirs and for leaders who cared nothing for Jerusalem. Daniel, in essence, started as a palace slave with others of the young men until his wisdom and aptitude was recognized. That history we know… How many other stories at lower levels occurred like that in the Babylonian territory? Nehemiah, also, was a servant as the cup bearer and taster for the king.
But as of yet, Jerusalem has not been redeemed, restored and glorified. It is largely contested territory. It does not have the peace and comfort in these verses.
So this speaks of a future time. God’s chosen people are forced laborers now, even if they don’t see it. Since they have not beheld the Messiah, they labor for the kingdom of this world.
One day, it will not be so. He will call his people from every corner of the world and bring them to Jerusalem.
What a day of rejoicing that will be!
A Sixty-Day Countdown to Christmas