Advent 3 – 2010 – “Comfort Ye”

Sermon by Rev. Christian C. Tiews – 12/12/2010

Comfort, comfort my people, says your 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. 5 And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed.”

At the beginning of this service we heard the beautiful and very familiar words of Isaiah, Chapter 40.
Inspired by the Holy Spirit, this passage was written by the prophet over 2,700 years ago.
And in the 18th century, George Friedrich Handel put these words to music in his world-famous oratorio, “Messiah.”
Truth be told, “Comfort ye, comfort ye, my people” has nothing to do with coming over for a cup of tea, as a certain seven-year old recently suggested.
Rather, what the prophet Isaiah means in this passage is this:
For centuries the southern kingdom of Judah had been unfaithful to the Lord by worshipping idols.
As punishment, God would send them into exile in a distant land, Babylon, at a certain point in the future.
Most of them would die there, especially those who were adults at the beginning of the exile.
But for their children there would be comfort.
Instead of permanent exile, their time of “hard service” would be cut short and the young people would be allowed to return to Judah after seventy years.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that her warfare is ended, that her iniquity is pardoned.”

In fact, by telling them that they would receive “double for all their sins” God is indicating that Judah would experience double comfort, even though they had done nothing to deserve this grace.
This would occur in the distant future, when the promised Messiah would come to the aid of His people.
They would receive comfort—even though initially they would have to experience affliction.

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