Comfort and Restoration

Out of all the verses that John the Baptist, herald to the Messiah, could have chosen, he settled on Isaiah 40 as his focus for his task. It is curious to me that Christians often teach that the bad news must precede the good news. In other words, we have to preach sin before we can share the good news of the Gospel.

But in a post-Christian society that has abandoned the myth of progress and inherent goodness for the most part, I wonder if Isaiah 40 is a far more relevant starting point. We are restoring God’s children, his creation to him. We are reconnecting a link that has been severed. I believe that we must treat everyone as a child of God, even if they may never be, because we have faith that God can bring them into the kingdom. If you follow that trian of logic, then perhaps the Gospel for skeptical and jaded society is one of comfort. God has come, is coming today, and will come back for good, and so we should not cringe in fear of judgment. The message, “God is coming,” is a comfort, a sign of hope.

What do you think? Here’s the passage:

Prepare for God’s Arrival
1 “Comfort, oh comfort my people,” says your God.
2 “Speak softly and tenderly to Jerusalem, but also make it very clear
That she has served her sentence, that her sin is taken care of–forgiven!
She’s been punished enough and more than enough, and now it’s over and done with.”
3 Thunder in the desert! “Prepare for GOD’s arrival! Make the road straight and smooth,
a highway fit for our God.
4 Fill in the valleys, level off the hills, smooth out the ruts, clear out the rocks.

5 Then GOD’s bright glory will shine
and everyone will see it.
Yes. Just as GOD has said.”
6 A voice says, “Shout!”
I said, “What shall I shout?”
“These people are nothing but grass,
their love fragile as wildflowers.
7 The grass withers, the wildflowers fade,
if GOD so much as puffs on them.
Aren’t these people just so much grass?
8 True, the grass withers and the wildflowers fade,
but our God’s Word stands firm and forever.”
9 Climb a high mountain, Zion.
You’re the preacher of good news.
Raise your voice. Make it good and loud, Jerusalem.
You’re the preacher of good news.
Speak loud and clear. Don’t be timid!
Tell the cities of Judah,
“Look! Your God!”
10 Look at him! GOD, the Master, comes in power,
ready to go into action.
He is going to pay back his enemies
and reward those who have loved him.
11 Like a shepherd, he will care for his flock,
gathering the lambs in his arms,
Hugging them as he carries them,
leading the nursing ewes to good pasture.

Read all of Isaiah 40

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