February 22, 2016

Week Nine Devotions Written by Melynda Mears

Isaiah 40:1-8

Starting in Isaiah 40 (through the end of the book), God reaches out to comfort his people. The first thirty-nine chapters were mainly focused on the impending judgement that was coming should the people of Judah not repent for their neglect to follow God. (Indeed, they were conquered by Babylon and carried off to a foreign country far from home.)

Now, on the other side of judgement, the prophet’s message from God shifts from an ominous warning to caring consolation. It is a message of hope. It is a message that looks forward to the coming of the Messiah (although Isaiah’s original audience may not have understood that as clearly as we do). The way is being prepared for the Lord to return to his people, revealing all his wonder and glory. And all people shall see it together.

All four gospels quote this passage in Isaiah referring to John the Baptist. He became the voice crying in the wilderness, preparing the way for the Lord to return to his people. When God became man, he did not reveal all his wonder and glory. Instead, he chose to become flesh as a vulnerable, tiny baby lying in a manger. He was virtually unknown when John proclaimed his message of hope. “The kingdom of heaven is near! The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me!” In time, Jesus’ authority and love were revealed in his miracles. He proved to be the prophesied Messiah, and his message of God’s love was for all people.

The prophet’s message of hope rings true even today. The Creator of the universe cares for you. When you are in the midst of hardship, be it punishment for disobedience or simply circumstances beyond your control, God reaches out to comfort you. To those who are suffering in this broken world, he sends a message of hope. The way is being prepared for the Lord to return again, this time in all his wonder and glory. It is a message for all people—every nation, tribe, people, and tongue will stand before his throne of glory. And behold, he makes all things new.