July 26 (Daily reading: Isaiah 40-43) In Isaiah 39, Isaiah told Hezekiah that a time would come when some of the people from Judah would be exiled to Babylon. Isaiah dedicated the following chapters to bringing comfort to God’s people. Scripture ties this comfort to the coming of the Messiah. Mark began his gospel by writing that John the Baptist was the one Isaiah wrote about in 1:3-5, “A voice is calling, ‘Clear the way for the LORD in the wilderness.’” John was preparing the way for the arrival of Jesus.
Isaiah comforted Judah by giving them confidence based on God’s word: “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever” (40:8). Jesus said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away” (Mt. 24:35). Comfort is expressed in a pastoral image: “He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart” (40:11). Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd” (Jn. 10:11). There is comfort in His promise: “Those who wait for the LORD will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary” (40:31). Peter wrote that we serve “by the strength that God supplies” (1 Pet. 4:11).
There is comfort in our fearlessness! “Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand” (41:10). This is repeated: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine!” (43:1). There is comfort in His salvation: “I, even I, am the LORD, and there is no savior besides Me” (43:11). What comfort to know that our Savior knows our name and we are His!
– Al Gary