He Is Never Too Late

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Comfort, comfort my people,
    says your God.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
    and proclaim to her
that her hard service has been completed,
    that her sin has been paid for,
that she has received from the Lord’s hand
    double for all her sins.

A voice of one calling:
“In the wilderness prepare
    the way for the Lord;
make straight in the desert
    a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be raised up,
    every mountain and hill made low;
the rough ground shall become level,
    the rugged places a plain.
And the glory of the Lord will be revealed,
    and all people will see it together.
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

A voice says, “Cry out.”
    And I said, “What shall I cry?”

“All people are like grass,
    and all their faithfulness is like the flowers of the field.
The grass withers and the flowers fall,
    because the breath of the Lord blows on them.
    Surely the people are grass.
The grass withers and the flowers fall,
    but the word of our God endures forever.”

You who bring good news to Zion,
    go up on a high mountain.
You who bring good news to Jerusalem,
    lift up your voice with a shout,
lift it up, do not be afraid;
    say to the towns of Judah,
    “Here is your God!”
See, the Sovereign Lord comes with power,
    and he rules with a mighty arm.
See, his reward is with him,
    and his recompense accompanies him.
He tends his flock like a shepherd:
    He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart;
    he gently leads those that have young. ~Isaiah 40:1-11

Isaiah 40 is the moment God enters a narrative that was going one way and in doing so changes the tone and shape of it. In the previous chapter, Isaiah speaks a word of warning to King Hezekiah of pain and loss that is coming. Hezekiah entirely misses the meaning of what was spoken, which would later be the removal of the Israelites to Babylon generations later. 

Here, in chapter 40, enters comfort.

The book of Isaiah has 66 chapters. When studying this book some years ago, I learned about the book of Isaiah as being reflective of the larger story arc of the Bible. The first 39 chapters being a cry for a coming Saviour (in parallel to the 39 books of the Old Testament) and the 27 chapters that follow to be full of the promise fulfilled (parallel to the 27 books of the New Testament). 

This moment then, is one of significance. Chapter 40 is the first piece of that second part. The call to “behold” (v.9, 10) found here is a call for attention to the good news, to the One who stands forever. These verses are ones I have come back to many times to be reminded of how quickly the word of God changes things. 

We need God to enter like this. For the Holy Spirit to come and speak “Comfort, comfort”; for Lord God to come in might (v.11); for Jesus to be born into a world not expecting His history-altering arrival.

These verses in Isaiah chapter 40 speak of a God who is present, both in the promise being brought to that moment of time, but also in the prophecy of Jesus to come. He’s been planning on showing up for a long time, and He’s been present all along. 

Increase our faith Lord that you are with us in this season, a season in which we prepare to celebrate your intentional entry into the world as human. 

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JAYLENE OLSON

Redemption Church

Redemption Church, 3512 7th ave W 7th Ave, Vancouver, BC, V6R 1W3, Canada