Sunday, July 7, 2013

Comfort You, My People

We are currently in the period of time on the Biblical calendar known as the “dire straits.” This three week period from Tammuz 17 to Av 9 is in remembrance of the fall of Jerusalem. On Tammuz 17, Nebuchadnezzar broke through the walls of Jerusalem taking the city. On Av 9, he destroyed the temple. Jeremiah laments about the destruction of Jerusalem at the hands of her enemies.

Lamentations 1:1-3 KJV 1 How doth the city sit solitary, that was full of people! How is she become as a widow! She that was great among the nations, and princess among the provinces, how is she become tributary! 2 She weepeth sore in the night, and her tears are on her cheeks: among all her lovers she hath none to comfort her: all her friends have dealt treacherously with her, they are become her enemies. 3 Judah is gone into captivity because of affliction, and because of great servitude: she dwelleth among the heathen, she findeth no rest: all her persecutors overtook her between the straits.

The lovers that Jerusalem had taken were the idols she worshipped in the place of God.

Jeremiah 2:20 KJV 20 For of old time I have broken thy yoke, and burst thy bands; and thou saidst, I will not transgress; when upon every high hill and under every green tree thou wanderest, playing the harlot.

None of her idols could deliver her from the Babylonians and God refused to hear their cries.

Jeremiah 11:11-12 KJV 11 Therefore thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will bring evil upon them, which they shall not be able to escape; and though they shall cry unto me, I will not hearken unto them. 12 Then shall the cities of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem go, and cry unto the gods unto whom they offer incense: but they shall not save them at all in the time of their trouble.

They were taken “between the straits.” The word translated as “straits” is the Hebrew word #4712.  rum  may-tsar' meaning something tight, i.e. (figuratively) trouble:--distress, pain, strait. The enemies of Jerusalem overtook her in a time of trouble and distress.

But God promises through Isaiah that Jerusalem’s punishment would come to an end; that He would comfort His people!

Isaiah 40:1-2 KJV 1 Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. 2 Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the LORD'S hand double for all her sins.

That Sabbath after the 9th of Av begins a six week period known as the Sabbaths of Comfort. On each Sabbath during these six weeks which lead up to the Feast of Trumpets, readings are chosen from the book of Isaiah emphasizing God’s comfort of His people. Isaiah 40 is read on the first Sabbath after the 9th of Av.

These words of comfort recorded in Isaiah 40 come through a chorus of three messages, perhaps delivered by three heavenly messengers. Three is the number of divine completion. We also know that by two or three witnesses, a matter is decided. So, the message here is certain.

The first messenger brings the word in verses 1 and 2 that Jerusalem’s punishment will come to an end. The second message calls for preparing a highway for God to come to His people.

Isaiah 40:3-5 KJV 3 The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. 4 Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain: 5 And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.

The image is of an important visitor coming to a land in desperate need. The call is to repair the roads and to clear away all the obstacles to his coming. Luke records that John the Baptist’s message of repentance is the way to repair the roads and clear the obstacles.

Luke 3:3-6 KJV 3 And he came into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins; 4 As it is written in the book of the words of Esaias the prophet, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. 5 Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low; and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways shall be made smooth; 6 And all flesh shall see the salvation of God.

Notice the slight difference between Isaiah and Luke in what all flesh would see. Isaiah says that all flesh would see the glory of the LORD and Luke says that all flesh will see the salvation of God. On the eve of His crucifixion, Yeshua connects the concepts of salvation and the glory of God.

John 17:1-5 KJV 1 These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee: 2 As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him. 3 And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. 4 I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do. 5 And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.

The third message in Isaiah 40 guarantees the vision.

Isaiah 40:6-8 KJV 6 The voice said, Cry. And he said, What shall I cry? All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field: 7 The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: because the spirit of the LORD bloweth upon it: surely the people is grass. 8 The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever.

The word “goodliness” in verse 6 is the Hebrew word dox  chesed which implies God’s covenant devotion. In contrast, our chesed is transitory, but God’s word stands forever.

Psalms 103:15-18 KJV 15 As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth. 16 For the wind (spirit) passeth over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more 17 But the mercy(chesed) of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children's children; 18 To such as keep his covenant, and to those that remember his commandments to do them.

Isaiah goes on to promise good news; a Messiah is coming!

Isaiah 40:9-11 KJV 9 O Zion, that bringest good tidings, get thee up into the high mountain; O Jerusalem, that bringest good tidings, lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God! 10 Behold, the Lord GOD will come with strong hand, and his arm shall rule for him: behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him. 11 He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.

Yeshua’s words to John in the book of Revelation, tell us that He is that coming Messiah; that He comes with His reward and that He is one with God who is the first and the last.

Revelation 22:12-13 KJV 12 And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. 13 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.

Isaiah 44:6-7 KJV 6 Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God. 7 And who, as I, shall call, and shall declare it, and set it in order for me, since I appointed the ancient people? and the things that are coming, and shall come, let them shew unto them.

Isaiah concludes with words of encouragement to those who are waiting for the Messiah. For all those who are weary, God gives strength.

Isaiah 40:28-31 KJV 28 Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? There is no searching of his understanding. 29 He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. 30 Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: 31 But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

Yeshua also gave words of encouragement to His followers on the eve of His crucifixion. He promised a Comforter who would strengthen us and lead us into truth.

John 14:16-17 KJV 16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; 17 Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.

John 16:12-15 KJV 12 I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. 13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. 14 He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. 15 All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you.

John 14:18 KJV 18 I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.

Yeshua is coming! The promise is established and sure. As we wait for His coming; we rest in His strength given to us through the Holy Spirit, the Comforter who enables us to carry out our mission to spread the good news.

Shalom and be blessed
Dan & Brenda Cathcart

Please visit our web site at:

“The Sign of Jonah” is now available.  See our web site for details.