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Janet's Corner

Home | 2006-2007 | 2005-2006 | 2004-2005
Comfort and Encouragement

Isaiah 40:1

 

T   ruth

R   ely on & R  est in

U   nchanging

S   trength

T   ake hold

 

Last week, Andie, one of the small group leaders, stated that it is one thing to believe something.  It is another to trust something.

 

Trusting God involves knowing the truth of who God is and knowing that you can rely on and rest in that truth which is unchanging and which strengthens you, if you take hold of HIM.

 

Allow God to reveal Himself to you through the truth of His Word – the Bible. That’s why I encourage you to come to Bible study every week so that you can either begin or continue building trust in the Lord your Rock!

He’s the Rock of Ages. He is immutable, unchanging, the same yesterday, today and forever. And He places our feet on Him  - The LORD Jehovah – the healer , the provider, our righteousness, the shepherd, the sanctifier, the eternal one…Praise God, we can stand on Him. He is our firm foundation, our solid Rock!

 

Trust in the LORD our Rock!!

 

In order to do our study justice, we all need to be on the same page with some facts about Isaiah. This will be a review for some of you, but as I began to put this year’s study together, I realized that I needed to review some facts about this book of Isaiah.

 

Isaiah is set in the period of Israel’s history when the nation is split into two kingdoms – Israel and Judah. Isaiah’s prophecy is primarily to the nation of Judah, the southern kingdom. Both nations were just going through the motions of worshipping God –their worship of the living God was meaningless. They had fallen into worshipping the idols of surrounding nations. Isaiah was sent by God to bring them a message of repentance and then of comfort.

 

        Compared it to the books in the Bible it can be divided similarly.

Bible                                             Isaiah                   Message

66 Books                                    66 chapters

39 In Old Testament                       1- 39                     Condemnation

27 in New Testament                     40-66                   Comfort

 

 

Chapters 36-39 are historical and they are a bridge into the second half of Isaiah. These four chapters cover how Jerusalem is saved from Assyria who conquers Israel. It relates the historical truth of God extending King Hezekiah’s life, confirming to us the importance of prayer and God’s sovereignty. Then chapter 39 gives the first explicit reference to the Babylonian captivity of the nation of Judah some 100 years later. Their captivity would last for 70 years and the Lord would bring them back to their land through the nation of Persia – and King Cyrus.

 

Chapters 40-66 is the book of comfort. Isaiah was not just a statesman for his own time, but a herald of the most awesome plan in the heart of God –to redeem mankind through the work of Christ. Not only does he prophesy the end of the exile and the nation of Judah’s restoration to Jerusalem, but he announces the coming of the servant Christ and the future promise, even to us today, of the new heaven and earth.

 

The three sections of these chapters include:

o       Chapters 40-48 revealing the Greatness of God the Father

o       Chapters 49-57 revealing the Graciousness of Son of God, His servant

o       Chapters 58-66 revealing the Glory of God in the future Kingdom

                                                and the work of the Spirit of God

 

Isaiah 40-66 was originally written down to be read by a group of discouraged people that would be living in exile from all they knew as familiar. They were a people who would be preserved as a remnant of God’s people and needed to keep on trusting in their everlasting Rock.

Are we any different today? Isaiah will tell his people to “fear not” many times. Do you need this word  - fear not? He assures his people over and over again of his presence and his pardon. Do you need that encouragement and assurance today?

 

His prophecies are far reaching and bring us comfort today as we read them.

We are a people living in foreign land, awaiting the return of Christ.

 

Look at Chapter 40:1

So let’s think about that word comfort..” God does not promise to comfort the people by saying “I will comfort you,” but says to the prophets, to comfort his people. The words of conviction in the first part of the book, needed to be followed with words of comfort. It is the will of God to comfort his people in the worst of times.

The English comes from 2 Latin words that together mean “with strength

The Hebrew word means to sigh, to breathe strongly - so it implies consolation. Before you receive comfort when you re anxious, or fearful or grieving, everything seems too heavy to carry. Your thoughts are going wild, often with self-pity. When words of comfort are heard, it is as if you can take a deep breath again. Perhaps you give a sigh of relief. You are comforted. This word also involves the idea of repentance. When there is sin in our lives, we need to know God’s everlasting love – his desire to forgive us. Our God brings us healing and strength through words of comfort.

Warren Weirsbe in his commentary on Isaiah says that “this is not a word of pity, but power. God’s comfort does not weaken us; but strengthens us. God is not indulging us, but empowering us.”

 

Isaiah 30:15 – says, “In repentance and rest is your salvation. In quietness and confidence is your strength.”  It is by turning to God and trusting in him that we find salvation and strength. It is in knowing and trusting in his comfort that we know him as the Rock of our salvation, as well as the Rock of our everyday lives. God calls us to come and see and follow him!. He longs to reveal himself so that we know who He really is and find rest in Him. Are you ready to receive comfort in the revelation of God to you personally through His Word?

 

One of the goals I have is that as I study God’s word this year, I will learn what it means to encourage myself in the LORD my God.

Turn with me to I Samuel 30:6. David is in a tight place. The city in which David was taking was ransacked by his enemy and all the women and children were taken.  His own men were embittered toward him. They were discontent and impatient. David had every reason to be bitter also.

David was at his wit’s end, but not his faith’s end. He encouraged himself in the Lord his God. To encourage means to fasten upon, to take hold, to be strengthened, to be courageous. Right here in scripture we do not have an understanding of how David encouraged himself in the Lord. In the Psalms we have many examples as he in praise focused on who God was. He focused not on his pain, trouble or even his enemy, but God!

Listen to the words of David in Psalm 18:1-3 as he encouraged himself in the LORD.

 

    ‘ I love you, O LORD, my strength The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I call to the LORD, who is worthy of praise, and I am saved from my enemies”

It is evident as you read this psalm and many others that David…

o       knew and trusted God’s goodness and justice

o        knew and trusted that God sometimes brings his people low, only to raise them up

o       knew and trusted that God would bring light out of darkness, peace out to trouble, good out of evil

o       knew and trusted God’s shepherd’s heart toward his people

o       knew and trusted God’s promises,

o       knew and trusted that God would work “all things together for good, for those that loved him and were called according to his purpose..” long before the words were written to the Romans by Paul.

        

We too, encourage ourselves in the LORD, as we learn the truth about who God is. We can trust God our LORD forever!

 

I pray that you have received comfort and encouragement today and  will grow in your ability to encourage yourself in the LORD our God!