Comfort in Zion
‘Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. 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.’ Isaiah 40:1–2
SUGGESTED FURTHER READING: Jeremiah 31:10–14
If, as some eminent commentators suppose, the prophet in this passage had any reference to the restoration of Babylon, it is certain his principal object was much more important. Indeed the history of their return from captivity and their state afterwards seems not to correspond with the magnificent images here used. Though they rebuilt their city and temple, they met with many insults, and much opposition, and continued a tributary and dependent people. I shall therefore waive the consideration of this sense. The prophet’s thoughts seem fixed upon one august personage who was approaching to enlighten and bless a miserable world, and before he describes the circumstances of his appearances, he is directed to comfort the mourners in Zion with an assurance that this great event was sufficient to compensate them for all their sorrows. The state of Jerusalem, the representative name of the people or church of God, was very low in Isaiah’s time. How different from the time of Solomon! Iniquity abounded, security prevailed, and judgements were impending. The words of many were stout against the Lord, but there were a few who feared him, whose eyes affected their hearts, and who mourned the evils they could not prevent. These and these only were strictly the Lord’s people, and to these the message of comfort was addressed: Speak to Jerusalem comfortably, speak to her heart, to her case—there is an answer to all her desires, a balm for all her griefs, in this one consideration: the Messiah is at hand.
FOR MEDITATION: It is needful that we sometimes meet with sharp and painful changes to teach us, by our own experience, what we cannot so sensibly learn from books or sermons, that this is not our rest—that we are and must be dependent upon him, to whom we belong.… But the light of his countenance, which is better than life itself, and which may more especially be hoped for when the streams of creature comfort run low or fail, is a sovereign balm to every wound, a cordial for every care.
SERMON SERIES: MESSIAH, NO. 1 [1/4], ISAIAH 40:1–2