Singing, “My love is like a mighty flood”.
“I took My people into the wilderness to make it possible for them to serve and follow Me, without the distractions of Egypt. There they would also learn to depend on Me entirely for everything, not on their own devices and plans. Many years later I came to the earth and My ministry started in the wilderness – to demonstrate to My people that I was going to rescue them from the wilderness and take them into the ‘Promised Land of milk and honey’. You are still living in the wilderness, although there are many signs of My generosity and creativity around you, it is totally marred by sin and the curse. However today, I remind you that My love is like a mighty flood in the wilderness, ‘streams in the desert’. It comes to bring you abundance and fulness of life and that flood was released the moment I died on the cross – that is where My love was and still is being poured out from. If you ever doubt My love, just look at the cross.”
Now we come to the most encouraging chapter 40 of Isaiah. After chapter 39, it forms an introduction to the next “book” of Isaiah (ch 40-56). 200 years have passed since the prediction of the Babylonian invasion. The Israelites have experienced that invasion by Babylon, when they were taken into exile. The time of the exile is almost over and the people are preparing to return to Israel.
The message is quite clear, “Comfort, comfort my people says your God“. 40:1. The key to understanding the need for comfort is found in 40:27. “Why do you say, O Jacob and complain O Israel, “My way is hidden from the Lord; my cause is disregarded by my God”? The Israelites obviously felt abandoned by God and had no word from Him for some time.
It is a universal question, asked by almost every believer over the years at some stage or another in their lives. So what is this message of comfort as set out in this chapter? Firstly there is a message that her sin has been forgiven, because it has been paid for 40:2. What sin, you ask? Well that is what the first 39 chapters details isn’t it. Mainly a lack of trust in God.
This forgiveness is linked to the one who is bringing a message in the wilderness, vs ,3. It is a message of hope. that the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all mankind will see it vs 5 (note, not just the Israelites).
It is a message which, unlike man’s fleeting life is linked to God’s word, which “stands forever“. It is so important that it needs to be declared from the highest mountain. The Hebrew is the equivalent of the Greek “evangel” of the New Testament. The message’s central point concerns the Souvereign Lord and what he is going to do, using all His power. Yet at the same time acting like a shepherd, who knows all His sheep and cares tenderly for them.. vv 9-11.
Verses 12-26 go on describing a beautiful picture of this Souvereign Lord of ours, comparing Him to the empty idols along the way. But perhaps one of the most important emphases, completes the picture in the last 4 verses. Against the background of the question, whether God cares, the answer comes. God is everlasting, continually faithful, concerned for the weary and those who stumble and fall. The key word in these last verses is the word “hope” in vs 32. Read the word “trust” instead (those who have faith), who believe this message. It is to them that the promise of having their strength renewed comes, which enables them to soar on wings like an eagle.
That was the message to the Israelites in Babylon. What about us? The voice crying in the wilderness leads us to the one whom this verse points to in the NT. John, in the desert, once again calling out a message of repentance and faith in the One who would soon be baptized by him. This was all happening in the wilderness, where Jesus launches His ministry from. A fulfillment of the earlier predictions of the coming Messiah in Isaiah.
We look forward, with expectation, to the further predictions of the One who will bring comfort, in the next chapters of Isaiah.
In he meantime, what is Jesus’ message for me today? A clear reminder that when I feel God is not caring, I should visit scriptures like this to remind me of who God is and what He has come to do. And then to put my faith and trust and hope in Him. May God bless you all as you imbibe this most encouraging chapter.