Behold Your God!
During the prophet Isaiah’s lifetime, God’s people had been taken captive into a foreign territory. They were dejected, unable even to sing songs of praise to the Lord (see Psalm 137:1-4). Yet while they were in that state of exile, God came to His people with words of comfort (Isaiah 40:1)—comfort found only in the fulfillment of His promise: that the glory of the Lord would be revealed, not only to Israel but to all mankind.
These good tidings were nothing to be quiet about. God’s people were meant to give a triumphal shout, captivating each other with the glory of their hope. Once described as “people who walked in darkness,” they now saw “a great light” (Isaiah 9:2).
The distinction between the darkness of this fallen world and the light of heaven is a striking picture that runs all the way through Isaiah, and indeed through the whole Bible. Darkness is a result of disinterest in God, rebellion against Him, and unwillingness to do what He says. There is but one message that shines light into such darkness, refreshing hearts and minds: “Behold your God!”
This message is just as relevant to God’s people today as it was in Isaiah’s time. The darkness often feels very heavy and the light sometimes looks very dim. Yet often the message of hope also dawns during uncertain times. God promised, “The glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken” (Isaiah 40:5). Ultimately, God fulfilled this promise when He took on flesh and established His presence among us.
When John wrote his Gospel, he looked back on the same scene to which Isaiah had been looking forward, saying, “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). Here was—He was—the Light of the world, and “the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (v 5). Isaiah was describing the one who would come—but we, like John, are able to reflect upon the completed work: the promised glory that has now been revealed.
God has come to us, breaking through our darkness and bringing salvation. You can behold your God in a manger, on a cross, walking out of a tomb, and now reigning on high. It is not hard to see the darkness—but we must nevertheless look to the light, for there we find hope that casts out fear and good news that is worth heralding. Today, behold your God!
Comfort for God's People
1Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.
2Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
and cry to her
that her warfare1 is ended,
that her iniquity is pardoned,
that she has received from the Lord's hand
double for all her sins.
3A voice cries:2
“In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord;
make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
4Every valley shall be lifted up,
and every mountain and hill be made low;
the uneven ground shall become level,
and the rough places a plain.
5And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed,
and all flesh shall see it together,
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”
The Word of God Stands Forever
6A voice says, “Cry!”
And I said,3 “What shall I cry?”
All flesh is grass,
and all its beauty4 is like the flower of the field.
7The grass withers, the flower fades
when the breath of the Lord blows on it;
surely the people are grass.
8The grass withers, the flower fades,
but the word of our God will stand forever.
The Greatness of God
9Go on up to a high mountain,
O Zion, herald of good news;5
lift up your voice with strength,
O Jerusalem, herald of good news;6
lift it up, fear not;
say to the cities of Judah,
“Behold your God!”
10Behold, the Lord God comes with might,
and his arm rules for him;
behold, his reward is with him,
and his recompense before him.
11He will tend his flock like a shepherd;
he will gather the lambs in his arms;
he will carry them in his bosom,
and gently lead those that are with young.
12Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand
and marked off the heavens with a span,
enclosed the dust of the earth in a measure
and weighed the mountains in scales
and the hills in a balance?
13Who has measured7 the Spirit of the Lord,
or what man shows him his counsel?
14Whom did he consult,
and who made him understand?
Who taught him the path of justice,
and taught him knowledge,
and showed him the way of understanding?
15Behold, the nations are like a drop from a bucket,
and are accounted as the dust on the scales;
behold, he takes up the coastlands like fine dust.
16Lebanon would not suffice for fuel,
nor are its beasts enough for a burnt offering.
17All the nations are as nothing before him,
they are accounted by him as less than nothing and emptiness.
18To whom then will you liken God,
or what likeness compare with him?
19An idol! A craftsman casts it,
and a goldsmith overlays it with gold
and casts for it silver chains.
20He who is too impoverished for an offering
chooses wood8 that will not rot;
he seeks out a skillful craftsman
to set up an idol that will not move.
21Do you not know? Do you not hear?
Has it not been told you from the beginning?
Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth?
22It is he who sits above the circle of the earth,
and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers;
who stretches out the heavens like a curtain,
and spreads them like a tent to dwell in;
23who brings princes to nothing,
and makes the rulers of the earth as emptiness.
24Scarcely are they planted, scarcely sown,
scarcely has their stem taken root in the earth,
when he blows on them, and they wither,
and the tempest carries them off like stubble.
25To whom then will you compare me,
that I should be like him? says the Holy One.
26Lift up your eyes on high and see:
who created these?
He who brings out their host by number,
calling them all by name,
by the greatness of his might,
and because he is strong in power
not one is missing.
27Why do you say, O Jacob,
and speak, O Israel,
“My way is hidden from the Lord,
and my right is disregarded by my God”?
28Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
his understanding is unsearchable.
29He gives power to the faint,
and to him who has no might he increases strength.
30Even youths shall faint and be weary,
and young men shall fall exhausted;
31but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint.
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