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Advent Devotional: First Sunday of Advent

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Comfort Ye, My People

December 3, 2017

Tenor Recitative: Comfort ye, comfort ye, my people, saith your God . . .  Isaiah 40:12

Chorus: 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. Isaiah 40:5

When trouble comes, people sometimes wonder whether God even cares. If God loves me, they say, why is he letting all this happen to me? The more they suffer, the more they are tempted to doubt whether God really loves them after all.

The truth is that God does care. In this recitative, taken from Isaiah 40:1, the word “comfort” is repeated for emphasis—resulting in a poetic way of expressing the intensity of divine compassion. The God who made the cosmos is a God who really cares.

To comfort is to console. But true consolation can only be offered when there is a close relationship between the one who suffers and the one who comforts. The reason God’s comfort is so comforting is because his relationship with his people is so close.

God revealed something of his glory by sending his Son—the Prince of Peace—into the world. At his birth the angels sang, “Glory to God in the highest” (Luke 2:14).

As glorious as Jesus was when he came to this earth, and especially after his resurrection, he has not yet fulfilled Isaiah’s promise. Isaiah prophesied an even grander display of God’s glory than anything anyone has ever seen. He said, “The glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together” (Isaiah 40:5).

The prophecy is very specific: “All flesh shall see it together.” The same could not be said of Jesus’ birth, which was witnessed only by his two parents, a handful of shepherds, and several Wise Men. Nor was it true of his resurrection, which was witnessed by a few hundred persons. Therefore, it must refer to his Second Coming.

The Bible promises that one day the Messiah will come again with power and great glory. On that day, every man, woman, or child who has ever lived will see Jesus in all his glory. “Behold, he is coming with the clouds,” the Scripture says, “and every eye will see him” (Revelation 1:7a). God has promised a universal display of his glory in the person of Jesus Christ.

How can we become better at both consoling others and accepting consolation?

Let Us Pray

Give us ears to hear, O God, and eyes to watch, that we may know your presence in our midst during this holy season of comfort and joy as we anticipate Christ’s return with power and great glory. Amen.

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