Isaiah 40:1

Verse of the Day Devotion.  Isaiah 40:1

“Comfort, O comfort My people, says your God.” – Isaiah 40:1

Chapters 1-39 of Isaiah certainly had passages of comfort and hope, but they also have a strong tone of judgment and warning throughout them. Now, beginning with Isaiah 40, the tone shifts to being predominantly full of comfort and blessing, full of the glory of God. Isaiah 39 ended, announcing the conquest of Jerusalem and the exile of the nation. “Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, “Hear the word of the LORD of hosts, Behold, the days are coming when all that is in your house, and all that your fathers have laid up in store to this day shall be carried to Babylon; nothing shall be left,’ says the LORD. And some of your sons who shall issue from you, whom you shall beget, shall be taken away; and they shall become officials in the palace of the king of Babylon.” Isaiah 39:5-7. The announcement that the Babylonians would someday capture Jerusalem and take the people into exile was a bitter blow. How could Judah celebrate the downfall of Assyria when everyone knew that a more powerful invader was on the way?

Our focus verse is the general subject of this and the following chapters. The commencement is abrupt, as often happens in Isaiah and the other prophets. The place where this vision is laid is in Babylon, the time near the close of Judah’s captivity. “Speak kindly to Jerusalem; And call out to her, that her warfare has ended, That her iniquity has been removed, That she has received of the LORD’s hand Double for all her sins.” Isaiah 40:2. The main subject of the consolation is stated in the above verse, that their captivity and warfare was about to end, and that brighter and happier days were to succeed their trials and their exile. The exhortation to ‘comfort’ the people, seen in our focus verse, is understood as a command of God to those in Babylon whose office or duty it would be to address them, that is to the ministers of religion and the prophets. Jerusalem needed to be comforted because of all they had experienced in Babylon.

Then in the next three verses we find, “A voice is calling,  Clear the way for the LORD in the wilderness; Make smooth in the desert a highway for our God. Let every valley be lifted up, And every mountain and hill be made low; And let the rough ground become a plain, And the rugged terrain a broad valley; Then the glory of the LORD will be revealed, And all flesh will see it together; For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.” Isaiah 40:3-5. Here, Isaiah speaks for the LORD’s messenger, who cries out to the barren places. The idea is that the LORD is coming to His people as a triumphant King, who has the road prepared before Him so He can travel in glory and ease. Every obstacle in the way must be removed. Whatever was wrong in the road must be corrected. The problems were not the same everywhere. Sometimes, the road in the valley needed to be lifted up; other times a road had to be cut through a passage in the mountains. The idea of preparing the way of the LORD is a word picture because the real preparation must take place in our hearts. Building a road is very much like the preparation God must do in our hearts. They are both expensive, they both must deal with many different problems and environments, and they both take an expert engineer. And God’s glory is revealed in the prepared hearts described above. And it is revealed without regard to nationality; all flesh shall see it together. This glory of the LORD is not revealed only to Jerusalem or Judah, but to every prepared heart. The certainty of this word is assured because the mouth of the LORD has spoken.

God desires the best for His people, and sometimes that means difficult trials in order for us to turn back to Him. This may be hard to see it as best for us, but He knows all things and does what He needs to do. But in the end, if we look to Him, He will as our focus verse states, “Comfort, O comfort My people, says your God.” And Isaiah closes out chapter 40 with the following. “Why do you say, O Jacob, and assert, O Israel, My way is hidden from the LORD, And the justice due me escapes the notice of my God? Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth Does not become weary or tired. His understanding is inscrutable. He gives strength to the weary, And to him who lacks might He increases power. Though youths grow weary and tired, And vigorous young men stumble badly,”  Isaiah 40:27-30. God will strengthen us in these times, and He does not grow tired in giving us what we need. And because of this, we read in the last verse in chapter 40. “Yet those who wait for the LORD Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary.” Isaiah 40:31.

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.

Isaiah 12:1

Verse of the Day Devotion.  Isaiah 12:1

“Then you will say on that day, I will give thanks to Thee, O LORD; For although Thou was angry with me, thine anger is turned away, And Thou dost comfort me.” – Isaiah 12:1 

This prophecy has a two-fold meaning. First it speaks of God sending Israel into exile because of their sins. “And the house of Israel will know that I am the LORD their God from that day onward. And the nations will know that the house of Israel went into exile for their iniquity because they acted treacherously against Me, and I hid My face from them; so I gave them into the hand of their adversaries, and all of them fell by the sword. According to their uncleanness and according to their transgressions I dealt with them, and I hid My face from them.” Ezekiel 39:22-24. Because of their wrongdoing, God put them under the rule of the Assyrians for a time. However, this would not be forever. “Therefore thus says the Lord GOD of hosts, O My people who dwell in Zion, do not fear the Assyrian who strikes you with the rod and lifts up his staff against you, the way Egypt did. For in a very little while My indignation against you will be spent, and My anger will be directed to their destruction. And the LORD of hosts will arouse a scourge against him like the slaughter of Midian at the rock of Oreb; and His staff will be over the sea, and He will lift it up the way He did in Egypt. So it will be in that day, that his burden will be removed from your shoulders and his yoke from your neck, and the yoke will be broken because of fatness.” Isaiah 10:24-27.  God would in a short time bring about the return of the remnant of Israel.

The other meaning is regarding the future coming of the root of Jesse, otherwise known as the promised Messiah. “Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse, And a branch from his roots will bear fruit. And the Spirit of the LORD will rest on Him, The spirit of wisdom and understanding, The spirit of counsel and strength, The spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD. And He will delight in the fear of the LORD, And He will not judge by what His eyes see, Nor make a decision by what His ears hear; But with righteousness He will judge the poor and decide with fairness for the afflicted of the earth; And He will strike the earth with the rod of His mouth, And with the breath of His lips He will slay the wicked. Also righteousness will be the belt about His loins, And faithfulness the belt about His waist.” Isaiah 11:1-5. And also in the near future, the promised Messiah would come and bring salvation to all the faithful people of God on this earth.

What Isaiah was communicating to God’s people was that first, there will be a time when their people were freed from the Assyrians and allowed to return to Israel. “And the LORD will utterly destroy the tongue of the sea of Egypt; and He will wave His hand over the river with His scorching wind; and He will strike it into seven streams, and make men walk over dry-shod. And there will be a highway from Assyria for the remnant of His people who will be left, just as there was for Israel In the day that they came up out of the land of Egypt.” Isaiah 11:15-16.  But there would be another time when the people of God will be freed from this world and will spend all eternity with Him, in peace and joy.  And in both instances, we will be thankful to the one who provided these freedoms to us, that being God. 

Just as when God provided the way to salvation to those who were captured and oppressed by the Assyrians, so God through the work of Christ has provided the way of salvation to all people through the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ on the Cross. We should want to, as Isaiah 12 tells us, give Him all our praise to Him. “Then you will say on that day, I will give thanks to Thee, O LORD; For although Thou was angry with me, Thine anger is turned away, And Thou dost comfort me. Behold, God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid; For the LORD GOD is my strength and song, And He has become my salvation.  Therefore you will joyously draw water From the springs of salvation. And in that day you will say, “Give thanks to the LORD, call on His name. Make known His deeds among the peoples; Make them remember that His name is exalted.” Praise the LORD in song, for He has done excellent things; Let this be known throughout the earth. Cry aloud and shout for joy, O inhabitant of Zion, For great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.” Isaiah 12:1-6. He is worthy of far more praise and worship than we could ever give Him. Take time to worship Him with everything you have. You will find it a beautiful time of fellowship with Him who provides salvation to all who truly desires it.

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.

Psalm 119:50

Verse of the Day Devotion: Psalm 119:50 

“This is my comfort in my affliction, That Your word has revived me.” – Psalm 119:50 

This verse is found in the longest chapter in all of scripture, Psalm 119.  First, lets look at verse 49 which precedes our focus verse.  “Zayin. Remember the word to Your servant, In which You have made me hope.” Psalm 119:49  The writer of this chapter is using the language of prayer.  In this verse, he is telling the Lord that through the words God has given to him, he has derived hope in the midst of his afflictions.  And through this hope, as our focus verse says, he has comfort that all things will work out.  And all this is a result of the words the Lord has given us.

So, which words is the writer speaking of.  In essence, all that God has given us.   Lets look at a few of the verse in 119.  “Your word I have treasured in my heart, That I may not sin against You.” Psalm 119:11.  “Your testimonies also are my delight; They are my counselors.” Psalm 119:24.   And, “I shall run the way of Your commandments, For You will enlarge my heart.” Psalm 119:32.  Many verses in Psalm 119 speak of the goodness of His words, commands, precepts, and ordinances.  Therefore, when he says, ‘your word has revived me’, he is speaking of all the words God has given us, His Holy Scriptures.

Paul, in writing to the Church in Rome said, “For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” Romans 15:4.  Note the similarity of the final lines of the two verses.  “Remember the word to Your servant, In which You have made me hope.andand the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”  In both verses, it is the word(s) of God that the writers say give hope to those who read and follow them.  However, is it only the reading of the word that does it?  No!  There is another aspect of it the finalizes the idea.  The words must be believed.  You can read scripture all day, but if you do not have faith that it is truth, it will be of no value. 

We read earlier in Romans, “How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news of good things!” Romans 10:14-15.  Paul starts out by asking how will the unsaved hear the truth that God proclaimed?  By people being sent to declare the truth.  He then sums up his argument by saying, “faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.” Romans 10:17.  And through this faith, hope enters the hearts of people. 

Our hope, as Christians, come from God.  And He has communicated to us the hope we have.  “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.“ Hebrews 11:1.  We have hope because God communicated to us.  Faith is the assurance that what He has told us is true and trustworthy, even if we do not see it now.  And in all this, we can be comforted because these words bring life to us, life everlasting.  Just as our focus verse says, “This is my comfort in my affliction, that your word has revived me. Psalm 119:43. 

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.