Going Deeper 12.02.2020

The first reading for Advent 2... Isaiah 40:1-11

Comfort, O comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that she has served her term, that her penalty is paid, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins. A voice cries out: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every 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. Then the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all people shall see it together, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.” A voice says, “Cry out!” And I said, “What shall I cry?” All people are grass, their constancy is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades, when the breath of the LORD blows upon it; surely the people are grass. The grass withers, the flower fades; but the word of our God will stand forever. Get you up to a high mountain, O Zion, herald of good tidings; lift up your voice with strength, O Jerusalem, herald of good tidings, lift it up, do not fear; say to the cities of Judah, “Here is your God!” See, the Lord GOD comes with might, and his arm rules for him; his reward is with him, and his recompense before him. He will feed his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms, and carry them in his bosom, and gently lead the mother sheep.

This is a transitional text within the book of Isaiah, a transitional text in the history of Israel, and, most importantly, a transitional text in the history of humanity.

Up to this point, much of what the prophet Isaiah had proclaimed was focused on the pending doom for Judah and Jerusalem.  Despite warnings and calls to repentance, the people had ignored the words of the prophet(s) and were now paying the price in the form of the destruction of their homes and temple, and exile into Babylon.  The prophecies of gloom and doom had been fulfilled.

Isaiah's message now shifts to one primarily focused on bringing hope for restoration.  The "penalty is paid" and now it was time to anticipate their return to their homes and the rebuilding of their city and temple.  The Lord was going to come with the might of a warrior and the gentleness of a shepherd-- gathering, carrying, and leading the people once again.

The historical transition is understood as this rescue and restoration being done through the mission of God in Jesus Christ, foretold by one "In the wilderness​" who came to "prepare the way of the LORD"-- John the Baptizer.  Jesus would be revealed in both word and action as "the Good Shepherd" come to rescue and lead His flock.

This is transitional for us now as well.  We hear the words of the prophet(s)-- including John-- and we recognize and repent of our sins.  We then look to Jesus, the Shepherd who paid the price for our guilt, rescued us from sin, death, and the devil, and covered us with His grace.  And now we follow Him...

Following with You,

Mark Gabbert, Pastor

Zion Lutheran Church, Wellington

"Gratefully Growing Servants"