What gives you comfort? Where do you find joy? Is it a thing? A person? A cup of coffee or lunch with a friend? A concert? A sunset? All of these are good, beautiful, and comforting. And they point to something better, more beautiful – a taste of a God who is able to comfort us in our own brokenness and sin, to bring joy in the midst of deep suffering. In Isaiah 9-12, the prophet seeks to show this God to his people. The nation had wandered, rebelled, sinned, and been trampled by the surrounding kings and countries. Time after time the word of the Lord was ignored and now that hand stretched out offering deliverance is stretched out in holy anger.
“For all this his anger has not turned away, and his hand is stretched out still”
But despite this, there is always the promise of a remnant from the house of Jacob who the Lord will deliver. Isaiah writes to bring hope to this remnant and remind them who it is that they serve.
“In that day the Lord will extend his hand yet a second time to recover the remnant that remains of his people”
The people knew well the story of God’s deliverance of his people from Egypt, and the great exodus through the Red Sea when God told Moses to raise his staff over the waters to create a path for the people. Throughout these chapters Isaiah emphasizes this Exodus language. What God has done once, he will do again:
“And there will be a highway from Assyria for the remnant that remains of his people, as there was for Israel when they came up from the land of Egypt.”
Isaiah knows the God who saves. Recall his encounter with the holy God in chapter 6? The prophet knew he was not worthy to stand before the presence of God’s glory, but the Lord provides a way, an atonement for his sins.
Now he is able to share the hope of that salvation with the people…
They serve a God who comforts:
- “for though you were angry with me,
- your anger turned away,
- that you might comfort me.”
A God who saves
- “Behold, God is my salvation;
- I will trust, and will not be afraid;
- For the Lord God is my strength and my song,
- And he has become my salvation”
A God who’s unbounded grace and mercy is their deepest joy:
“With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation… shout and sing for joy, O inhabitants of Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel”
This God is our God. And this promise of salvation is fulfilled in Jesus, “the founder and perfecter of our faith” who suffered as the people of God have always suffered and as we ourselves suffer in order that we too might have access to the fullness of light and joy in God’s presence.