Gordon-Conwell Blog

Advent Devotional Day 1: Comfort in Turbulent Times

December 03, 2017

2017 Gordon-Conwell Advent Devotional

Day 1 | Comfort in Turbulent Times

Isaiah 40:1-11

“Comfort, comfort my people, says your God” (v 1).

The people of Israel were facing turbulent times. Not only was their society wreaked by injustices and immorality, but their very existence as a nation was threatened by exile. Many felt God was nowhere to be found or simply didn’t care for their condition.

Into this context Isaiah speaks the powerful words of comfort that many of us connect with through Handel’s “Messiah.”  Handel’s music beautifully captures the spirit of consolation in which Jerusalem is reminded, “That her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins” (v 2).

All of the sin, injustices and disregard of God have been paid for by a gracious God.

Down through the ages Christians have understood a double reference in this magnificent chapter. Not only is it about comfort and forgiveness for Israel, but a comfort and forgiveness for all the world through one who would come to fulfill the promises revealed throughout the Old Testament. Good news is pronounced to Zion and to us, for “here is your God” (v 9), one in whom “the glory of the Lord will be revealed and all people will see it together” (v 5).

This one who would come and has come (the Messiah) is described as the Sovereign Lord who comes with power and rules with a mighty arm (v 10). But along with his great power over the universe, “He tends his flock like a shepherd; He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart” (v 11). The all-powerful Redeemer is one who is simultaneously far beyond us and right here with us, bringing comfort and hope in the most turbulent, challenging times.

As recipients of that comfort, hope and forgiveness, we too can proclaim to a chaotic stress-filled world, your “hard service has been completed; your sin has been paid for.” In this Advent period, may we “Lift up [our] voice with a shout… do not be afraid; say to the towns of Judah [and the whole world], ‘Here is your God!’” (v 9).





      Dr. Dennis P. Hollinger
      President & Colman M. Mockler
      Professor of Christian Ethics


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