Text: Isaiah 40:1-11
“The function of the prophets was not to forecast doom, but to call us back to a better way of living. Their task was and is to call us back to wholeness.”From Made for Goodness by Desmond Tutu and Mpho Tutu.
On one level Isaiah 40 brings words of comfort and words of hope. “Comfort my people,” says our God. “Comfort them!…Tell them they have suffered long enough and their sins are now forgiven” (v 1-2)…. Speak gently, speak tenderly, encourage them …
It calls us back to the Almighty God who will not ignore our sins, but who declares that Jerusalem have suffered enough and was punished sufficiently.
This text also urges us to see ourselves in context, because most of all, this text is about God. This hope and comfort that is offered are not rooted in who we are or what we do or what we deserve. If we had any doubt about this we are reminded in verse 6 that “human beings are like grass, they last no longer than wild flowers.”
But God’s word is everlasting.
The prophet is urged to cry out, (cry louder, shout, prophecy, proclaim) go up on a high mountain and proclaim, call out with a loud voice (v 9),
9 O Zion, messenger of good news, shout from the mountaintops! Shout it louder, O Jerusalem. Shout, and do not be afraid. Tell the towns of Judah…
Shout it out, proclaim, our God is here!
If we look around us we see political turmoil in North Africa and the Middle East, growing financial instability in Europe (and almost everywhere), alarming and growing poverty, famine in Somalia, widespread abuses of human rights, corruption and violence.
Not to mention the 1.8 million people who died in 2010 due to AIDS related illnesses or the estimated 34 million adults and children who are currently living with HIV. Or the stigma that is so often associated with HIV and AIDS.
But amidst this all, we MUST mention… no prophecy, shout, shout louder, proclaim from the mountain top…
Our God is here.
He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young. (v 11, NIV)