COMFORT YE, COMFORT YE, MY PEOPLE
P.C. Johnson, 16th August 2009, England
GOD'S reassurance to us in the above title comes from Isaiah chapter 40 verse 1..The expression 'my people', especially in the Old Testament, always refers to the true children of Israel, God's chosen people.
'Chosen', because God required Israel to be His servants and witnesses in showing the world that the practice of always following God's holy laws and rules of good conduct always results in trouble free living. They were also required to teach and spread worldwide the knowledge in God's Holy Word from His Bible.
But most important of all, they were to spread abroad the wonderful story of God's Salvation. The Bible teaches us that all people of all time and space have committed sin, and that God's law pronounces the penalty of death for all sin. God's Salvation teaches us that Jesus the Son of God, who was Himself completely without any sin, paid the law's penalty HIMSEL, on behalf of all mankind for all of mankind's sins, by crucifixion on the cross of Calvary.
In order to benefit from this most wonderful gift of God, we and all mankind are required to truly believe in the story of God's Salvation and also to be obedient to, and follow all of God's laws, precepts and all the rules of good behaviour.
In the most appropriate words of the hymn:-
"Trust and obey, for there is no other way, to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey".
True Israel and some others have been spreading this story of God's Salvation for many years now.
"But wait a minute," you may say dear reader, "surely the Bible relates that the children of Israel have been constantly defying and ignoring God, and practising evil and wickedness universally".
Yes, sadly, that is indeed correct! An obvious example today, is the bad behaviour among the present day children of Israel resident here in Great Britain. The Bible tells us that these islands are the 'wilderness' refuge which God provided originally for His people Israel for rest and safety, after their captivities, scatterings and wanderings.
Jeremiah 31:2 tells us :
"Thus saith the Lord, the people who were left of the sword found grace in the wilderness: even Israel, when I went to cause him to rest".
Revelation 12:6 also tells a similar story:
"And the woman ( Israel) fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there . . "
See also Revelation 12:14. This 'wilderness' refuge has been from where many Israelites have emigrated throughout the world down through the centuries,
particularly to the U.S.A., Australia, Canada, New Zealand and parts of Africa. In spite of all this wickedness prevalent in Israel and the whole world, DO NOT WORRY; God has everything under His control. In Zephaniah 3:13 we read about the 'faithful remnant' who have always existed in Israel in each generation. The word remnant infers small numbers perhaps.
"The remnant of Israel shall not do iniquity, nor speak lies, neither shall a deceitful tongue be found in their mouth: for they shall feed and lie down, and none shall make them afraid".
See also I Kings 19:18 and Romans 11:3-5
Sadly, on the other hand, God is also well aware of sinful and apostate Israel, as Ezekiel 39:6 tells us:
"And I will send a fire on Magog, and among them that dwell carelessly in the Isles; and they shall know that I am the LORD".
We are not concerned with Magog here; but it is clear that non-belief and wickedness by Israelites; as well as the gentiles; may not be tolerated by God at the Second Advent.
It is interesting to note that the words Isles and Islands in the Bible, from the Hebrew text also refers to 'coastlands' and 'distant shores' (Strong). Thus we
can see also that other descendants of Israel are known to be dwelling today in the Scandinavian countries and on the shores of the Baltic Sea, also in the Netherlands, and parts of Germany.
Coming back to Isaiah 40, in verses 1 to 4, the Prophet tells us about both the first and second advents of Jesus and beyond; Jerusalem is at peace; and the then future John the Baptist is recorded; we read about certain events at the Second Advent. Then in verse 5 we read about the actual Second Advent:
"And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it TOGETHER, for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it".
So everyone over all the earth will see Jesus and His angels in the sky at once! Chapter 40 of Isaiah - which should be read right through - goes on to compare the greatness of God with man's smallness and weakness. In verses 21 and 22 we read:
"Have ye not known ? 'Have ye not heard? Hath it not been told you from the beginning? Have ye not understood from the foundations of the earth? It is He that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers; that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in.
Then in verses 25 and 26:
"To whom then will ye liken Me, or shall I be equal? saith the Holy One. Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things (all the heavenly host), that bringeth out their host by number: He calleth them all by names by the greatness of His might, for that He is strong in power; not one faileth".
Verses 28 to 31 gives us the most outstanding divine picture of Almighty God and how He looks after us all:
"Hast thou not known? Hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not neither is weary? There is no searching of His understanding. He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might He increaseth strength. (at the second advent) Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: BUT THEY THAT WAIT UPON THE LORD SHALL RENEW THEIR STRENGTH: THEY SHALL MOUNT UP WITH WINGS AS EAGLES; THEY SHALL RUN, AND NOT BE WEARY; THEY SHALL WALK AND NOT FAINT".
This last quotation gives a wonderful picture of the resurrection of all the faithful believers in Jesus the Christ.
Reading through the rest of Isaiah it is to be noted that Israel is related with Isles or Islands nine times, As always in the Bible, the repetition of an item emphasizes its importance.
In Isaiah chapter 41 verse 1, God speaks to Israel.
"Keep silence before Me, O islands; and let the people renew their strength: let them come near; then let them speak: let us come near together to judgement".
In this chapter 41, Isaiah is possibly prophesying about the times early after the Second Advent. In verses 4 to 6 God asks:
"Who hath wrought and done it, calling the generations from the beginning? (the resurrected faithful ones) I the Lord, the first, and with the last; I am He. The Isles saw it and feared; the ends of the earth were afraid, drew near, and came. They helped everyone his neighbour: and everyone said to his brother, be of good courage"
In verses 8 to 10 of Isaiah chapter 41, we, Israel, are reassured by God:
"But thou, Israel, art my servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, the seed of Abraham my friend. Thou whom I have taken from the ends of the earth and called thee from the chief men thereof, and said unto thee, thou art my servant, I (God) HAVE CHOSEN THEE, AND NOT CAST THEE AWAY. FEAR THOU NOT, FOR I AM WITH THEE; BE NOT DISMAYED; FOR I AM THY GOD: I WILL STRENGTHEN THEE;YEA,I WILL HELP THEE; YEA, I WILL UPHOLD THEE WITH THE RIGHT HAND OF MY RIGHTEOUSNESS".
Again, in verses 13 & 14 God comforts us:
"For I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee. Fear not, thou worm Jacob, and ye men of Israel; I will help thee, saith the Lord, and THY REDEEMER, THE HOLY ONE OF ISRAEL".
In this last verse, God shows this most important relationship between the redeemer, who is of course, the Lord Jesus, and each true individual of Israel (and Gentile). At the same time God shows the relative insignificance of man - small as a worm in comparison to the enormous ever present reality of Almighty God who is everywhere.
David writing in Psalm 8 realizes this important point in verses 3 & 4:
"When I consider Thy heavens, the work of Thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; What is man, that Thou art mindful of him? And the son of man, that thou visiteth him?
DO WE NOTICE GOD'S MANY VISITS?
More than likely NO! So, sadly, we have ignored Him! Let us face up to reality: The heavens to God are to Him probably nothing more than our own back yards or gardens are to us! We pray and speak to God as if He were another mortal! THIS WILL NOT DO AT ALL!
We must all try to realize the spiritual enormity as well as the tremendous power and kindness of our Almighty God, our maker, our redeemer, our comforter, and our friend; who sees, hears, loves and cares for all of us tiny sinners.
If you like, our very present God is like the air around us, invisible and yet always with us, in the sky, down a mine, in a train, in an airliner, in our homes etc. This should govern our behaviour!
We must not ignore Him! To remember this and talk to Him can be the greatest comfort for us.
It may not be very long now before we se see Jesus face to face with His numerous angels in the sky at His Second Advent. Let us try to be ever ready for this and meanwhile acknowledge, talk and pray to Him,
Coming back to the title; Comfort ye comfort ye my people; If we believe in God and in His salvation and redemption, at this time especially, we need have no fear when we see the great tribulation, which is now probably beginning about us.
For those who do not know Jesus our Saviour, I say make haste to get to know Him; repent, which means change your mind exclusively from wrong doing to right doing.
I believe all mankind is born with a sense of right and wrongs which may be forgotten. The Bible and frequent prayer will guide us on the right path. Isaiah 55:6 tells
"Seek ye the Lord while He may be found, call ye upon Him while He is near".
The inference here is; a time may come when it is too late, if we genuinely want to find God, Moses tells us in Deuteronomy 4:29:
"But if from thence thou shalt seek the Lord thy God, thou shalt find Him, if thou seek Him with all thy heart and with all thy soul".
With the troubles and distress etc. in our present world, probably the great tribulation starting. Do not worry! Almighty God will not let down all His faithful true believers in His salvation, both true Israelites and Gentiles.
However, as a warning to mankind, if we fail to follow the paths of belief and righteousness as required by GOD (which were made for our own good) God has included in His Bible many prophecies of the coming severe troubles in the great tribulation. These troubles are the result, solely caused by the wickedness, evil and apostacy in mankind down through the ages.
For goodness' sake; God offers full forgiveness for all sinners if only we truly repent and believe in Jesus and His free gift of Salvation and follow His rules of behaviour, The Bible tells us that if we do repent and believe, we cannot even imagine what a wonderful heavenly life will surely follow.
Sadly, it is now necessary to quote one of God's warnings referred to above. Isaiah chapter 13 verses 11 to 13 tells us:
"And I will punish the world for their evil, and the wicked for their iniquity, and I will cause the arrogancy of the proud to cease, and I will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible. I will make a man more precious ('rare' - Strong) than fine gold; even a man than the golden wedge of Ophir. Therefore I will shake the heavens, and the earth shall move out of her place, in the wrath ('power'-Strong) of the Lord of Hosts, and in the day of His fierce ("sore displeasure" - Strong) anger...".
In this prophecy Isaiah states that the redeemed faithful ones will be relatively small in numbers, compared to THE UNKNOWN NUMBERS who do not survive who will be many. Isaiah goes on to say in verse 14:
"..... they shall every man turn to his own people, and flee everyone into his own land"
The timing of this last part of verse 14 is not revealed, but is probably soon after the Second Advent. In Revelation 19:15 John tells us:
"And out of His (Jesus's) mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it He should smite the nations: and He shall rule them with a rod of iron: and He treadeth the winepress of the fierceness (sore displeasure -Strong) and wrath (power -Strong) of Almighty God".
Paul takes us further by way of explanation in Ephesians 6: 17:
"The sword of the spirit, is the word of God (His Bible)".
In Isaiah 13:9 the prophet tells us that at the time of the Second Advent, 'that God will destroy the sinners out of the land'. I do not believe this means all sinners. The redeemed who believe in Jesus will survive because their sins are forgiven. Revelation 14:6 tells us that at the time of the Second Advent:
" I (John) saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting Gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue and people".
So there must be sinner/survivors still living then.
Going back to the time of Sodom and Gomorrah , God promised Abraham that the people of those towns would not be destroyed if, and I quote Genesis 18:32 where Abraham is talking to God:
"Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak yet but this once: peradventure ten (righteous people) shall be found there (in Sodom & Gomorrah ). And He (God) said, I will not destroy it ( Sodom & Gomorrah) for ten's sake".
Here we see God's mercy. The presence of ten good people in Sodom & Gomorrah and these towns would not have been destroyed and all the people would have been saved. But no good people existed there and so destruction followed, possibly to prevent the further spreading of evil.
In Matthew 24, Jesus gives details of the then future great tribulation, and warns His disciples that evil conditions that prevailed at the times of the flood, Ninevah, and Sodom & Gomorrah, will again be prevalent at the time of the great tribulation and the Second Advent.
Isaiah chapter 53 prophesies about the first advent of Jesus; but in verse 1 states words which also apply today:
"Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?
Obviously Isaiah at His time experienced disbelief in his prophecies by many people, even as it is today. In verse 6 of Isaiah 53 we read:
"All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way: and the Lord (God) hath laid on Him (Jesus) the iniquity of us all".
Here Isaiah is prophesying about JESUS DYING ON THE CROSS FOR ALL THE SINS OF MANKIND. Indeed the behaviour of mankind has scarcely
changed since Isaiah's time, and is probably worse today.
To match the reassurance of the title words, Psalm 121 comforts us as well.
" I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth. He will not suffer thy foot to be moved; He that keepeth thee will not slumber. Behold, He that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord is thy keeper; the Lord is thy shade, upon thy right hand. The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil; He shall preserve thy soul. The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.
Now unto Him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen. Jude v. 24/25.
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