We are now in the Second Sunday in Advent and the theme for our meditation is that ‘Through Holy Scripture God gives us encouragement and hope.’
How does God’s word give us encouragement and hope? God’s word speaks to us as we read it and meditate on it. It is the primary means through which God speaks to his people.
When we speak with God we communicate to him through prayer. When God speaks to us he first and foremost speaks to us through his Word. God’s word is his instruction manual to us and therefore we are to read it daily in order to find direction for our lives and for encouragement and hope. God’s word guides and directs us in the midst of confusing and competing voices that we hear all round us.
In the passage that was read to us from the book of the prophet Isaiah, we notice three key things that God’s word does for the people of Judah who were in exile in Babylon. They had been there for seventy years and had served their due punishment and now God was going to comfort them.
The first aspect that we see about God’s word is – God’s word comforts us in the midst of difficult situations. The second aspect is – God’s word gives us a hope for a new beginning and finally God’s word endures forever.
The people of Judah were in exile in Babylon and now Yahweh was telling his prophet to Comfort his people because they had paid double for all their sins. The comforting is also intensive because the word ‘Comfort’ is repeated twice. It was now time for their homecoming. God was going to bring them back to Judah through the Syrian desert and restore them to their homeland. Their sins were paid for.
In the New Testament we see that Jesus has paid for al our sins with his very own blood and offers us comfort. He is the one who can release us from all our bondages, our sin and trials and comfort us. God’s word which was spoken to the people of Judah over 2500 years ago continues to speak to us and comfort us. God offers us this comfort to us even as he has sent the Holy Spirit, the Comforter to remain with us.
God’s word not only comforts us, it also gives us the hope of a new beginning. In the Isaianic passage the Syrian desert was to be smoothened out so that God could lead the exiles back to their country. He was going to remove all the obstacles from before them so that they could return to their land as the covenant people. The journey would be without any difficulties and the arriving at their destination was a certainty. God continues to remove obstacles on our way so that we can turn back to him and experience this new life that he offers us.
The voice speaking in Isaiah says that the glory of the Lord will be revealed and all people will see it together. In other words all this levelling and removing of obstacles would be the work of the Lord and people will see his glory through his marvelous acts as he did in the Exodus.
God continues to reveal his glory as he works in the life of the Church and intervenes in a supernatural way to accomplish his purpose. Since the promise of reaching their destination and the hope of a new beginning was from God it can be absolutely trusted. We are called to experience this new beginning as we come to him in repentance.
Finally, we see that God’s word endures forever. The voice says cry out, “All people are like grass, and all their faithfulness is like the flowers of the field…. The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.”
The people of Israel who had experienced Yahweh’s mighty saving acts made a golden calf within a month and worshipped it. We as followers of Christ are also fickle in our decisions and in our following. We have experienced God in marvelous ways, but our faithfulness is like the flowers of the field which is here on one day and gone the next as the wind blows over it.
However, God’s word endures forever because his word is backed up by his life. He will bring to pass whatever he has promised us because he is a faithful God. As much as we are encouraged by God’s enduring word we too are called to be faithful to him to the end of our lives. May we this morning draw encouragement and hope from his word and stay faithful to him.
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