“Comfort, O comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that she has served her term, that her penalty is paid, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.” (Isaiah 40:1 – 2)
I want to present this scripture passage in a certain context, but I am concerned that it would be too “politically” tinged. So I am going to proceed cautiously. A nation has endured years of distress under inadequate leadership. Decisions were made and policies were set that were more harmful than good. Blame could have been placed at many levels of government, but this nation operated under the assumption that the Divine directed the course of leadership and kingship. But imagine, if you will, the human element was also a contributing factor. In fact, maybe a larger factor than the nation realized.
My point, beloved reader, is that this passage talks about a political change; or more specifically a hoped for political change. But it is couched in religious language. In our modern society, do we attribute change in political leadership to a human element or a Divine element? What would it look like if we depended on a religious deity to change the circumstances of our social and public lives? How much control might we feel we have if we live under human political leadership that is contrary to the public good? But we have to depend on that religious deity? How would we call in that deity for change? And if other nations had taken advantage of the fact that we had poor leaders, what type of leadership might we hope for in place of the poor one we have had?
“A voice cries out: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. Then the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all people shall see it together, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.” (Verses 3 – 5)
People, or nations, that do not feel they have control over their lives and have suffered because of that lack of control often want a champion who will save them. If they feel they can not save themselves, and this has happened over generations and decades, the motivation for change within themselves is poor. Helpless, they want for someone to intervene.
“A voice says, “Cry out!” And I said, “What shall I cry?” All people are grass, their constancy is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades, when the breath of the LORD blows upon it; surely the people are grass. The grass withers, the flower fades; but the word of our God will stand forever.” (Verses 6 – 8)
Israel and Judah were stuck between kings who did as they pleased, and a faith/religious code that was very strict and binding. Unable to depend on human leadership for consistency, and unable to follow consistently the faith/religious code that had been established – they struggled for their very existence. No wonder they looked for a Messiah who would incorporate the human strength and might they needed for national defense with a Messiah who followed the faith/religious code the way they understood it.
“Get you up to a high mountain, O Zion, herald of good tidings; lift up your voice with strength, O Jerusalem, herald of good tidings, lift it up, do not fear; say to the cities of Judah, “Here is your God!” See, the Lord GOD comes with might, and his arm rules for him; his reward is with him, and his recompense before him. He will feed his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms, and carry them in his bosom, and gently lead the mother sheep.” (Verses 9 – 11)
I hope this has helped you see and understand the motivation and needs of the Jewish people as they had waited countless generations for their savior. And when the Savior came, they were had pressed to recognize the One who came. Shalom & Selah!