Friday, December 3, 2010

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday December 5, 2010

RECEIVING COMFORT AND STRENGTH
(GOD’s inexhaustible strength renews HIS people)
(Isaiah 40)

Isaiah chapter 40 marks the beginning of the second of two major segments that comprise the makeup of this divinely prophetic book. While chapters 1-39 dealt mostly with GOD’s measurements and judgments upon the nation of Israel, chapters 40-66 speak of the promise of restoration and deliverance of Israel, back into GOD’s grace, comfort, and strength.
When Isaiah wrote these prophesies of restoration, Judah still had more than 100 years of struggle ahead of them, because of their rebellious lifestyle against GOD, before they were to begin their 70 year sentence of punishment, that was to be handed down by GOD, in the form of kidnap and captivity at the hands of Nebuchadnezzar and his powerful Babylonian army in 586 B.C. GOD called on Isaiah to speak these words of comfort to those who had been paying attention to the warnings of the eighth century prophets, and, who were trusting in GOD for leniency and forgiveness.
Chapters 40-55, in particular, exhibit a remarkable unity of style and theology, and here in the opening lines of this chapter, we see an announcement of their main theme of “restoration for Judah”. As it always is with GOD, in the midst of our sins, HE is faithful to forgive us. However, HE is also faithful to discipline us by allowing us to suffer with the consequences of our iniquities. The sufferings of Israel in Babylon, that were foretold in the previous chapters of this book are over, and now, GOD is letting the people know that it can all be summed up as divine punishment for their sins (vs. 1-2).
Following the Israelites 70-year punishment in captivity in Babylon, GOD had already orchestrated a plan by which HE would bring HIS people home, restore the nation, and rebuild it back to its splendor. In verses 3-5, we find that a voice, other than Isaiah’s, is calling out to the people to begin preparing the way for the LORD and HIS glory. In the New Testament, each of the four Gospel writers apply these verses to John the Baptist, the desert prophet who prepared the way for JESUS CHRIST at the beginning of the first century A.D. However, here in the pages of Isaiah, the entire nation of Judah had been lingering on a spiritual desert for hundreds of years, and they desperately needed to ready themselves for the “distinctive act of GOD” that would be forthcoming, and, that would restore them back to their homeland circa 538 B.C under the leadership of Zerubbabel and others (Ezra 2).
In verses 6-8, a second voice, that is likely the voice of GOD, commands Isaiah to cry out. The voice instructs him to contrast the difference between GOD and man. In a nutshell, the voice tells Isaiah to remind the people that they are temporal, and are always changing, like grass that soon dies away. GOD, on the other hand, is eternal, and always the same, yesterday, today, and tomorrow, HIS word will endure forever.
Just like back in Isaiah’s day, we today, who call ourselves by HIS name (Christian) need only to turn to GOD and forsake our own modern-day idols (people, houses, cars, money etc.), those things that put us in captivity to sin in the first place. GOD, will then renew us and revive us, after the consequences of our iniquities has run their course.
GOD is the only ONE WHO can give us new strength, the kind of strength that will allow us to soar like eagles, to run and not grow weary, and to continue on in our Christian walk, and not faint. We have no power in ourselves, except what GOD can grant us through HIS HOLY SPIRIT when we accept CHRIST JESUS. Only in HIM can we find the strength that we need to carry out the “Great Commission” that CHRIST has charged us with, and, at one and the same time, be able to resist, the gravitational pull of this world.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander


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