We need only to look to the next verse:
For I am the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
The Context of the Verses
The book of Isaiah was written around 700 B.C. (Isaiah began his ministry in 740 B.C.) as the Assyrian empire was expanding and Israel was declining. In 722, the Northern Kingdom of Israel had been taken captive by them. Though it would be about around another 160 years (586 B.C), the southern kingdom of Israel, the kingdom of Judah would go to captivity as well.
God had made covenants with His people Israel. These covenants promised blessing as the people loved and obeyed God. If they violated the covenant and wouldn’t repent, their blessings were temporarily removed. They would be fully complete when the Promised One, the Messiah/Christ would come, obey the Law completely, suffer to pay for the sins of the whole earth, be the Way to dwell with God again, and He would take His seat as the Forever King. The Deliverer would come from the line of Abraham, the line of Judah, the line of David. He would be the King of the whole earth, and through Him all the nations would be blessed.
The Northern Kingdom had violated the covenant. And so had the Southern Kingdom.
In Troubled Times
Isaiah was warning the people of Judah that they were about to be punished for violating the covenant. They could not stay in the promised land of the Holy God when they deliberately chose to reject God as their King. They liked the blessings, but they didn’t like to think about the boundaries that defined them. If they would just come to God His way, they would remain in the land, dwell close to God, and continue to see His promises unfold over time.
Yet, they would not. So, Isaiah predicted their exile and suffering out of the land. He predicted the destruction of Judah. But He didn’t stop there. He went on to give them precious promises of comfort to hold onto during their years of exile.
God would be with them. He would redeem them, as He had redeemed them from Egypt. He would bring them back from exile (40:2-3). A remnant would return and rebuild. And the Promised Deliverer was still on His way. He would be the suffering servant (Isaiah 42) who would finally crush the power of Satan, sin and death (Genesis 3:15).
Israel had sinned and would be punished. But God offered them a message of comfort to hold onto during the exile. This is the audience of these words in Isaiah.
We dwell in the already but not yet kingdom of the Forever King. If we know Him, He dwells in us and helps us dwell close to Him, walk in His ways, and have a vibrant, dynamic relationship with Him that lasts forever.
As His children, He offers us the comfort of His presence as we experience the sickness, suffering, sorrow, and death that has come as a result of sin. These things grieve Him even more than they do us.
The Opposite End of Comfort
Israel heard these words of comfort before they went through judgment with the hope of compassion on the other side. We hear these words in a time of compassion to everyone, before a time of only judgment to all who do not know Him.
As we wonder how long before He keep the rest of His promises and return, He extends one arm motioning toward Him “Come to me!,” while the other arm holds back His wrath against the sin and rebellion of the people of the earth.
One day, perhaps very soon, he will drop his arms (as Pastor Jared put it). And the full weight of His wrath will poured out in justice on the earth that has rejected their Creator.
The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. 2 Peter 3:9
If You Don’t Know Him
His arm beckons you to come to Him. He suffered and died to pay the penalty of your sin so you would not have to pay it in eternal separation from Him. Come to Him before He drops the other arm.
If You Know Him
Take comfort in His presence with you- and all that entails.
What About You?
What Scripture has comforted you lately? Please share in the comments below.
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