Comfort My People

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The Judahites had been in exile awhile. Where was YHWH and His promises? Was He asleep, or too feeble in the face of Babylon and Marduk to save? Isaiah had a message of comfort and hope if they would only remain patient and trust in YHWH.

Comfort My People

Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem; and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned, that she hath received of YHWH’s hand double for all her sins.
The voice of one that crieth, “Prepare ye in the wilderness the way of YHWH; make level in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low; and the uneven shall be made level, and the rough places a plain: and the glory of YHWH shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together; for the mouth of YHWH hath spoken it.”

The voice of one saying, “Cry.”
And one said, “What shall I cry?”
“All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field. The grass withereth, the flower fadeth, because the breath of YHWH bloweth upon it; surely the people is grass. The grass withereth, the flower fadeth; but the word of our God shall stand forever.”

O thou that tellest good tidings to Zion, get thee up on a high mountain; O thou that tellest good tidings to Jerusalem, lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, “Behold, your God!”
Behold, the Lord YHWH will come as a mighty one, and his arm will rule for him: Behold, 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 arm, and carry them in his bosom, and will gently lead those that have their young.
Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out heaven with the span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance? Who hath directed the Spirit of YHWH, or being his counsellor hath taught him? With whom took he counsel, and who instructed him, and taught him in the path of justice, and taught him knowledge, and showed to him the way of understanding? Behold, the nations are as a drop of a bucket, and are accounted as the small dust of the balance: behold, he taketh up the isles as a very little thing. And Lebanon is not sufficient to burn, nor the beasts thereof sufficient for a burnt-offering. All the nations are as nothing before him; they are accounted by him as less than nothing, and vanity.
To whom then will ye liken God? or what likeness will ye compare unto him? The image, a workman hath cast it, and the goldsmith overlayeth it with gold, and casteth for it silver chains. He that is too impoverished for such an oblation chooseth a tree that will not rot; he seeketh unto him a skilful workman to set up a graven image, that shall not be moved. 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 above 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; that bringeth princes to nothing; that maketh the judges of the earth as vanity. Yea, they have not been planted; yea, they have not been sown; yea, their stock hath not taken root in the earth: moreover he bloweth upon them, and they wither, and the whirlwind taketh them away as stubble. To whom then will ye liken me, that I should be equal to him? saith the Holy One. Lift up your eyes on high, and see who hath created these, that bringeth out their host by number; he calleth them all by name; by the greatness of his might, and for that he is strong in power, not one is lacking.
Why sayest thou, O Jacob, and speakest, O Israel, “My way is hid from YHWH, and the justice due to me is passed away from my God?”
Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard? The everlasting God, YHWH, 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 him that hath no might he increaseth strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: but they that wait for YHWH 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 (Isaiah 40:1-31).

Comfort My People
Prophetic Restoration

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The Voice 5.05: February 01, 2015

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The Voice

Gods of This World: Popularity

And be not fashioned according to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, and ye may prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God (Romans 12:2).

It is a pressure we all feel acutely from a young age: the desire to be popular. As young children we want to be accepted and to be part of the group. In high school there seems to be two crowds: the popular kids and the kids who wish they were popular. While we might wish that we could leave such things behind after graduation, all too often we continue to feel the pressure to be popular as adults.

Humans like being popular and doing the things that lead to popularity. People will talk in certain ways and use colloquial language to seem cool and popular. Celebrities and other “popular people” are seen in certain types of clothes or engaged in various behaviors, and many think that they can be popular themselves by imitating them. Billions of dollars are poured into popular music, popular pieces of technology, popular vehicles, and so on and so forth, much of it to engage in popular activities and to be part of the popular crowd. For too many, the worst possible insult is to be called unpopular, uncool, or “out of touch.” Many fear that they would be rejected or ostracized if they were not popular.

Are certain styles of clothing, speech, attitudes, and objects wrong just because they are popular? Of course not. It is also not inherently wrong to be popular or to want to be accepted and respected by others. Yet, as with many other elements in life, it is easy to take popularity too far and to make it a god and to serve it.

Unfortunately, in our society, what passes for popularity often involves matters of sin. The “popular girls” tend to dress in clothing that is too revealing and is immodest (cf. 1 Timothy 2:9). Sexual purity has rarely, if ever, been the “popular” path, and far too many young people have engaged in sinful sexual behavior on account of pressure to be popular (cf. 1 Corinthians 7:1-2). Drinking, drunkenness, and drug use tends to be prevalent among the “popular” crowd, and the pressure to participate in such life-destroying activities is immense (cf. Galatians 5:19-21).

This does not necessarily get better as people get older. The connection between “keeping up with the Joneses” and popularity is strong: we want to be seen as successful in order to be popular, and it is easy to fall prey to greed, indebtedness, jealousy, and/or envy in this pursuit (cf. Galatians 5:19-21, Ephesians 5:5). It is also easier to change one’s opinions to fit the “in” crowd than it is to hold firm to another viewpoint and face the risk of unpopularity (Romans 12:2).

If popularity is our focus and goal, we will stand for little and our beliefs will change according to the vicissitudes of popular opinion. We dare not challenge conventional wisdom lest we be derided as “out of touch.” Such, sadly, is the way of the majority (Matthew 7:13)!

There are some who are able to maintain popularity while standing firm in God’s truth. The rest of us, however, often feel like we are outsiders looking in, and the temptation is always there to compromise what God says in order to be more acceptable to others.

This temptation must be avoided at all costs. The Bible makes it clear that to stand with Christ is to stand against the world, and when what is popular is what the world decides is popular, we will, by necessity, be standing for what is unpopular (cf. James 4:1-4,1 John 2:15-17, 3:13).

Jesus, the Son of God, was not popular on earth (Matthew 10:25, John 1:5, 11). He was not popular among the unrepentant sinful because He condemned their lifestyles; He was not popular among the religious authorities because He condemned their hypocrisy (Matthew 23). The prophets before Jesus were also unpopular, as were the Apostles who came after Him (Acts 7:51-52).

It should not be the goal of the Christian to become unpopular for rebellion’s sake; unpopularity will find the Christian on its own. In our culture today, to stand for God’s truths–that there is only one God, and only one way to God through Jesus Christ, that He is Lord, that what He says is sinful should not be done, and that in all things we must look to Him and His authority–is automatically to be unpopular with those of the world, and also among many others who would claim to be Christians. We must always make sure that in all things we are not doing something because it is popular (or, for that matter, unpopular): we should do all things by God’s authority (Colossians 3:17). Let us maintain God as our God, and not popularity!

Ethan R. Longhenry