The believer’s comfort


Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God.
(Isaiah 40:1 KJV)

The Works of Henry Mahan Volume 1 containing The Gospel According To Isaiah

The believer’s comfort


Isa_40:1. ‘Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God.’

1. Who speaks? It is the Lord God of hosts. Do we have ears to hear what the Lord says?

2. To whom does he speak? He speaks to his prophets, preachers, pastors, teachers–all who are bond-servants of the Lord.

3. What is his commandment? ‘Comfort ye my people.’ There is a time to rebuke, reprove, and correct, and there is a time for examination; but the command here is to comfort!

4. Who are his people? We cannot comfort where God has not converted. We cannot cry ‘peace’ when there is no peace. We cannot give false assurance to rebels. Who are his people? They are a chosen people, a called people, a redeemed people, and a believing people.

5. Why do they need comfort? They are saved sinners who are conscious of their infirmities; they are a tried people who have troubles in the flesh; they are a persecuted people who are hated by the world.

Isa_40:2. What shall I say to his people to comfort them? What is the believer’s source of greatest comfort? It is the good news of the gospel!

1. ‘Cry unto her that her warfare is accomplished.’ The battle is over and ‘thanks be unto God which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ’ (1Co_15:55-58). All of our enemies have been engaged by our captain, and they are conquered and shall soon be under our feet as they are now under his: sin (Heb_10:17-18), self (Gal_2:20), Satan (Joh_14:30; Joh_16:11), world (Joh_16:33), death (Joh_11:25-26).

2. ‘Her iniquity is pardoned.’ All of our sins (past, present, and future) are blotted out, cleansed, atoned for, and are remembered no more. The redeemed have no sins. ‘With his spotless garments on, they are as holy as God’s Son.’

3. ‘Double for all her sins.’ This denotes the sufficiency of his blood and the complete satisfaction made by Christ for all our sins. Not that more was required than was due; but his offering, being infinite, fully answers more than double what can be demanded. ‘Where sin did overflow, grace did much more overflow.’

Isa_40:3-5. John the Baptist is the voice crying in the wilderness of Judea. There is a threefold effect of his office: the humiliation of some, the exaltation of others, and the revelation of the glory of Christ Jesus.

1. ‘Prepare ye the way of the Lord.’ The Messiah comes and John called upon men to repent, to lay aside all thoughts and ways contrary to his gospel and kingdom and to embrace him when he comes.

2. ‘Every valley shall be exalted.’ When Messiah comes all who are depressed and bowed down with the guilt of sin, laboring and heavy laden, low and humble in their own eyes, shall be raised up and comforted.

3. ‘Every mountain, and hill shall be made low.’ The proud and haughty shall be brought down. Those who are elated with themselves and their own righteousness shall be humbled.

4. ‘The crooked shall be made straight and the rough places plain.’ Could this be that those types, patterns, and pictures of the Old Testament should become clear in Christ, and prophecies, not so well understood, would be now plain and easy? (Luk_24:27; Luk_24:44-45).

5. ‘And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed.’ Christ, himself, who is the brightness of the Father’s glory (Heb_1:1-3), reveals his redemptive glory (Exo_33:18-19), which is his chief glory.

6. ‘All flesh shall see it;’ not the Jews only, but Gentiles also, and not with bodily eyes, but with the eyes of their understanding, even the salvation of the Lord and his glory displayed in it. The everlasting gospel is called the gospel of his glory (1Ti_1:11; 1Co_1:26-31).

Isa_40:6-9. I prefer to look at these verses together, for I see the twofold, actually the three-fold, message of evangelism. Here is a command, ‘Cry!’ and a question, ‘What shall I cry?’ What shall I preach? What is the message men need to hear?

1. ‘All flesh is grass, and all its glory and comeliness is as the flower of the field.’ All flesh (young and old, Jew and Gentile, religious and profane) is as worthless, withering grass. We are born spiritually dead and worthless; nothing we can do in life improves the condition, and the death of the flesh only confirms its corrupt condition. ‘In the flesh dwelleth no good thing’ (Rom_7:18), and ‘in the flesh no man can please God’ (Rom_8:8). This must be preached in order to humble the pride of men and to show the necessity of Divine power in regeneration (Joh_3:5-7). Not only is all flesh grass, but even man’s so-called righteousness (that which is comely and commendable compared to others) is as worthless as a fading flower (Isa_64:6). ‘Man at his best state is altogether vanity.’ We find this out ‘when the Spirit of God blows upon it,’ for he makes us to know the truth about ourselves in the light of God’s holiness (Isa_6:5; Job_42:5-6).

2. ‘The word of our God shall stand forever.’ (Isa_40:8) This may be applied to the recorded word of our God, which is sure and certain, forever settled in heaven and always fulfilled, or rather Christ the word, who stands forever in his office, in the efficacy of his blood, in the fulness of his grace, and in the glory of his exaltation (Col_1:16-18).

3. ‘Behold your God.’ (Isa_40:9) Get up on a high mountain, lift up your voice, be not afraid, and say unto the people, behold your God!’ John Gill said it best, ‘Behold your God! That Divine person is come that was promised, prophesied, and expected; even Emmanuel, God with us, God in our nature, God manifest in the flesh, God your Saviour; and who, being God, truly God, is able to save to the uttermost. Look to him with an eye of faith and be saved. Behold your God! Behold the Son of God, the Lamb of God, who has borne our sins and taken them away. Behold him now, as your King and your God, on the throne, made and declared Christ and Lord, crowned with glory and honor, on the same throne with his heavenly Father, having all power in heaven and earth, and let the echo of your faith be, ‘My Lord and my God.’

Source : The Works of Henry Mahan Volume 1 containing The Gospel According To Isaiah

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