Friday, December 5, 2008

Comfort of God Isaiah 66:13

S‑1083 12/03/2008 1MIA/3B Hymns: (O) #74; (S) #61; (C) #464

Texts: Isaiah 66:5-13; 2 Corinthians 1:3-7; Matthew 23:37-39

Theme: “Comfort of God” (Isaiah 66:13).


Question: “Do you know comfort”

Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen! Indeed! Alleluia! The text for our meditation is from the Old Testament Lesson: “As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you; you shall be comforted in Jerusalem” (Isaiah 64:8).

Saints in Christ, tonight we begin our Midweek Advent Sermon Series “Come and See!” Is there anything that humanity desires more in every time of life than comfort? Why? Because Adam and Eve dishonored God, disobeyed God and brought death on them and all of humanity.

What a day that must have been for our first parents in the Garden of Eden. The smell of disobedience, the scent of despair and the stench of death hung heavy in that most blessed Garden. No longer could they walk with God. Now they ran away in fright and hid behind bushes lest they be seen in all of their shame and nudity. No longer were they friends of God. Now they are enemies of God. No longer would they live forever, but the penalty of sin is DEATH; and separated from Him and His presence and His peace.

However, the Lord didn’t keep them in that state. He came to them where they were at, because without Him there was no aid or assistance. He comforted them in their shame by clothing them. Burt more than that, God in love comforted them with the promise of the Messiah who would come to bring about reconciliation to mankind through His death. Sin brought about death, the Son of God, the Savior would bring about comfort and life and salvation.

Indeed, man needs to be comforted, and ONLY God can give the true kind of comfort. For He is our Comforter. In today’s reading we get a unique picture of our God. Most often in Scripture we read of God as the caring and loving Father. Study the Scriptures and you will see the love of God; but rarely do we see the image that Isaiah portrays for us in this text. A most beloved image, a most beautiful image and a most blessed image. This image is picturing God as a loving mother caring for her children.

Hold on to that image. Imprint it on your mind. See God and His Comfort as it is displayed for you on the pages of Holy Scriptures and the faces of humans throughout the world. We see this clearly today as the prophet Isaiah describes a most glorious picture for us. Hear Isaiah’s description please. For thus says the LORD: ‘Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river, and the glory of the nations like an overflowing stream; and you shall nurse, you shall be carried upon her hip, and bounced upon her knees. As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you; you shall be comforted in Jerusalem’” (Is. 66:12-13).

Here it is a triple comfort by God. A most complete Comfort carried out by the God of all comfort and the hope of the nations. Comfort is what we need, and comfort is what we are getting. Comfort is what we want, even though we don’t know it or admit it or acknowledge it, but that is what our Loving God, gives us. We see it in our text with the image of the child dangling on his mother’s hips.

Mothers, you know what I am talking about. You have put your child on your hip and dangled him on your lap. In your arms your child found comfort. On your breast he leaned and found solace. This is what Isaiah wants us to grasp and cling too.

Isaiah tells us that Israel shall be comforted by her God as a mother comforts her child. At least that is what the English translation puts it. But that is not strong enough. Here is a good translation: “As a man is being comforted by his mother.” Notice, not a child, but a grown man. Why a grown man? “The grief of a grown man (ish) is the deepest and heaviest grief that we know. There is no comfort more heartfelt than that bestowed by a mother on her son. Her son, even though grown to manhood, is still closer to the heart of the mother than to the heart of father, brother, or sister.” (August Pieper, Isaiah II p. 693).

One of my colleagues shared this thought with me: “God comes to comfort the afflicted and to afflict the comfortable.” (Rev. Kelly Bedard). In this reading we hear of God’s coming to comfort His people Israel. But this message is not given to Israel alone, but to all of God’s beloved children—whether Jew or Gentile, bond or free, barbarian or Greek, we are all one in Christ Jesus, and all the promises are ours in Him, for in Him; all the promises are “yes” and “amen.”

Thanks be to God that there is such a promise as this on record, for believers need comfort. They need comfort because they are men, and “man is born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upward.” There has been a great need for consolation ever since the time when man was expelled from Eden. Men need comfort because they are but men. Although favored by God, elected and called by His grace into a peculiar state of acceptance, they are still in the body, and thus are tempted in the ways of the world and the devil.

The truth is many don’t wish to be comforted or realize they need the comfort of God. The problem is that we don’t like to admit that we need any help. We’re not man enough—or woman enough—to admit that we need comforting. We are schooled to be self-reliant and self-dependent. We are brought up to handle things that come our way all by ourselves.

Don’t misunderstand me, we know the message clearly. No matter how devastating the blow, no matter how scary the situation, no matter how desperate the conditions, we try to put on a good front as if we can handle it without anyone’s aid—least of all God’s help. But truthfully we CAN’T for we are unable to.

The comfort that the Lord gives us and provides is not found in a mother’s arms; though they have soothed our bodies in the past. The comfort is not found in a bottle, or pill, or a magazine or a TV. But in a Man. God’s Comfort is found and freely given in the Man of Sorrow, the Seed of the woman promised to Eve in the Garden

This Man is Jesus Christ the long expected Savior. In this Jesus, we see the fullness of God. In the Babe of Bethlehem God made His abode and presence among us. He lived His earthly life to comfort the afflicted. He did this as He died our death on Calvary’s cross. By this cross He once and for all removed the penalty that stood against us and nailed it to the cross. Do you want to know what comfort is? Comfort has flesh and blood. Comfort has a name. That name is Jesus. Then lift your eyes high, high and stare at the cross. It is the cross of Jesus that brings comfort to the afflicted. It is at the cross, in the cross and through the cross of Jesus that COMFORT BECOMES OURS.

God’s comfort dear friends is genuine, good and glorious and can stand up in the face of the deepest sorrow, suffering, and sadness and in the most difficult of pains and problems. This comfort is apart from us and our works. This comfort comes to us and stays with us as we read God’s precious Word and kneel to receive His Sacrament.

God continues to come to us even today/tonight with His Word and freely feeds us at His table. This is our God whose unique images is portrayed as a loving mother caring for her son and who needs to be comforted. Our Comforting God comes to us with a comfort that we can cling to and hold unto. This comfort is greater and grander than any mother’s comfort—a lasting comfort—a living comfort and lingering comfort—this comfort is found in One Man, the Man Jesus Christ—the Babe of Bethlehem. Amen.

Now the peace of God…

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