Wednesday, July 28, 2010

There is a time to confront, and a time to comfort, and now is the time to comfort.

"Comfort, O comfort My people," says your God. Speak kindly to Jerusalem; And call out to her, that her warfare has ended, That her iniquity has been removed, That she has received of the LORD'S hand Double for all her sins" (Isaiah 40:1-2)

A disobedient city and people had endured the penalty for their sin, but the time was up; the warfare had ended; an age of comfort had begun. It was now time to clear and prepare the way for the Lord (verses 3-4). These verses - verses 3-4 - are referenced in describing the work and ministry of John the Baptist in preparing the way for Jesus. The "age of comfort", then, seems to refer to the era we live in when "warfare has ended ... iniquity has been removed". Any believer knows that warfare is far from over in the world, but the message of comfort here is that the warfare between sinful people and a holy God is ended through the sacrifice and work of His Son.

Perhaps more needs to be said and written about this "age of comfort", because it is a truth desperately needed in the "difficult times" of the last days (2 Timothy 3:1). On the eve of His crucifixion, Jesus announced this age of comfort as He promised, "Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful" (John 14:27).

The scriptures, the Helper (Comforter, aka, Spirit of truth), and the people of God, all administer comfort in this age of distress and trouble. Nothing is more soothing and healing than God's word of truth, conveyed through His Spirit, and administered by the people of God. As such, the challenge is issued to be "encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near" (Hebrews 10:25).

As beneficiaries of "the age of comfort", it is our distinct privilege to administer comfort to others in the body of Christ. I have often had the privilege to be a "comfort-giver" as well as receiver. And what a joy to remind and be reminded of the timeless word of God that applies to life situations! How very fickle words of comfort would be if they were not grounded in eternal truth, and that truth is largely of the "Age of Comfort" to come, the kingdom of God.

I find an especially authoritative word of command today in Isaiah's words to "Comfort, O comfort My people". I believe this is His word to each member of the body of Christ today: prayerfully consider a brother or sister in need of comfort today, and extend both the comfort of a listening ear as well as timeless truth promises. We will be blessed even as we are a blessing to someone else.



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