I just finished reading a book by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones called “The All-Sufficient God – Sermons on Isaiah 40”. I found it very comforting as well as convicting. I also loved the reminder that you find Jesus in the whole Bible! The book is based on a series of sermons that were preached in Westminster Chapel by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones in 1954.
In the book, there are nine sermons/sections of Isaiah 40. I begin a series of posts with the first two verses, chapter one of the book.
Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her
that her warfare is ended, that her iniquity is pardoned, that she has received from the LORD’s hand double for all her sins. (Is. 40:1-2, ESV)
This section of scripture is a message to Israel. The Lord showed the prophet Isaiah (in preceeding chapters) what was going to happen to the nation – that it would suffer and exactly how it would be carried out. But Isaiah now gives a further message, which is that these people will be rescued and delivered from the captivity of Babylon and will be restored to their country and to their city of Jerusalem.
“Many of the verses of Isaiah 40 are quoted in Matthew, Mark, and Luke, where it is made perfectly plain and clear that over and above the immediate reference to the children of Israel in the captivity of Babylon, we also have here a marvelous foreshadowing and indication of the Christian gospel that was to come.” quote from book, pg. 2
The author talks about the gospel being unknown and/or misunderstood by the world. He says, “If we take as our standard, the common ideas about Christianity, then we must go astray. If we do not come to the Bible itself, and if we do not believe its message, then how can we have a true conception of the gospel?”
He goes on to explain where the gospel comes from:
“The first thing we must always realize about the gospel of Jesus Christ is that it is a message sent by God. It is God who is speaking here. It is God who is giving a message to this man Isaiah. It is God who is saying, ‘Comfort, my people.’ It is God, the Almighty God Himself, who is ordering Isaiah to speak. Why do I start with that? It is because if we are not clear about that, we will never be clear about anything else. The first thing we must understand about the Christian way of life and the Christian way of salvation is that it is entirely and altogether from God.”
He goes on to say that there are misconceptions about God’s character. That He is sometimes regarded as being “opposed to us” or a God who “delights in punishing us”. In contrast, Lloyd-Jones also states that there are many who hold another view – that salvation is the result of their own effort, that they have decided and desired to live a better life and have given themselves to that.
Lloyd-Jones says that the Bible confirms that those assumptions are both wrong! He says,
“The first statement of the gospel is that it comes from God, it is God’s action, God’s activity. I do not care where you open the Bible, that is what you will find.”
The first man and woman started in a right relationship with God, but they could not stay there. They went their own way. And, instead of God writing them off and letting them reap the consequences of their choice, He did the only thing that could be done to rescue them and to redeem them. I am comforted by the fact that God made a promise to Adam that He would provide a way of salvation. We see this promise repeated all through the Old Testament.
…..that her iniquity is pardoned, that she has received from the LORD’s hand double for all her sins.
God tells us that he is pardoning us because he is satisfied with the punishment. His justice is satisfied. That is the very heart of the gospel. Because of God’s holy and righteous character he cannot just arbitrarily decide to pardon sin. He has said that he will punish sin and he does that.
Jesus was crucified – took our punishment and the force of God’s wrath – for us. The Son of God, blameless and perfect paid for our sins. That sacrifice is what satisfied God’s justice. Our sins were paid for with Jesus’ blood! And because of that sacrifice God announces pardon and forgiveness. The sin that estranges us from God has been dealt with. The way to God is open again and we are reconciled to God in Jesus Christ, his Son. Wow!
Isn’t God’s grace and love towards us amazing?
Romans 5:18-21 Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Ephesians 1:7 -10 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.
Take the time to know God through His Word. We are so privileged to have it.