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Sermon #120 — Isaiah Series
Title: “Comfort Ye,
Comfort Ye, My People”
Text: Isaiah 40:1-2
Subject: The Consolation of the Gospel
Date: Sunday Morning — February 23, 2020
Scripture Reading: Romans 11:1-36
The Background — Judgment Declared (Isaiah 39:5-7)
(Isaiah 39:5-7) “Then said Isaiah to Hezekiah, Hear the word of the LORD of hosts: (6) Behold, the days come, that all that is in thine house, and that which thy fathers have laid up in store until this day, shall be carried to Babylon: nothing shall be left, saith the LORD. (7) And of thy sons that shall issue from thee, which thou shalt beget, shall they take away; and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.”
(Isaiah 39:8) “Then said Hezekiah to Isaiah, Good is the word of the LORD which thou hast spoken. He said moreover, For there shall be peace and truth in my days.”
(Isaiah 40:1-2) “Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. 2 Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.”
Here is a wonderful title given to poor sinners upon the earth — “My people!” What an abundance of blessed instruction there is in those two words — “My people!” The whole world belongs to God. The heavens and the heaven of heavens are his. All the children of men belong to him. We all live and move and have our being in the great God. But here is a mark of distinction. — There is a people scattered among the peoples of the earth whom God almighty calls “My people, a people who are God’s own peculiar property and possession.
· By Covenant Love.
· By Sovereign Election.
· By Special Purchase.
· By Effectual Grace.
· By Distinct Relationship — “The sons of God.”
What a wonderful title God himself gives to sinners. All who trust the Lord Jesus Christ are called by God, “My people.”
Here is a wonderful revelation of grace — “Your God.” God Almighty, the great I AM, here declares to you and me, I am “your God!” That very same grace that makes us God’s property makes God our property. He is as much your Father as you are his son! He is God over the whole universe. But he belongs to you. He is your God! Indeed, if you are his people and he is your God, then all things are yours (1 Corinthians 3:21-23).
(1 Corinthians 3:21-23) “Therefore let no man glory in men. For all things are yours; 22 Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours; 23 And ye are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s.”
· His Power is Yours!
· His Riches are Yours!
· His Goodness is Yours!
· His Wisdom is Yours!
· His Creation is Yours!
· His Grace is Yours!
· His Son is Yours!
Here is a wonderful commission given by God to all his servants — “Comfort ye my people, saith your God!” How anxious the Lord God is for the happiness and welfare of his people. He is concerned not only for our lives, but for our comfort. The text does not say, “Strengthen ye, strengthen ye my people,” though we are weary and need to be strengthened. The text does not say, “Protect ye, protect ye my people,” though we are vulnerable and must be protected. The text does not say, “Feed ye feed ye my people,” though every child in the Father’s house must be fed. The text says, “Comfort ye, comfort ye my people” because…
Proposition: God Almighty, our heavenly Father, has such a tender regard for his people in this world that he wants them happy and comfortable.
He not only gives us bread, but honey too. He doesn’t just give us wine, but wine upon lees, well refined. He is concerned not only that we live, but that we live in comfort.
1. Who is commanded to comfort God’s people?
2. Why is this commandment given?
3. How are God’s people to be comforted?
1st — Who is commanded to comfort God’s people? — We know that the Holy Spirit of God is the great Comforter of God’s elect. He alone can minister cheer to the heart and solace the soul. But he uses instruments to accomplish his purpose. He is the Comforter; but he uses others to minister comfort. Who are these instruments of comfort to whom this commission is given? — “Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God.”
Mr. Spurgeon, in one of his sermons on this text, suggests that the first persons addressed in this commission are the angels of God. — I do not know that the text itself is addressed to angels, but I am confident that God does so charge the celestial creatures. God does give his angels charge over us, and they minister to our comfort (Psalm 91:10-12).
(Psalms 91:10-12) “There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling. 11 For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. 12 They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.”
As the angels of God came and ministered to our Savior in the garden, so they come secretly to minister to God’s saints continually (Psalm 34:7; Hebrews 1:14).
(Psalms 34:7) “The angel of the LORD encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them.”
(Hebrews 1:14) “Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?”
If our eyes were not so dim, we would see a great host of mighty, heavenly angels around us continually (2 Kings 6:16-17).
(2 Kings 6:16-17) “And he answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them. 17 And Elisha prayed, and said, LORD, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the LORD opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.”
The angels of God secretly minister comfort to us in this world. So, certainly, our text applies to them.
Yet, the text is specifically addressed to those men who are sent of God to preach and minister to his people. — As the angels of God they are sent to his churches. Gospel preachers are sent to God’s saints with this commission — “Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God.”
We are sent to comfort believing men and women with the solid, comforting doctrine of gospel truth. Were my theology lax, I do not see how I could comfort anyone. When I listen to the Arminian, free-will preachers on radio and television. I often ask myself, “when the chips are down, where does that man find comfort?” He cannot raise fire for his own heart, much less for yours. Comfort is found in the glorious gospel doctrine of God’s sovereignty and grace.
· Absolute Predestination!
· Sovereign Providence!
· Eternal Election!
· Effectual Redemption!
· Infallible Grace!
· Unconditional Preservation!
When a preacher stands to preach, he must seek to be filled with the Spirit of Comfort, so that he may minister comfort to his hearers. — God’s saints don’t need a flogging. They need comfort. If reproof is necessary, let it be surrounded with comfort.
· The weary need rest.
· The hungry need food.
· The thirsty need water.
· The tempted need help.
· The sick need medicine.
· The fallen need lifting.
All are found in Christ, in the gospel of his grace!
This commission is still broader. — It is a commission given to all God’s people to comfort one another. — The Lord God here commands each one of us to minister comfort to one another. We are to perpetuate comfort among God’s saints. He says to you, “Comfort ye, comfort ye my people.”
· When your cup runs over, find an empty cup to catch the overflow.
· When your soul is full of joy, find a mourner to comfort.
· No one can better comfort than those who have been comfortless.
Children of God, do not isolate yourselves from one another. Minister to one another (Philippians 2:1-5).
(Philippians 2:1-5) “If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, 2 Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. 3 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. 4 Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. 5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.”
“Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God.” This is Gods’ commandment to you and me.
2nd — Why is this commandment given? — The commandment is given because all of us, from time to time, need consolation! But there are other reasons.
God delights in the happiness and comfort of his people. He sent his Son to minister comfort to them that mourn (Isaiah 61:1-3; Luke 4:17-19). When Christ comes in saving power and grace he brings consolation!
(Isaiah 61:1-3) “The spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; 2 To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; 3 To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.”
The principle ministry of the Holy Spirit is that of a Comforter (John 15:26; 16:7-16).
(John 15:26) “But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me.”
(John 16:7-16) “Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. (8) And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: (9) Of sin, because they believe not on me; (10) Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; (11) Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged. (12) I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. (13) Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. (14) He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. (15) All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you. (16) A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me, because I go to the Father.”
He reveals himself as “The God of Consolation” (Romans 15:5).
(Romans 15:5) “Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus:”
The Book of God was written for our consolation (Romans 15:4).
(Romans 15:4) “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.”
God’s saints in this world have good reason to be full of comfort and consolation (Ecclesiastes 9:7).
(Ecclesiastes 9:7) “Go thy way, eat thy bread with joy, and drink thy wine with a merry heart; for God now accepteth thy works.”
· Our sins are forgiven.
· We are justified.
· God is for us.
· We are accepted.
· We are heirs of eternal glory.
When believers are without comfort we dishonor Christ and his gospel. It is the boast of the gospel that it lifts men above their troubles. This is one of the glories of faith. It believes God and rejoices in him (Hebrews 3:17-18).
(Hebrews 3:17-18) “But with whom was he grieved forty years? was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcases fell in the wilderness? 18 And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not?”
We are commanded to comfort God’s people because we profess to love them, and this gives us opportunity to demonstrate our love.
Illustration: A father is anxious to comfort the child he loves.
3rd — How are God’s people to be comforted? — By what means are we to comfort one another? How are we to minister comfort to one another? We do not grasp after straws in time of trouble. Rather, we lean upon the solid foundation of God’s truth. The way to comfort God’s people is to remind them of what they know.
· Remind Them of God’s Covenant.
· Remind Them of Their Present Blessedness.
· Remind Them of God’s Past Deliverances
· Remind Them of God’s Sovereign Providence.
· Remind Them of Calvary.
· Remind Them of Things to Come.
Specifically, we read in verse 2 — “Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.” The source of our comfort is the gospel we believe, the gospel of effectual, accomplished redemption.
We preach a gospel that is full of comfort to them that believe. We do not preach a frustrated, confused, helpless god, who made a frustrated, confused, helpless effort to save sinners. We do not proclaim to helpless men a redemption and salvation that depends upon them. We proclaim the gospel as it is revealed in Holy Scripture, the gospel of particular, effectual, fully accomplished redemption by the life, death, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. There is no other good news for poor, helpless sinners, but the good news of accomplished redemption (Romans 5:18-21; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Galatians 3:13; Hebrews 9:12; 1 Peter 2:23-24).
(Romans 5:18-21) “Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. 19 For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous. 20 Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: 21 That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.”
(2 Corinthians 5:21) “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”
(Galatians 3:13-14) “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.”
(Hebrews 9:12) “Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.”
(1 Peter 2:23-24) “Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: 24 Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.”
Modern day freewill, works religion has produced a generation of devoted religious people who have no real comfort and peace of heart, because the gospel they believe has no comfort in it. Where is the comfort of today’s so called “gospel preaching”?
· “God has done his part; now you must do your part.”
· “God has done all he can; now the rest is up to you.”
· “Jesus wants to save you; if only you will let him.”
· “God has saved you by his grace; but it is up to you to keep yourself in his grace.”
Nonsense! Such religion would cause any sane man to go absolutely crazy.
God says to his servants, “Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, her iniquity is pardoned for she hath received of the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.” Now there is comfort here for helpless sinners. The comfort of my soul, the ease of my heart, the peace of my mind is in no way dependent upon what I have done, am doing, or hope to do. My comfort is here. It is in what Christ has done for me!
· This text proclaims Particular Redemption.
· This text proclaims Effectual Redemption.
If you trust Christ, if you cast all your hope upon his righteousness and shed blood, if you are a guilty, helpless sinner whose only hope is an all-sufficient Substitute, this gospel is for you.
Nothing, either great or small,
Nothing sinner, no;
Jesus did it, did it all,
Long, long ago.
When He from his lofty throne,
Stooped to do and die;
Everything was fully done:
Hearken to His cry: —
“It is finished!” Yes, indeed,
Finished every jot:
Sinner, this is all you need,
Tell me, is it not?
Weary, working, plodding one,
Why toil you so?
Cease your doing, all was done,
Long, long ago.
Till to Jesus’ work you cling,
By a simple faith,
“Doing” is a deadly thing,
“Doing” ends in death.
Cast your deadly “doing” down,
Down at Jesus’ feet.
Stand in Him, in Him alone,
What did the Lord Jesus Christ do for sinners by his obedience as our Substitute? What is the message which God himself tells his servants to proclaim? Isaiah gives it to us in three sentences. This is the message I proclaim to Jerusalem, the church of the living God, that great congregation of sinners who trust the Son of God.
“Her warfare is accomplished!” — The time of your warfare is over. By the sacrifice of his own dearly beloved Son, God has ended his controversy with you. We proclaim reconciliation by the blood of Christ.
“It is finished!” The battle is over!
“It is finished!” There’ll be no more war!
This work of reconciliation is twofold.
· God has reconciled us to his law and justice by the life and death of his Son as our Substitute (2 Corinthians 5:17-19). — In Christ all things truly are new!
· God sends his Spirit, applying the blood of Christ to our hearts, by effectual, irresistible grace, and reconciles our hearts to him (Colossians 1:21).
Peace was made by blood. Peace is enjoyed by faith. Saving faith is the reconciliation of our hearts to God in Christ.
Illustration: Civil War – Soldiers who did not know the war was over!
It is my business as a preacher to persuade you by the gospel to be reconciled to God (2 Corinthians 5:19 – 6:1). I am setting before you God’s terms of peace – surrender!
(2 Corinthians 5:10-6:1) “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. (11) Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences. (12) For we commend not ourselves again unto you, but give you occasion to glory on our behalf, that ye may have somewhat to answer them which glory in appearance, and not in heart. (13) For whether we be beside ourselves, it is to God: or whether we be sober, it is for your cause. (14) For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: (15) And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again. (16) Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more. (17) Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. (18) And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; (19) To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. (20) Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God. (21) For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. (6:1) We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain.”
“Her iniquity is pardoned!” (Isaiah 53:4-8 – “Don’s sins”).
(Isaiah 53:4-8) “Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. 5 But he was wounded for our (Don’s) transgressions, he was bruised for our (Don’s) iniquities: the chastisement of our (Don’s) peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are (Don is) healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. 7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. 8 He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.”
· God took our sins, laid them on his Son, and buried them in the sea of forgetfulness!
Did you hear what Jesus said to me?
“They’re all taken away, away,
Your sins are pardoned and you are free,
They’re all taken away!”
“The blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, cleanseth us from all sin.”
· God punished our sins to the full satisfaction of his justice, when he sacrificed his Son.
· God annihilated our sins from the book of his memory, from the records of heaven’s court, when Christ our Substitute died.
· In the death of Christ, we died.
· When we died in Christ, our sins died with us.
God will not, in justice God cannot, punish us, or hold us accountable to his law, for sin. The justice of God pleads as strongly as his mercy for the salvation of every sinner for whom Christ died.
Payment God cannot twice demand,
First at my bleeding Surety’s hand,
And then again at mine.
“Her warfare is accomplished. Her iniquity is pardoned. For she hath received of the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.” — This blessed word of the gospel implies three things:
1. Christ has made an infinite, all sufficient sacrifice for sin. God in justice cannot demand more than Christ has given: His own life’s blood (1 John 3:16).
2. In Christ we have a double portion of grace.
· We are fully pardoned. The guilt of sin no longer remains upon us.
· We are made perfectly righteous. The righteous life of Christ’s obedience is imputed to us.
Illustration: The Transfer
· “I restored that which I took not away.”
· “By the obedience of One shall many be made righteous.”
3. Rather than being the enemies of God, subject to and deserving condemnation, we are heirs of God and joint-heirs with the Lord Jesus Christ (1 John 3:1-3).
(1 John 3:1-5”) Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. (2) Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. (3) And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure. (4) Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law. (5) And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin.”
If you believe on the Son of God, this gospel is meant to comfort you. This is the sweet balm of Gilead to heal your wounded, broken heart. Weary, believing sinner, your warfare is accomplished! Your iniquity is pardoned! You have received of the Lord’s hand double for all your sins! If you believe not, there is nothing here for you. — “The wrath of God abideth upon you.”