Juniper Village is a memory-care facility located just outside Denver, Colorado. This week, Juniper Village set up a “hug tent” for their residents, many of whom are not only dealing with memory loss issues but they have not been able to hug their loved ones for almost a year due to COVID restrictions. But that’s where the “hug tent” comes into play. It has clear plastic walls with four sets of arm holes cut into the front wall with plastic sleeves so visitors and residents can embrace one another.
Anita Hanson’s father lives in the Juniper Village facility. Due to COVID guidelines, she has only been able to speak with him through a window or on an electronic device. But this week, Anita was able to hug her father for the first time since last March. She said, “My heart is just swelling with love for him and how much I miss him. Just being able to hold him in my arms. I haven’t been able to hold him in a year.” She went on to say that hugging her father was something she’d never take for granted again.
We often find comfort in the arms of our loved ones. So it should come as no surprise when we find this same idea applied to our relationship with God. In the Bible, we are told that we can find eternal comfort in the arms of our God.
Right now, we’re studying the book of Isaiah as a church family. And last week, we introduced this idea of a “Comfort Trilogy” that can be found in Isaiah 40, which is one of the great comfort chapters in the Bible. In just a few verses, Isaiah gives us three amazing pictures of comfort. We talked about the first one last week: we find comfort in the eternal Word of our God. Isaiah 40:8, The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever. There is tremendous comfort to be found in knowing that the Word of God never changes.
Isaiah builds upon this with an additional word of comfort: we can take comfort in the unchanging character of God. God’s Word doesn’t change because God’s character doesn’t change. When the Hebrew writer says Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever, he’s saying that Jesus is our ultimate example through the ages — which gets back to His character. As much as things change in our world, we can take comfort that God’s character is unchanging.
We’ll pick up right where we left off last week.
Go on up to a high mountain, O Zion, herald of good news; lift up your voice with strength, O Jerusalem, herald of good news; lift it up, fear not; say to the cities of Judah, “Behold your God!” Behold, the Lord God comes with might, and his arm rules for him; behold, his reward is with him, and his recompense before him. He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young.Isaiah 40:9-11
God calls Isaiah to be a “herald of good news” — that phrase is used twice in verse 9. Isaiah is to go up to a high mountain and proclaim a word from God. Based on what we said last week, Isaiah can be confident in this work because he knows that he is proclaiming a word that is eternal.
And this is what he is to say: Behold, your God!
Isaiah reminds the people to look toward God for comfort. He helps them see God’s glorious character. And that’s what this message is all about today. Isaiah calls us to see our God today. When the prophet says, Behold, your God! he is calling us to take comfort in the character of our God. Centuries later, Paul will make the same point when he calls God the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort (2 Corinthians 1).
In particular, there are two aspects of God’s character that Isaiah describes:
- The Lord God is a mighty warrior. He is powerful and sovereign. He rules in judgment and stands ready to conquer all of His enemies.
- The Lord God is a gentle shepherd. He gathers up His lambs, carrying them close to His chest. He is tender and compassionate.
Over the next few posts, I’d like to look at these two images of God — because I believe there is special comfort found in each one.