Here’s a bit of Bible trivia I recently learned: the book of Isaiah has 66 chapters, which correspond to the 66 books of the Bible. The first 39 chapters have a theme of condemnation or judgement, while the last 27 chapters are about hope, mirroring the 39 books of the Old Testament and the 27 books of the New.
It’s this first “chapter of hope”–chapter 40–that author/radio host Nancy Leigh DeMoss spoke on when I heard her in Dallas. If you’re even a little familiar with Handel’s “Messiah”, you’ll recognize verse 1: “Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.” (Of course that was the ESV, not King James!)
There is certainly a time for words of warning as in the first 39 chapters, but how grateful we are for these words of comfort and hope! She focused in on the first five verses, and I was amazed how much I had missed from a passage I’ve read so many times in my life. I want to include here some of my notes from the message, so what you’ll be reading is either a direct quote or paraphrase from her, and not wisdom I conjured up!
God doesn’t offer His comfort to those who want to stay in their sin, but to those who are repentant.
“Make straight in the desert a highway for our God” (40:3b). The verses following are a description of what needs to take place in our hearts in order to hear the word of God. Changes have to take place for God’s highway to be made in us.
1. Every valley shall be lifted up –These are the shallow things that need to be filled or not left undone; the weaknesses or holes in our faith. Surrender your agenda and remember that He is worth it.
2. Every mountain and hill brought low –The hindrances to revival that need to be removed. Things that stand between you and God, like pride. Don’t rest content until those areas in your life are changed/removed. Even the mountains that seem too big to conquer God can conquer and tear down.
3. The uneven ground become level –Ways of thinking that don’t line up with God’s Word. Or hypocrisy before others.
If someone were to ask me ”what do Christians love?” my answer, based on my Christian friends’ tweets would be… Downton Abbey, Duck Dynasty, American Idol, the Oscars, and March Madness. Why do so many followers of Jesus seem to be more passionate about these things than His Word, His people, and His Kingdom?
4. The rough places a plain –Rough places in our life in relationships or interactions. Or distractions from life.
After these steps, then we come to verse 5, “And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed”. This is our purpose–for the world to see the glory of the LORD. We must make the preparations of verse four in order to see the glory in verse five.
Whatever the price, it is worth it to be right with God.
Revival is not an emotional touch. It’s a complete takeover.