Glimmers Day 10 Hope In The Story: Digging Deeper

Digging Deeper Days

Finding the original intent of Scripture and making good application to our everyday lives as we become equipped to correctly handle the Word of Truth!

Today is 2-for-1 Friday!
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The Questions

1) Why did Israel need comfort and why did God say it twice?

2) Who is the “voice of one crying out”?

3) What is meant by the language of leveling the ground?

Isaiah 40:1-5

“Comfort, comfort my people,”
says your God.
2 “Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
and announce to her
that her time of forced labor is over,
her iniquity has been pardoned,
and she has received from the Lord’s hand
double for all her sins.”

3 A voice of one crying out:

Prepare the way of the Lord in the wilderness;
make a straight highway for our God in the desert.
4 Every valley will be lifted up,
and every mountain and hill will be leveled;
the uneven ground will become smooth
and the rough places, a plain.
5 And the glory of the Lord will appear,
and all humanity together will see it,
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.

Original Intent

1) Why did Israel need comfort and why did God say it twice?
Isaiah’s prophecy here comes on the heels of his prophecy that closed out the previous chapter (Isaiah 39:5-7). That prophecy spoke of Israel’s coming exile which would come at the hands of the Babylonians sent by God as punishment for their constant rebellion and idolatry. The city of Jerusalem would be utterly ruined and all of Israel exiled to a foreign land. It was as disastrous of a prophecy as it could get. But within the span of a breath, Isaiah continues a lavish, undeserved prophetic word of, unbelievably, comfort. Just as God decreed just punishment for Israel, so did He sing over them a great and mighty promise of deliverance, of a time when exile would be over, when her sins would be more than paid in full. This prophecy goes far beyond Israel’s freedom after 70-some years in Babylon, but looks much farther ahead to when Jesus would come as the Comforting God made flesh, dying for us and pardoning our sin. As a mother soothes an angry little one, “hush, hush, I’m here”, so does the Lord as He declares, “comfort, comfort my people says your God”.

2) Who is the “voice of one crying out”?
Keeping in mind the original context of prophecy for both exile and comfort that redemption would also come, this description of a “voice crying in the wilderness” is a point of authentication to knowing when that Redeemer was arriving. This “voice” would go ahead of the Redeeming Lord, preparing the way that the Lord’s glory, Jesus Himself, would be revealed and “all flesh will see it together”. (verse 5) All four of the gospel stories include this specific prophecy from Isaiah and they all use it to reference John the Baptist who came to prepare the way before Jesus. This “voice” is the earthly cousin of Jesus Christ, John, who lived his days in the desert of Judea, preaching, “Repent for the kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 3:2) John’s preaching style, his location, and his purpose were prophesied centuries before Jesus or John were born, yet the Lord declared it would happen exactly as it did. He used Isaiah’s prophecy to point Israel towards coming Hope!

3) What is meant by the language of leveling the ground?
Isaiah prophesied that the “voice” would “make straight in the desert a highway for our God.” (verse 3) John the Baptist wasn’t one to mince words for his audience; he sugar coated nothing, instead choosing to let God use the truth of his message to convict hearts. In this way, he was preparing the way for “our God”, Jesus Christ, to come behind him. John insisted upon repentance because the kingdom of heaven was coming. This “kingdom coming” was Jesus. The imagery of mountains and valleys is meant to describe the status of the hearts to whom John was preaching. The high mountains were the Pharisees and Sadducees, who felt they had attained righteousness by their heritage or their litany of lawful obedience. These “high”, arrogant hearts needed to be brought low and accept their need to repent of their own sin. By this leveling, they would be able to accept what Jesus was coming to do on their behalf by dying for them in their place. The “low valleys” were those common and oppressed people who felt they simply were unnoticed and unworthy of redemptive love. These were the citizens of Israel who had “given up” on ever seeing a Rescuing Redeemer. These downcast hearts needed to be raised up that they might “see the Love standing in front of them”. In both cases, the level ground of their heart condition allowed for the Lord’s glory to come in and change hearts from the inside out. Those who were ready and willing to receive the Promised Hope, finally could!

Everyday Application

1) Why did Israel need comfort and why did God say it twice?
I love seeing the full gospel right in the heart of the Old Testament! Oh, how we have grieved the heart of God. You and I, girl. We have done our own thing, insisted that our ways were better, and turned our hearts to any number of lesser loves. Israel rejected God, and so have I, so have we. Where have you rejected Him lately? Name the sin, Sister. Hold it in your hands, look it full in the face, and see how you choose “it” over the glory of the Almighty God. We deserve exile because of our love affair with all these “others”, and eternal exile is exactly what we will receive if we refuse His comfort. But He does give comfort! Comfort that our exile can end, our distance from Him can be non-existent, comfort of sin forgiven, and comfort for every single moment between now and eternity forward. Our God is the God of all comfort. (2 Corinthians 1:3)Just as He emphasized it to Israel, so He does to you and I, and to His Bride, the Church, today through His Word and His constant presence by His Spirit. Do you have His comfort or are you still living far away in exile? See your sin? The Savior pleads for you to drop it, letting His free forgiveness overwhelm you with abundance!

2) Who is the “voice of one crying out”?
God pursued Israel as they were in exile by using prophets to point them towards His love and His coming Hope, eventually coming through the sacrificial offering of Jesus Christ as He died for us. These weren’t general, random prophets, these were ordained ministers of His truth. The same intensity, the same purpose, the same pursuit is relentlessly chasing after your heart today. Maybe you’ve given the Lord your heart long ago; He’s still pursuing you and His Voice is still crying out to you every day, every moment. Maybe you aren’t sure if you’ve really given Him everything, or maybe you know for sure you never have; His Voice is crying out to you too. Today is the day of salvation. Today is the day to know Him deeper. There will always be more depths to plumb with Jesus. There will always be next steps to take with Him because His heart is always intentionally, passionately pursuing us. The question for us is, how will we respond?

3) What is meant by the language of leveling the ground?
In John’s day, people with every heart condition sat in his audience, and the same is true for us. Likely, we don’t walk around with just one “type” of ground, either high mountain arrogance or low valley shame. Maybe you’re a bit like me and you have both extremes and lots of “in-betweens”. As you prepare for Christmas next week, consider those areas. Ask the Lord to show them to you because they are as unique as you are, and the Lord cares about each and every high place and low valley. Ask Him to clear the ground, making straight the field of your heart that you may be fully ready to hear His word, embrace it, and let it change you for eternity!

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Digging Deeper is for Everyone!

1) Take this passage (or any other passage).
2) Read it, and the verses around it,
several times
3) Write down your questions
as you think of them.
4) Ask specific culture related questions and be ready to dig around for your answers. Google them, use www.studylight.org, or look them up in a study Bible and read the footnotes (click on the little letters next to a word and it will show you
other related verses!). (www.esvbible.org)
5) Check your applications with other trusted Christians that you are in community with and embrace the fullness of God
in your everyday!

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Why Dig Deeper?

Finding the original meaning is a huge deal when we study Scripture and can make all the difference in our understanding as we apply God’s truths to our everyday lives.

In our modern-day relationships, we want people to understand our original intention as we communicate; how much more so between God and humanity?!

Here’s a little bit more on why we take Digging Deeper so seriously.

Study Tools

We love getting help while we study and www.studylight.org is one of many excellent resources, providing the original Hebrew (Old Testament) or Greek (New Testament) with an English translation.

Want to know more about a specific word in a verse? Click on “Strong’s Interlinear Bible” then click the word you’d like to study. Discover “origin”, “definition” and hear the original pronunciation – That Is Awesome!

Want more background? Click “Study Tools”, then pick a few commentaries to read their scholarly approach, keeping in mind that just because a commentary says it, doesn’t mean it’s true. (just like the internet :-))

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