The Comfort of our God (20 Oct 2019)

I was very encouraged by the sharing of Elder Andrew Kwan from Isaiah 40 on Sunday. He talked about the book of Isaiah being like a mini Bible, i.e., the 66 chapters of Isaiah being the 66 books of the Bible. In fact, the first 39 chapters of Isaiah (akin to the 39 books of the OT) and the next 27 chapters (akin to the 27 books of the NT) are so different in content that some commentators suggest that they are written by 2 different people. However, it is not the objective of this sharing to debate that.

I found it amazing that Isaiah 40 (which is akin to the first book of the NT, Matthew) should be describing a prophesy about the birth and redemptive plan of the Lord Jesus Christ, which came true in the book of Matthew. Surely that is divine design from God!

I took that further and explored the familiar chapter of Isaiah 53, which is 14 chapters after Isaiah 40. We are all very familiar with Isaiah 53 which talks about the first coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Isaiah 53 describes how He was “despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief” (v3). It talks about how we “like sheep have gone astray; we have turned – everyone – to his own way” (v6). In fact, most of the chapter describes the pain and suffering the Lord Jesus went through for our sakes. It makes for somber reading.

If Isaiah 53 is 14 chapters after Isaiah 40, then 2nd Thessalonians is 14 books in the NT after the book of Matthew. While Isaiah 53 describes the pain, suffering and rejection of Jesus in His first coming, 2nd Thessalonians describes the glory and judgement that is associated with His second coming! When Christ comes again, 2nd Thessalonians says that “God considers it just to repay affliction those who afflict you, and to grant relief” (Chap 1:6 and 7). It says that at His second coming, Jesus will be “revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God” (Chap 1:7 and 8). And when He comes on that day, He will be “glorified in His saints, and to be marvelled at among all who have believed” (Chap 1:10). Such is the contrast of the 1st and 2nd coming of our Lord Jesus Christ that is painted between Isaiah 53 and 2nd Thessalonians!

The work of Isaiah 53 is done, and we thank God for that. The promise of 2nd Thessalonians is something we can look forward to, and for that we thank God too. Hence, we take heart the words of Paul in 2nd Thessalonians to “stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us” (Chap 2:15), as we look forward to His second coming. We are also warned against idleness (Chap 3:6-12) and exhorted to “not grow weary in doing good” (Chap 3:13) as we look forward to His coming again!

 

Deacon Michael Teo