I love it how Isaiah 40 begins a fresh transition, “‘Comfort, comfort my people,’ says your God.” It signals how a new thing is about to be done; how the eternal nature of God is always about to do a new thing.
At Isaiah 40:4, we get more information about the nature of this comfort. This comfort will come through the myriad benevolence of the Lord, not least justice will be front and centre of that view:
“Every valley shall be lifted and filled up, and every mountain and hill shall be made low; and the crooked and uneven shall be made straight and level and the rough places a plain.”
Of course, a New Testament equivalent to this, in Jesus’ own words, is, “For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” (Luke 14:11)
Combine these words with the prophet Habakkuk who encourages us in two consecutive verses, that justice will come swiftly even if it appears to dawdle (2:3), and those who receive justice will live justly, by faith (2:4).
As we stand in the gap (Ezekiel 22:30) for others, even as we wait patiently (Psalm 37:7) for justice overall, we can trust the nature and character of the Lord, for though there seems no justice in so many matters here on earth, there is a time where Jesus says, “Vengeance is Mine.” (Deuteronomy 32:35; Romans 12:19)
This of course is the kind of encouragement we need to be reminded of regularly. It sustains us even as we are comforted, that we can trust God, and that we can leave the situations that always threaten to consume us with the ever-unfolding future, even as they prevail eventually as a present moment reality.
God is making all things new. Whenever we have suffered and done so faithfully, we know the result will be well for us... ultimately. The in-between time is our very expression of faith. It is done faithfully as we wait for the Lord to execute justice, where we too will be required to be strong and courageous (Joshua 1:9), for so often faithful and humble testimony is required of us. Indeed, whatever we say or do not say is testimony. We should not be afraid of speaking the truth boldly at the appropriate time, even and especially even truths that don’t appear to bode well for us personally; for God has ordained a time for every matter. We should never be afraid of telling the truth as it is, for there alone in the truth is our only eternal protection, indeed as it should be.
What is required of us? To do justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with our God. (Micah 6:8)