My pastor challenged all of us in the congregation to read Isaiah 40 daily during the Advent season to prepare our hearts to receive our Saviour. While I haven't read this passage daily, I'm trying my best to keep up with this challenge.
When I first read through it, I didn't have too much to respond with. It didn't strike me as a typical "Advent" selection per say, but I'm also no pastor. I got the whole part about "a voice calling" and "preparing the way for the Lord" (vs.3). That part made sense with Christmas approaching. But the rest . . .
Then a few days later I read it in a different light. With a future baby with an odd heartbeat and many little pregnancy complications already—this time when I read through it, I heard a similar voice as Job must have when God finally talked to him. And maybe it was that same voice the Israelites needed to hear, too. I heard verses 6-28 from a God who is powerful over all creation; Who can measure the waters in the hollow of his hand (v.12); Who stretches out the heavens like a canopy (v. 22); Who doesn't need someone to teach him knowledge or truth because that is who He is (v. 14); Who cannot be compared to anything that we, as humans, can understand (v. 18). He's the same God of Job, the same God of the scattered Israelites, and the same God of me. He's the same powerful God who cares about the big things in life, as well as the little things. The same almighty God who has a plan that I (or Job or the Israelites) might not understand, but a God who remains faithful and trustworthy.
The words of verse 21 and 28 stood out to me, too. "Do you not know? Have you not heard?" It was almost as if Isaiah was saying, "Then why aren't you listening? Really listening? Why aren't you believing? Really believing?"
Maybe the first bit about preparing for the Saviour makes a little more sense now. For the Israelites, it wasn't about getting ready for a celebration, but about getting ready for their salvation—getting ready for the glory of the Lord to be revealed and all mankind together seeing it (v. 5). Maybe today we are called to expect it, to see it, to trust it, to believe it. Maybe today we need that renewed strength to do just that—to expect Him, to see Him, to trust Him, and to believe in Him.