Comfort, Comfort My People

Shabbat Nachamu is the Sabbath that follows Tisha B’Av, the day marking the destruction of the temple. Nachamu is the Hebrew word for comfort and so Shabbat Nachamu is also called the Sabbath of consolation. The passage read on this day of grief and reflection is Isaiah 40, starting, “Comfort, comfort my people.”

After the destruction of the Temple, the Jewish people looked to their prophets and drew on Isaiah’s encouragement that God would once again comfort His people.

It is in this same chapter we find the passage declaring the coming of our Lord, the true source of our hope and final comfort. “In the wilderness, prepare the way for the Lord.”

Isaiah 40 is full of perspective. God is great. The nations are nothing. Man is but grass that comes and then goes. And yet we also see that He is like “a Shepherd, He gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them close to His heart.”

If I had seen the temple - the very picture of God dwelling in our midst – destroyed, I would find comfort in Isaiah’s prophecy and promise.

Isaiah spends 39 chapters on the judgment of His people and then comes the promise – comfort. Not just comfort, but he says it twice – “Comfort, comfort my people.” The repetition assures that it has been decided and will be done (recall the vision and interpretation, “mene mene,” in Daniel 5).

With society in chaos and our brothers and sisters across the world being persecuted, the church aches in anguish. Let us find consolation together in the eternal perspective and divine promise.

“Comfort, comfort My people.”

May it be so.  Amen.

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