“Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that her warfare is ended, that her iniquity is pardoned, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.” Isaiah 40:1-2
December 7, 1941…a date which will live in infamy. So said President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. On this date, seventy years ago, Japan launched an unprovoked attack on United States Forces in throughout the Pacific. The brunt of the attack was felt most at the Navy base called Pearl Harbor. More than two thousand three hundred, navy, marine, and army personnel lost their lives that day. The attack sent a shockwave across our nation as news rippled out across the heartland as families huddled around radios to hear the reports. One sainted member of St. Paul’s in Concordia once told me that as he heard the news, he never could have imagined that in less than a year, he would find himself stationed in Pearl Harbor in war against Japan. As we marked that anniversary once again this year, I wondered what pastors proclaimed that following Sunday. The obvious thing that came to my mind was the word of the Lord from Isaiah the prophet. “Comfort, comfort my people. Speak tenderly to her.”
The cries of the prophets are painful to hear as they proclaim the Lord’s anger for the sin and unbelief of His people. The prophets are sent to proclaim the full counsel of God – to call sinners to repentance, but also to proclaim God’s abounding and steadfast love. In other words, God sends His prophets to proclaim His message of Law and Gospel. The message of the Law is severe. God hates sin and sin comes with great consequences. But the Gospel is the sweet words of forgiveness and grace. The Gospel is maximum comfort to troubled sinners.
In December 1941, many people were afraid. They were wondering if this was some kind of punishment from God. The consequences of sin were obvious – 2300 dead. No one person’s particular sin. But certainly life in this fallen world means dealing with the consequences of sin. And yet the message for a hurting nation on that next Sunday was to comfort God’s people. Comfort is the message that their sins have been paid for. Isaiah’s prophetic message would be fulfilled in John the Baptist’s preparing the way for the Lord, the One who would follow and pay for the people’s sins, who would redeem God’s people and buy them back from sin and death. Comfort is the message of forgiveness and hope of forgiveness and hope through Jesus, the tender message that was proclaimed from countless pulpits on December 14, 1941 and the message that we need in these days. May God grant you comforting, tender words that your iniquity is pardoned and that Savior will come again in power and might to bring His reward to His beloved people. Our Advent comfort comes from the One who came and from the One who comes again, our Savior, Jesus.
Prayer - Stir up our hearts, O Lord, to make ready the way of Your only-begotten Son, that by His coming we may be enabled to serve You with pure minds; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Fraternally in Christ,
President Lee Hagan