Sunday, September 3, 2017, the Year of Our Lord

Pastor Carolyn Sissom


God sent the Old Testament prophets on a daunting and sometimes dangerous mission.  They were for the most part dispatched at the eleventh hour, to try to halt the people’s headlong rush to destruction; to warn them of judgment; to call them back to God in repentance---and after the great crash came, to comfort the survivors with the assurance of God’s continuing love and purpose for them.  The prophets went out in burning conviction with a message from God.


The present prophetic revelation movement should do no less. 


40: 1-2: “Comfort you, comfort you, My people, says your God.  Speak comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry to her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned; for she has received of the Lord’s hand double for her sins.”


40:9-11: “O Zion, that brings good tidings, get up into the high mountain; O Jerusalem, that brings good tidings, lift up your voice with strength; lift it up, do not be afraid; say to the cities of Judah, Behold your God!  Behold, the Lord God will come with a strong hand, and His arm shall rule for Him; behold, His reward is with Him; and His work before Him. He shall feed His flock like a shepherd; He shall gather the lambs with His arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.


Behold your God full of might and majesty!  His arm is a symbol of His power and His arm shall rule for Him.  To Christ, all power has been given.  Jesus Christ is the arm of God, the man of Jehovah’s right hand, the Son of Man whom he has made strong.


His name is Immanuel, God with us.”  He comes as a Victor bearing the spoils of the vanquished.  Behold I come quickly and my reward is with me. (Rev. 22:12)   Combined with the power of the victorious King is the gentleness of the tender and loving Shepherd.


He shall feed His flock.  He will lead us, protect us, providing both green pastures and still waters seeking us out in the dark and cloudy day; rescuing us from the wild beasts; bearing us through the swelling flood waters; or the Valley of the shadow of death.  If that were not enough, He is beautifully represented as gathering the lambs in His arms; making a pillow for them in the folds of His shepherd’s mantle.  Just as he deals with the tender lambs, He is equally merciful and considerate not to overdrive their nursing mothers.  He gently leads those who have their young ones by their side, and who cannot keep pace with those that are stronger.   


As in the words of Jacob at the brook Jabbok:  My lord knows the children are tender, and the flocks and herds giving suck to their young are with me; and if the shepherds should overdrive them one day, all the flock will die.” (Gen. 33:13)


Our Shepherd-Savior is tender and merciful to the weakest, and feeblest of His people; adapting Himself to their wants and trials, their needs, doubts, and perplexities. 


Whether they are tender lambs; the truant entangled among the briars; or wanderers, He has a place in His reward for one and all.  Behold His reward is with Him! 


Luke 15:6: What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he fined it.  When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders rejoicing.  When he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost.  I say to you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repents, more than over ninety-nine just persons, which need no repentance. 


Christian let us rejoice in this twofold word of comfort, “Rejoice O daughter of Zion; behold your king comes, meek and lowly.  Behold your God!  Behold your shepherd! Strong in might! Strong to save! 


What a union of majesty and love! The mighty Cedar of God with its top reaching to heaven, yet the feeblest bird can find a perch amid the thick branches, and fold its wings to sleep.  My God!  Yet my Brother!  Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures throughout all generations.  The Lord upholds all that fall, and raises up all those that are bowed down.



40: 12-17: Who has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand, and meted out heaven with the span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance?  Who has directed the Spirit of the Lord, or being His counselor has taught Him?  With who did He take counsel, and who instructed Him, and taught Him in the path of judgment, and taught Him knowledge, and showed to Him the way of understanding?  Behold, the nations are as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance; behold, He takes up the isles as a very little thing. 


If such be your God, O afflicted one, where is there room for misgiving and despair?

Comfort Ye, Comfort Ye My people, says your God.  My chosen one, you have tasted my covenant mercies.    If such be my care of distant stars; if I have each one of them counted and named; if I bind the sweet influences of the Pleiades, loose the bands of Orion, (Job 38:31) and guide Arcturus (Job. 9:9),  how can the soldiers of Jehovah ever be forsaken, left as wandering planets, to drift away; or as wandering sheep, unwatched and untended by the shepherd who gave His life for us.


As every star in the many galaxies has its appointed pathway, and walks the firmament in obedience to divine and determinate law, each maintaining its appropriated place, and obeying its time of revolution; so have I in my hands, and under my control, the care of my people. 


40: 21-28:  Have you not known? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth? It is He that sits upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers; that stretches out the heavens as a curtain, and spreads them out as a tent to dwell in; that brings the princes to nothing; He makes the judges of the earth as vanity.  Yea, they shall not be planted; yea, they shall not be sown; yea, their stock shall not take root in the earth; and he shall also blow upon them and they shall wither, and the whirlwind shall take them away as stubble.  To whom then will you liken Me, or shall I be equal? Says the Holy One.  Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who has created these things, that brings out their host by number; He calls them all by names by the greatness of His might, for that He is strong in power; not one fails.  Why say you, O Jacob, and speak, O Israel, My way is hid from the Lord, and my judgment is passed over from my God?  Have you not known? Have you not heard that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, faints not, neither is weary? There is no searching of His understanding.”


Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, says your God.


   40: 29-31: He gives power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increases strength.  Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall; but they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.


Divine enabling will be given to those who wait upon the Lord.  They will rise with the strength of eagles’ wings above the stresses and distresses of life.  They will remain in the race for the prize of the high calling.  They will continue their walk in the monotony of the mundane things of daily life, which is a walk before God in sanctification.  They will walk in obedience in fellowship with God and fellowship of the brethren.  His grace is sufficient!


Trust Him in the dark; honor Him with unwavering confidence even in the midst of mysterious dispensations; and the recompense of such faith will be like the molting of the eagles’ feathers which was said to give them a new lease of youth and strength.


It was a Rabbinical legend that the eagle, every tenth year, soared so near the sun as to be scorched by the heat---that with wings collapsed it fell into the sea, emerging from the deep with new feathers (Alexander).  So shall it be with God’s faithful children.  They that trust in Jehovah shall gather new strength; they shall mount of with wings as eagles, they shall run and not be wear, they walk and not faint. 


He, the Great Shepherd has a personal and discriminating knowledge of each member of his fold.  He who names the stars as they walk the fields of night, has an equal care of His covenant people. Fear not, for I have redeemed you.  I have you by your name.  You are mine.  Wait on the Lord, be of good courage!  He shall strengthen your heart!


41:10:  Fear not; for I am with you; be not dismayed; for I am your God.  I will strengthen you; Yes, I will help you.  Yes, I will uphold you with the right hand of My righteousness.  All they that were incensed against you shall be ashamed and confounded; they shall be as nothing; and they that strive with you shall perish.  You shall seek them, and shall not find them, even them that contended with you…The Lord your God will hold your right hand, saying to you, Fear not; I will help you.


It is by the day of small things Christ is to accomplish the conversion of mankind.  He has in every age honored lowly instrumentality.  By a simple gospel in the hands of unlettered preachers, mountains of pride and idolatry have crumbled to pieces.  The wisdom of God is wiser then men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.


The sling of faith, and the few stones from the running brook of His own Word---not the vaunted armor of earth’s great ones---have brought to the dust the world’s giant unbelief.  The Divine Word made flesh which has so often been despised, will yet complete the conquest it has already achieved in hundreds of lands and in millions of human hearts. 


Those by whom His victories are to be achieved are “the poor crowd of Israel.”  The treasure is committed to earthen vessels, that the excellency and the power may be altogether of Him.


As Houston Texas and Texans across the Gulf Coast may be cast down with a fearful and desponding heart, overwhelming tasks before you, grave responsibilities overtaking you; temptations, and trembling apprehension of the future, We have no might against this great storm which has attacked our land, neither do we know what to do.  Let us rise in the might of our God, saying, in the words of the same pious king, But our eyes are upon you (2 Chron. 20:12).


It is God who comforts those who are cast down.  He makes His grace sufficient, and perfects strength in weakness.  Do not be dismayed.  Our Lord will help us with his faithful right hand.  That faithfulness is pledged to bring Texas through.  When I am weak, then I am strong.  I am continually with you.


Man’s extremity is often God’s opportunity,---that when tossed on the midnight of despair, when star after star of earthly hope and joy has been extinguished, One, mightier than wind, flood or storm appears. 


Christian we are empowered to overcome, rise above our trials as if the wilderness and the solitary place have been made glad, and the desert rejoices and blossoms as the rose. 


When our Covenant-God sets His bow in the cloud;  we almost forget the presence of the cloud, in the beauty and brilliancy of the varied prismatic colors.  The promises are so awesome; it causes my heart to leap for joy.  When preparing this message, I was caught between shouting and crying for joy and the promises of comfort and love.


The imagery is all Jewish. He reminds Israel in Babylon and the Church in every age, of His miraculous interventions.


43:2: “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you, and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you; when you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, neither shall the flame kindle upon you.”


The exodus began with a miracle, so did it end with one; --“The sea saw it and fled, Jordan was driven back” (Ps. 114:3).


43:5: Fear not for I am with you.


Waters,” “rivers,” “fire,” “flame,” The imagery denotes that the Church collectively and the true Israel of God individually may expect to encounter  manifold trials, both diversified, and severe; like angry floods or devouring flames. 


But the consolation is that the God, who permits the afflictions will Himself be present with His upholding arm;---and better still, that He will not suffer these to go beyond what His people are able to bear.  He will speak to flood, flame or armies, “thus far, and no farther.”   He stays His rough wind in the day of the east wind(Isa. 27:8).  O true Church of God, “Fear not for I am with you” says the Lord.


 Pastor Carolyn Sissom

Eastgate Ministries Church

Scripture from K.J.V.

I entered into the labors of  Comfort Ye, Comfort Ye, by: John Ross MacDuff, public domain;