“Comfort, comfort my people, says your God” (Isaiah 40:1).
At the time Isaiah wrote these words, Israel was deeply entrenched in sin—stuck in a miry pit of disobedience and unfaithfulness toward the Lord. Ignoring God’s continual pleas for His people to return to Him, they chose instead to worship idols, embed themselves with other nations who drew them away from the Lord and disregard His commands. For 39 chapters, Isaiah exposes and condemns the sin of Israel and prophecies about the severe consequences they will experience as a result of their disobedience—the collapse of their nation and 70 years of exile and captivity in Babylon.
It is into this darkness and despair that the words of Isaiah 40 shine like the bright rays of the morning sun piercing through the weariness of a long and fearful night. Even amidst their sin, God offers words of comfort to His people, reminding them that He is still in control. He is still El Olam—the same sovereign and everlasting God who reigned before the creation of the world and will continue to reign after its end. God fills the pages with evidence of His everlasting sovereignty, reminding them that:
- The grass and flower will fade, but His Word stands forever (v. 8)
- He holds the immeasurable waters in the hollow of his hand (v. 12)
- He is the foundation of understanding, justice, and knowledge, and sits under the counsel of no one (v. 14)
- He sits above the earth and stretches out the heavens like a curtain (v. 22)
- There is none to whom He can be compared (v. 25)
- He calls out the stars by name, not one of whom is missing (v. 26)
The chapter culminates with His powerful declaration in Isaiah 40:28:
“Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; His understanding is unsearchable.”
Oh what comfort there is in knowing that our God is El Olam—the everlasting God. His character was the same at the beginning of creation as it is now, and as it will always be. From everlasting to everlasting, He is good. From everlasting to everlasting, He is wise. From everlasting to everlasting, He is sovereign. From everlasting to everlasting, He is loving. Even as the world constantly changes around us and we constantly change in it, He is the same, and His years have no end (Psalm 102:27).
This means that the same God who heard the cries of Hannah in her barrenness hears your soul groaning as you long for a child (1 Samuel 1-2:11). The same God who rescued Rahab and the sinful woman in Luke 7:36-50 from prostitution stands ready to forgive you of your sin and welcome you into His arms (Joshua 2; 6; Hebrews 11:31; James 2:25). The same God who led Abigail out of a seemingly impossible situation will give you the wisdom to know the right way in which to walk (1 Samuel 25). The same God who comforted Hagar in the wilderness sees you and will comfort your loneliness and fear (Genesis 16; 21).
Just as Israel clung to the truth of the everlasting nature of God for comfort and hope during dark times of despair, so we can cling to the truth that our God is eternal and unchanging. When your heart aches, fear creeps in, confusion overwhelms you, or the sin in your life seems too powerful to overcome, whisper these words to your soul and rest in the eternal understanding and steady character of El Olam:
“Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.”