The book of Isaiah is centered on the Babylonian exile, which began in 586 B.C. when Nebuchadrezzar II of Babylonia destroyed Jerusalem and the temple and enslaved the Jewish people. The exile ended in 539 B.C. when Cyrus of Persia allowed the Jews to return to Jerusalem and to rebuild their temple. The book of Isaiah makes it clear that Nebuchadrezzar was God’s instrument to punish the Jewish people for their sins, and Cyrus will be the LORD’s instrument to set them free—to redeem them.
‘Comfort, comfort my people,’ the Lord instructs Isaiah. Release from the bondage of sin is at hand. The voice crying in the wilderness shall prepare the way for the glory of the Lord to be revealed. The Word of God, which stands forever, shall assume flesh in order to bring comfort to the people by removing the blot of iniquity. Then He shall ‘tend his flock like a shepherd.’
Not only is Isaiah speaking comfort to a people enslaved in a foreign land but he sees way into the future; fulfilled in the preaching of John the Baptist who prepared the way for the Savior. Here is double comfort. In Advent we prepare for the coming Savior. Just as the exiles find comfort in the promise of liberation from slavery how much more will our comfort be realized when we understand by faith that Christ came offering forgiveness, life and salvation. Christ came not to destroy sinners but to save them; to bring life to the people of earth (See Isaiah 52:10; 60:1-3) During this time of Advent we also anticipate the certain return of Christ our Savior. There will be a time when “the Son of Man comes in His glory” to judge “all the nations.” (Matthew 25:31-32)
Collect for Advent 2—Stir up our Your power, O Lord, and come and help us by Your might, that the sins which weigh us down may be quickly lifted by Your grace and mercy; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.