Whenever persons endure a conflict that threatens their relationship, there is an awkward moment that occurs just before reconciliation happens.  It usually requires apologies, requests for forgiveness, and promises to do better in the future.  All of life is about relationships and none is more important to us than our relationship with God.  Our lives are a mixture of faith and failures, strength and weakness, enduring and giving up, along with many other ups and downs.  In the times when we don’t do as well as others our relationship with God suffers.  We may have endured a season of sin and rebellion or we may have been under the strong hand of God’s discipline.  Neither condition is good and both threaten our relationship with the Lord.

In the 40th chapter of Isaiah the prophet begins an entirely new section of his prophecy.  In the previous chapters he has declared the judgment of God upon Israel for its sins of rebellion and idolatry.  The nation has been conquered, the people taken captive and the temple destroyed.  There was little hope for God’s people at that time.  But in chapter 40 Isaiah begins to call the people to hope again.  He brings God’s restoring word to them  saying the past is over.  God wanted the people to know that the days of judgment and punishment were over and a new day was coming.

God tells the prophet to comfort His people and to prepare the way for His return to them.  God declares through the prophet that His glory will be revealed as He comes in power and majesty.  God is returning to the nation to revive His people.  Although He comes in power and majesty the prophet says the Lord, like a shepherd, ” will tend His flock, in His arm He will gather the lambs and carry them in His bosom; He will gently lead the nursing ewes.” (v.11)  Israel had endured the judging hand of the Lord. Now it would experience His tender, restoring hand.

One of the great messages of Christmas is that the Lord God whom many fear is the one who comes gently as a baby and grows up to serve as an humble man.  His tenderness is real because He is like us.  He understands us and cares for us.  He knows what we face in living so He can minister to our needs effectively.  Best of all, He is the restorer.  Forgiving our sins, giving us His eternal life, and sending the Holy Spirit, Jesus has tenderly cared for us and restored us to live again without fear or condemnation.

As we light the Advent candle tonight think about how the Messiah has restored you and thank Him for coming gently and humbly to meet your needs.