M. Elton Hendricks, Ph.D.

President Emeritus

Get you up to a high mountain, O Zion, herald of good tidings; lift up your voice with strength, O Jerusalem, herald of good tidings, lift it up, do not fear; say to the cities of Judah, ‘Here is your God!’ See, the Lord God comes with might, and his arm rules for him; his reward is with him, and his recompense before him. He will feed his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms and carry them in his bosom and gently lead the mother sheep.

Isaiah 40:9-11


Dr. M. Elton HendricksToward the end of 2 Kings (chapter 25, CEB) the writer describes the destruction of Jerusalem under Nebuchadnezzar who “burned down the Lord’s temple, the royal palace…all of Jerusalem’s houses [and] every important building, [and] he destroyed the [city’s] surrounding walls.” He even took the pots and pans and bowls of Jerusalem to Babylon! He forced the leading and talented citizens into exile. In short, the much-loved Jerusalem became a pile of rubble. The exiled Jews became strangers in a foreign land for 70 years – three generations (see Psalm 137, CEB) until Cyrus became king, and he allowed the Jews to return to Judah. But were the exiles ready to return to what was left of Jerusalem, to the thoroughly destroyed Jerusalem?

To the returning exiles God sent the prophet we call Second Isaiah (chapters 40-53) with the proclamation of promise and renewal, a different message from First Isaiah’s word of judgement and repentance. (Chapters 1-39) God’s response is always in accordance with our needs. The exiles were being sent back to a battered and still recovering city. They were returning to a mess. In today’s text (Isaiah 40:9-11, CEB) they are told,” Get up on a high mountain and shout…[In a battered city you may have to hunt for a high mountain.] Raise your voice. Don’t be afraid”.

Human life is always a mess, but our Advent world of 2023 seems especially so. Do not forget there is a Shepherd. He will tend His flock, gather His lambs in His arms, and lift them into His lap. (Isaiah 40:11, CEB). Yes, we exiles are being sent to a messy world but remember, we are led by a Good Shepherd. Advent means: Get Ready!