Beyond a 70-ton Message of Hope

  • Brian Overholtzer
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**Brian Overholtzer is currently in his second year of studies at The Master’s Seminary Anchorage. We are excited to have him contribute here at the Christ & Culture Blog.

On Saturday, March 28, 2020 the USNS Comfort was launched from the Naval Station Norfolk, VA to New York City with the mission to join the thousands of medical professionals in the battle to save American lives. At the send-off, President Trump inspirationally called the massive sea bearing vessel a “70-ton message of hope.” Surely, the sight of the approaching vessel, the faces of Navy Corpsman and Army Medics, eager to provide care and the good news of coming help, would be comfort for those of desperate need of it. Such a monumental reference to hope in the war against this pandemic reminds the Christian of an even greater monumental message of hope. 

“Comfort, O comfort My people,” says your God (Isaiah 40:1).

The Bible is filled with words of comfort and hope. The historical context behind these words in Isaiah comforted Israel at a time when they greatly needed it. However, we too, as God’s people, can find much needed comfort in Isaiah’s words in the crisis we are experiencing today.

Isaiah wrote this prophecy around the year 700 B.C. to a future exiled Israel. Israel was not exiled until 586 B.C. As a prophet of God, Isaiah was writing over 100 years into the future. Exile was more than just an extreme “social distancing” order. When Israel was first exiled, they were violated in many unspeakable ways and re-planted in another country. Reality changed as fast as lightning and for those longing for the good old days, every passing hour would have been a constant disappointment filled with hopelessness.

The Israelites were not innocent victims in the exile. Longsuffering God warned them repeatedly. Before the exile, God sent Isaiah on His behalf to warn Israel to repent from their rampant sin and trust in Him for forgiveness (Isaiah 1:18-20). Israel was blind and refused (Isaiah 6). Thus, the majority of Isaiah 1-39 contains woe (condemnation) judgements against Israel for their treason against their King with whom they made a covenant (Exodus 19). As God’s promised judgment ultimately came to them, exiled Israel was surely in need of comfort, so Isaiah continues with God’s message of hope.

Speak kindly to Jerusalem; And call out to her, that her warfare has ended, That her iniquity has been removed, That she has received of the Lord’s hand Double for all her sins (Isaiah 40:2).

In this next verse, God reveals to Isaiah how such a burdened and distraught people can receive comfort. Isaiah prophecies to these burdened Israelites that God will end the exile at a future time of His choosing. Remember that Isaiah wrote this prophecy in 700 B. C. over 100 years before the exile, so he both prophesied the beginning and the end of the exile. Such accuracy gives us immediate trust in the inerrancy and authority of God’s Word which means it is completely sufficient!

Certainly, the promise of returning home from exile was comfort and hope for Israel. The believing heart would also have understood it to have been God’s grace that sovereignly ordained such an undeserving favor. As wonderful as the news of the return from exile was, God was also concerned about their hearts. Jumping to the end of the chapter, the last verse reads

Yet those who wait for the Lord Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary (Isaiah 40:31).


God’s message was one of hope (Isa. 40:1-2) but also one calling on God’s people to trust in Him and wait (Isa. 40:31). As always, God was true to His Word and Israel went home from exile in 516 B.C., which happened over 180 years after it was prophesied by God through Isaiah.

During these weary days if you find yourself asking the question found in Psalms,   

I will lift up my eyes to the mountains; From where shall my help come? My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth (Psalm 121:1-2).

Remember that the same voice that spoke the heavens and Earth into existence (Gen. 1) is the same voice that speaks comfort, comfort to his people in His sufficient Word. A message far beyond a 70-ton message of hope.