Your Punishment Is Over

Our God has said:
“Encourage my people!
Give them comfort.
Speak kindly to Jerusalem
and announce:
Your slavery is past;
your punishment is over.
I, the LORD, made you pay
double for your sins.”
Someone is shouting:
“Clear a path in the desert!
Make a straight road
for the LORD our God.
Fill in the valleys;
flatten every hill
and mountain.
Level the rough
and rugged ground.
Then the glory of the LORD
will appear for all to see.
The LORD has promised this!”
Someone told me to shout,
and I asked,
“What should I shout?”
We humans are merely grass,

and we last no longer
than wild flowers.
At the LORD’s command,
flowers and grass disappear,
and so do we.
Flowers and grass fade away,
but what our God has said
will never change. (Isaiah 40:1-8)

The stain of sin has been washed clean for good. John the Baptist was identified as the one calling in the wilderness, to make a straight way for God. The one that John made a straight way for was Jesus: the Messiah and the Son of God whom the Gospel writers and John, by the use of this passage from Isaiah, identified with Yahweh, the God of Israel.

In the context of Isaiah’s original prophesy, God was offering comfort to the Israelites: he was letting them know that their time in captivity was over and that they could now return to their land. Their sins were paid for; their punishment was completed.

How could that prophesy be applied by the New Testament authors to Jesus? Jesus was the one who would save his people from their sins. As God had rescued his people, first from Egyptian bondage and then from Babylonian bondage, so God was going to make those mere pictures of redemption a reality: Jesus would save them from the far more serious bondage of their sin. The captives would truly and completely be set free. God has rescued us from our slavery. We have been set free.

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About R.P. Nettelhorst

I'm married with three daughters. I live in southern California and I'm the interim pastor at Quartz Hill Community Church. I have written several books. I spent a couple of summers while I was in college working on a kibbutz in Israel. In 2004, I was a volunteer with the Ansari X-Prize at the winning launches of SpaceShipOne. Member of Society of Biblical Literature, American Academy of Religion, and The Authors Guild
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One Response to Your Punishment Is Over

  1. Rodger Olsen says:

    You have done well. I was trying to contact you because we have about 15 hard copies of Somewhen left over from not-so Great Authors Online. I was going to offer to ship to you. However, your new cover looks much better than what GAO created to the books I have are probably of no value.

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