Day 209: God Comforts His People

Isaiah 39:1-11 With all his riches and military might, Hezekiah becomes blinded by pride, forgetting that he was lavishly blessed by God; Isaiah reproached him for neglecting to recognize the source of his riches and victories. Isaiah prophesied that the land of Judah would be stripped of its possessions and conquered by the Babylonians.

Ch 40:1-11 Here begins the second part of Isaiah, which is situated at least a century later than the first part. It is now long after Hezekiah’s reign ended, and the threatened deportation to Babylon had taken place. This section intends to provide consolation to the exiles who would return to Judah to restore Jerusalem and its Temple. The ultimate consolation rests in the coming of the Messiah, who would bring salvation to the whole world. (CCC 754)

Ch 40:1-5, 9-11 These verses comprise one option for the First Reading at Mass on the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord.

Ch 40:3 This verse is a prophecy concerning St. John the Baptist, the last prophet and the precursor of Christ, who announced and prepared the way for the imminent arrival of the Messiah and identified Jesus as such at the River Jordan (cf. Jn 1:30). (CCC 719)

Ch 40:5 Glory of the Lord: God’s perfection is revealed and communicated in a limited way through creation. (CCC 568)

Ch 40:6 ALl members of the faithful, by virtue of their Baptism and Confirmation, are called to evangelize the world by both example and word, proclaiming that Christ is the Savior. Christ taught that the witness of charity and joy gives credibility to the truth of Christianity. As St. Francis of Assisi advised famously: “Preach always, and use words if necessary.” (CCC 990)

Ch 40:12-31 This lengthy series of rhetorical questions and statements reminds the reader of God’s intimate involvement not only in the creation and design of the world but also with its ongoing existence. God transcends creation but at the same time is profoundly immanent to all of creation through his power. His divine providence extends in a special way to all men and women, especially those who embrace his will. (CCC 302-307, 321-323)

The Book of Ezekiel

Author and Date:

  • Unlike many of the other prophetic books in the Old Testament, Ezekiel may have been written nearly in its entirety by Ezekiel himself.

  • Some scholars believe that the prophet may have put his visions and oracles in writing shortly after each experience; however, it reads as a book rather than a collection of prophecies and anecdotes.

  • Ezekiel was written in Hebrew but included some Babylonian and Aramaic terms, and its style is graceful and educated.

  • The use of repetition and figures of speech may reflect a teaching style consistent with Ezekiel’s position as a priest and instructor in the Law.

  • The book itself gives dates for his ministry in history: He was twenty-six years old when he was sent away from Jerusalem in the first wave of deportation to Babylon in 597 BC; his prophetic work began there in 592 BC, and the last of his oracles date from 571 BC.


  • Ezekiel’s audience was the exiled Jews of Babylon.

  • He taught that their tragic deportations were the result of the personal sins of the people and their willful failure to repent of them.

Main Themes:

  • The key themes in Ezekiel are familiar themes of the prophetic books but are developed further than in the others.

  • The first theme is God’s utter transcendence and perfect holiness, which calls for profound respect even for his name, which is itself holy and must not be profaned.

  • It is by the honor of God’s holy name that God will bring about the restoration of Jerusalem and the Temple.

  • He exhorts the people to interior conversion so as to receive a new spirit that will enable them to follow the Law and live by the covenant (cf. 36:26-28).

  • Another theme is the evil consequences of personal sin, particularly idolatry and ritual impurity, that accompanies lax or syncretist forms of worship.

  • Idolatry and impure worship are addressed in terms of sexual infidelity-adultery and harlotry, or prostitution (cf. 23:27-30)-because they represent illicit relationships with false gods and a transgression against a sacred covenant.

  • Israel’s habitual infidelity is seen as rebellion, a prideful disregard of the Law.

  • The present hardships, which are consequences for their infidelity, however, cannot be blamed on past generations; every generation and person must account for its sins and bear the just retributions for personal faults.

  • Thus, for the exiles in Babylon, their deportation was punishment for their own sins, yet God remains faithful to his covenant and stands ready to forgive those who turn away from sin (cf. 33:10-20).

  • Permeating Ezekiel is a message of belief and hope in salvation.

  • God will not grant Israel a new king but rather a prince endowed with the spirit of God who will establish a covenant of peace in the tradition of David (cf 34:22-31).

(*The Didache Bible RSV-CE Ignatius Edition, 2006)

Ezekiel 1-48 The Book of Ezekiel both pronounces judgment on God’s people and emphasizes God’s consolation. The first half of Ezekiel largely accuses wrongdoers and threatens them with punishment, while the latter half is a consoling message of messianic hope. Ezekiel was taken to Babylon during the first deportation in 597 BC, and his prophetic ministry took place there.

Ch 1:1-3 Thirtieth year: Upon reaching thirty years of age, a priest was permitted to perform his priestly duties in the Temple; Ezekiel at that time was a relatively young priest when he had his visions. Likewise, Christ began his ministry about age thirty.

Fifth year of the exile: This tells us that Ezekiel began his ministry in 593 BC after having been in exile for five years. Thus, he was never able to perform his priestly duties in the Temple in Jerusalem.

Chebar: A tributary of the Euphrates River near Babylon.

Ch 1:4-28 In his first vision, Ezekiel struggled to come up with words to describe accurately the splendor and glory of God that was being revealed to him. The glory of God goes so far beyond human comprehension that any kind of description or representation falls short. (CCC 300)

Ch 1:5 Four living creatures: These beings with unusual powers symbolize all living creatures who are called to give glory to God both in their existence and in their actions. Early Christian scholars associated the four creatures with the four Evangelists based on how each began his Gospel. In this scheme, Matthew is the man since his Gospel starts with a genealogy of Christ; Mark, whose gospel begins with the cry of St. John the Baptist in the wilderness, is the lion; Luke, who commences with sacrifice, is symbolized by the bull, a common sacrificial animal, and John is represented by the eagle for the loftiness of his theology that stresses Christ’s divinity. (CCC 293-294, 299)

Ch 1:15 Wheel: This symbolizes all inanimate creation, which also reveals God’s glory.

Ch 1:26-28 Likeness of a throne: In the visions of the prophetic books and in the Book of Revelation, God is usually enthroned, a sign of his sovereignty over all creation. (CCC 1137)

Proverbs 11:31 The sense of this passage is that there are consequences to both good and evil actions in the present life. This points to the ancient belief that prosperity is a sign of favor from God and illness or calamity are punishments for sin. Through Christ’s teaching and the agony of his Passion, we know that suffering is not necessarily a punishment for sin; rather, it is a reality that even includes people striving for holiness. Nevertheless, those who struggle to please God and seek to give him glory receive the gift of peace and joy in this life. (CCC 1763-1766)

(*The Didache Bible RSV-CE Ignatius Edition, 2006)

  • We are finishing the Book of Woe and entering the Book of Consolation in Isaiah

  • That is AWESOME!

  • We also start the Book of Ezekiel today!

  • We had a little narrative break when it came to Isaiah Chs 38 and 39

  • THAT whole thing

  • We revisit the Assyrians coming in

  • Here is Hezekiah

  • Here is Isaiah

  • This whole kind of RIGMAROLE (For our international brothers and sisters, RIGMAROLE means “a lengthy and complicated procedure” 😁)

  • Hezekiah hears the word of Sennacherib through the Rabshakeh

  • Hezekiah presents himself before the Lord and he has a GREAT PRAYER in Isaiah Ch 38

  • AND NOW…in Isaiah Ch 39...

  • The Lord has already delivered the People of Israel from Assyria and the Babylonians come for a visit

  • Hezekiah unwisely shows all the storehouses, armory, and EVERYTHING HE HAS to the envoys from Babylon (Does this sound familiar? Go and read Day 186: Struggles with Self-Interest in the Bible in a Year Study Guide for a refresher 😁)

  • Isaiah says, “That’s not a good thing”

  • Remember, we pointed this out in 2 Chronicles and 2 Kings

  • When Isaiah said this to Hezekiah, that the Babylonians are going to come and take EVERYTHING

  • Hezekiah, who in is old age is becoming less and less the great man that he WAS

  • Isaiah 39:8, “Then Hezekiah said to Isaiah, ‘The word of the Lord which you have spoken is good.’ For he thought, ‘There will be peace and security in my days.’”

  • Basically, Hezekiah didn’t care about the days AFTER HIM

  • He only had concern for HIS OWN DAYS

  • In Isaiah Ch 40, we have his declaration of the Word of God and that ushers in the Book of Consolation

  • Isaiah has 66 Chapters

  • Chapters 1-39 are the Book of Woe, even though there was SOME consolation in those chapters

  • Chapters 40-66 is the Book of Consolation

  • So how does this begin?

  • Isaiah 40:1, “Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.”

  • COMFORT is another word for CONSOLATION

  • If you are familiar with the Season of Advent, leading up to Christmas, you recognize that A LOT of today’s Isaiah Ch 40 is proclaimed during Advent


  • It has the TRUTH proclaimed

  • Isaiah 40:3, “A voice cries: ‘In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.”

  • That sound like something St. John the Baptist said!!


  • St. John the Baptist knew that the Day of the Lord was going to come in Christ Jesus, the Lamb of God Who Takes Away the Sins of the World

  • St. John the Baptist was PREPARING people for Jesus by telling them to turn away from their sins and crying out in the wilderness to PREPARE THE WAY OF THE LORD!


  • This is ALL ABOUT that GOD WILL COME






  • Isaiah 40:11, “He will feed his flock like a shepherd, he will gather the lambs in his arms, he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young.”


  • There is so much to be said about Isaiah Ch 40 so go back and listen/read it AGAIN!


  • At the end of Isaiah Ch 40 there is something that is one of Fr. Mike’s FAVORITE Scripture passages

  • Chariots of Fire is the TRUE story about a man named Eric Liddell who ran the 400 meter race

  • He ran for Great Britain and he was Scottish

  • He was a devoted Christian

  • One of the things that happened was that He was ranked #1 in the 100 meter dash

  • But the heats for the 100m dash was on a Sunday and he refused to race on a Sunday, the Lord’s Day as a committed Christian

  • So they moved him to the 400 m dash

  • Fr. Mike doesn’t want to give the ending away, but he does


  • At one point, when he was supposed to be racing in the heats, instead he was preaching in one of the local churches

  • He quotes Isaiah 40:29, “He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”

  • Eric Liddell went on to become a missionary in China where he gave his life for the Lord as a MARTYR

  • We are so GRATEFUL for the example of ALL MARTYRS who got their strength from Lord Jesus


  • Even MORE people have given their lives for Jesus Christ in the last century than in ALL THE OTHER CENTURIES COMBINED

  • We also get introduced to the Book of Ezekiel

  • Ezekiel was a priest and not just a prophet

  • He was of the Tribe of Levi and the household of Aaron since he was a priest

  • He was taken into EXILE


  • There were THREE STAGES of Exile

  • First stage was in 605 BC...this is when DANIEL went into EXILE into Babylon

  • Second wave was in 598 BC...this is when EZEKIEL when into EXILE into Babylon

  • The book begins in his thirtieth year

  • He’s been exiled and away from the Temple

  • Being a priest of the Lord God, he would have begun his Temple worship at 30 years old

  • Instead, he is by this river Chebar in Babylon, the land of the Chaldeans

  • Here is this man who had so much HOPE

  • He had so much PROMISE

  • He was lived under the time of King Josiah, where there was all this REFORM

  • We had this reinstitution of the PRIESTHOOD

  • We had this reinstitution of TRUE AND PROPER WORSHIP IN THE TEMPLE

  • Here is Ezekiel who has prepared for this his whole life

  • And then the Babylonians come and take the people of Israel into EXILE in 605 BC

  • Ezekiel and his wife are brought into EXILE in 597 BC

  • He is among the captive and it is IN THIS PLACE that he sees something REMARKABLE

  • We have the description of the FOUR FIGURES

  • Above them, seated on the THRONE, is someone who looks like he is containing FIRE ITSELF

  • The BIG TAKEAWAY is this…

  • Ezekiel was brought from Jerusalem, from the Temple, where the PRESENCE OF GOD WAS

  • Ezekiel was brought to a land that is FOREIGN

  • Where he is a CAPTIVE

  • Where he is NOT HOME

  • Where God DOES NOT ABIDE (although God is everywhere)

  • What does God reveal to Ezekiel?

  • God reveals to Ezekiel that He has gone with His People into EXILE






  • This EXILE is for their REMEDY

  • This EXILE is for their HEALING


  • What is revealed in the beginning of The Book of Ezekiel is that as God’s people are BROUGHT INTO EXILE, God Himself allows Himself to GO INTO EXILE WITH THEM!

  • If that doesn’t touch your heart….


  • There are these four living creatures and they have four faces





  • We will see these kinds of images in other places like Daniel and Revelation

  • BUT…

  • The Church Fathers have ALWAYS interpreted that these faces have an allusion to the GOSPEL WRITERS

  • Matthew is the FACE OF THE MAN

  • Mark is the FACE OF THE LION

  • Luke is the FACE OF THE OX

  • John is the FACE OF THE EAGLE

  • John is the EAGLE because His Gospel stars with Jesus’ DIVINITY, a very LOFTY and SOARING description

  • Luke is the OX because Luke is talking about SACRIFICES and the sacrificial rites, the priestly nature of Jesus Christ’s sacrifice of Himself

  • Mark is the LION because Mark talks about Jesus being the LION OF JUDAH

  • Matthew is the MAN because he traces Jesus’ genealogy all the way back to Abraham and begins there with the unfolding of God’s plan in the fullness of time to bring about Jesus, who became MAN and DWELT AMONG US

  • So we have a long way to go

  • Ezekiel is one of the longer books of The Bible


  • We have a long time to spend with the Prophet Ezekiel which is a great thing

  • In a number of days we will start Jeremiah

  • We will get these three MAJOR PROPHETS over the next couple of weeks


  • Fr. Mike is praying for YOU!!



Prayer by Fr. Mike: “Father in Heaven we give you praise and we thank you so much for your Word. Thank you for speaking to us. Thank you for coming to us and being among us. Thank you not only for being with us in our good days, in our days of strength, in our days of victory, in our days where we know that we belong, that we are loved. But also, Lord God, we thank you for being with us on those days where it is difficult to know if anyone notices. It is difficult to know if anyone knows us. It is difficult to know if anyone truly loves. You are the God who is so faithful that you love us when no one else does. You see us when no one else sees. You are with us when we are alone and no one else is with us. And so we thank you and we give you praise because you do this. You love us solely out of the goodness of you: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. And so we are so grateful, so thankful. We love you, God. Thank you for loving us. Receive our prayer and help us to love you better in Jesus’ name. Amen.”