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The word “exile” conjures up images of mass deportation, refugee camps, prisoners of war, displacement and post-traumatic stress disorder. After the invasion and destruction of Jerusalem in 587 BC, Judah's exiles lived in a world that had been shattered into a million pieces. “The exiles had no earthly king, no temple, no royal city, no land, no liturgy, no sacrifice, no hope, and what looked like no future. And so they had no song to sing.” 1

Gathered by the waters of Babylon, these exiles lamented: "How shall we sing the Lord's songs in a foreign land?" (Psalm 137:4). Even worse, they wondered and questioned: Is God for real? If so, does He really care about us? Has He completely forgotten about us? What does our future hold? Will our lives ever change? Living in exilic hopelessness and despair, God's people wondered if the Lord would ever free them and bring them home!

Do you ever feel this way? Does it look as though your current problems are more than you can bear? Do you find yourself asking: Why did this happen? Why did God allow it? Is there any justice or order in the world? Will God really deliver on what He said?

It is to these very questions, worries and doubts that our Lord speaks in Isaiah 40–55. To those broken by their own sin or sins of others, Yahweh speaks to exiles words of comfort and hope! Everything that was wrong will be made right again! The Lord will raise up His Servant. He will be wounded for our transgressions and crushed for our iniquities (Isaiah 53:5). Through Him, the Lord will renew all things! Through Him, He will bring His people home in peace!

This is why Isaiah can call the exiles to “Sing to the Lord a new song” (Isaiah 42:10a) and creation to “Sing for joy … for the Lord has comforted His people and will have compassion on His afflicted” (Isaiah 49:13). The rich and deep promises of God in Isaiah 40–55 speak comfort and hope to our own exile; to our own questions, worries and doubts. God has an answer, a Servant who has come to bring us home forever! Rejoicing in the Servant of the Lord, Jesus Christ, we will be “Singing with the Exiles” this Lenten season. Join us on Wednesday's as we learn from Isaiah to walk the Lenten way to the cross and to the empty tomb. God promises to turn our weeping into joy and present pain into an endless Alleluia!

Lenten Midweek Series

March 8: “He Only Has Eyes for You” (Isaiah 43:1–7)

March 15: “Marked” (Isaiah 44:1–5)

March 22: “Breaking Down the Gates” (Isaiah 45:1–8)

March 29: “Get Out!” (Isaiah 48:17–22)

April 5: “One Little Word Can Fell Him” (Isaiah 49:1–6)

Meals served at Noon and 5:45 PM

  1. R. Reed Lessing, Isaiah 40–55: Concordia Commentary (Concordia Publishing House, 2011), xiv.

Rev. Shawn Nettleton is Senior Pastor at Saint John’s Lutheran Church. You can reach him in the church office, by email at or at 970-305-2420.