11.02.2008 Isaiah 40 - part 1
2nd November 2008
Open our hearts up – help me to speak Your word with clarity by the power of the Holy Spirit. May we have ears to hear what You are saying to the churches.
Welcome! We are going to be looking at Isaiah 40 – over the next couple of weeks, before we hit the Christmas season – I’ll be looking at a couple of sections – during the five weeks before Christmas, I have 5 Psalms I want to look at. Until then, let’s look at Isaiah 40 –
There must be all kinds of dire predictions going on with the elections coming up – things will be bad if the other guy wins. Some, all, or none of that will be true. We don’t know what is going to happen. As Christians, we get involved with all of this – and that can be a negative thing. But the reality is, for some, if not all of us, there are personal collapses going on all the time. For each of us, it is difficult to deal with. Maybe it is not economic, but a family issue. Or, a lot of times, it might be something in our past – baggage that we carry around in this life – bringing guilt, and regret, and bitterness – which can put us in circumstances that seem hopeless.
As Jeff prayed - God is in control. We don’t know what is going to take place – and we should not fret, fear, or get anxious about everything. But in Isaiah 40, there are some real struggles that people face.
People face guilt and regret – and stresses. This can create a sense of hopelessness, especially when it seems nothing changes over a period of months or years.
Remember Chariots of Fire – Eric Liddle reads this passage.
Isaiah 40: 27 Why do you say, O Jacob, and assert, O Israel, "My way is hidden from the Lord, And the justice due me escapes the notice of my God"? 28 Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth Does not become weary or tired. His understanding is inscrutable. 29 He gives strength to the weary, And to [him who] lacks might He increases power. 30 Though youths grow weary and tired, And vigorous young men stumble badly, 31 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.
What God is saying – it’ll probably take us two weeks to get through this – there is hope for hopeless situations. Isaiah is speaking to a people who will be in exile in Babylon for generations. If Canada came down and captured America and took us all as slaves – that is what it would be like. They’ve lost hope completely because things haven’t changed. How many of you have climbed a mountain?
When we go to Colorado, it is a family gathering – and it doesn’t work. My brother-in-law and I choose mountains we know we can conquer. We chose one that is like 7,000 feet. That’s just over a mile. You are going on these trails and you think you are getting to the top – you see a ridge – you get to the top – and there is another ridge. After a while – you get discouraged. Well, you don’t get discouraged, but all those with you get discouraged because it is getting close to dinner time and you lose hope that you’ll ever get to the top.
We’re that way in life – maybe it is on that ridge. If I can just get to next Monday – it’ll be okay – and then what happens? It is the same. I’d like to break this passage down – phrase by phrase.
27 Why do you say, O Jacob, and assert, O Israel, "My way is hidden from the Lord, And the justice due me escapes the notice of my God"?
They are complaining. God says it more kindly, but in reality – they are complaining. Why do you keep saying? This is the prevailing mood of the people. How come this is the way it is? Over and over again. Not unlike a US election – the prevailing mood is constant complaining. Whether it is the government, or Wall Street – if I hear Wall Street and Main Street put together again…I’m sick of it. But we get caught in the mire of bitterness and backstabbing and complaining. We need to live above the complaints. The reality of all complaints – their complaint is against God. When we understand God and His sovereignty – we are complaining against Him. You might think you are complaining about your spouse, but really, you are complaining about God.
27b."My way is hidden from the Lord, “
They were under stress – slaves in another land. It was more than an economic collapse – it was complete collapse. They were saying “God does not see. – God does not understand what I am going through” – that is a universal complaint, isn’t it?
God is saying – this is not true.
Psalm 139:1 O Lord, Thou hast searched me and known [me.] 2 Thou dost know when I sit down and when I rise up; Thou dost understand my thought from afar. 3 Thou dost scrutinize my path and my lying down, And art intimately acquainted with all my ways.
God is intimately acquainted with everything that is going on in your life. He has first-hand knowledge.
139: 4 Even before there is a word on my tongue, Behold, O Lord, Thou dost know it all. 5 Thou hast enclosed me behind and before, And laid Thy hand upon me. 6 [Such] knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is [too] high, I cannot attain to it.
Isaiah 49: 14 But Zion said, "The Lord has forsaken me, And the Lord has forgotten me." 15 "Can a woman forget her nursing child, And have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, but I will not forget you. 16 "Behold, I have inscribed you on the palms [of My hands;] Your walls are continually before Me
We think of a nursing mom – it is really hard to forget that you have a baby – really really hard. You might forget – but God never forgets you. He sees and knows.
Isaiah 40: 27b And the justice due me escapes the notice of my God"?
It is a complaint against the very nature of God. He is saying, God is unfair. It is not right. Does He not understand? I deserve better than this. We are saying He does not care. We all, when life gets difficult – that is what comes out. God does not mind you expressing what you are feeling, but we need to understand His character – He is just in every way. He is completely fair – there is never an incident where He is not completely fair (just is a better word) –
We have this image of a trick-or-treat God. We determined how nice people were based on the amount of candy they gave. If their light was off – they were really mean and nasty. If they gave you an apple – they were worse. I don’t think that is the reality – but that is the way we are with God. We evaluate God’s love for us based on the type of candy He gives us in life. When He gives us good candy, He loves us. When He gives us 10000 of those hard candies that your grandmother eats – spicy not sweet – then God does not love us. Is that really the sign of God’s love? The Bible would say no.
1 John –
3: 16 We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.
We know that God loves you because He gave His life for you – He gave everything. Maybe the candy you are getting is not what you want – but that does not mean that God has not given everything for you. That is where – God demonstates His own love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
His love is perfect. That is what Isaiah is trying to say. Your complaint is against God.
Isaiah 40:28 – God answers their complaint –
28 Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth Does not become weary or tired. His understanding is inscrutable.
He is answering their complaint with a rebuke. It is not like, oh, did I forget to tell you? No, it is more like – you should know this by now! Israel had a 2000 year history of them getting themselves in trouble and God delivered them. Certainly you know this by now – not ignorance, but a disregard of the nature of God. A willful forgetfulness and a disregard of the nature of God – who God is -that is why they are in the situation they are in. They had lost hope in God.
Remember the disciples – Jesus fed the 5000 – then, they were crossing over the water – Jesus said – “remember the leaven of the Pharisees” they argued about what that meant – who was supposed to bring the bread. Like a dad with kids, Jesus says, “WHAT is going on!” They tell him – and He responds – what about the 5000? You’ve probably said, I’ll never doubt God again. Which you meant – and it was true, until the next time.
28 Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth Does not become weary or tired.
He reminds them of Who He Is. He is eternal, omniscient, omnipresent. He is able. He IS willing. He is MORE than able – and has more than enough power to do what they need. He is present with them in what they are going through. It is simply a theology lesson here. Omnipotent – Omniscient. – Those are big words – but He is all of that FOR US. Not against us.
Psalm 56:9 This I know, that God is for me.
He is for us. He is on our side. It is focused on our good. The nature of God. He is what He is for your good and He is not changing. Life circumstances will change. You may have gotten to the first ridge today – and there may be ridge after ridge ahead of you. But in all that, God is the same in our lives and He is for us as we hit every ridge – that changes perspective. When life is really tough, this is a hard perspective to have. We want the problem to end. We want the circumstance to come to a close. It is not always God’s design – not always what He believes. His understanding is inscrutable – His knowledge is so vast we will never really comprehend Him.
Is 55: 8 "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Neither are your ways My ways," declares the Lord. 9 "For [as] the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.
We look and think – If I was God, I would do it this way. Your thoughts and ways are not His. If He doesn’t do it our way – we think He does not understand. YOU don’t understand.
This was the bad news – now He gives us the good news – And I’ll cover more of this next week – sorry – you have to come back…
29 He gives strength to the weary, And to [him who] lacks might He increases power.
We think of someone climbing the mountain and there is someone there with a glass of water.
I ran the last leg of the marathon for my wife’s school – It was really funny because I had probably run no more than 100 yards and someone yelled- "You're looking great!" - everyone else had been running 20 miles they give you these gel packs that are supposed to give you strength – they just make you thirsty.
WEARY – that is not what he is saying. This is the person whom everything has fallen upon – and they’ve failed. To him who lacks might – the one who can go no further – he multiplies power. It means those who have failed under life's pressure.
Tony was in this - Odyssey of the Mind – one of the competitions – they had to build a balsa-wood tower - and to make them as light as possible and they would put weight on them and based on the ratio, determine whose could hold the most weight (by ratio). It was engineering – they put weights on them – you would think that it would break at 20 pounds – some held – for like 500 pounds. But then - once it starts to break - BOOM! Crushed. That is what this is like - to those who've been crushed under the weight of life - God gives strength. We'll look at how he does that next week. Let’s pray…