Salvation in Isaiah 40 (3)
Who would like the job of a prophet! Poor Isaiah has had a rough time – 50 years to be exact – telling his people what God thought of them; what God had planned for them; what God’s reactions were to their rebellion; how God was offended at their idolatry, and how He was grieved at His own actions to deal with them as a nation – to punish them.
In all this Isaiah had to IDENTIFY with his people the Jews. Indeed he actually felt what they felt. He felt the abandonment of God. He knew that God had forsaken them and Isaiah himself suffered the effects of this desertion. When Isaiah wrote his prophecy over many years he was in circumstances that would make any man want to give up.
For 50 years he had prophesied – but much had been doom to the Jews and the other nations. There was very little to encourage – very little of the future splendour of a Kingdom to come. And worse than this – Isaiah had seen no indications from the hearts of his people of results. They simply had not turned to the Lord as they should despite his earnest preaching, warning and predicting!
My friends we seem to be in an Isaiah situation today don’t we? There are faithful men who preach God’s word. There are Christians who testify to God’s goodness to their families and neighbours. But there is little impact – there is only minimal interest. People are unaware of their great danger – the danger of dying without forgiveness of sins; the danger of the soul departing the body without any assurance that God will deal mercifully at the Day of Judgement. People seem to be insensitive to the great peril of their souls. Perhaps you are one of them tonight! Perhaps you are someone who has heard the Gospel message so many times that it has become a mere comforting hum in your ears. You are here in church – but that is all. Your soul is asleep. Sunday sermons are a way of life – but will have little relevance tomorrow morning when you return to work or school. It is a tragedy that often our hearts can become hardened to God’s warnings as well as His comforting words. Is this your condition tonight?
Isaiah had preached words of awful judgement but also words of tender compassion and love. Yet still his people had not been aroused.
Yet invasion after invasion had swept the land. He had seen the panic engendered by the approach of the vast Assyrian army. And the storm clouds were looming as the Babylonians made their plans to come to attack and conquer.
Could it be that this old man Isaiah has been tempted to gloomily say to himself, “The Lord has forgotten me!”
Look at his question in verse 27
Why sayest thou, O Jacob, and speakest, O Israel, My way is hid from the LORD, and my judgment is passed over from my God?
Isaiah projects it onto his people as if they were asking the questions – but surely Isaiah was asking the questions himself! There is a note of despondency – a sense of Divine desertion
“My way is hidden from the Lord.”
He can’t see me. Where are you Lord?
More than this he says
my judgment is passed over from my God?
Perhaps I have failed Him and He has cast me off as His mouthpiece.
Have you felt this my friend? Have you felt that the Lord is far away – that He has deserted you? Where is that blessedness you knew when first you sought the Lord; where is that soul transforming view of Jesus and His word? Do you feel that God has left you? Is ignoring you? Do you feel deserted?
You are in good company if you feel despondent like Isaiah. Isaiah knew in his heart a sense of despair.
Verse 27 sets this scene – but it is merely a prelude to God’s immediate answer to His prophet. For straightaway Isaiah speaks to Himself severely. Soul –
28 Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding.
Come on soul – remember what you know! Remember who God is. Remember what he has done. Review what you know of your great God.
You or I would probably think of some of the more tender names of God – father, redeemer, gentle saviour and shepherd of the sheep.
But Isaiah answers in His soul, attributes of God that are strong and powerful –
everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, the one who fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding.
Sometimes we think that comfort only comes from soft and tender sentiments. We feel the need for a hug, a caress from the Lord. But he answers Isaiah with these terms – Majesty! Dominion! Might! And the Glories of the Divine nature! These are the things that will comfort the prophet! How can they do this?
Comfort comes through the knowledge of God and His character. The everlasting mighty creator God neither faints (fails at the crucial time) nor ever gets weary. This is a great contrast between God the Creator and His creatures.
We need rest – he never does. He never gets weary like we do. This is not to say that God does not get weary – there are some things that He becomes weary of –
1. God is weary of the obstinacy of sinners.
Isaiah says in chapter 43 v 24
Thou hast bought me no sweet cane with money, neither hast thou filled me with the fat of thy sacrifices: but thou hast made me to serve with thy sins, thou hast wearied me with thine iniquities.
2. God is weary of the backsliding of professing Christians.
Jeremiah 15 v 6 Thou hast forsaken me, saith the LORD, thou art gone backward: therefore will I stretch out my hand against thee, and destroy thee; I am weary with repenting.
3. God is weary of hypocritical prayers and feasts and religion practised out of duty rather than love from men.
Isaiah 1 v 13 Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting. 14 Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them.
But there is the main sense that God does not get weary.
1. He is not weary in continuing to maintain His creation.
We still breathe – there is water – the chemical processes that make life happen continue. They all continue at the word of the Lord that spoke them into existence!
Acts 17 v 25 Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things;
2. He is not weary of caring for His people.
He supplies their needs – He guides their circumstances; he comforts them in sorrow; He strengthens His people against temptation; He educates them for time and eternity.
3. He is not weary of hearing prayer.
When we think of the multitude of prayers rising to God day in day out – yet still he listens to us. And still He speaks to us through His word.
Psalm 120 v 1 In my distress I cried unto the LORD, and he heard me.
4. He is never weary in punishing sin.
Sometimes our justice system allows offenders off the hook. Incorrigible law-breakers are left alone because they are too much trouble to be dealt with. God is not like this. It is not that he loves punishment, but because He loves righteousness. He is bound to punish sin.
Jeremiah 21 v 14 But I will punish you according to the fruit of your doings, saith the LORD: and I will kindle a fire in the forest thereof, and it shall devour all things round about it.
5. He is never weary of pardoning repentant sinners.
How many millions has He pardoned down the ages! How often we have tried his patience – yet He is still merciful to us. He is as ready to pardon now, as He was when His blessed Son hung on the cross.
Nehemiah 9 v 17 And the people refused to obey, neither were mindful of thy wonders that thou didst among them; but hardened their necks, and in their rebellion appointed a captain to return to their bondage: but thou art a God ready to pardon, gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and forsookest them not.
Has He pardoned your sins?
This is the kind God, who is able to comfort His servants – both prophet and people. He is the unwearied God.
On Saturday September 30th 1770 George Whitfield preached his last sermon in this text –
2 Corinthians 13 v 5 Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?
Before he went out to preach a friend, observing how ill he looked said to him, “Sir you are more fit to go to bed than to preach.” George Whitfield answered like this –
“That is true Sir.” But then he turned to one side, clasping his hands together in prayer and looking upwards said this “Lord Jesus, I am weary in thy work, but not of Thy work. If I have not yet finished my course, let me go and speak for Thee once more in the fields, seal Thy truth and then come home to die.” Which is what he did. Men get weary and die – God never wearies and of course will never die. What a basis for comfort this is – verse 28!
Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding.
But we must press on.
Because the Lord God does not weary nor grow faint then He is perfectly capable of strengthening his weary and faint people.
29 He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. 30 Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: 31 But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.
We can be sure of several things from these 3 verses.
1. God is the source of Life. V29
He gives life and He increases life. Even though we are weak and frail, yet when there is work for Him He gives the needed strength. We get tired – He gives power. We have no might and are weak – He gives us strength. Have we not found this to be true my friends? Do we not sometimes say – I don’t know how I managed – how I coped; I don’t know how – but I was given strength. It is the Lord who strengthens.
2. Man in himself is a failure. V 30
He is weak. Man gets tired and needs regular rest. How unlike Adam and Eve at the beginning. What strength they had before the fall. What power Adam had to name the animals and have dominion over them. What strength he had to dress the garden – to follow God’s commands and keep them and to enjoy recreation in the garden – to be creative and at leisure arrange everything. There were no weeds. Because there was no death and disease there was no dead heading to do – everything grew and grew.
But then we know that Adam failed and things changed with devastating suddenness.
When sin came weariness came. When sin came fatigue came. When sin came a massive increase of toil and labour came.
Sin spoils everything! It wears a person out! We are ruined creatures. We die because of sin. We become ill because of the defects caused by general sin and the state of sin. We share Adam’s toil and the effects of his sin by adding our own. We are worn out – we are failures. We cannot do what God created us to do!
Young men faint; youths are weary. Even those with the freshness of their younger years cannot maintain stamina. Sin has done terrible things to our world!
3. But renewed and converted man has Spiritual Life! V31.
To wait is to eagerly anticipate something that is coming. It indicates belief in a better future. Waiting on the Lord is a passive thing. We do nothing – but we quietly expect God to do something that we cannot do ourselves. In the dark of night we passively wait for the morning. Nothing we can do can bring it any quicker – so we wait.
But waiting like this indicates confidence in God – that God will accomplish His word. He has promised to save – and He will save! Waiting means desire and expectation. Waiting means patience and submission.
Are we waiting on God like this?
The promise is this – that our strength will be renewed – renewed in the sense that we will be changed – transformed – as we considered this morning – in a moment in a twinkling of an eye.
But we have tokens of this change when we are converted because we are given new strength for each day, for each duty, for each trial, from the Lord God.
How kind of the Lord to do this for us.
But notice lastly that those who are the Lord’s, who belong to the Lord Jesus Christ by faith, will be active! Conversion activates people. Look at what they will do.
Get up and fly – like an eagle!
Run and never get weary!
Walk and never stumble and have to stop!
Do you notice the order here?
Fly, run, walk. Should that not be the other way round? Should we not, like a jumbo jet, gradually increase speed along the runway – walking – get faster and faster until we eventually take off and fly into the air?
This is the reverse order that we would expect.
But let us notice the course of life between conversion and promotion to heaven.
As a young believer we fly. In our youth we mount up with wings with amazing energy.
As we mature and settle we run – still achieving much – but we are diligent and active.
Then as we get nearer to heaven we walk with a solid consistency that indicates perseverance and readiness to depart – and be with Christ which is far better.
How does our strength become renewed? How do we discover these things? Only through the power of God and a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ the saviour of sinners. He is the one who gives the strength. He is the one who deals with our failure and our fainting. The Lord Jesus Christ, the creator, who does not faint nor grows weary, is the source of this marvellous life.
Is this life yours yet my friend? Is Christ your God?
Turn from sin and its capacity to make you utterly weary and faint – and turn to the Lord Jesus Christ. He will save you if you come to Him and trust Him. He sees you in your weakness and He cares!