The Majestic God Alone Can Strengthen the Weary (Isaiah Sermon 48 of 81)
September 14, 2014 | Andrew Davis
Abiding in Christ, Kindness of God, The Doctrine of Providence
Are You Weary Today?
While studying this morning the text, going over it again, thinking about it this morning, I can make this true statement about every one of you. Either you are weary right now, spiritually weary, physically weary, or someday, perhaps even soon, you will be. If you look at verse 30, it says, "Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall." Even the strongest and the mightiest among us get weary and weak, and need sustaining, renewing grace.
Some of you may be weary and weak because you're outside of Christ. The Bible in other places says that you're dead in transgressions and sins, and I am so thankful that God brought you here today because I believe that God speaks, in this text, a word of comfort, a word of encouragement and strengthening. In effect, in this text, almighty God is saying what Jesus says to us so plainly in Matthew 11, "Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest."
He is saying that in this text, and this is a magnificent text. For the third week, we get a chance to look at this. If I had my druthers, we'd just keep on going, and going, and going in Isaiah 40. The problem is Isaiah 41's so awesome, and Isaiah 42's so awesome, and on and on we go. But what I want to urge you very practically to do is take your Bibles and open to Isaiah 40, and look along with me. If they're electronic, that's fine, scroll up. We'll assume you're doing Bible, and not something else. Alright? We'll just make that judgment of charity that that's what you're doing with your iPhone. Alright?
But the rest of you pick up, and just... I'm going to be walking through Isaiah 40:18-31, and my desire is that you would know this incredible, this majestic God found here in Isaiah 40, and that God would speak a word of strengthening and encouraging to each one of you. That's my desire, that's my prayer because that's what He did for me this morning. We all need it, the text says all of us need it, no one's exempt.
You may not feel you need it right now, and I understand that. There's some times that just so many good things are happening, and you don't feel weak and weary, you feel strong, and that's good. That's... We have times like that, and we need that. But there are going to be those times that you just need to be refreshed in the Word, and I would commend for the rest of your lives Isaiah 40 to do precisely that.
This chapter has the power to present to you the greatness and the majesty, the infinitude of almighty God in the service of your own refreshing and renewing. That's what the whole chapter is about. We have this majestic, infinite God, who can't even barely be described, tending his flock in verse 11 like a shepherd, and carrying them close to His arms. At the end of the chapter, in effect saying, "Come to me all you who are weary and weak, and I will renew your strength." That's the scope of the entire chapter. What a great, great God we serve, and what an incredible universe that He's made. All of these things point to the might of God.
We're going to be looking again at the cosmos, at the universe, and what it shows us about God. Did a little research on this this week. Do you know that there's a star out there somewhere that is so large that if it were at the center of our solar system, its diameter would reach somewhere between Saturn and Jupiter in orbit? That's how big the thing is, it's absolutely massive. If you flew around its equator in an airplane at a normal airplane speed, and wanted to go one time around the circumference of that star, it would take you over 1,000 years to make the trip. That's one star, and yet it is so far away from us that it cannot be seen by the naked eye. That star is dwarfed by the cosmos.
The Bible reveals that God sustains that star at every moment of its existence. This massive, powerful ball of burning gas needs God to stay alive, in effect, to keep on burning. That's the God who is ready to minister to you today. All of these infinite thoughts are to be applied in that way. This God is ready to strengthen you today, and to minister to you.
I. The Context: The Good News is God Himself (vs. 1-17)
Let's get a little bit of context here. The context here, verses 1 through 17, we've already had two sermons, and just go over it very, very quickly. God here is speaking the Gospel, a timeless message of good news to the human race, in verses 1 through 17. Now there's an immediate context. The Jewish nation was raised up as a priest nation to the world, and in the midst of that would be special people, prophets like Isaiah, and God gave them special visions about the future and of Himself.
Isaiah was an incredible prophet. At a certain time, 7th century BC, he is speaking about the future of the Jewish nation, and he's... We're going to talk more about this, God willing, in subsequent weeks; but the Jewish nation, called out by God, given the Ten Commandments, the covenant, were violating that covenant, disobeying God's laws, going after idols. In due time, after the time of Isaiah, God would cast them into exile by the Babylonian Empire, which wasn't even an empire when Isaiah was speaking these words.
But after that, He would judge the Babylonian Empire, and restore a remnant, a very small remnant of Jews back to Judah and Jerusalem to rebuild the city, rebuild the temple. This, Isaiah 40, is, immediate context, speaking a word of encouragement to the Jewish nation, to Judah and Jerusalem, to those people, for what they're about to go through, and you could imagine even a direct word to the exiles in Babylon, saying God is powerful enough and strong enough to keep His promise and restore you back and rebuild the city of Jerusalem. That's the immediate context.
But friends, you must know, as you read these words, that that's not enough. It's too small a thing to quote Isaiah 43, too small a thing for Isaiah 40 to just speak to the remnant of Jews in exile in Babylon, that he's going to bring 'em back. That's just too small a thing, these words soar above that in redemptive history.
God Speaks a Timeless Message to a Sinful Human Race
I believe this chapter speaks to every generation of God's people, in all of the circumstances they would ever face, a word of encouragement and strengthening. It starts right away with just the good news of the Gospel, verses 1 and 2, "'Comfort, comfort my people,' says your God. 'Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her warfare is completed, that her sins have been paid for, that she has received from the Lord's hand double for all her sins.'"
What can wash away my sins? Nothing but the blood of Jesus. There is no reconciling power, there is no atoning work that there is in the universe, other than the cross of Jesus Christ. Immediately for me, as a Christian, I read verse 1 and 2, saying, "There is comfort in the cross of Christ, and there is infinitely enough atonement for all of my sins. There is forgiveness for me," and that is incredibly comforting.
Then he talks about this messenger John the Baptist, who's going to come verse 3 and 4, "A voice of one calling: 'In the desert prepare the way for the LORD; make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God. Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain.'" Now we know that that was fulfilled in space and time by another prophet, John the Baptist, who came. These words are ascribed to him over and over in the New Testament.
John the Baptist came immediately before the ministry of Jesus Christ, and got everything ready. He just leveled things, and raised up these valleys. He got human hearts ready for the grace of God. Before the grace of God can come into a heart in a saving way, God must first prepare that heart, and so there was a preparatory work of grace going on through John the Baptist.
So it is with each of us, before any of us comes to Christ, God must humble us, and God must convict us and show us our wickedness and sin, and that we need a savior. John the Baptist went ahead of Jesus and prepared the way and got everything ready, and then the beautiful message of the Gospel in verse 5, "And the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all mankind together will see it for the mouth of the Lord has spoken."
The glory of the Lord revealed, that's the Gospel. Jesus is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of His being, sustaining all things by His powerful word, as it says in Hebrews 1:3. The radiant glory of God is clearest on display in the cross of Christ. In 1 Corinthians 1, it says the cross of Christ is a display of the power of God, and the wisdom of God. In Romans 5:8, it's a display of the love of God. In Romans 3, it's a display of the justice of God. All of these attributes radiating out from the cross of Christ.
But I bring them back to verse 5 of our chapter here. The glory of the Lord will be revealed, be unveiled in Jesus, and all mankind together will see it for the mouth of the Lord has spoken. We need this message, don't we? Because we are mortal sinners. Every one of us is mortal, we are going to die. We're under Adam's death penalty.
Verses 6 through 8 talks about this. "A voice says, 'Cry out.' And I said, 'What shall I cry?' 'All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field. The grass withers and the flowers fall, because the breath of the LORD blows on them. Surely the people are grass. The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever.'"
Oh, we need to hear that. You may be in your prime, you may be in the strength of your life physically in terms of your beauty, your intellectual prowess, in terms of your achievements, of your careers; but just know this text stands over all of us. Some day, God's breath will blow on you, and you'll wither, and you'll shrivel, and you will die. If the Lord doesn't return in our lifetime, we will all die.
Therefore, we must have this good news. Amen. Because it is appointed to each one of us to die, and after that, to face judgment. Some day, we're going to die, and we need this eternal word that stands forever speaking a word of forgiveness and life to us, and so we've got to have that verses 6 through 8. Then the glory of God, the centerpiece of this good news is God Himself. God is the Gospel. He's what we get by coming to Christ. He's what... You get God, forever and ever. And God gets you, as we heard earlier about the inheritance. Isn't that amazing? Why would God want us? But he does, and he loves us.
The Glory of God is the Centerpiece of the Good News
But look at verse 9, "You who bring good tidings to Zion, go up on a high mountain. You who bring good tidings to Jerusalem, lift up your voice with a shout, lift it up, do not be afraid; say to the towns of Judah, 'Behold... your God!'"
As I preached on that, I said this is how you do it. You pick up the Bible, and you ask the Holy Spirit to take the scales off your eyes, and to give you the eyes of faith; and then you look in the text, and you behold God. Behold your God. That's the good news of the Gospel.
We see the glory of God spanning an astonishing range. In Verse 10 he is the powerful judge of all the earth. He comes with power, and His arm rules for Him. His reward is with Him, and His recompense also accompanies Him. This is the sovereign God of the world, the judge of all the earth. That's what God is in verse 10.
But then as I've already mentioned, he turns right around and says in Verse 11, "He tends His flock like a shepherd. He gathers the lambs in His arms, and carries them close to His heart. He gently leads those that have young." We need that. We are frail, we are weak. We are like flickering flames ready to be extinguished. We are like bruised reeds ready to be severed, and to fall to the ground. We are fragile and weak, and we are assaulted every day by powers that are too strong for us in the world, the flesh, and the devil. Every day. We must have this sovereign God tending us and carrying us and picking us up, and he does that for us in this Good Shepherd Jesus. He is the Good Shepherd. Verse 11 points to me immediately to Christ.
Last week, we looked at verses 12 through 17. The infinite magnitude, the staggering majesty of Almighty God in these verses. "Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens? Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket, or weighed the mountains on the scales and the hills in a balance? Who has understood the mind of the LORD, or instructed him as his counselor? Whom did the LORD consult to enlighten him, and who taught him the right way? Who was it that taught him knowledge or showed him the path of understanding?"
We talked about how those who questions, who, are humbling to the human race. They show that infinite separation between God and us. Which one of us has enough wisdom to tell God anything, or give Him any advice? Who was there when he spread out the heavens, and stretched out the earth, and laid its foundations? None of us was there. We're meant to be humbled by this, and also encouraged because this is our God, who has done all of these things.
Verse 15, "Surely the nations are like a drop in a bucket, they're regarded as dust on the scales. He weighs the islands as though they were fine dust. Lebanon is not sufficient for altar fires, nor all its animals for burnt offerings. Before Him, all the nations are as nothing. They're regarded by him as worthless and less than nothing." That's where we're at in Isaiah 40, 1 through 17.
II. The Absolute Folly of Idolatry (vs. 18-20)
Now in verse 18, the prophet addresses immediately a theme that we're going to see again and again, as Isaiah 40 through 49, and that is the utter folly of idolatry. Again and again, we're going to come face-to-face with this issue of idolatry. You look at it in verse 18 through 20. "To whom then will you compare God? What image will you compare him to? As for an idol, a craftsman crafts it, and the goldsmith overlays it with gold and fashion silver chains for it. A man too poor to present an offering selects wood that will not rot. He looks for a skilled craftsman to set up an idol that will not topple."
He addresses this issue of idolatry. We're going to see this again and again, God challenges the idols. He takes them on and challenges them. He comes after them. He's aggressive towards these idols. He's fighting against the idols that are luring his chosen people away from their faithful devotion to Him. A constant pull, a gravitational pull of idolatry away from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.
God is going aggressively after these idols. He's in bitter warfare for the affections of His people. He wants your hearts, and my heart. He wants us to love Him with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength. The idols are a very grave threat, and so He's going after these idols hard. The idolatry of His people is the very reason why they would be going into exile in Babylon. Even before that happened, God was exposing the wickedness of idolatry.
What exactly is “idolatry”?
Now what is idolatry? What do we mean by that? We hear about it over and over. It is an issue that still stands before us in the New Testament. 1 John, final verse, "Dear children, keep yourselves from idols." It's an issue for all of us. What is it? I go again and again to Romans 1:25 as a good, strong, clear definition of idolatry. It's a root essence. There it says, "They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served created things, rather than the Creator, who's forever praised. Amen."
That's the essence of idolatry, is an exchange of truth for a lie. There's this lie being told about all the false religions. They're all idolaters, or about secular materialism, it's idolaters too. That we would put as an ultimate goal for our lives something created, that's the essence of idolatry. It's a lie. Anything that... What Tim Keller calls functional saviors. Anything you turn to, to save yourself from sickness or depression, anything you would turn to save yourself from ultimate damnation, that is not the God of the Bible, is an idol. Anything.
It could be money, it could be pleasure, it could be power, it could be achievements or attainments, whether academic or in professional life. It could be sports, it could be beauty, it could be sex, it could be possessions or entertainment, it could be fun or food, or anything that's lower than God that you put ultimate value on, and that you pursue and go after as a functional savior. That's an idol.
Now in Isaiah's day, as in ours and other places of the world especially, but we could argue that it's going on in factories here in our country too, there are idol makers shaping and crafting idols that become the focus of people's worship. They use their imaginations to come up with artistic representations of deity. They'd look around at the world, and think about what aspect of the god or goddess they were trying to capture, and they would make some artistic representation of that, and shape it and mold and put it in a statue.
They would use perhaps a bull to represent the god's strength, gold to represent the god or goddess's worth or purity. Or they would sometimes reach for a conglomeration of animals or animalistic virtues, like eagle's wings, or fish scales, or lion's teeth, or bear's legs. Who knows? They would put together a conglomeration representation of the god or goddess they were trying to worship. That's idol making.
Now the artist's activity is being highlighted here, and Isaiah will do it actually again and again in these chapters. He's going to go into the craftsman shop, and watch him while he works, will do this again and again. He's going to ridicule it, he's going to make fun of it. "What can you make that compares with me?" He's saying, the God of Isaiah 40. "What can you shape and craft that actually even comes close to me? What are you going to compare me to?" He's mocking this.
Now he looks for this craftsman, the woodworker. He looks for a certain kind of wood that won't rot. You don't want your god or goddess to rot. That would be bad. You're looking for a kind of wood, and you're an expert in the types of wood. Some are more expensive than others, etcetera, and so if you could... If you've got the cash, you can get an idol that will last a little bit longer.
Or you're going to cover it with gold or silver. Silver, if you can't afford the gold. Not only that, but he's adept at a kind of the mechanical engineering of idolatry. You need some chains to be sure it won't topple, or maybe you'll need to nail it to its platform. Moving on it like Dagon that falls over, or gets decapitated, that would be really bad symbolism. We don't like that. So we need to have a chain to set it up so it won't topple, so it won't rot, it won't topple.
God’s Absolute Forbidding of Idols
Now God has absolutely, adamantly forbidden all idolatry. In the 10 Commandments, He said, "You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above, or in the earth beneath, or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them and worship them, for I, the Lord, your God, am a jealous God." God is jealous for your heart, affection, and you can't make any representation of God. There is nothing in this universe that's like God, nothing.
Now we are the closest. We humans, created in the image of God, are the closest created thing to God; but there's nothing that perfectly captures the essence of all that God is. Now in scripture, God uses comparisons in language to teach us what He's like, but no one of those verbal images completely captures God.
God is mighty and fearless like a lion in Isaiah 31:4, but he's vastly more powerful than any lion. He isn't only mighty and fearless, he's other things besides. A lion's not enough to capture God. God is tender and compassionate like a nursing mother, Isaiah 49:15. He is protective like a mother eagle over her young, Deuteronomy 32:11. But He's vastly more compassionate than any nursing mother, infinitely more so, and He's more protective than any eagle. He isn't only compassionate and protective, He's other things too.
God is a warrior, but He's greater than any warrior you can possibly imagine. And He is so much more than just a warrior. God is a refuge, He is a strong tower, He's a solid rock, He's a mighty wind, He's a spring of water in the desert for the weary and the thirsty. He is a father, He is a king, a singer. He is light. God is love, God is Spirit. He is all of these things, but He's not any one of them all by itself. Scripture's full of such language, but no one image fully captures all that God is. That's the beauty of the Word of God. But no representation, no idol can fully capture God, and we're forbidden from even trying.
To whom can you compare God? The answer is no one. There is no one like Him. This is the infinite holiness of God, the uniqueness of God, the infinite separation between God and all of the universe.
III. The Supremacy of God over Earth and Heaven (vs. 21-26)
Now in verses 21 through 26, we see the supremacy of God over earth and heaven. He makes an appeal twice in this text, in Isaiah 40, to their theology. He appeals twice to what they already know.
Look at verse 21. "Do you not know? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood since the earth was founded?" I am not going to tell you anything categorically that you've never heard before today. I'm not here to rock your world with some new ideas of God. There may be images you haven't heard before, there may be logical connections you haven't made before, but these are things you've already known. God has been telling them to the human race for millennia now, through his prophets.
Little by little, line upon line, book upon book, with greater and greater clarity, as redemptive history unfolded, God made Himself clear to the human race, what He's like, line upon line. He says, "Do you not know? Have you not heard?" So go back to your theology.
I just want to stop here and give you a point of application. Alright? You need to go back again and again to Isaiah 40 and to other scriptures, and feed yourself on theology. Go back to what you've already known. When you are weak and weary and struggled, go back and feed on God's word again. That's where the strengthening comes from. You already know these things, I'm not telling you anything new. Then he establishes God's position as sovereign over all the earth. Look at verse 22, "He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers."
From time to time, members of my household will get afraid, inordinately afraid of insects. I'm not saying who, I'm not describing that, I'm just saying it happens. I want to say, "Look, let's look at this logically. Do you know how much you outweigh that spider by? It's not even close, it's not fair. Here, watch." Squish. "Ugh, gross." They don't want to see that, they don't... They just want me to take care of it, while they're out of the room. They don't want to hear the thing... Never mind, I'm not going to do that. Yeah, we just outweigh these spiders by more than you can imagine.
God uses the image here of grasshoppers. All of its people are like grasshoppers to Him. That's what He's saying. He's not impressed by human power at all. Now He's already declared for us that the nations are like a drop from the bucket, and dust on the scales, the nations taken as a whole.
But now in this section, he zeroes in on the mighty men, the rulers, the kings, the leaders. Those powerful ones in society. Look at verses 23 and 24, "He brings princes to naught, and reduces the rulers of the world to nothing. No sooner are they planted, no sooner are they sown, no sooner do they take root in the ground, than he blows on them, and a whirlwind sweeps them away like chaff."
Now verse 23 and 24 completely rejects the concept that appeared in church history called deism, the idea that God the Creator, God set up the universe like a vast complex clock with all of its sprockets and its springs, wound it up and just lets it run, and He just stays out of it. The God of Thomas Jefferson, the God of other deist, he just stays out of it.
No, he doesn't stay out of it, not at all. God gets actively involved in raising these princes and kings up to their position. He plants them, he establishes them in their position. Like God says to Pharaoh, "I raised you up, I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display My power in you, and My name might be proclaimed to the ends of the earth."
But God raised Pharaoh up, He established him. He raises up every prince, every king, every mayor, every select... Or woman. Every ruler, everyone in authority, in every society, God raises those people up, all of them. Good and evil, all of them. He establishes the rulers of the earth in their position, He lets them flourish for a very short time, and then He brings them to an end. He blows on them, and they wither and die. It isn't an accident. He has raised them up, He has measured out the span of their time of rule, and then He brings it to an end.
How apt are we to forget this, how apt are we to stand in awe of human achievement, human intellect, human glory and power. Don't do it, God rules these rulers with absolute power, including the day of their installation and the day of their death. Here, Isaiah focuses on the brevity of their reign. "No sooner, no sooner, no sooner," He says. As soon as they're established, it seems, they die.
But God, His Kingdom, lasts forever. Nebuchadnezzar understood this in Daniel 4. After God humbled him, and changed his mind to the mind of an animal, and then restored him after seven years, Nebuchadnezzar said this about Almighty God in Daniel 4:34-35: "Then I praised the Most High; I honored and glorified him who lives forever. His dominion is an eternal dominion; his kingdom endures from generation to generation. All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back his hand or say to him: 'What have you done?'"
God’s Power Extended Vastly Beyond Anything Man Can Reach
Now God's power extends vastly beyond anything that man can reach. Verse 25, "To whom then will you compare me?" And he says, "Who is my equal?" The scope of God's immeasurable power reach is not merely to the ends of the earth, but to the ends of the cosmos itself. Verse 22, "He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers. He stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in." God created and controls the atmosphere of planet earth, the air that we breathe.
Since the space program and all that, and satellites, we now have those pictures of this blue planet against a completely black backdrop. It's this bubble of air in which the perfect mixture of oxygen, not too much, so things just don't ignite all the time. He just measured it out. In that life, it's flourishing. God is the one that did that, that stretched out the heavens, meaning the immediate earth and atmosphere that we breathe.
But then he goes beyond that, in verse 26, to talk about outer space. Look at verse 26: "Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens, who created all these? He who brings out the starry hosts one by one, and calls them each by name. Because of His great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing." You could spend hours thinking about Verse 26. Have you ever been out on the mountains, in the mountains at night, and gone out and looked at the stars? You may even be up maybe several thousand feet, so you're up above. The atmosphere is a little bit thinner, away from the city. Air is clear. Wow, night sky. Maybe until that day, you'd never really seen the Milky Way, but now you can see it. There it is, this white, blurry cloud going across in a narrow band, and they tell us that that's our home galaxy, 104,000 light years across. The Milky Way.
The Milky Way has over 100 billion stars. If Abraham had begun counting them, and had continued until he was done, all the stars in the Milky Way would have taken him 3,000 years. In recent years, the Hubble Space Telescope has greatly expanded our sense of the incomprehensible immensity of the cosmos. There are hundreds of billions of galaxies in outer space, and a number of stars. It just boggles the mind. It just goes beyond any effort I could put to put words to it. Just... There's just a lot of stars out there.
That's an understatement, if ever there was. That's just rhetorical technique, use understatement. I can't help but use understatement when it comes to the number of stars. But look what the text says. The text says that God calls each one by name, one at a time. Now naming in the Bible shows power and understanding, so He's in charge, and He understands the difference between this star and that one. That's amazing. Now the only difference to us is the size of the star, its location, and its color. That's what they're working with out there.
There's just not enough difference between those three things, from dot to dot to dot to dot to dot to dot to dot, to name them. Instead the cosmologists name sectors of the sky. They just give them boring names with numbers and letters in them. No, no, God names each of these stars. Not only that, He says because of His understanding and his power, none of them is missing. Would you notice if one of them were?
Wait a minute now. Wait, wait now. You say, "Actually, Pastor, what if it were in the Big Dipper? If one of the stars in the Big Dipper were missing, I would notice. So would you and the whole world, I think." But this text tells us why that won't happen. Because God knows and understands those stars, and what it's going to take to keep them burning; and because of His power, they're still there. They depend on God to continue to exist.
It's amazing. You know what that says to me? If I can just speak to you who are the elect children of God, He's not going to lose track of any of you. Jesus said, "All that the Father gives me will come to me…and I will raise him up at the last day." He's not going to lose you. If He can do the stars, He can do you, and He will not lose track of you.
IV. The Lesson Applied: The Majestic God Gives Strength to the Weary (vs. 27-31)
Let's take all of this, and apply this lesson. Now look at verses 27 through 31. Isaiah takes this amazing chapter and presses it home to the hearts of God's people. It comes in three stages, and we'll cover these quickly. First, our despair. Secondly, God's greatness. Third, our renewal.
First, our despair, our discouragement. Look at verse 27. "Why do you say, O Jacob, and complain, O Israel, 'My way is hidden from the Lord, my cause is disregarded by my God'?" Friends, this right here, right now is where the rubber meets the road. You may not use this language, but I know that circumstances can be crafted that will get you to say similar things.
"God is tired of me. He's weary of my sins, He's tired of bearing them. He's sick of me, and He's going to throw me out. He's weary of carrying my load. He's bored with me. I'm going through this right now, and it seems that God doesn't even notice. Been praying for months, some could say been praying now for years, and God hasn't answered my prayer. I've looked at my prayer, it looks biblical, it looks right, it doesn't seem like there's anything wrong with it, and yet God will not answer it. I don't understand it. Why? Why, Oh God? How often do human beings say that three-letter word up to God, 'Why? Why are you doing this to me?'"
But here, the tables are turned, and God is saying that to us: "Why have you forgotten me? Why do you think that I don't know you? Why do you think I don't notice what you're going through?" Now I know that there are some dire circumstances that many of you are going through. I'm aware of some of them, I will not say I'm aware of all of them, but I'm aware of some of them. Some of them are just flat-out heartbreaking, heartbreaking. Some of you have been crying out to God in regard to that, and you just wonder, "Why isn't God hearing my prayers?"
Extend your imagination going out to other places in the world. Think about, let's say, a house church pastor in China that's been arrested, and been held now for months. Or in Iran. He's been praying and praying to be released, and be able to resume his ministry, and go back with his wife and kids. They're praying the same thing. God said in Luke, that he's going to hear the cry against the oppressor, and He will not make them wait long, but it's already gone longer than they thought it should have. They don't understand why God hasn't answered their prayer yet. They're apt to say, "God has forgotten me, God doesn't see my suffering."
Or it could be some of you going through extreme pain through medical situations. The pain is just day after day, and you're like, "God, all You have to do is just alleviate the pain. I may not even be asking for healing now, just a reduction in the pain. Why won't You do that?" People are tempted to say this, "My way is hidden from God, my cause is disregarded by God. Why don't You care about me?" But God is saying this to you now, "Why won't you trust me? Why won't you love me? Why won't you live for me? Why don't you cast all your burdens on me? What more do I have to do to prove my might and my power and my love for you than the creation, and also the redemption in Christ, at the cross and empty tomb? What more do I have to do? Why are you saying these things to me?"
Every generation of His people, and every nation on earth, there will be times that every individual Christian is tempted to say these kinds of things to God. If you're not being tempted right now to say them, sometime soon, some circumstance will come, and you'll be right here, verse 27. You will be tempted to despair, you'll be tempted to be discouraged. It's the language of despair. "God doesn't see, God does not know, God does not care. Or if He does see and know and care, He's not powerful, He can't do anything about it." God is turning around, saying, "Why are you talking to me like this, oh my people?"
Step two, God's greatness. Verse 28. "Do you not know? Have you not heard?" Again, notice, let's go back to your theology. "Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary. His understanding, no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary, and increases the power of the weak."
God goes back to the theology, and he teaches them who He is. "You've already... You know me. You already know enough." What have you learned? You've learned God's eternity. The Lord is the everlasting God. He has no beginning, and no end. He's not trapped in time as we are. For us, we're always in now, we're always in today, for God is the everlasting, the eternal God. Yesterday, today and forever, all equally in front of God all the time.
Yesterday, He remembers that He promised to be a God to you, faithful to the end. He remembers that promise, like a husband remembering his marriage oath. He's not going to forget his oath to you. Now He knows what you're going through right now, and He knows where you're heading. You know where you're heading? You're heading to a perfect world of resurrected people where there'll be no more death, mourning, crying, or pain. He knows that. And that your present sufferings are light and momentary compared to that, and they're actually working out that eternal glory.
He's the everlasting God, and He is the Creator of the ends of the earth. He made all things. There is nowhere you can go that God is not there. It does not matter what you're going through, He is the Creator of the ends of the earth. Whether God's people are in exile in Babylon, or whether they've been captured in a raid by Vikings, and hauled away as captives, or whether they're homesteading in the deep woods of Kentucky during the French and Indian wars, or maybe they're lying in a hospital bed during an influenza epidemic in 1919 in which thousands, even tens of thousands have already died, or maybe running through the streets of London during the blitz, looking for a bomb shelter before the bomb comes to kill them or destroy their home. Or waiting in a hospital here in Durham for a pathology report that probably might change your life.
God is the Creator of the ends of the earth. He's in all of those places at all of those times. He's the everlasting God, and He never grows tired or weary. God's arms don't get tired of holding you up. Isn't that awesome? As I was going over the sermon this morning, this is what moved me the most. I sometimes feel that God is weary of carrying me because of my sin, just weary. God said to me in the text today, I believe, "I will never grow weary or tired. Ever. I just don't get tired like you do. I will never grow weary."
God isn't tired of you, dear friend. He isn't weary of saving you. He isn't worn out with your sin. He's not suffering from battle fatigue in defending you from Satan's attacks, or restoring you. God's as fresh in the battle as the day He started. You may not be, but He is. He's ready for more, and he always will be. He does not grow tired or weary.
Then lesson four, God is wise, and His understanding is unsearchable. He is working out an unsearchable plan that is infinitely wise; and everything, dear friends, is right on schedule. He knows exactly what He's doing. This is our God. Do you not know these things? Haven't you heard this? Hasn't it been told you from the creation of the earth? This is our God.
Now it's time for our renewal, dear friends. Let's be renewed, amen. Look at Verse 30 and 31. "Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not faint."
Isaiah brings up the strongest among us. Back then, it was the warriors, alright? Now we would think perhaps Olympic athletes. Really at the absolute fringe of the bell curve, the best that there is, honed and shaped through years of training. Or perhaps you could think of Navy SEALs, or special ops guys. They're just absolutely the best, strongest people there are in the face of the earth. Even they grow tired and weary, and the young men stumble and fall. All of us get weary. All of us have what Spurgeon called "fainting spells."
We're not always equally strong, we're not always equally mighty. Some days, we just get flat-out worn out, discouraged, and down. The journey seems so long, and the enemy seems so strong; but those who hope in or wait for the Lord. Some translations go one way, some... I'll give you both. Alright? Hope in the Lord, and wait for Him. While you're waiting, hope. Okay? Wait on the Lord, and hope in Him. Let the scripture renew your conception that the future is unspeakably bright. That's what hope is, a sense of feeling in the heart that the future's bright. Immediate future, long-range future, eternal future, all of them bright. God's at work in all three, and He will give you hope.
As you hope in the Lord, your strength will get renewed. What does that mean? You'll start feeling more physically energetic. You just have more energy. God did that to Daniel, and Daniel was just wiped out on the ground. He touched him, and he got strength, and he stood up. Just how does God do it? I don't know how He does that, but He does that.
"God, I'm really weak and weary right now. Give me emotional, physical strength." And he will renew your strength, and all of it's in Christ. He is the vine, we are the branches. As we abide in Him, He will renew our strength, and then you will be able to do just supernatural things. Look at verse 31. You're like, "I would love to do this." "They will soar on wings like eagles." That's amazing. "They will run and not grow weary, and they will walk and not faint." We will... You are able to do infinitely wise and powerful things through the Gospel.
We're going to come now to a time of celebration of the Lord's Supper, and this is a time also of renewal. As we come to the Lord's table, I'd like to ask that you meditate on the things that we talked about. Know this, that God is calling on us in the Gospel to repent and believe in Christ, and trust in Him. If you are an unbeliever, and you have never trusted in Christ, we're going to ask that you refrain from the Lord's Supper, but just look to Christ crucified and resurrected. Believe in Him, and trust in Him.
Then when you receive the ordinance of water baptism, you'll be welcome to come; but all of... Those of you that have testified your faith through baptism, come to faith in Christ, you're welcome to the table. I'd like to ask the deacons to come now as we celebrate the ordinance of the Lord's Supper.