LOOK TO YOUR GOD
The midweek ladies Bible class at our
church is studying Isaiah this year and they kindly invited me to take three
sessions over chapters 34-48. The occasion provided special incentive to read
chapter 40 again, a passage that has encouraged and inspired me for at least
that many years. This chapter begins the second major division of Isaiah, a
message of comfort for Judean exiles during the Babylonian captivity written in
advance but intended for encouragement later. (Quiz: What book in your home has
66 divisions in two major parts, 39 in the first, 27 in the second; the second
part opening with a voice in the wilderness, ending with new heavens and earth,
between which someone dies for the sins of others? Answer: the Book of
This word of comfort (v. 1-2) begins
with a cry to build a highway through the wilderness for God's exiled people are
coming home (v. 3-5). The Babylonian captivity presented an enormous faith
crisis for the Jews. Was God unable to protect his chosen people? Did he not see
what was happening? Did he not care? Had he forgotten his covenant? In this
glorious chapter 40, the prophet Isaiah answers all these questions: "No, no,
no, and no!" Before directing attention to God, however, the prophet announces
the truth about all of us. All flesh is grass that withers, he declares (v.
6-8). We are frail, temporary mortals, our lifetime on earth is brief at best.
Only when we see our own condition are we ready to appreciate the power, wisdom
and love of our eternal God.
Our God is almighty and he comes with
strength, but this is directed strength manifested in love for his people. God
is the good Shepherd, tender, gentle and endlessly caring (v. 9-11). Yet this
gentle Shepherd is Creator of heavens and earth (v. 12), the source of ultimate
wisdom (v. 13-14), before whom the mightiest nations are like a drop from a
bucket (v. 15-17) and to whom no other god can begin to be compared (v. 18-20).
He is lord of nature and of history (v. 21-26). He sees and knows our pitiful
plights (v. 27-28). He gives strength to those who trust in him (v. 29-30).
"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" (v. 31).
It's a long walk from Babylon to Jerusalem. Like those ancient pilgrims, we
often grow tired also as we put one foot in front of the other through all the
days of our lives. When you wonder whether you can take another step, hear the
ancient prophet Isaiah and look to your God! Only those who feel their own need
and their own helplessness will look to God. But for all who do so, he is the
eternal, almighty Creator who is also our faithful, gentle, loving
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For more on God the Father, click here.