Intro: Beginning the New Year continuing our study of Isaiah 40. So far, learned God has spoken tenderly, assuring Israel that her spiritual exile will end w/Messiah's arrival! Last week, we saw that Israel was being tempted to doubt God's promise. (Read Isaiah 40:27.) Israel is tempted to believe: 1) God can't deliver on His promise, b/c He's not powerful enough, ("My way is hidden from the Lord," i.e., "He is unable to see me!") 2) God won't deliver on His promise, b/c He doesn't care enough, ("My cause is disregarded by my God," i.e., "He is ignoring me!") We all wrestle at times; "God can't or God won't!" Last week, saw how God answered Israel's first complaint, (that God isn't powerful enough to deliver His people.) Can God deliver on His promise? Of course! He is the all-powerful Creator, far greater than the strongest countries! He is the one, true, living God, who will carry His people back to Him! Today, we will see how God answers Israel's second complaint, (that God doesn't care enough to deliver His people.) Vs. 21-26 parallels 12-20; we'll hear repeated ideas from last week's sermon!
The Willing Blindness! (Read Isaiah 40:21-22.) God begins this section w/a series of questions; wondering how Israel doesn't recognize His power. (His questions echo the warning from Isaiah 6:9-10.) Israel, under God's judgment, is unable to see/hear/understand God's saving power, even though they had been told of His power in creation; ("from the beginning/since the earth was founded!") God answers Israel's complaint that He doesn't care for them by accusing them of willing blindness! His answer: Look again at My power in creation! (Echoes vs. 12-14.) Vs. 22 pictures God as sitting on His throne, ruling over the whole world, and over His tiny human creatures; (like grasshoppers!) But look at how He uses His power! (Read vs. 22b.) He spreads out the heavens like a tent for His people to live in! From the beginning, God has been concerned for His people! Yes, God is powerful! But how does He choose to use His power? To care for His people!
The Weighty Ones vs. the Whirlwind! (Read Isaiah 40:23-24.) God continues to answer Israel's complaint, "Don't You care?" by pointing to the world's rulers. (Again, parallels vs. 15-17's "Compare God to the world's countries!") Look at the princes and rulers of this world! Hebrews connotes "weightiness;" (think of the heavy robes that kings wear.) But what happens when these rulers encounter God's judgment? Like plants, the hot wind shrivels them up and the whirlwind sweeps them away. (Another echo from Isaiah 40; vs. 6-8 uses same picture for all humans under God's judgment. Rulers are only human after all!) Why does God point this out? B/c Israel is facing exile, under Babylon's rule. But God will judge Babylon's rulers in order to return Israel to their land! God is powerful, and He chooses to use His power to care for His people!
The Worlds on Parade! (Read Isaiah 40:25-26.) Israel is tempted to believe that God doesn't care enough to deliver His people. The final part of God's answer to this complaint is a challenge: Who will they compare to Him, the Holy One? This again parallels vs. 18-20, which comically compares God to the idols of other nations. The pagans would have argued, "We don't actually believe that the gods are made of wood and stone. These idols only represent the true gods, which reside in the heavens." (In many cases, they worshiped the stars and planets.) God mocks that belief in v. 26; He is the commander of the military parade of stars! He calls them by name, and they come marching by. His power protects, preserves them. (If God personally cares about the stars/planets, will He not show the same care for His people?) Jesus teaches the same thing in Luke 12:22-32; (read.) God is powerful! How does He choose to use His power? To care for His people!
Application: Does God care for you? Don't be willingly blind! Look at creation. Look at His rule over the world's rulers. Look at the heavens. God is powerful; and He chooses to use His power to care for us!