Intro: Isaiah 40. So far, learned God has spoken tenderly, assuring Israel that her spiritual exile will end w/Messiah's arrival! But Israel was tempted to believe that either God can't deliver on His promise, b/c He's not powerful enough, or that He won't deliver on His promise, b/c He doesn't care enough. Isaiah has reminded Israel that God, the All-Powerful Creator, chooses to use His power to care for His people! Today, as we conclude our study of Isaiah 40, answering the question, "What is the secret to renewal, revival in our personal life, in our church?"
The Stubborn Unbelief! (Read Isaiah 40:27.) Notice who God is speaking to: Jacob/Israel; His people! But what is Israel doing? Complaining that God can't/ won't deliver them. Why are they complaining? B/c of their situation: Going into exile; cut off from family, home, customs. Feel abandoned by God! But who aren't they talking to? God! Depression can settle in; we believe God isn't listening. Truth is we've stopped talking to Him! We all wrestle w/ "God can't/ won't keep His promises!" Satan's first words: "Did God really say?" Can't just blame Devil; we have a recurring unbelief of God! What is the secret to renewal? Confessing that we have been complaining about God instead of talking to God!
The Schooling (On Who God Is!) (Read Isaiah 40:28.) How does God answer Israel's complaint? (And our complaint! We've seen this applies to us!) W/a series of corrective questions! "Do you not know? Have you not heard?" echoes v. 21; (read.) God is rebuking Israel's ignorance. (Not a matter of Israel honestly not knowing; they/we are stubbornly hard-headed! What has Israel been ignoring? God is the eternal Creator; His power is limitless; His wisdom is beyond us! (Battery commercial.) God has an infinite supply of energy and wisdom. Us? "Do we not know? Have we not heard?" Stubbornly forgotten who God is? What is the secret to renewal? Confessing that we have forgotten who God is: The Everlasting One!
The Strength-Sharer! (Who God Also Is!) (Read Isaiah 40:29.) Logic of vs. 28 flows into vs. 29. However, the truth of vs. 28 can be believed, at least abstractly; Israel was blind to the truth of vs. 29, and so are you and I! Please listen: "God gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak." Motyer: "Just as the Lord's attributes include eternity, creativity, self-sufficient strength and wisdom (28), so they also include sharing strength. This is not (an)...occasional activity but part of what He is." God willingly shares His strength w/the weak and weary! Why we're encouraged to come to Him! (Read Isaiah 55:1-2; Luke 11:9-10; James 1:5, 16.) What is the secret to renewal? Confessing that we have forgotten who God is: The Caring, Sustaining, Sharing, Generous God!
The Certain Stumbling! (Read Isaiah 40:30.) This verse necessarily contrasts mere human strength w/God's infinite power. The Hebrews words for "youths" and "young men" may imply the very strongest people. Yet, "stumble and fall," lit. in Hebrews, is "staggering, they stagger!" Tragic picture of the inevitability of decline! (Saw a Boston marathon runner collapse fifty yards from finish line.) Third time God has reminded Israel, and us, of our limited strength/mortality. (Read Isaiah 40:6-8, 40:23-24, 40:30.) Clint Eastwood: "A man's got to know his limitations!" This world, this life, will wear you out! What is the secret to renewal? Confessing that we have been relying on our own strength instead of God's!
The Soaring! (Read Isaiah 40:31.) Beautifully pictures a different group of people; they "hope"/ "wait on" the Lord. Oswalt: "(Waiting implies) complete dependence on God and a willingness to allow Him to decide the terms. To wait on Him is to admit that we have no other help... We are helpless until He acts... To wait on Him is to declare our confidence in His eventual action on our behalf. Waiting...is not merely killing time but a life of confident expectation." (Dog waiting for a treat!) That is what waiting looks like; what does "the Lord renewing our strength" look like? "(God) replaces or exchanges our worn-out strength for new strength." (Oswalt) "(They) 'keep putting on fresh strength', and different strength, a strength that is not natural, as if people should grow wings." (Motyer) Picture the eagle, w/outstretched wings, soaring on the wind, catching updrafts, circling ever higher. This is the secret to renewal: Continually waiting, trusting, relying on God's never-ending strength!
Application: As we close this chapter, have you been comforted? Have you recommitted to relying on our Lord's never-ending renewal?
Have you been complaining about God instead of talking to God?
Have you forgotten that God is The Everlasting One?
Have you forgotten that God is Caring, Sustaining, Sharing, Generous?
Have you been relying on your own strength instead of God's?
This is the secret to renewal: Continually waiting, trusting, relying on God's never-ending strength!