Epiphany 5, February 7, 2021

Text: Isaiah 40:21–31 

  • I’m fascinated by this text as it asks AND answers its own questions!!
  • Historically, the context is prophetic—Isaiah is preaching for the sake of generations not yet born, those who will suffer the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple by the Babylonians, and then the captivity, a century in the future. It will look as if the Babylonian idols Marduk and Nebo have actually defeated Yahweh, that he was not the one true almighty God of creation, or that Yahweh has finally abandoned Judah, given up on them because of their great unfaithfulness and sin toward him. Either way, his “chosen people” will be tempted to believe there is no hope in Yahweh. 

Isa. 40:21 

Do you not know? Do you not hear? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth?

  • People look like grasshoppers (cf. Num 13:33) is not a criticism, it is a vantage point i.e. the international space station looking down on the earth.
  • We must keep in mind that many rulers in the New Testament era were hostile to the Church and her Gospel.
  • Verse 22 – God’s lordship is not that of a deist watchmaker who sets the world ticking and then walks away.

Isa. 40:27-31 

27 Why do you say, O Jacob, and speak, O Israel, "My way is hidden from the LORD, and my right is disregarded by my God"? 28 Have you not known? Have you not heard?

  • (Better translation – CERTAINLY YOU HAVE HEARD!!) 

The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. 29 He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. 30 Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; 31 but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles 

  • (When the eagle molts, they grow new feathers and their wings are like new!)

; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint!

  • “Able and Willing” (OR Why are we surprised!?!)
  • No matter how young & strong you are - there will come a time when you WILL stumble & fall!!
  • Those who posture themselves as the real “power brokers”—are transient and nothing compared to the Lord (cf. Jn 19:10–11). 
  • Waiting on Yahweh involves three related ideas: 
  • (1) the humble admission that there are no other options,
  •  (2) the refusal to engage in frantic worry, and 
  • (3) the confidence that Yahweh will come through in his time as he has promised.
  • The Lord is the Creator, and far from being either disinterested in the plight of his people or unable to help, he (unlike the passing creation, which grows weary) has both the strength and the understanding to save Israel. Those who admit their weaknesses are recipients of Yahweh’s strength and power (Ps 147:10–11; 2 Cor 12:9).

Conclusion: 

The promise is ours: “They who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength . . . they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint,” here, hidden in the midst of weakness and exile, but finally there in our homeland with him forever. Amen.