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Isaiah 40:12–31

“Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint” (vv. 30–31).

Dr. R.C. Sproul often recommends that we try to put ourselves in the shoes of the Bible’s characters and its original audience, because doing so can help us better understand its message. Today, let us put ourselves in the shoes of those to whom Isaiah 40 was first addressed—the exiles of Israel and Judah who lived just prior to and during the events that brought them back to the Promised Land. This was a future generation for Isaiah, who wrote nearly two hundred years earlier. He knew this would be a demoralized people consisting mainly of the descendants of the people who had been captured by Assyria and Babylon. It would be hard for them to imagine that they would ever go home, as they had grown up outside the Holy Land. They would find it difficult to believe their covenant Lord could rescue them, for He had not prevented Assyria or Babylon from capturing their forefathers. Of course, Isaiah knew they should recognize that sin led to their captivity; still, as God’s prophet, he was sensitive to their circumstances. This people had two main questions for the Lord: was He willing to save? and was He able to save? Isaiah 40:1–11 affirms the Almighty’s willingness to save, concluding with the promise that He would lead His people like a loving shepherd (v. 11). Today’s passage addresses God’s ability to save. As much as it is obvious to us that the Lord has the power to redeem His children, it was certainly not self-evident to the exiles that God could save them. They were small in number and lived among those who seemed to have stronger gods—after all, these nations had conquered both Israel and Judah. Isaiah answers the question as to the Lord’s power to save with a resounding declaration of monotheism. God is not one deity who exists alongside many others; rather, He is the only God, the Creator of the universe. None other has held the oceans in his hands or weighed the mountains (v. 12). He consulted no one in creating the world, and before Him the nations are nothing (vv. 13–15). The Lord is no mere idol of wood and gold, and earth’s inhabitants are “like grasshoppers” in His eyes (vv. 16–23). Consequently, God’s people should never doubt His power to redeem or believe that He grows weary. They are, instead, to believe His Word, trust His power, and wait on Him to save. Though the Lord seems to tarry, He renews the strength of His children as they wait for His mighty arm to be revealed (vv. 24–31).

Coram Deo Living before the face of God

As we will see in the weeks ahead, the delay in God’s redemption that the exiles felt was due in part to their continued sin. The Lord would have to intervene in a powerful way to make His people the holy servants He intended them to be. God finally did this in Christ Jesus, but we still wait to receive the benefits of the redemption He purchased in all their fullness in the new heaven and earth (Rev. 21). But these benefits are surely ours, and we must wait in faith for their full revelation.

For Further Study
  • Genesis 49:18
  • Pss. 37; 130
  • Romans 8:18–30
  • 1 John 3:1–3

The Weakness of Men

The Servant of the Lord

Keep Reading Defining Personhood

From the April 2013 Issue
Apr 2013 Issue