They That Wait – March 16th, 2014

Simultaneous Occurrences in Life

The last two Sundays, we looked at Romans 8:28, word-by-word and we did learn a lot. It was my intention for us to look at this passage through a different light because it is one of the very popular verses that Christians all over the world love to quote. In fact we learnt that there are two things, two realities: good and evil and both of these two impact our lives, for good or for bad. However, because we are God’s children, God uses both good and evil for our good. 

One of the scriptures that we also looked at is in Matthew 12:30 where Jesus said “He who is not with Me is against Me, and he that gathereth not with me, scattereth.” So we see that in life there are many things that occur simultaneously and for a purpose. Some of these things are good, while some are bad but with God at the helm, they always turn out for our good. Amen!

This morning, we want to look at Isaiah 40:25-31. The whole of chapter 40 was written to God’s children, the children of Israel. Do you know where they were then? They were in captivity. Yes, they were overtaken by various powers like the Assyrians and the Babylonians. 

Quick Summary of the Book of Isaiah

Chapters 1 to 39 are about the misery and darkness of judgment. In these chapters, God warns His people, the Israelites about judgment for their sins. In these chapters, the instrument of judgment was the Assyrians; they were in fact the enemy. Interestingly, Isaiah himself lived during the events of this period.

In chapters 40-66, God promises to bring comfort to His people. In this second part of the Book, these chapters show us that Babylon is the enemy and the Israelites were their captives or prisoners, in Babylon. These chapters represent prophecy that Isaiah wrote and which happened two centuries after Isaiah’s time. But unlike in chapters 1 to 39, Isaiah does not mention any actual events from the history of that period.

Now, we could break chapters 40-66 further down so that chapters 40-48 are the opposite of chapters 1-39, and chapter 40 represents a bright shining light that juxtaposes chapters 1-39. As a result, this section is filled with the bright light of God’s promises of restoration to the land. Isaiah 49-57 then focus on the coming of Messiah, while Isaiah 58-66 focus on the millennial blessings that await Israel. God is the God of all comfort and Isaiah 40 is a chapter written to bring comfort to its readers. Let’s never forget that as we look at this passage.

My outline for this sermon is as follows:

1. Power Belongs to God, v25

2. Power of God Incomparable, v25-26

3. Powerless Man, v27

4. All-powerful God, v28

5. Empowered Man, v29

6. Power in Waiting, v31

7. Power Unlimited, v31

8. Power Promised, v.31

Isaiah 40:25-31 25 “To whom then will you liken Me That I should be his equal?” says the Holy One. 26 Lift up your eyes on high and see Who has created these stars, the One who leads forth their host by number, He calls them all by name. Because of the greatness of His might and the strength of His power not one of them is missing. 27 Why do you say, O Jacob, and assert, O Israel, “My way is hidden from the LORD, and the justice due me escapes the notice of my God”? 28 Do you not know? Have you not heard? The God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth does not become weary or tired. His understanding is inscrutable (not readily investigated, interpreted, or understood). 29 He gives strength to the weary, and to him who lacks might He increases power. 30 Though youths grow weary and tired, and vigorous young men stumble badly 31 Yet 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“.

If you were around when we looked at the Bible, you will recall that this is one of the prophecies we talked about when we looked at prophecies in the Bible. Like I said before and whether you believe it or not, Isaiah wrote this prophecy over 150 years before the Jewish believing remnant would ever need it for their encouragement and prior to the subsequent restoration to their land. God is the only One who sees the end from the beginning. Amen! He is able to see far beyond our horrible, terrible time and times to the future blessings He has planned and has in store for us. You see, all things work together for good to them that love the Lord and who are the called according to His purpose. Amen!

That was the situation of the Israelites and in their case, God had made a promise, a covenant to Abraham hundreds of years before and those promises had yet to be fulfilled. God knows how to make us wait, right? So with the victories of Assyria, Babylon, and Persia among other previous ups-and-downs, everything looked as though God was nowhere to be found and that the false gods had the upper hand when it came to God’s children. It seemed as if these gods were much, much stronger than the God of Israel. Don’t we feel like that sometimes? Many times? 

Come on, don’t you feel like that sometimes, that all’s lost and satan has won? But this morning, we want to behold all over again the greatness of God. When we do so, that is when we are better able to see everything else in their proper perspective. When we do so, that is when we are better able to appreciate God’s power, His Omnipotent power that knows no bounds.

So now, the very first thing we want to note is that power belongs to God. After all in Psalm 62:11, the Psalmist says that God hath spoken once; twice have I heard this; that power belongeth unto God. If God has spoken once, that is all we need. Amen! Let’s look at our Scripture, Isaiah 40:25.

1. Power Belongs to God

In this verse, v.25, God Himself asks a rhetorical question – To whom then will you liken Me That I should be his equal?

The fact is, several times in this chapter there is a mention of His incomparable power as Creator. For example, we see reference in Isaiah 40:12, 21, 22, 25, 26. I want us to understand this, that when you are All-powerful like God, then you are the only one who can ask the kind of questions being asked in this verse; only God can, and did ask these questions, because He alone is Omnipotent. Power belongs to Him. So when God asked the question, He was also asking the following; who can be compared to: 

My wisdom (Isaiah 40:13,14)

My dignity (Isaiah 40:15, 16, 17) 

My sovereignty (Isaiah 40:22, 23) and 

My authority (Isaiah 40:24).

He is able to ask these questions because power belongs to Him and as 1 Corinthians 4:20 declares, For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power. His power is incomparable. Amen!  If “Power belongeth unto God” and to Him alone, then we agree that no one can compare to Him. None of His creatures has a molecule, an atom of power at all except of course what God Himself delegates. So, next in our outline let us look at how God is incomparable.

2. Power of God Incomparable

25To whom then will you liken Me That I should be his equal?” says the Holy One. 26 Lift up your eyes on high and see Who has created these stars, the One who leads forth their host by number, He calls them all by name. Because of the greatness of His might and the strength of His power not one of them is missing.” 

Look at the word “says;” it is small but important. Literally in means “keeps saying” as in Isaiah 40:1.  You see Church, how God is trying to get our attention just as He was with the Israelites? It is like we do not listen to God and so He has to keep stressing to us what He is saying. We need to listen to the Lord and not to our circumstances or those other voices that pretend they are from God. As we read in the preceding verses of Isaiah 40, verses 1-24, we learnt that He is amazing, the Creator of all these things, and what He does for us put Him beyond compare. So in vv 25, 26, God testified to His might and power. Now if God is the Creator and the Sustainer of everything by virtue of His great might and power, why then do we run after material things? Why do we listen to the liar and the father of lies? 

I mean the night sky with its “twinkle, twinkle little stars” testifies concerning Jehovah God’s creative ability. If it is “hey diddle diddle, the cat and the fiddle, and the cow easily jumped over the moon” which God created and which, as the lesser light testifies to God’s power, then why do we fiddle around? But then we fiddle around because we are powerless. Look at verse 27.

3. Powerless Man 

27 Why do you say, O Jacob, and assert, O Israel, “My way is hidden from the LORD, and the justice due me escapes the notice of my God”?

Do you see what I see here? The Name “God” used here refers to Elohim, the God who in Genesis 1:1 created the heavens and the earth. Do you see something else? In Isaiah 40:25, 26 God Himself testified to His might and power. But in v.27 it is now the prophet Isaiah who is addressing Jacob, Israel. In other words, the prophet Isaiah wrote to his people, the Israelites but wrote for you and me; he’s addressing you and me as well.

Look at this verse carefully. In light of who God is, how could His people in exile have thought that He had forgotten them, or that He didn’t know what they were going through? Look at the verse again; they were saying, “My way is hidden from the LORD, and the justice due me escapes the notice of my God.” Who does that remind you of? Us. You. Me. We complain and doubt God when we have headache. We complain and doubt God when we are about to sneeze!

But our God Who sees the beginning from the end hasn’t forgotten us. You see, He has His prophet Isaiah say these things that He knows will bring comfort to the Jews in captivity; in effect, to you and to me. Beloved, as with the Israelites, God does not want you and I to become dejected, disappointed, discouraged, disillusioned and downcast. He doesn’t want His people, including you and I thinking that He doesn’t know the end or that He no longer cared for us! Beloved, have we not all been here, thinking surely God must have forgotten about us? Instead of focusing outward, especially looking upward, we rather choose to look downward and inward at self.

Man is powerless. We are powerless and instead of recognizing this weakness and fixing our eyes on Jesus, we rather prefer to throw a wild pity party. But we need, we have to remember that He is “the same yesterday and today, yea, and forever,” (Hebrews 13:8). In fact Isaiah 40:30 says that He never suffers from exhaustion or overexertion, neither does He faint nor grow weary. Remember, He is the Omnipotent One! Look at verse 28.

4. All-powerful God

28 Do you not know? Have you not heard? The God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth does not become weary or tired. His understanding is inscrutable.

Yes, His understanding is not easily or readily investigated, interpreted, or understood. His understanding is inscrutable. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts, says Isaiah 55:9. He is the Everlasting, Eternal God. This LORD is Jehovah, the Covenant keeping God. Isn’t it amazing that the Name used here for LORD is Jehovah who keeps His covenant always? 

Look at these other two rhetorical questions in this verse, verse 28. Do you know why they are being asked? I think these two questions are there first to catch our attention. They are also intended to cause us, you and I, to recall whom our God is. He is the All-powerful God and as the All-powerful One He can, and does empower us according to our needs, not our wants; it shows us His character. He empowers us. Look at verse 29.

5. Empowered Man

29 He gives strength to the weary, and to him who lacks might He increases power.

Look at what the prophet Isaiah is showing us in verse 29; he is showing us that there is a pattern designed by God that leads to a life of power. You see, for a gift to become yours, it must first be offered freely by the offeror and there must be a reception by the receiver. So, God has offered us something. What is it? He has offered us His gift of strength and power, supernatural gifts, which He continually gives.

When I say “us,” I am referring to those who are His children. So it is only to those who recognize and acknowledge their personal need in Him that He has offered these special gifts. Spiritual gifts are birthday gifts and are given to whom? Spiritual birthday gifts are given only to those who have accepted Jesus as their Saviour and Lord so we must accept and receive these gifts. They are powerful and are to be used to glorify God.

Let me draw your attention to the word yaga, which is the Hebrew word for weary. This word means faint, exhausted, especially emotionally and spiritually and this is a need that only Jesus Christ can meet. No one else can. Sometimes the waves of tribulation pound down on us relentlessly and we find that we are at a total loss. But when we turn to the Word, we find solace and comfort that we can find nowhere else. When we turn to the Bible, we read of what other followers of Christ had to go through and we are encouraged and strengthened by their experiences and sacrifices. They learned to wait upon the Lord and from that they obtained power. Did you know that there is power in waiting? Waiting on the Lord, that is. Yes, there is power in waiting. Let’s see the next verse.

6. Power in Waiting

31But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

Look at the word “But.” Another small word, small but so powerful! Whenever you see a term of contrast like “but” or “yet”, pay close attention and use that as an opportunity to pause and ponder the text you are reading. When Isaiah used the word “But,” he wanted us to see the contrast between the “youths…and the young men” in verse 30 and men and women who wait on Jehovah. The “youths…and the young men,” energetic as they are, live in their natural strength and when you fast forward to our times, they have pumped so much iron and in some cases have supplemented their youthful strength with steroids and pills. Meanwhile in contrast, the men and women in verse 31 are the “waiters,” those who depend upon and therefore wait on God. So let me also ask a rhetorical question: in whose strength are you living the Christian life – yours or His?

Wait– I’m sure you know that I’m not going to skip this word Wait– some Hebrew words used for wait include yachal which is the second most frequently used word in the Word. Yachal means “to wait,” or “hope, wait expectantly.” This word yachal can be translated “trust” as in Isaiah 51:5; we are not going to look at Isaiah 51:5 now.

Damam is the third word that is sometimes translated “wait” and it means “to be dumb, grow silent, be still.” Just note that it is also sometimes translated “wait, tarry, rest” as in Psalm 62:5. These are all Old Testament words. I’m not looking at New Testament words. 

I’m not done yet. There is a fourth word for waiting, chakah, and it means “to wait, tarry,” or “long for,” as in Psalms 33:20; 106:13; Isaiah 30:18.

But the Hebrew word most frequently used and which is of interest to us this morning is qaavah. God helps those who wait, who depend upon Him. This Hebrew word qaavah means expect, look eagerly. This word also implies Hope so we can say They that hope in the LORD shall …. In the Bible, hope in the Lord implies assurance, confidence, trust in God, certainty. When Paul wrote to Titus saying we wait for that blessed hope, truly it is because the Holy Spirit wants us to have an assurance, certainty. So hope, with its biblical dimension of certainty is one facet or aspect of qaavah, which also includes ‘waiting’ (in other words, patience) and ‘resting’ which we can also replace with “trusting”. Come on, aren’t you enjoying the Word of God? I am. It’s just really the Word of an All-powerful One. 

So then, I am telling you that another dimension of qaavah ‘waiting’ is patience or ‘resting’ (trusting). Thus to wait for Jehovah is not simply a matter of patience, or even of longing but rather, to wait for Jehovah includes trusting in Him in addition to having confidence, which is characterized by hope. Take notes because you need to know and be armed with this illumination. So many times we are restless and can’t wait our turn. Do take notes.

Do you see how our generation never heard the word “wait?” I don’t think it is in their dictionary. So they do not understand, let alone enjoy waiting, as they do not know what it is. And advanced technology has made this refusal to wait even worse. Thus today, this commitment and tomorrow, that other commitment, keep us rushing just about anywhere and everywhere. Technology and society are forcing us to look for the very immediate, instant gratification, the “I must have it now” attitude. So here we are, rushing on and through life without pausing, without pausing to reflect and stopping to evaluate our activities and so the result is that in many cases we run ahead and leave God behind. 

And that is just a reference to the world. What about the church? In the church, it is even more pathetic as we have certain preachers who keep preaching and teaching that God has to provide what you want NOW, right NOW! God has become our puppet; when we say, “Jump,” He has to jump. Thus Christians (are they Christians?) don’t want to wait when God’s power is just quietly waiting for our own benefit. People are hopping from church to church looking for the sanctuary where they can command God to their bidding!  

In our refusal to wait we ignore the power that is awaiting us when we wait for, and wait on God. Do you see that glaring contradiction? Beloved, God’s power is waiting for us and He Himself is waiting for us to slow down so that we can access and tap into that power. But obviously, we seem to have no time to wait and no time to waste when it comes to waiting on God. Yet whether we like it or not, part of God’s restorative process is to slow us down, draw our attention to Him and make us listen to Him. Now, we want to note that biblically speaking, waiting on the Lord is always active and never passive. For example, waiting requires us to refrain and cease from what we are pursuing and when we cease, we don’t just sit around but we place all our focus on God in prayer, in fasting, in the reading and meditating on His Word. And what is the result when we actively wait? We obtain unlimited power from Him. Look with me at verse 31.

7. Power Unlimited

31 Yet 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.

To wait upon the Lord means: 

Loving the Lord,

Longing for the Lord,

Listening to the Lord,

Looking to the Lord, 

Learning from the Lord, and

Living for the Lord.

(1) Loving the Lord

Jude v.21 keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life, says the English Standard Version. Jude is saying that as we are waiting or looking for the mercy of our Lord, in hope, we should keep ourselves, not in our own strength, but “in the love of God” or “in the grace of God”.

(2) Longing for the Lord

Let us look at Psalm 62:1 “My soul waits upon God; from Him cometh my salvation.” Facing treason from someone, David is disturbed. Could it be from his own son Absalom? Anyhow, David was in distress but His thoughts focus on God. He loves, longs for God.

(3) Listening to the Lord

Proverbs 8:34 says Blessed is the man that heareth me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors. Let us underscore that, that heareth me. This verse is about loving wisdom as the context (vv.32-36) shows. Watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors implies that we find wisdom in the House of God. We go there to wait on the Lord and when we wait patiently at the posts of God’s doors, we will find Him, find life and obtain favour all as a result of waiting.

(4) Looking to the Lord

Psalm 27:14 “Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.”  The Hebrew word translated wait here is the same qavah, which means “to wait, look for, hope, expect.” Note that mere idleness, stillness, empty quietness, etc do not constitute or mean the same as waiting. Mere inactivity can just as well be described as death.

(5) Learning from the Lord

Allow me to give you the verses that point this out and makes it true, 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 16 For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. 17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; 18 While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal. To wait on the Lord means learning to be content and patient, and resting in His love and wisdom understanding that we live in a fallen world. Key to this is learning to understand that someday, one glorious day we will be in a perfect world where Jesus is.

(6) Living for the Lord 

Let us look at Proverbs 27:18: “Whoso keepeth the fig tree shall eat the fruit thereof: so he that waiteth on his master shall be honoured.” Now what does it mean to wait on your master? It means to serve him/her, similar to the case of a waiter/waitress waiting on you in a restaurant. They are there to serve you. And, by the way, have you ever noticed how hard it is sometimes to get their attention, especially when you are with little children? Or when you dropped a cutlery, or you need a napkin or you want another glass of water because your glass has smudges all over? You can’t get their attention until your meal is over, then they come with big smiles plastered on their faces hoping for a fat tip! 

(8) Promises of Power

General Promise

Finally, we see that Isaiah 40:31 carries some promises. Look at this. There is a general promise, “… those who wait … will gain new strength”: 

God promises new strength (for example, emotional, moral, spiritual and physical strength) to His children so that they can do what is needed. All these are affected and impacted by our spiritual condition.

Specific Promise

General implies there is a specific alternative, right? So let us look the specific promises embedded in v.31, and there are clearly three:

They will mount up with wings like eagles.” I’m convinced this means that based on our heavenly experience or relationship with the Lord when we wait on Him, we are able to rise above our problems. Let me say a little something about the eagle:

Eagles fly swiftly and strongly and they fly the highest, that is heavenwards, onwards, forwards, and towards the All-powerful God, and things above while growing stronger and stronger because it soars with the wind beneath its wings.

They will run and not be weary.” You see the physical strength highlighted here, run? How stressed are you? Running involves stressing yourself. See how those world-class sprinters always get involved in steroids? Running involves strenuous activity and so we need strength from God in order to be able to handle those difficult, stressful situations that arise in lives. When the going gets tough, the tough in the Lord gets going in the Lord.  Amen!

They will walk and not faint.” What does walking imply? If you have legs, then walking is something you do everyday, which sometimes can become monotonous, bring on sheen splints and could be tiring. Walking contrasts with running which we just saw so even when things aren’t stressful, we still need to wait on the Lord. Yes, when things are smooth, we still need the Lord.

Do you see how blessed it is to wait on the Lord? What a great verse! This verse is one for the refrigerator door. Beloved, just obey the Lord and leave all the consequences to Him. Hallelujah!

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