29 Days of Promise
“THOSE WHO WAIT ON THE LORD SHALL RENEW THEIR STRENGTH”
Great Commission Church
Intro: By the time Isaiah makes his prophecy in Isaiah 40, he is in his twilight years. He is now an old man, at around 70 years of age. King Hezekiah of Judah, a man especially influenced by the prophet Isaiah, died in 698 BC when Isaiah was 72. Hezekiah’s throne was passed to his unspeakably wicked son, Manasseh. He was a 12-year-old fool when he became king, and his entire reign was in defiance to God. He reinstituted Canaanite worship, filled with occult practices, astrology, and child sacrifice. He also silenced the Lord’s prophets and sidelined the faithful priests. “…Manasseh seduced them to do more evil than the nations whom the Lord had destroyed before the children of Israel” (2 Kings 21:9). Because of Manasseh’s abominations, God announced that a foreign invader would soon swoop into Jerusalem and take the people captive. The best historical record we have suggests that Isaiah died a martyr’s death during the reign of Manasseh who had Isaiah sawn in two, and there may well be an echo of this in Hebrews 11:36-37. Was Manasseh wicked because his own father was careless and shortsighted? Here is Hezekiah’s reaction to Isaiah’s early announcement of the coming Babylonian captivity:
Isaiah 39:8 So Hezekiah said to Isaiah, “The word of the LORD which you have spoken is good!” For he said, “At least there will be peace and truth in my days.”
Since judgment was coming and Judah was under the insufferable rule of Manasseh, Isaiah’s ministry changed. After 35 chapters of direct preaching with a sharp edge, the time for warning was over.
He would spend the rest of his ministry (chs. 40-66) speaking words of comfort to the children of Israel who would soon reap the full consequences of their apostasy. He would speak true words to them that they would cherish in the dark days ahead.
The prophet’s new message is for people whose whole world has been shattered.
They had been stolen from their homeland by God’s decree because of their rebellion. Our main promise is found at the end of Isaiah 40, and what leads up to it makes the promise evident:
v.1 – they are God’s people
v.2 – they have been forgiven
vv.3-5 – God will bring them home
vv.6-8 – His word can be trusted
v.9 – such comfort must be shouted confidently/fearlessly from the mountaintops
vv.10-11 – like a warrior/shepherd, He will bring gifts that will make the sufferings of the exile vanish like a dream
v.12 – He measured and created the universe as effortlessly as a master carpenter building a frame
vv.13-14 – He is infinitely wise
v.15, 17 – He is totally sovereign
v.16 – He is worthy of more worship than we could ever give
vv.18-20, 25 – Nothing compares to Him
vv.22-24 – He is enthroned above the circle of the earth
v.26 – He keeps the starry host by His power so that not one is missing
If God is like that, how could the children of Israel doubt His ability to fulfill His promises to them?
But such truth is not so easy to believe when our world is in ruins. In the midst of suffering, we can forget everything we have ever been sure of in life.
Isaiah 40:27 Why do you say, O Jacob, and speak, O Israel: “My way is hidden from the LORD, and my just claim is passed over by my God”?
Isaiah 40:28 Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable.
Isaiah 40:29 He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength.
Isaiah 40:30 Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall,
Isaiah 40:31 But those who wait on 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.
WHAT ARE THEIR TWIN COMPLAINTS?
He does not see my life.
“My way is hidden from the LORD”
In view of all that has happened to us, can we really believe that God still cares for us? Isn’t the truth rather that we are too small to be of more than passing interest to him, and that if he ever really cared about us, surely He has long since ceased to do so?
How easy it is to say we believe that God has infinite knowledge and power, and at the same time feel that He is unable or uninterested in meeting our personal needs!
He will not hear my plea.
“My just claim is passed over by my God”
Isaiah 59:1 Behold, the LORD’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; nor His ear heavy, that it cannot hear.
Isaiah 59:2 But your iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear.
WHAT IS THE PROPHET’S RESPONSE?
Learn who God is and what He is like so that you can hope in Him.
He is strong in Himself.
Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable.
He passes that strength to the weary.
He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength.
He is worth the wait.
But those who wait on 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.
Many of the terms in vv.25-31 are military words that connect this passage to the invasion of foreign armies. The Assyrian army did not tire or stumble as it swept into Israel (5:27).
Just as their long march did not exhaust their army, so the long journey back to Judah would not exhaust the exiles.
What a comforting thought! They would be able to walk many hundreds of miles without growing weary, and they would even feel like running along the way! Their return to the promised land would feel like soaring on eagles’ wings!
The key is to “wait on (hope in) the LORD.”
It is to place your trust in God who never disappoints or puts to shame.
Prophetic Ministry Sunday
Prophets – everyone can prophesy to build up the church – this is speaking human words to report something that God brings to mind; it is a major outlet by which God communicates to local churches and individual believers.
The gift of prophecy is the only gift present in all three NT listings. That repetition alone suggests that God expected the gift of prophecy to be regularly employed in the ministry of local churches to build them up and show specific aspects of His will.
Prophecy is second in rank because it is such a widely available gifting. Men, women, and believing children can hear from God and responsibly report what they believe they have heard.
Prophecy is democratic.
Acts 2:17 “And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, that I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions, your old men shall dream dreams.
Acts 2:18 And on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days; and they shall prophesy.
Prophecy is commanded and favored.
1 Cor 14:1 Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy.
The gift of prophecy is for the benefit of others.
1 Cor 14:3 But he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men.
Prophecy helps the congregation to build up the church (itself).
1 Cor 14:26 How is it then, brethren? Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification.
Prophecy is limited in public to maintain order and reduce confusion.
1 Cor 14:29 Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others judge.
Prophecy can be done well.
1 Cor 14:31 For you can all prophesy one by one, that all may learn and all may be encouraged.
1 Cor 14:32 And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets.
1 Cor 14:33 For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.
Prophecy is not on the same level as Scripture.
1 Cor 14:37 If anyone thinks himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things which I write to you are the commandments of the Lord.
Prophecy shall be governed.
1 Cor 14:40 Let all things be done decently and in order.
From Michael Miller:
Prophecy is a time to hear from God for others.
State clearly – never make a decision about a direction to take in life based solely on a prophetic word.
• A prophetic word can confirm something you have been thinking about or a leading you’ve already had.
• A prophetic word can cause you to pray about something you have not yet considered.