Subject:  Strength 

Central Theme:  Source of Strength    

Objective Sentence:  We should find our strength in God for three reasons.

Keyword:  Reasons

1.  Our God is alive.  (v.18-20)

2.  Our God is Creator. (v.21-26)

3.  Our God is Sustainer. (v.27-31)

Introduction:

  • Why do you live the way you do?
  • How do you live the way you do?
  • These are interesting questions. They deal with motivation and worldview.
  • Everyone lives for something, and everyone finds the strength to do what they do in some source.
  • We live in a culture where people live for all kinds of reasons.
  • People find their motivation for life in all kinds of things.
    • They live for their kids.
    • They live for their jobs.
    • They live for money and possessions.
    • They live for pleasure.
  • With enough information and time you could probably find someone who lives for just about anything.
    • Have you ever seen someone that is a fan of something that you have absolutely no interest in and thought, “How are you so into that?”
  • People find their drive, their motivation, their reason for living, their ability to keep going in life, in all kinds of places.
  • In Isaiah 40, Isaiah is calling on Judah to find their strength in God.
  • They would be tempted because of the exile, God’s discipline to them as a nation, to think that God had abandoned them.
  • They would be tempted, as we are at times, to place their trust in things other than God.
  • They would be tempted to find their strength in some inferior source.
  • And Isaiah pleads with them, as He would plead with us, to find their strength in God.

We should find our strength in God for three reasons.

1.  Our God is alive.  (v.18-20)

(18)  To whom then will ye liken God? or what likeness will ye compare unto him?  (19)  The workman melteth a graven image, and the goldsmith spreadeth it over with gold, and casteth silver chains.  (20)  He that is so impoverished that he hath no oblation chooseth a tree that will not rot; he seeketh unto him a cunning workman to prepare a graven image, that shall not be moved. (Isaiah 40:18-20)

Explanation:

  • The beginning of chapter 40 marks a transition in the book of Isaiah. 
  • Here are 2 great questions making one great point. 

(18)  To whom then will ye liken God? or what likeness will ye compare unto him

  • No metaphor you can use about God will fully explain who he is. 
  • No image you liken him to goes far enough in explaining what He is really like.
  • Here Isaiah questions the reader, saying, would you compare the God of Israel to an idol?  What is an idol like?
    • Someone must get a craftsman to make it.
    • A poor person looks for a pedestal to sit it on that will last.
    • He makes sure to ensure that the craftsman that makes the idol and the pedestal it sits on will not cause it to fall over.
    • An idol is a dead, man-made, created thing.
  • Is that what God is like? 
  • Does the God of the universe have to be made by human hands? 
  • Does the God of the universe have to be taken care of so that he does not fall over?
  • Is the God of the universe made by inanimate, dead materials?
  • The obvious answer is “no”.  Our God is alive! 
  • Our God is an uncreated being.  He is the “uncaused first cause”.  He is self-existent.  His existence does not depend on some outside source.  He is alive unlike the idols of Isaiah’s day.

Application:

  • In the culture I live in our idols are not images on pedestals like the ones described here in Isaiah’s day. 
  • But many of the things that people worship are made by hand. 
    • People worship gadgets, cars, clothes, houses, tools, and much more. 
    • We live in a materialistic culture.
  • This has always been a problem for mankind.  Jesus warned of giving your life over to stuff in Luke 12 where he is quoted in this verse:

 And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth. Luke 12:15 

  • God is incomparable to any created thing. 
  • He alone is worthy of our worship, and incomparably worthy of our allegiance. 
    • A living God reveals. 
    • A living God communicates. 
    • A living God responds. 
    • A living God is active.
    • When you pray to the living God of the universe He hears!  He knows! He is personal.

Response:

  • Is there some dead, inanimate thing that you are living for more than God? 

 

We should find our strength in God for three reasons.

1.  Our God is alive.  (v.18-20)

2.  Our God is Creator. (v.21-26)

 

Have ye not known? have ye not heard? hath it not been told you from the beginning? have ye not understood from the foundations of the earth?  (22)  It is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers; that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in:  (23)  That bringeth the princes to nothing; he maketh the judges of the earth as vanity.  Isaiah 40:21-23 

Explanation:

  • In these verses Isaiah contrasts God to the idols that he talked about. 
  • The idol is dead and must be set on a pedestal. 
  • The idol must be created. 
  • In these verses we see God is alive, and His pedestal is the earth itself. 

“It is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth”.  (v22)

  • God is not made of created materials. 
  • God is not created. 
  • God is the Creator! 
  • He is the creator of the heavens. 
  • He is the founder of the earth, and pre-existed its creation. 
  • Our God should be praised for His creative work:

 By the word of the LORD were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth.  (7)  He gathereth the waters of the sea together as an heap: he layeth up the depth in storehouses.  (Psalms 33:6-7)

Application:

  • Not only is our God alive, He is the one who started life itself. 
  • By his word the heavens were formed. 
  • He ought to be worshipped for the gift of creation. 
  • We ought not to worship what He has created over and above the Creator Himself. 
  • Consider what Paul said about those who are idolatrous:

 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened…Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.  (Romans 1:21, 25)

  • By our thoughts and actions we must recognize and worship the Creator God over the created thing. 

Response:

  • Name something in your life that is a created thing that is at most risk of getting worship from you that God deserves.  What or who would that be?
  • Is that person or thing more important to you than God?
  • If it is, what should you do about it?

 

That bringeth the princes to nothing; he maketh the judges of the earth as vanity.  (24) Yea, they shall not be planted; yea, they shall not be sown: yea, their stock shall not take root in the earth: and he shall also blow upon them, and they shall wither, and the whirlwind shall take them away as stubble.  (25)  To whom then will ye liken me, or shall I be equal? saith the Holy One.  (26)  Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things, that bringeth out their host by number: he calleth them all by names by the greatness of his might, for that he is strong in power; not one faileth.  (Isaiah 40:23-26) 

 

 Explanation:

“That bringeth the princes to nothing; he maketh the judges of the earth as vanity.”

 

  • He is in control of the people in the earth. 
    • They are like grasshoppers. 
    • Even the most notable people, like princes and judges, are tiny by comparison. 
    • Princes and Judges are examples of some of the most powerful of the earth. Yet they have no strength compared to God.

 “Yea, they shall not be planted; yea, they shall not be sown: yea, their stock shall not take root in the earth: and he shall also blow upon them, and they shall wither, and the whirlwind shall take them away as stubble.”

 

  • The word “They” here continues to refer to the princes and judges. 
  • When it says they “shall not …be planted…be sown…take root in the earth”it is saying that they are not eternally strong or rooted in their going against God. 
  • Notice this picture of God’s action against them. 

and he shall also blow upon them, and they shall wither, and the whirlwind shall take them away as stubble.”

  • A person’s breath is not the strongest thing about them. 
  • The breath of God makes the strongest person whither. 
  • The whirlwind created by His breath will blow the strongest around like leaves, twigs, and dust.
  • In verse 25 he poses this question:  

 “To whom then will ye liken me, or shall I be equal? saith the Holy One.”

  • What is the correct answer?  No one.  He is unequaled in the universe and beyond.  He is unequaled in both His strength and in His Holiness.
  • Isaiah then gives this command. 

(26)  Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things, that bringeth out their host by number: he calleth them all by names by the greatness of his might, for that he is strong in power; not one faileth.”

  • Isaiah recommends for us not to find our strength in the created thing.  
  • Rather, we must look to the God that created everything.  His strength and power are unequaled. 

Application:

  • It is not a wise thing to go against the Creator God of the universe. 
  • It is in our best interest to submit to Him. 
  • The good news is that He loves us. 
  • The command given in verse 26 is instructive.  We should “lift up” our “eyes on high and behold who hath created these things”.  
  • When we look to other things for strength, drive, motivation, or reason for living, we will find ourselves lacking at some point. 
  • We will find ourselves going against the Creator God. 
  • Our question should be “God, what do you want?”.

We should find our strength in God for three reasons.

1.  Our God is alive.  (v.18-20)

2.  Our God is Creator. (v.21-26)

3.  Our God is Sustainer. (v.27-31)

 

Why sayest thou, O Jacob, and speakest, O Israel, My way is hid from the LORD, and my judgment is passed over from my God?  (28)  Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding.  (29)  He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. (Isaiah 40:27-29)

Explanation:

  • These verses contain a question which we may need to be asked at times ourselves. 
  • Isaiah questions Israel as to why they are holding to an untenable position. 
  • There were those in Israel that seemed to think that God was either ignorant, uninterested, or uncaring in regard to their plight. 

“My way is hid from the Lord, and my judgment is passed over from my God.” 

  • They were claiming that God had forgotten about his promises to them.  They were claiming that God was being unjust and unable to help them.
  • Notice the question that Isaiah poses to the people holding this position:

28)  Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding.

  • Isaiah’s answer given in the form of a question is that their position was not valid. 
  • Why? 
  • Nothing can be hid from God because He is the “Creator of the ends of the earth”.  
  • He is not lacking in power that He cannot help them.  Why?  Because he “fainteth not, neither is weary”. 
  • He is also not lacking in knowledge.  Why?  “Because there is no searching of His understanding”.
  • So think about this:
    • He will not run out of time.
    • He will not run out of power.
    • He will not run out of knowledge.
  • It is at this point that Isaiah goes one step further.  He says that not only did God create the world, and that God will not run out of His divine attributes and resources, he states also that God gives away power and strength to those who need it. 

(29)  He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. (Isaiah 40:27-29)

  • Not only did God create us, He also sustains us.
  • The New Testament teaches this reality, also, when Paul said this about God, the Son:

 In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:  (15)  Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:  (16)  For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:  (17)  And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.  (Colossians 1:14-17)

  • Not only were all things created by Him, but by Him all things are sustained, or held together.  By Him all things consist.

Application:

  • This is not just a natural reality, speaking of how creation works.  This is a practical reality for those who trust in God. 
  • God is a never ending, incredible source of everything that we need for life. 
  • We ought not to put our trust in lifeless idols. 
  • We ought not to seek for strength in the created over the Creator. 
  • We must remember and believe that the Creator God will also be our Sustainer. 
  • He will live up to the promises that He has made to Israel. 
  • He will also complete the work that He has begun in us.

I thank my God upon every remembrance of you,  (4)  Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy,  (5)  For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now;  (6)  Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:  Philippians 1:3-6 

Response:

  • In what way have you been tempted to doubt that God will sustain you? 
  • Where have you tried to get strength from outside of God?

 

Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall:  (31)  But 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.   (Isaiah 40:30-31)

Explanation:

  • “Youths” and “young men” are not known for chronic fainting and falling from a lack of strength, and yet they are not immune from it. 
  • Most often those that fall in a way that brings them severe harm are the elderly. 
  • Yet Isaiah says here “even the youths…”. 
  • The point being made is that even the most physically strong among us are prone to weariness, injury, and the need for more strength. 
  • There are none that are immune from physical limitations. 
  • Then there is an incredible reality that is proposed. 

“They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength”. 

  • God is the source of strength that every single one of us need. 
  • When we go to Him and submit to Him, He will sustain us.  He will renew us.
  • What a beautiful description of the renewed person:

“…they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” 

  • One commentator put described the truth of this verse by saying:

“Far from being crushed to earth by their own helplessness, those who depend on God can stretch their wings in the effortless way of eagles and sail off on the wind.” (Waltke)

Application:

  • Those who go to God for strength and depend on God for what they need are going to a source of infinite supply. 
  • He is alive, and not dead. 
  • He is the Creator and is not created. 
  • He is the Sustainer.  He does not run out of energy, knowledge or resource. 
  • He is completely trustworthy and will do what He has promised to do. 
  • We must find our strength in Him.  To seek it somewhere else is to go to a finite, undependable source.

Response:

  • What is something you can do today to depend on God for strength?

Conclusion:

We should find our strength in God for three reasons.

1.  Our God is alive.  (v.18-20)

2.  Our God is Creator. (v.21-26)

3.  Our God is Sustainer. (v.27-31)

Works Cited

Waltke, Bruce K. New International Commentary on  the Old Testament: Proverbs. Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans  Publishing Company, 2004. E Sword Software.

 

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