Friday, February 22, 2013

Does God Hold Us Back? - Isaiah 40

This is the second part of a three-part series. See the first part here and the second part here.

taken from

(read the whole text here)

Far-Fallen. Throughout their entire history, the people of Judah (ie, God's people) fell repeatedly into idolatry and forsook God, and consequently He punished them by allowing Babylon to conquer and supplant them from Palestine in 586/7BCE. How far they had fallen from God's purpose for them to be a great nation whose glory was the Lord! They were to be greater than any other nation in the history of the world. Because while unbelieving nations boasted in power, or money, or human achievements, the people of God had something that made all those things look like grass, dust, and a drop in a bucket. They had God dwelling in their midst! But they were so spiritually blind that they chose grass over God, a drop in a bucket over the Divine King who ruled before the world existed and will continue to rule even after all the economic and political systems of this world collapse.

God Gives Hope. God punished His people for their sin, but He also promised hope to those who trusted and delighted in Him. This is the spectacular theme of Isaiah 40. Think about their situation: Israel has been conquered, Jerusalem destroyed, and the Temple burned down. They, who were supposed to be God's representatives, were utterly humiliated, and consequently God's name was greatly dishonored. Any thought of restoration seemed puny and absurd when one considered Judah's conqueror: Babylon—the most powerful empire the earth had ever seen. Surely all hope was lost! … Or was it?

Into this dismal picture enters God with a tender word to His fallen ones: “Comfort, comfort my people” (v.1). God reminds them that although the strength of man is like the flowers of the field that quickly wither and die, yet the Shepherd of Judah is the Creator of the universe, who commands the stars and the galaxies and calls them each by name. Although the lifeless idols of the other nations could not save them from the armies of Babylon, Judah's God is the living God, the author and sustainer of life, and even the great King Nebuchadnezzar depended on Him for his next breath.

Victory Assured. To those who loved and trusted in God and had repented of their sins, there was nothing more reassuring then to hear these words:
28Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. 29He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. 30Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; 31but 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.”

Does God Hold Us Back? God holds us back only from pursuing the wealth, prestige, and comforts of this world; only from wasting our lives living for things that from the perspective of eternity are as long-lived as grass in the dry season (v.6) and are as significant as a drop in a bucket (v.15). But those who love God and seek His kingdom on earth rise from glory to glory as history brings the city of God nearer and nearer.


  1. Does God Hold Us Back? - Matthew 11:28-30
  2. Does God Hold Us Back? - 1 John 5:3

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