Volume 23, Issue 19 (May 9, 2021)
Behold, the Lord God
By Robert Harkrider
A favorite verse of many Bible students is 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.” This beautiful promise gives hope as an encouraging promise to all who serve God.
But how many of us know the context? Why believe that this promise is true? The 40th chapter of Isaiah is filled with the answer when the prophet urges Zion to shout loudly from the highest mountain, “Behold your God!” (40:9).
Consider How Great God Is
40:6-8: God’s word stands forever. Man and his glory are like fading flowers that appear only for a short time. God is eternal and His word never changes, therefore His promises are certain of fulfillment.
40:10-11: God rules with a strong hand and arm. Nothing can prevent Him from accomplishing His purpose, for He is mighty and strong. If you doubt His power, answer the questions that follow. Can man do what God has done?
40:12: God created heaven and the earth. Can man measure the waters of the vast oceans and seas in the “hollow” (palm) of his hand? But God did. He measured heaven with a “span” (tip of little finger to tip of thumb). He calculated the dust of the earth (weightless) in a measure; weighed the mountains in scales and hills in a balance. The four living creatures around heaven’s throne say, “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come!” And the twenty-four elders fall down before Him casting their crowns before the throne, saying: “You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and by Your will they exist and were created” (Rev. 4:8-11).
40:13-14: God has eternal knowledge and understanding. Who taught Him? (The answer implied, “no one.”) Who taught Him in the way of justice or gave Him the wisdom and insight to plan so perfectly a universe of such magnitude? When we come to God, we have reached the absolute, for He is absolute in wisdom, knowledge, and power! He had no counselor to give Him understanding. Let man answer the questions God asked of Job, “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth. Tell Me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements?” (Job 38:4 ff).
40:15-17: Things man considers great are as a “drop in a bucket” to God. Man has accomplished much. We have even walked on the moon and returned to earth. Our daily news reports activities of various nations and the threat of war from those that have developed nuclear power. But all the nations together pale into obscurity and are counted by Him as less than nothing! All who refuse to glorify God may profess to be wise, but they become fools (Rom. 1:20-22).
To Whom Will You Compare God?
40:18, 25: To whom shall God be equal? This question is asked twice. In the next six chapters of Isaiah the makers of idols are challenged to “present your case” (41:21). Can any man, or idol, declare things that are yet to come? Even the weatherman with modern technology misses predictions of nature. But fulfilled prophecy that was made hundreds of years in advance gives proof the source was from the mind of God!
40:19-20: Shall He be compared to an idol? When one bows down before an idol, he bows before something that is the work of his own hand, therefore something less than man. To build it, man selects a tree that will not rot and prepares a carved image that will not totter. The foolishness of this is seen by the fact that the rest of the wood is used to build a fire and warm himself and cook his meals (44:15- 17). Modern man may not bow before carved images as heathens of the past, but we are as foolish when we idolize athletes, musicians, movie stars—all whose tenure at most is limited to a few years and who can provide nothing of themselves to prepare for life after death.
40:26: Only God can call all the stars by name. His eternal power and Godhead can be understood by the creation of the world (Rom. 1:20). “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork” (Ps. 19:1). On any clear night look into the heaven and count the stars. With the naked eye we can see something like 3,000 stars. However, with modern telescopes, men have discovered there are uncounted billions of stars and other galaxies like our Milky Way.
Why Think Your Way Is Hidden from God?
Think of the billions of stars that His hands created, and He calls them all by their name! (Ps. 147:3-4). If the Lord knows each star, then Isaiah asks, “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’”? (20:27). The true fact is that all of us in our pilgrimage to the heavenly city know troubles, sorrows, and trials. There is no pilgrim on the road but who finds it rough and difficult at times. Consequently, when we find ourselves in times of despondency, it is easy to question, “Who am I in this vast universe but an insignificant human?” Does God really know? Is my way hidden from Him?
40:28-30: Have you not heard? The Lord gives power to the weak and increases their strength. He does not overlook a single faithful child of His! “The Lord knows those who are His” (2 Tim. 2:19). This is further confirmed in Revelation when the angels were ready to send forth winds of God’s wrath upon the wicked. At that time 144,000 saints were sealed, indicating that every single servant of God would not be harmed (Rev. 7:1-8).
40:30-31: “But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength.” Without God, even the youths grow tired and fall, although at this age one often thinks himself indestructible. There is no time when the Lord withdraws from us strength for our failing and fainting life. If there is a cross to bear, He always carries the heavier end. If there are troubles that assail us, they are but golden chains that bind us to the heart of our sympathetic and understanding Lord.
By reading about these awesome characteristics of almighty God described in this chapter, we too should want to shout loudly from the highest mountain, “Behold, the Lord God.”
Biblical Insights 13.10 (Oct. 2013): 24-25