SanLo Community, an update for the week of June 16, 2019…
Great Faith Expectations – Isaiah 40:9-31 – Pastor Joshua
In our day-to-day lives, each of us has our own dreams. We have our own desires and wants, our own expectations for what want to make out of life for ourselves, for those we love, and for the world around us. But what we find is many times, if not most of the time, things don’t go according to our own plans. So for us who have ever experience life, in the good and the bad, ask yourselves, what am I placing my hope in? For my plans and dreams? Ultimately, who am I entrusting my life to in all circumstances?
Where we find Israel in our passage Isaiah 40:9-31, she is in the process of being judged by God, already captured by Babylon and now exiled away from their homeland. And instead of remembering who God has already revealed himself as to them over and over again to them in the past, they complain and question God’s goodness And the prophet Isaiah answers them with a big description of God’s power and love, aka the doctrine of God. God is NOT defeated by Israel’s sin and not only does he want to restore them but make them the bringers of God’s good news to the world. And what we’ll see here is how the doctrine of God informs our not only what we know about God but how that changes our expectations in life and what we’re living for.
So our main idea is this: because God is great, we can place our faith in Him. “Faith” meaning full trust. Because God is great, we can put our full trust in Him. By nature of who He is, we can trust God with our plans, our lives, our everything.
Again, we see Israelites having a tough time trusting God. After all, from their perspective it seemed like He couldn’t stop Babylon from capturing their homeland so why should they trust Him now? So how does the doctrine of God answer this?
For one, it reveals who God is. Vv.12-20. The doctrine of God teaches us God’s character. And by knowing God’s character, we can begin to understand his power over our own.
We see first, God is creator. (v.12). These questions here aren’t meant to put God down but instead to magnify him in the eyes of the listener. God is WITHOUT rival. He is the ONE and ONLY creator. As the one who measures the earth, weighing it and marking it off, He is BEYOND nature, not part OF it.
In verses 13-14, we see God is omniscient. In other words, God knows EVERYTHING. The answer to each of these questions is “no one.” NO ONE is able to measure God’s Spirit or shown God any counsel because only God is able to measure Himself. Nobody is on the same level as he is because no one else knows all justice, all knowledge and all understanding. God is infinitely wise.
And as omniscient creator, God is greater than the greatest powers of the world because God is completely other than them. See verses 15-20. What Isaiah is saying here is that no nations can stand on par with God! Not Egypt, not Assyria, not Babylon, NONE of the GREATEST powers of Isaiah’s day could be compared to God. However strong the nations are, they’re no match for God!
Practically speaking, if we seek to make less of God’s transcendence, then we begin to see God as lacking the power to change our circumstances with things only happening out of the natural push and pull of life. On the other hand, if God is only transcendent existing in some far-off other dimension place, then he doesn’t know nor cares what’s happening in our lives. But God is both transcendent (completely other) AND immanent (present).
So why is the doctrine of God important secondly? It reveals God is over everything. Vv.21-26. God doesn’t merely exist outside of our world and created order, He rules over it all. God is the ultimate sovereign king over all creation.
Isaiah is operating out of an assumption that his audience would know the answer to this question already. It’s God; God that has existed since before time in the beginning and from the foundations of the earth. If the origins of the universe point to a creator beyond the universe itself, then itself couldn’t have been responsible for its own beginning. As such, God is the one ruling over the earth and laying out a place for all of us to live. We can sum up these verses in two words: sovereign creator. The truth of creation is that God existed before the universe came to be and brought it into being according to his personal plan.
Which brings us to our third point on why the doctrine of God is important: The doctrine of God reveals to us God’s heart. Vv. 27-31; 9-12.
In light of God’s transcendence and role as Sovereign Creator, we know He doesn’t work on our timetable or our limitations. But God IS working for our good and we can place our faith in Him. He’s not just some separate out of this world God who doesn’t care for us but he’s VERY MUCH a part of our world and a part of OUR LIVES.
And as the Lord of the universe, His strength never runs out and his wisdom has no end. What this means is that we as His created people might not ever understand God’s plans and purposes but as we see in verse 29, God gives His endless strength to the weak. God holds up His tired people/those who wait on Him. Not waiting just in a timely sense but out of a confident expectation that God is acting on our behalves. It’s a call to place complete dependence and willingness to allow God to decide the terms of our lives, exchanging out our tired selves with His new strength.
This is how God cares for us. Because of who He is in His great character, God has set up a salvation plan for us through Jesus His Son. Like a shepherd who gathers his sheep who’ve been hurt, God gathers up all of us who’ve been afflicted by sin. Knowing we wouldn’t have the power to overcome sin on our own, God sent his Son Jesus to become the power by which we could. By dying for us, paying the price for our sins and rising from the dead, Jesus accomplishes our salvation all according to God’s loving and transcendent character.
This is why the doctrine of God matters. Through Jesus, the linking of God’s transcendence and His immanence comes to its pinnacle. In Christ God has come to us both in humility AND power. God doesn’t only just know ABOUT our condition, He ENTERS INTO it and saves us from it. We can believe that God changes our circumstances. He’s already changed our greatest circumstance by answering our greatest need for a savior in Jesus. There can be real change for the better. We too have our own expectations for how our lives should pan out. But God’s greatness offers us hope.
Brother, sister, I say this in all care and gentleness, God is in control of all things in accordance with His greatness and He is good. He stands outside of space and time itself yet at the same time He cares enough for us to enter into our world in order to save us from sin and gives us hope through Christ. And as great as we learn who God is in His doctrine and what He has done in Israel’s history, we know that He doesn’t just care for your futures in heaven but He wants to give you hope that meets you where you’re at right now. And because God is over all things, He’s in control of all things including your lives. He cares for you in your weakness by giving you His strength. So as Isaiah encourages the Israelites to do, church, wait on the Lord. Not just letting life tick away but waiting with confident expectation of what God will do next. For it’s because of God’s greatness we can confidently entrust our faith, our entire lives, in His hands.
Indescribable, Praise the Father Praise the Son, How Great is Our God, How Great Thou Art, Doxology