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The Everlasting God (Isaiah 40:28)

September 4, 2016 Speaker: Bryce Morgan Series: The Essentials: One Lord

Topic: Isaiah Passage: Isaiah 40:28

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The Everlasting God

Isaiah 40:28

(One Lord: No One Like You)

September 4th, 2016

 

I. In Which God Do We Trust?

With primary elections taking place last week, and November just two months away, there is a seemingly endless stream of political commentary, conversations, and activities out there. While candidates taut how much they differ from their opponent, one thing most of them have in common is a willingness to include God in their speeches. Most of the time, the word “God” can be found at the end of a speech, when the political hopeful declares, “God bless you, and God bless America!”

Other candidates will readily point to the phrase we find emblazoned on our currency, “In God We Trust”. Did you know that phrase, adopted exactly 60 years ago, is the official motto of the United States? There is no doubt that this motto is well-known. But for followers of Jesus Christ, that statement must inspire a fundamental question: “In which God do we trust?” Even the most recent polls still show that almost 90% of Americans say they believe in God. But again, which God do they have in mind?

This morning, we Americans desperately need to be instructed by a foreigner, by an Israelite prophet. The prophet is Isaiah, and he wants to show us some amazing things about the true God, the only God. Turn, if you would, to Isaiah 40.

 

II. The Passage: “Have you Not Heard?” (40:28)

Scan down to the end of the chapter. Look with me at verse 28. This is what Isaiah declares:

Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable.

What we have here is an amazing statement about the God in whom we should trust. Look at that verse again. Look at how dense it is! Look at how much is stuffed into that one verse! We have in Isaiah 40:28 so many essential, so many foundational truths about God. I see here at least six truths that we should explore more closely. Let's use the key words from the verse to do just that. First of all, look at the words...

 

1. “Known” and “Heard”

The prophet asks, Have you not known? Have you not heard? And if you look back at verse 21 of this same chapter, we find a similar set of questions: Do you not know? Do you not hear? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth? So what exactly is the prophet saying and what does this tell us about the God in whom we should trust?

Well these questions are meant to remind Isaiah's Israelite audience of the fact that God has revealed Himself. He is not silent. He is not distant. He is not disinterested. He has spoken through His prophets and servants, and we find that revelation in the Scriptures. By asking these questions, Isaiah is saying in essence, “You already know all this. You've been taught these things. This knowledge of God has been with us for generations, since ancient times.”

Clearly they were struggling to remember. But what exactly did the prophet want them to remember. Well, look at our next keyword...

 

2. “Yahweh”

Now you may be thinking, “I don't see that word Yahweh in my Bible”. Well don't worry. There is nothing wrong with the Bible you're using. You may have noticed that word “Lord” in Isaiah 40:28 is in all capital letters. That's a way of indicating that behind the English word “lord” is the Hebrew name, “Yahweh”. Yahweh is the name with which God revealed himself to Moses from the burning bush in Exodus 3.

As one Bible dictionary puts it, “Yahweh is the only truly personal name of God in Israel's faith; the others are titles or descriptive expressions.” Yahweh is the name of the God of Israel. And from the context in Exodus, we know this name is the covenant name of God, that is, it is the name by which God promises and then redeems according to His promises. Furthermore, it comes from a verb that means “to be”, and probably in this form, means “I will be” or “the One who will be”.

So through this name, God was most likely saying, “I will be with you, and I will be God in and over every situation you face”. Isn't that encouraging? So again, Isaiah is saying to his readers, “Let me remind you about your God, the God of Israel”. But remind them of what? Well look at the next keyword in that verse...

 

3. “Everlasting”

Isaiah declares...Have you not known? Have you not heard? [Yahweh] is the everlasting God...Everlasting. That word seems pretty straightforward, doesn't it? Something lasting forever. God is everlasting. Not AN “everlasting God”, but THE “everlasting God”. There is only one. But look at how the context brings out a richer understanding of why that is so important.

If we move backwards in Isaiah 40, back up to verses 18-24, we find the prophet asking the question “To whom then will you liken God, or what likeness compare with him?” (v. 18) While there were many idols (v. 19), many false gods in the ancient Near East, they were all made of perishable things like gold, silver, and wood.

But what about the “princes” and “rulers of the earth” mentioned in verse 23? Isaiah declares in verse 24,

Scarcely are they planted, scarcely sown, scarcely has their stem taken root in the earth, when he blows on them, and they wither, and the tempest carries them off like stubble.

And this idea of the Everlasting in contrast with what will not last is found even earlier in this chapter, in verses 6-8. We read:

A voice says, “Cry!” And I said, “What shall I cry?” All flesh is grass, and all its beauty is like the flower of the field. [7] The grass withers, the flower fades when the breath of the LORD blows on it; surely the people are grass. [8] The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever (owlam, same word translated “everlasting”).

Aren't you thankful that in a world of shifting sand, aren't you thankful that our God is the everlasting God? But look at where the next keyword takes us. Yahweh is God, and He is the everlasting God. But He is also...

 

4. “Creator”

This takes us right back to the opening line of the Bible, back to Genesis 1:1...In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. Everything that exists (even the very “ends of the earth”), everything exists because God exists and has always existed. Look at how Isaiah, a few verses earlier, in vs. 25, 26, look at how he uses this astounding truth to stress the fact that God is incomparable...

To whom then will you compare me, that I should be like him? says the Holy One. [26] Lift up your eyes on high and see: who created these [that is, the stars]? He who brings out their host by number, calling them all by name; by the greatness of his might and because he is strong in power, not one is missing.

I love how the ESV Study Bible expands on this staggering truth: “Thus only Israel’s God is worthy of worship, for he created, controls, and preserves what the [stars] pagans foolishly worship. not one is missing. God’s creating the stars would have been awe-inspiring even in ancient Israel, where about 5,000 stars were visible at night. Astronomers now estimate, however, that there are more than 400 billion stars in the Milky Way galaxy, and that there are 125 billion galaxies in the universe. The total number of stars is estimated at 1x1022 or 10 billion trillions. Moreover, the God who created all of these, the Holy One of Israel, even calls them all by name and ensures that “not one is missing.” Such a God will surely never forget even one of his people.” (ESV Study Bible)

And if the stars aren't impressive enough for you, think about what Job declared when he talked about how various aspects of creation reveal it's Creator: Behold, these are but the outskirts of his ways, and how small a whisper do we hear of him! But the thunder of his power who can understand?” (Job 26:14)

Creation gives us but a whisper of the true thunder of God's power. And where should this fact drive us? It should drive us to cry out in worship, just as the twenty-four elders do before the throne of God in heaven. We should declare...“Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.” (Revelation 4:11)

But if all this were not enough, look at what the next keyword reveals: God is...

 

5. Un-“weary”-able

Look again at what we read in verse 28: Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary...

For those to whom Isaiah preached and wrote, this statement was meant as a frontal assault on two distinct, but related temptations: will and can. In the midst of our suffering, we can tempted to believe God WILL NOT help us, AND, we can be tempted to believe that God CAN NOT help us.

Had God forgotten about His people? Or maybe he hadn't, but for some reason, He couldn't help them. Maybe things were just too bad, too messy, too far gone. Do you see how both of those temptations are addressed by Isaiah's proclamation in the second half of verse 28: He does not faint or grow weary... There is nothing too big or too bad for Him? There is no such thing as “too long” for Him? This is our confidence, isn't it?

But there's one more piece the prophet provides to us, one more piece of this amazing picture He is painting of God. We find it in our last keyword, which deals with...

 

6. “His Understanding”

Isaiah once again reassures us, this time by affirming that God's “understanding is unsearchable”. If there is no “too big”, or “too bad”, or “too long” for God, then most certainly, there is also no “too hard” or “too difficult”; we cannot and should not say, “No one can untangle the tangled mess of my life.” God's understanding of everything is so big and broad and deep, that not even Google can collate all of it. It would simply flash “searching” over, and over, and over again. Listen to how Isaiah describes this earlier in this same chapter, in 40:12-14:

Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand and marked off the heavens with a span [from end of pinky to end of thumb], enclosed the dust of the earth in a measure and weighed the mountains in scales and the hills in a balance? [13] Who has measured the Spirit of the LORD, or what man shows him his counsel? [14] Whom did he consult, and who made him understand? Who taught him the path of justice, and taught him knowledge, and showed him the way of understanding?

God never takes advice. He never needs help. He doesn't have to learn. Not only is there no problem too difficult for Him, but we must humbly trust that He always, always, always understands, even when we do not. His understanding is unsearchable!

 

III. Behold Your God

“In God We Trust”. But is that “God” this God? Is it the God revealed in Isaiah 40:28;

the God of the Bible, in all His greatness, in all His goodness, in all His glory?

One of things we have not talked about up to this point is the original setting for Isaiah 40:28. Why and to whom was it written? Well, Isaiah 40 marks the beginning of the second half of this huge book. And at the end of the first half, in chapter 39, Isaiah predicted an event that was still two hundred years away: the conquest and exile of Judah by Babylon. Isaiah chapters 40-66 seem to be addressed to those who would one day return from Babylon, those who were yearning to go home after 70 years of captivity. This is why we read in v. 27...

Why do you say, O Jacob, and speak, O Israel, “My way is hidden from the LORD, and my right is disregarded by my God”?

That is the very real cry, concern, complaint that 40:28 addresses. Do you have a real cry, concern, complaint this morning? Are you languishing this morning, yearning for new life, yearning for change? If so, then just listen once again to Isaiah 40:28, AND, the remaining verses of this amazing chapter. Listen with hungry hearts and ears of faith:

Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable.[29] He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. [30] Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; [31] but 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. (Isaiah 40:28-31)

Have you ever heard words like that? The astounding truths about God we've talked about this morning are not simply lofty, abstract concepts, only to be displayed in some museum of profound ideas or written on academic blackboards. These are “hit-you-where-you-live” declarations of a God who is very, very real, and wants to give you and me very real hope.

Look with me one last time at Isaiah 40, this time to verse 9. We read: Go on up to a high mountain, O Zion, herald of good news; lift up your voice with strength, O Jerusalem, herald of good news; lift it up, fear not; say to the cities of Judah, “Behold your God!” This morning, the prophet makes this very announcement to straying, doubting, and forgetful people like us, “Behold your God”. This is our God, isn't it?

And how is the God of Isaiah, the God of Judah, the God of Zion, how is He our God? Because of the “good news” we just heard about in verse 9. Isaiah will later express it this way: How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.” (52:7)

In Romans 10, the Apostle Paul quotes this very verse, and many others from Isaiah, and points us to the final, fullest fulfillment of this “good news” in the Good News of Jesus. Two chapters earlier in Romans, Paul wrote this: What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? [32] He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? (Romans 8:31-32)

He can and He will give us all things through Jesus, won't He? Let's pray and praise Him this morning, that through the death and resurrection of Jesus, we have been brought to the God of Isaiah 40:28. May THIS always be the God in whom we trust.