Isaiah 1-39 addresses the Assyrian crisis during the 8th century BCE. Isaiah, a prophet in Judah, delivers messages to the people and the rulers about their disobedience to God, warning of the impending Assyrian invasion.
40-55 – addresses the Babylonian exile (6th century BCE). The Babylonians have conquered Judah, and the people are in captivity. The suffering servant is introduced, pointing to a figure who will bear the sins of the people.
56-66 – associated with the post-exilic period, after the return of some Israelites from Babylon to Judah. It addresses the challenges faced by the community in rebuilding their lives and rebuilding their lives and re-establishing their relationship with God.
1. Wowed by the Babylonian gods
“To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?” says the Holy One.
One day we were prayer walking through a large Buddhist temple, when I witnessed something heartbreaking. A large number of people, very poor and desperate, were bowing down to a large golden Buddha. They were stuffing what seemed to be the last of their money into the treasury box and kneeling in prayer, hoping to secure a blessing from the Buddha. On the other side of the large golden idol, scaffolding had been built. The Buddha had begun to deteriorate, and a group of workers was diligently were repairing the broken Buddha. I took in the scene. Broken people were bowing down to a broken Buddha asking the broken Buddha to fix their broken lives while someone else fixed the broken Buddha.
The insanity and despair of it all hit me. We are no different from them. We are broken people looking to other broken people to fix our broken lives. We are glory-deficient people looking to other glory-deficient people to supply us with glory. Looking to other people to provide for us what they lack themselves is a fool’s errand. It is futile to look to other glory-hungry people to fully satisfy our glory hunger, and doing so leaves our souls empty. Source: J.R.
Vassar, Glory Hunger: God, the Gospel, and Our Quest for Something More (Crossway, 2014), pp. 35-36
Let’s get back to the Bible. There Judah is, wide-mouthed and staring at these statues and temples of gods that had obviously beaten their God (or so it seemed on their bad days). God has to remind them from time to time – it was YOU who had profaned my name and reputation (made my reputation common or just like all the other gods).
But these statues and temples are not my equal. And you know it. You are here not because of a lack of my might and power. You are here because of you. Because of your sin. Because of your pride and arrogance and lack of trust.
Don’t be tempted to trade the God of the universe in for Ishtar or Marduk. Trust Me and Me alone!
2. No comparison
26 Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one and calls forth each of them by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.”
America is swimming in a sea of Prozac, Zoloft, and Paxil! Prescriptions keep rising and rising suggesting we are a largely drugged culture trying to stave off depression at any price.
Researchers at Britain’s Essex University have found a much cheaper alternative with few side effects: nature. Seventy-one percent of those suffering from depression said a 30-minute walk outdoors “made them feel better about themselves.” Of the 108 patients who took part in conservation projects, went cycling, or hiked, 94 percent said the activities brought about greater mental health. Researchers are calling the new treatment ecotherapy.
Source: Corrinne Burns, “Antidepressant prescribing increases by 35% in six years,” The Pharmaceutical Journal (7-8-22) We should more accurately call it Godtherapy.
God reminds them…I created ALL of this – the earth, the stars, the great beyond, you. I created and own it all.
Forget that, and end up in captivity. Remember that, and know your freedom.
3. The characteristics of Yahweh
23 Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. 29 He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.
- Any passage of Scripture you read you must review and drink deeply of the characteristics, the holiness, of God. I loved doing that this week for this sermon.
- Everlasting (28) He was before this moment, He is in this moment, He will be after this moment.
- Creator (28) there is always a relationship between the Creator and the created – for instance, the Creator knows why the created is there in the first place. It implies a call to live in accordance with the purpose of the Creation.
- Unwearied (28) – God is above physical weariness.
- Bigger than our brains (28) – There is much we can know about God as this list attests, but there is also much that is much that simply can’t fit inside our craniums. The word for that is mystery, and we ought to think of it as a beautiful thing.
- Giver (29) – what He has (He does not grow tired or weary) He wants to give to His children who – at that point – were depressed and tired and discouraged in Babylon….
Tim Keller once said that a Sunday school teacher changed his life with a simple illustration.
The teacher said, “Let’s assume the distance between the earth and the sun (92 million miles was reduced to the thickness of this sheet of paper. If that is the case, then the distance between the earth and the nearest star would be a stack of papers 70 feet high. And the diameter of the galaxy would be a stack of papers 310 miles high.” Then Keller’s teacher added, “The galaxy is just a speck of dust in the universe, yet Jesus holds the universe together by the word of his power.”
Finally, the teacher asked her students, “Now, is this the kind of person you ask into your life to be your assistant?” Source: Timothy Keller, from the sermon “The Gospel and Your Self”
4. The benefits of serving a God like ours
29 He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. 30 Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; 31 but those who wait/hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not be faint.
- And what does He want us to have?
√ When in exile, we can nonetheless be home in Him.
√ When we feel weary or weak, He wants to grant us strength.
√ When stumbling and falling He can give us the capacity to walk, run and even fly.
√ When old, He wants to give us the spiritual energy and fortitude of the young.