What do we need when all hope seems lost? When we’re exhausted and can’t seem to squeeze even an ounce of strength out of our weariness? We need the one who, unlike us, does not faint or grow weary. We need the everlasting God. Come and learn about the greatness of the everlasting God who is all that his people need him to be. These are notes from the Preaching the Word Commentary volume on Isaiah by Raymond C. Ortlund Jr. Let’s see how Ray unpacks the last few verses of Isaiah 40.

God’s Greatness

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.

Isaiah 40:28

Everything that matters in life hangs on who God is. What does Isaiah say? Four things.

1. God is Eternal and Everlasting

You and I are locked inside a narrow little slot called “right now.” The present moment is all we experience. And the urgency of this moment can squeeze us with its pressures, so that we make costly mistakes out of our own exaggerated sense of emergency. We always sin too soon. But God is not confined to time. In his sweeping eternality God is equally present to all points of time at once. He is always out ahead of us. So we should never panic if things aren’t falling together according to our deadlines. He is working his everlasting purpose out in his own way, at his own pace, without our hurried, nervous desperation.

2. God is the Creator of Everything

God is the Creator of everything all the way to the very “ends of the earth.” There is not a single square inch on this earth unknown to God or lying beyond the range of his presence. Anywhere life may take us, whether Babylonian exile or a lonely hotel room or an intensive care unit, God will already be there for us. We lie in his everlasting grace and power at all times, everywhere.

3. God is Always at Work

We tire daily. We need nourishment and rest every day. About a third of our lives asleep in bed, recouping our strength, and then we die. God does not need restoration. He is an eternally inexhaustible fountain of exuberance and joy. In any given event in your life, he is actively accomplishing about 10,000 things you aren’t even aware of. And he never grows tired or weary but is forever fresh, always alert, always able.

4. God is Wise

God is wise, and “his understanding is unsearchable.” In other words, we can’t figure God out. We often try to find a deepened insight into the meaning and purpose of events. And it is striking when we can trace the movements of his hand. But for every event that we can interpret, aren’t there dozens of mysteries as well? That’s what the Bible is affirming here. Life is often bewildering to us, but it isn’t bewildering to God. There are depths to God’s wisdom we can’t access. If our lives are not exactly the way we would like them to be, we can be sure they are precisely the way God wants them to be. He knows what he’s doing. So we don’t live by explanations; we live by promises. We don’t figure God out by our brains but submit to him by faith.

What Difference Does God Make?

God is always right now, always right here, always at work and always wise. And that changes everything, doesn’t it? Why? Because God is not only glorious in himself; he also shares his strength with us in our weakness.

He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength.

Isaiah 40:29

God wants to get involved in our subjectivity by making his power perfect in our weakness. The word group “faint” and “be/grow weary” is the key to this passage, occurring seven times. God is speaking to weak, tired, discouraged people. Who are “the faint” in verse 29? They’re the complainers quoted in verse 27. So, how are these people faint and weak and weary? They’re weak in faith. Their fatigue is spiritual. They’re weak in courage. They feel like quitting. And it’s weaklings like them (and like us) who receive the power of God to live with our heads held high and with a lively confidence in a big God, because we can see in his promise a bright future for us out there beyond the barbed wire. People who find their reasons for living in God have an uncanny resilience about them. They live in ongoing renewal.

How does God do this?

He Renews Those Who Wait for Him

Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; 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; walk and not faint.

Isaiah 40:30, 31

Isaiah’s point in verse 30 is blunt. Human strength at its best, in its prime, will inevitably fail. We’re no match for the demands of life. But we’re not doomed to our own potential. There is a power beyond ourselves, and we can experience it.

In verse 31 Isaiah is not merely saying, “God enables those who draw strength from his promise.” He is saying, “God enables those who draw strength from his promise to do the impossible.” The weak soar like eagles and run without tiring and walk without quitting. Their confidence in God will not let them lie down and give up. It’s not a matter of willpower but of expectancy.

The key is the word “wait.” What does it mean? To wait for the Lord means to live in confident, eager suspense. It means to live with the tension of promises revealed but not yet fulfilled. This waiting is not killing time. It isn’t sitting around, drumming your fingers. It is waiting on tip-toe, waiting with eager longing. Waiting is forgetting what lies behind, straining forward to what lies ahead, and pressing on toward the goal (Philippians 3:13, 14). It isn’t erratic bursts of hyperactivity within a general pattern of boredom. It is steady, rugged progress, sustained by the conviction that the display of God’s glory in Christ is yours.

Commentary from the Trenches with Preaching the Word

The Preaching the Word Commentary comes from pastors who have labored over the word in caring for their congregations. You can learn more about this series from its editor and author of numerous volumes, R. Kent Hughes, in this blog post. Or go directly to our store and purchase the Preaching the Word Commentary through the link below!

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