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Yet those who wait for the LordWill gain new strength: Isaiah 40:18-31

Isaiah 40:18-31

New American Standard Bible


To whom then will you liken God?

Or what likeness will you compare with Him?


As for the idol, a craftsman casts it,

A goldsmith plates it with gold,

And a silversmith fashions chains of silver.


He who is too impoverished for such an offering

Selects a tree that does not rot;

He seeks out for himself a skillful craftsman

To prepare an idol that will not totter.


Do you not know? Have you not heard?

Has it not been declared to you from the beginning?

Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth?


It is He who sits above the circle of the earth,

And its inhabitants are like grasshoppers,

Who stretches out the heavens like a curtain

And spreads them out like a tent to live in.


It is He who reduces rulers to nothing,

Who makes the judges of the earth meaningless.


Scarcely have they been planted,

Scarcely have they been sown,

Scarcely has their stock taken root in the earth,

But He merely blows on them, and they wither,

And the storm carries them away like stubble.


“To whom then will you compare Me

That I would be his equal?” says the Holy One.


Raise your eyes on high

And see who has created these stars,

The One who brings out their multitude by number,

He calls them all by name;

Because of the greatness of His might and the strength of His power,

Not one of them is missing.


Why do you say, Jacob, and you assert, Israel,

“My way is hidden from the Lord,

And the justice due me escapes the notice of my God”?


Do you not know? Have you not heard?

The Everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth

Does not become weary or tired.

His understanding is unsearchable.


He gives strength to the weary,

And to the one who lacks might He increases power.


Though youths grow weary and tired,

And vigorous young men stumble badly,


Yet those who wait for the Lord

Will gain new strength;

They will mount up with wings like eagles,

They will run and not get tired,

They will walk and not become weary.


The Lord asks the question “to whom will you liken God, or what likeness will you compare Him?” This is meant to make those in Israel think. It simply reveals the foolishness of trusting in false gods. Israel existed in covenant relationship with the Living God. That means God not only promised to provide, but also fight their battles. But too often Israel longed to be like the other nations and take on their worship practices.

The Lord points out concerning an idol: a craftsman casts it, a goldsmith plates it with gold, a silversmith fashions it with a chain. Oftentimes those who had idols in their homes would suspend them with chains. The Lord commands Israel not to worship idols nor the works of their hands. Lest we think that Israel is the only one that struggles with idolatry, how many today worship the work of their hands. So many things today can become idols in our lives. Anything we give our affection to over Jesus can become an idol. To evaluate ourselves we simply need to ask these questions: where am I spending my money, time, and attention. If we find there are things that garner that which belongs to Christ we must correct it.

But we must remember that when the Lord brought correction, the purpose was always to call the people to return to Him. It is very easy to get caught up in sin and idolatry. But when God brings forth a corrective word it is so important for us to respond rightly to the Lord concerning His word.

The irony here is that the Lord speaks of an idol that will not topple. People are forsaking the worship of the true Living God who is without limit when it comes to power and might, and instead chooses an idol made from human hands that could topple if not properly supported.

The Lord points out that those who are poor and not able to overlay with gold and silver simply choose a tree and shape it into an idol. But again here is the foolishness. God has made the tree. God has spoken all things into existence. But the deceptive draw of the worship of idols was often sexual practices that appealed to the flesh, but were against God and His commands. God calls us to flee from sin because it is the very thing that destroys our lives and the purposes that God has for us.


The Lord asks “have you not understood from the foundations of the earth?”. God has revealed Himself through His creation. Humanity is without excuse. The Lord asks “do you not know, have you not heard?” There is nowhere to hide from the greatness and glory of Almighty God. His glory is revealed in creation. It is the height of foolishness to look at the glory of creation and claim there is no God. It is simply a rejection based on the pride of man. For when man admits there is a God they are accountable for their actions and their lives.

It is God alone who rules the earth. In the book of Genesis when God created the sky it speaks of that which He created like a vault (Gen 1:6-7). The purpose of the vault is to separate the water above from the water below. From our vantage point the sky may look massive and without end. But here we see that God alone sits above it. No one is greater than God Almighty. We live in dark and difficult times and a right understanding of God’s greatness and sovereignty is very key for this hour.

To God Almighty we who are on this earth are like mere grasshoppers. God always uses language to communicate to us the truth of who He is and how great and awesome God is. When we as human beings look down upon grasshoppers they may seem insignificant and easily crushed by us. But the greatness of God is not only is He all powerful, He is also full of mercy and love. For He so loved us He sent His Son to die in our place and take the punishment and wrath we deserve.

The Lord stretches out the heavens like a curtain and spreads them out like a tent. It shows us how truly awesome God is. To stretch out the heavens like a tent or curtain shows next to God nothing compares. Again from our vantage point the heavens seem massive, but with a single word by the Living God all was created and all can be destroyed. Daily our faith and trust must be in our Lord and Savior.

God has made His power and might clear through His word and His actions through creation and in life. Here the Lord makes it clear that God alone reduces rulers to nothing and makes the judges of the earth meaningless. That word meaningless means wilderness, wasteland, and empty. God brings them to nothing. God is communicating how foolish it is to look at the present kingdoms that existed around Israel and place their trust and allegiance to them.

God is always calling us to a more intimate place with Him. The more we rely and trust on the Living God, the more His kingdom is increased in our lives. Even in our present day it may seem rulers operate without restraint. But next to the Living God they are nothing. Our hope is in Christ alone. It doesn’t mean on this earth we will not suffer or go through difficulty. But no matter what we face we must remember how great God is. All things are in His hands and His love for us is everlasting.


These verses give us a picture of how awesome and powerful the Lord is. He merely blows upon the leaders of the nations and they are uprooted. Here it says “scarcely they have been planted, scarcely have they been sown, scarcely has their stock taken root in the earth.” It would seem those who are in positions of power from our perspective are mighty and immoveable. But next to the Living God they are nothing. This is vitally important for Israel when they entered into exile and bondage to Babylon. The Lord is calling them daily to trust in Him and know that it is He alone who holds all things in His hands.

The Lord asks the question “to whom then will you compare me that I would be his equal?” After God has laid out His greatness and His power the answer to this question is no one. But to the Israelites of Isaiah day they may have looked at Assyria or in the future looked at Babylon and believed these empires had power without limit. Even today we look at many of the nations around the world and may believe they are mighty and powerful. But no one can compare with the Living God.

When we have a personal relationship with Jesus and live in covenant with Him, this should give us great peace during very hard and difficult times. The reason we often face fear, discouragement, worry, and doubt is we have removed our eyes from the Lord. We have become focused on something else. Being in the word daily and immersing our lives in the scriptures will guard our hearts against every dart of the enemy.

The Lord says to “raise your eyes on high”. The Lord desires that they look to the heavens. Those in Babylon worshipped the stars. But God points their attention to the stars not that Israel would worship them, but understand the greatness of God. God points out that He brings out their multitude by number, He calls them all by name, because of the greatness of His power, might, and strength.

God shows time and time again in scripture the greatness of who He is next to His creation. He is fully in control. He has spoken all things into existence. He holds the stars in His hands. He calls them by name. He spoke them into existence. To worship that which is created over the one who has created them is simply foolishness. Paul tells us the result of this is it darkens the heart of the individual and causes them to chase after wickedness (Romans 1:18-32). When we have a right understanding of God and we rightly worship Him, we will see the world through His eyes and understanding. The nations, its rulers, and all of creation will seem like nothing compared to the Living God.


There are times in life and seasons in life where we begin to believe God has forgotten us or forsaken us. Here the people began to believe and complain that God had abandoned them. Here they claimed their way was hidden from the Lord. But this is not the truth of who God is or what He does.

When we examine God’s word we find that He is faithful always. He has promised not to leave us nor forsake us (Deut 31:6). He has numbered the hairs upon our heads and no one can snatch us out of the Father’s hand. Israel’s hardship was due to their own disobedience and rebellion, but God never abandoned them. He is the covenant keeping God. Even when we fail on our end of the covenant, God never forsakes us or abandons us. Every purpose in our lives is brought to pass by His power and His grace.

God’s justice is perfect and has a perfect time in which it is poured out. We may cry out to God for justice over and over again and initially not see anything happening. But we must remember God’s desire is for the wicked to come to repentance. He takes no pleasure in the destruction of the wicked (Ezek 33:11). But in God’s appointed time as we cry out day and night, the Lord shall pour out His perfect justice in due time.

The ways of the Lord are unsearchable. His ways are higher than our ways. The way God deals with things in His time is outside of our understanding. We can become so frustrated when we look at things from our vantage point and fail to understand that God is all knowing. Nothing is outside of His sight or understanding.

This is the everlasting God we are talking about. This isn’t some idol or false deity. This is the Almighty creator of all things. Too many times we put God in a book. We put limits on God and His timing based on our limited human understanding. The Lord doesn’t become tired or weary because His power and might are without limit. God never comes to a point where He loses sight of us. He sees all things. Even in our most difficult moments, the Lord is working as we trust Him and rely upon Him. When Israel went into exile for seventy years in Babylon I am sure there were many moments in the lives of those in that generation where they believed God had abandoned them. But this is why we walk according to faith and not feelings. Our faith is based upon the truth of scriptures, not passing and fleeting emotions.

God gives strength to the weary. He gives might to those who lack it. Paul said in our weakness His strength is perfected (2 Cor 12:9-11). Paul found out when he prayed three times for the thorn in the flesh to be removed that God’s answer was not to remove the thorn, but declare to Paul my grace is sufficient. There is a purpose in the pain. There is a purpose in the struggle. But through it all we must remember that God is faithful. His power is without end. No matter how frail or tired we feel, we must trust in the Lord and in the power of His might.

The enemy will overwhelm us with false accusations and lies. He will challenge the truth of God’s word and lie to us telling us that God has abandoned us. But it is all a lie and deception. Our hearts and minds must be fixed upon the Lord and His purposes. Not upon the lies of the enemy. Every day we must make a choice: am I going to base my life upon the truth of scripture and God’s word or the lies and deceptions of Satan.

The Lord says “though youths grow weary and tired”. This word youths speaks of young men who were chosen based on their physical strength and athletic ability. They were chosen to be great and mighty warriors. The Lord says “and vigorous young men stumble badly”. The point God is making is the frailty of human strength is nothing compared to the power of God. The Lord tells us it is not by might or power, but by His spirit that things are accomplished (Zechariah 4:6).

This is the key to overcoming the enemy. Not relying upon our own strength, wisdom, or power. Actually surrendering all things over to God. Giving the battle into His hands. Abiding in Him and immersing our lives in the promises and truth of His word.

Those who wait upon the Lord will gain new strength or renew their strength. What does it mean to wait upon the Lord? There exists this tension in the place of waiting for the Lord. When we wait upon the Lord it requires endurance. When we are called to wait there is a deep maturing that happens in our life. Our human sinful nature wants what it wants and wants it now. But God is all about putting to death the sinful nature, and as it is crucified what comes forth is the character of Christ produced within us.

The place of waiting upon the Lord is not a place of simply sitting around like we are at a bus stop. It actually speaks of pursuing God diligently in the place of waiting. The question is: what is it that we truly desire, is it God or the thing we are pursuing. What I have found in various places of waiting in my life is that as I simply pursue God daily and desire to know Him in a more intimate way, that which I am waiting for will come forth in His time.

But the promise of God for those who wait is they will renew their strength. The Lord says they will mount up wings like eagles. Old eagles as they aged would shed their old feathers and what would come forth was new feathers. They would rejuvenate them. The Lord says they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary. God is saying to us who wait upon Him and His promises is that His grace and His power is sufficient. Nothing we are going to face in this life is greater than the God we serve.

During Israel’s day they looked at the nations that were surrounding them and coming against them. Often they would make alliances with ungodly nations but the issue was their worship practices would infect the nation of Israel. God called Israel to trust Him alone. To walk by faith. To bring all things before Him in prayer. For it is the Lord who would fight their battles and time and time again God demonstrated His faithfulness.

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