“Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlastiong God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearhable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. 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; they shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:28-31
Have you ever been in that “deer in the headlights” moment when your spouse somewhat frustratedly says, “Don’t you know?! Didn’t you listen to me?!” And, we regrettably acknowledge our failure to remember or pay attention to what our beloved has said.
Well, that is kind of the tone and intent of the two questions that the prophet Isaiah poses to God’s people. They had forgotten or failed to pay attention to the vital truth of God that they desperately needed for sanctification, sanity, stability, and strength.
In this passage there are at least three great truths of God that we ought to know:
1. Don’t you know that the covenant keeping God (“LORD”/”Yahweh”) does not give out or give up? “He does not faint, or grow weary.” When someone faints they succumb to some circumstance outside of their control that causes them to give out. For whatever reason (fright, poor blood circulation, pain, etc.) their body can take no more, and it gives out. The everlasting God is not subject to the pressures and surprises of persons or circumstances. He will never be forced to faint. He will never give out in a moment of our need. Nor, will he “grow weary.” Which is to say that he will never give up out of frustration or discouragement due to an inability to accomplish what he wants. For he is the “Creator of the ends of the earth.” Nothing stands in the way of the Almighty! He does all that he pleases. This is good news for us as God’s children. He won’t give up on us, nor will he give out on us when we need him most.
2. Don’t you know that our God knows? “His understanding is unsearchable.” The Lord knows! He knows you and me. He knows us personally and intimately (Ps. 139:1-6). He knows our families, churches, communities, countries. He knows what we need; when we need it; and how to make it happen. He knows the end from the beginning (Is. 46:10). He possess all knowledge and all wisdom. Just look at the world with all of its intricate details, multiple varieties, purposeful systems, and immeasurable vastness! The Lord created and sustains it all by the word of his power (Gen. 1:1-3; Ps. 33:6,9; Heb. 1:3). Our God’s understanding is unsearchable! We do not face a problem that he can not solve. We do not have a need that he cannot meet. We do not have a lack that he cannot supply.
3. Don’t you know that the Lord is a willing Giver? “He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength.” Our God is a generous Giver! He willingly gives power, ability, and strength to his children who would otherwise give up and give out. Unlike God we do faint and grow weary. Thankfully, our Lord generously gives us the power to achieve and to persevere. The apostle Paul wrote, “He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it,” and, “…the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one” (1 Thess. 5:24; 2 Thess. 3:3).
In our stubborn independence, even the strong weaken and grow weary, and yield to exhaustion and frustration. But, for those who know the Lord and therefore actively (prayer, faith, worship) wait for him, we will experience the benefits of our all-sufficient God; our strength will be renewed. We will soar in faith and faithfulness. We will run and walk without wearying and fainting.
Don’t you know?
I would like to share a quote from Puritan John Owen that I read recently. It comes from Ray Ortlund’s book, “The Gospel: How The Church Portrays The Beauty Of Christ.”
“A man may love another as his own soul, yet his love may not be able to help him. He may pity him in prison, but not relieve him, bemoan him in misery, but not help him, suffer with him in trouble, but not ease him. We cannot love grace into a child, nor mercy into a friend; we cannot love them into heaven, though it may be the greatest desire of our soul… But the love of Christ, being the love of God, is effective and fruitful in producing all the good things which he wills for his beloved. He loves life, grace and holiness into us; he loves us into covenant, loves us into heaven.” (pp.47-48)
Owen captures well the mighty love of Jesus! It is a powerful love that accomplishes all that it desires for its beloved. The love of Christ cannot fail. It cannot come up short, for it is omnipotent, everlasting love which has been supremely displayed at the cross!
Brothers and sisters, no matter our life’s circumstances or heart’s condition, let us not shrink from drawing near to this mighty Lover. Rather, may we find ourselves continually coming to him over and over again. He will not despise nor disappoint his beloved. And wonder of wonders, the more we come to him, the more we become like him (2 Cor. 3:18).
“I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.” Jer. 31:3
“Oh, the deep, deep love of Jesus, vast, unmeasured, boundless, free! Rolling as a mighty ocean in its fullness over me! Underneath me, all around me, is the current of thy love – leading onward, leading homeward, to that glorious rest above!” — S. Trevor Francis
“I will keep your statutes; do not utterly forsake me!” — Psalm 119:8
In the first part of this verse, the psalmist expresses both his desire and resolve. “I will keep your statutes.” Because of his love for the Lord, he desires to obey, keep, and follow the Word of the Lord. Like a child desiring to please, honor, and love his father through obedience, so the psalmist desires to please, honor, and love his God by obeying his statutes. And, since this is his expressed desire, he resolves to do it. He pledges and commits himself to keep the Lord’s statutes.
So, if this is the psalmist’s expressed desire and resolve, why, then, does he boldly petition God with “do not utterly forsake me!”? I think it’s because having stated his intentions, he knows his own weakness and failings. In other words, this last phrase is the psalmist’s expression of dependence and reality. He needs the patient presence of God abiding in his life in order to help him fulfill his desire and maintain his resolve to keep the Lord’s statutes. Obedience is by grace!
The psalmist knows his own heart well. He aspires to know the blessedness of walking in the ways of the Lord (Ps 119:1-3), but he knows the reality: past failure and future failure. He is aware of the varying conditions of his heart that quench desire and derail resolve. He knows that at times he may be ignorant, lazy, fearful, discouraged, and susceptible to temptation (Ps 119:7, 9, 18, 25, 28, 29, etc.) So he prays, “Do not utterly forsake me!” “Lord, don’t leave me alone in my coldness and sin. Be patiently present with me to forgive me and to enable me to keep your statutes. I will keep your statutes.”
Of course, there is only one who has actually fulfilled this desire and kept his resolve, the Lord Jesus. He alone perfectly kept the statutes of the Lord. How strange it is then, to hear his cry from the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Until we remember that “he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed…the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Is. 53:5-6). Christ was forsaken so that we could be forgiven! Thankfully, God did not “utterly forsake” him. Rather, “God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it.” God did not abandon Christ in the grave, but raised him up declaring him to be both “Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:24-36).
May we be strengthened in the grace of the Lord Jesus to keep the Word of the Lord, knowing that because of Christ, God will never leave us nor forsake us (Heb. 13:5).
Chuck Cook is the pastor of Grace Bible Church - Rolla.