Week 5: Old to New
Writer: John Arnold
Key Passage: Isaiah 40:28-31; Matthew 11:28-30
Big Idea: As we close out the year and look ahead to the new, we are reminded of God’s ability to bring restoration to where there was brokenness, strength to weakness, and rest to the weary. We begin the New Year by remembering to start first with our eyes on the Lord.
Isaiah 40:31 “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.”
There are particular times in life when God uses parts of the Scriptures to encourage and sustain us when we are struggling. This was true for me some years ago when I became discouraged, confused, and generally very down about a ministry in which I was involved. It was not going well and was experiencing failures and significant problems. I would describe myself as tired, weary, and overburdened and I did not have answers for what to do. I was to teach at a small group, I definitely was not inspired, and was left wondering what I could possibly share with them. But then I discovered and studied Isaiah, chapter 40. The result was that I found myself to be inspired, strengthened, and wonderfully and mysteriously at peace. The Lord had comforted and helped me.
In this chapter of Isaiah, God is speaking about what He does, what He will do, and who He is. He speaks of the comfort that forgiveness provides for His people. Matthew 3:3 explains that this scripture refers to John the Baptist (40:3 ‘A voice is calling, “Clear the way for the LORD in the wilderness; Make smooth in the desert a highway for our God”). The Lord will come to us. Then dramatic expressions are spoken of the significance of the Lord’s glory (40:5) and of the Word of God (40:8 “The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever”). Isaiah’s proclamation in 40:9 (“Here is your God!”) emphasizes the promise that our Lord God will come as ruler and shepherd to His people. He is Creator, all wise, all knowing, all powerful, rules over all the nations, all things, all of creation. Who can give the Lord counsel? There are no equals; nothing and no one can be compared to Him. Isaiah asks in 40:21, “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?” He is sovereign! Our ruling Lord is Judge of all the earth; how can we think the Lord does not know or understand our ways and what we need. He is the Everlasting God who gives strength and power to us, no matter how tired, discouraged, or weary we may be.
We have been reminded this Advent season that God came to us in the person of Jesus Christ. Our Messiah, our God, was born a man and revealed as the fulfillment of the messianic prophecies of Isaiah in the New Testament. Described in Isaiah, He came to us in the person of Jesus. And the Lord, in Isaiah, tells us to wait for Him (which has a further meaning of trusting and hoping). As we wait, we will be empowered and strengthened, not tire or become weary (Isaiah 40:28-31). Further, Jesus came down from heaven to us, and He invites us to now come to Him in Matthew 11:28-30, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light”.
I do not remember how the problems and circumstances that caused my being so down actually resolved, and of course I have had other times of being weary and discouraged. But I did learn that faith in our sovereign God, in the greatness of God, has most certainly been for me a solution to times of discouragement and disappointment. My prayer is that you will have confidence in His love and wonderful kindness and that He will strengthen you when discouraged and struggling. Our life and way forward is in Him. In the coming year believe that God, the Sovereign Lord is for you and will be with you. For as the apostle Paul has written, “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! …For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.” Romans 11:33,36.
Reading: Isaiah 40:28-31, Matthew 11:28-30
- In what specific way do you understand waiting and hoping in the Lord as written at the end of Isaiah?
- How do you believe Jesus gives ‘rest’ to those who take upon them His ‘yoke’?
- When you are discouraged, down, and tired, how do you respond spiritually?
- What specific parts of the Scriptures in this study did you find most relevant to your spiritual life?
Weekly Prayer Focus:
Pray our next lead pastor would be filled with God’s wisdom, council and knowledge. May he delight in the fear of the Lord.