Tuesday

10 January 2012

Isaiah 40:25-31

"Those 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." (v. 31)

Background

In yesterday's passage the exiled Jews were reminded that God had not forgotten them, had forgiven them and was offering them the hope of a return home, preparing a way for them through the wilderness. Today Isaiah reminds his readers why they should place their trust in God: the God of Israel is the creator of the world (verse 28) and has no equal (verse 25).

For a people who have been held captive by the most powerful country in the region it would have been natural to conclude that the gods of Babylon were more powerful than the God of Israel. Terrestrial battles were not only won or lost on visible battlefields, but also through the heavenly battles between gods. And whilst the Jews had a long history of recognising the superiority of the God of Israel, they did not discount the presence of other gods who favoured other peoples.

It is only in the Babylonian exile that a more explicit monotheism (the belief that there is only one God) starts to emerge. Previously they understood that the God of Israel had chosen them and was far more powerful than other gods such as Baal (1 Kings 18). Now, and throughout the coming chapters, the prophet makes it clear that there is only one God. No one and nothing can compare with him.

If the exiles have any doubt at all they should turn to the everlasting God who created the ends of the earth (verse 28). They may still feel weak and powerless, but God will give them the necessary strength to overcome any challenge. Whilst they currently may be physically constrained in a foreign land, if they put their trust in God they will be able to fly freely and with power like an eagle. Earthly rulers will not be able to prevent this.

To Ponder

Look out at the world around you. Consider God, the creator of the world, and give thanks.

Think about times when you have felt weak or powerless to change things and then imagine God lifting you up like an eagle. How does it feel?

We can feel helpless when faced with huge issues such as climate change. How does this reading give us hope that we can make a difference?


Bible notes author

Dr Richard Vautrey

Richard Vautrey is a local preacher and church steward in Leeds, and a former vice-president of the Methodist Conference. He works as a GP, is an elected member of both the BMA council and Royal College of GPs council as well as being the deputy chair of the BMA's GP committee.