Summary: This is an overview of Isaiah 40-44 with a focus on God and his promises in Isaiah 41.
Intro to Is 40-44
Aug 19, 2012
There are lots of great reasons to study the Bible, as opposed to just reading it or just listening to sermons about it (though both are good!). One of the biggest reasons is this – often what God is actually saying is much bigger than a sermon, and gets missed if we are reading but not studying.
A great case in point: the first four chapters of the second part of the book of Isaiah. Now, where does this come from? God took me to a verse in Is 43 as I started to plan our church retreat coming soon, verse 19 (more about the retreat in a moment!). So I did what I always do, I start to read around the verse – before and after – to make sure I get the context right. Often it is a section and I can get the context quickly, but this time I had to go back to chapter 40 and to the middle of 44. More than 100 verses! And God spoke great things through them all, some of which were present in the themes last week about how big God is and how much He loves us, and some of which we have already experienced together this morning in worship.
Now, before I outline that for us, I’m going to talk for a moment about how important it is that we actually dive in to God’s Word together, and how we intend to do so this fall. We’ve revamped some things at an Elders meeting this week, and I want to share those with you. See, if our “Big Goal” in life is to follow Jesus, and His “Big Commands” were “love God”, and “love others”, and if we actually buy into our church vision of “Love First”, then we have to grow in depth of our experience of God through His Word. The Bible cannot be a book on a shelf. We have to get into it, study it, wrestle with it, and ultimately OBEY it. We value that extremely highly here. So here is our plan to grow that value and our love of God through His Word: Starting September 16, we are going to shape our Sunday mornings like this:
9:45 Preparation for worship
10:00 Multi-generational worship (Scripture, songs of worship, prayer, offering)
10:45 Greeting time
10:46 Teaching Time: Adults (sermon+)
Sr. youth (with Darcy Smith and ?)
Jr. youth (with Pastor Garret and ?)
11:30ish Fellowship (around a cup of coffee )
Once a month, on Communion Sunday, the “teaching block” will be all of us together.
We worked this out at our Elders’ meeting this week (with input from Gail of CE), and we started to get really excited about the possibilities, talk to any one of us for more clarification.
Back to Isaiah:
So as I was saying, I was working on planning the church retreat which is coming up very soon. A brochure is available with all the details, but it has flowed out of and around a verse from Isaiah 43:19: “19 For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?” And that promise, made long ago by God to His people in a very different time and place, seems to be being repeated to us by the Holy Spirit today. I have felt it in my spirit. Around our Elder’s table we have felt it. We have felt it in our services, especially back in July when we heard testimony from our new Elders. We believe: God is about to do something new.
This retreat is an important starting point. So important, that we want everyone who is able to come. We have made the cost for the weekend “by donation”, so that everyone can come and contribute what you are able. And we have carefully thought and prayed about how to get away together, be refreshed by the Holy Spirit, be healed from some of the issues we have been facing and what those have done to us, have a great time, and meet God. Please, come.
But that verse is in a broader context in Isaiah, so broad that I can’t even outline it properly today. So we are going to explore it together over the next 4 weeks, both in our time of worship and our time of teaching. It contains some verses that are famous, dearly loved, and very applicable to us, like:
“Comfort, comfort my people,” says your God. 2 “Speak tenderly to Jerusalem. Tell her that her sad days are gone and her sins are pardoned.” (40:1)
“30 Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion. 31 But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.”