“Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not be faint” (Isaiah 40:30-31).
The Lord Jesus knew well where to turn for help as He pressed forward in the path of faith. God was His confidence, as the will of God was His delight, and He ceased not to turn to Him. His own strength might be weakened in the way (Ps. 102:23), but He knew where to find the source of strength unfailing, and to that source He ever turned.
The redeemed soul has also learned to turn to God, and as he deepens in this, and knows what it is to truly wait upon God, to be still and silent before Him, he finds the true secret and spring of strength and steadfastness in the way of the will of God. He can say truly, I have heard this, strength belongs unto God (Ps. 62:11).
This is a time when we need very definitely to wait upon Him.
We pray; we have our regular seasons of prayer. This is necessary and right. But, we also need to wait upon God; especially at a moment like the present, with its personal and collective exercises. We need to take special time now to definitely wait upon God.
Great and grave issues are ahead; and to be right with God at the present, and also to be right in the future, it is essential for each one to have to do with Himself in reality. One cannot take the place of another in this. Each for himself must in faith and exercise get to God—to the everlasting God, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ; our God and Father through grace. How good it is to know that He welcomes us to draw near to Him!
When the face is set purposefully in this direction, difficulties usually arise at once. The world, the flesh and the devil oppose, for it is the way of the victor—the way of our Lord Jesus Christ. Even a saint of God may be the unconscious instrument to hinder. Some near and dear one may unwittingly interfere. Pressure of work may distract and clamour for the precious time set apart. But that is all the more reason why the firm purpose to wait definitely upon God should be adhered to. The work will be well and worthily done afterwards, and with much more grace and ease. Every true-hearted servant of Christ has proved this; therefore say unto thy soul, “Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and He shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord” (Ps. 27:14).
A well-known labourer in the work of the Lord was once told that a large amount of extra work awaited him. He answered, “I shall therefore need to take more time to wait upon God before attending to it!” There lay the secret of the success of this much used servant of the Lord. Strength, grace and wisdom, along with peace of mind by the Spirit, become ours experimentally as we wait upon God.
We speak, of course, of those who know redemption in Christ through His blood, and are sealed by the Holy Ghost, of those who know access to the Father through our Lord Jesus Christ. To such, mere book prayer could not suffice. They may be benefited by reading written prayers in the Bible and elsewhere; but their own hearts and souls must be before God in unhindered communion. Nor could book prayer be well-pleasing to God. He is our Father, and looks to hear the breathings of the heart of each one of His own, however simple. Even an earthly parent could not find pleasure in a child who could only ask or speak from a book. It would be unnatural, and painful; whereas the feeblest utterances direct from the youngest lips give pleasure to a parent. Immediate dealing with God is what the real soul must have.
The Apostle Paul bowed his knees before the Father on behalf of the saints at Ephesus. He asked that they might be strengthened (Eph. 3:14-16). He had told them in chapter 1:3, that they were blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies in Christ; but they needed strength to enter into this, and to be for God’s glory here. We are blessed up there; but we need strength down here. We know where to find it. Strength belongeth unto God! What then is to be done? “Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.” Pray? Yes: only we must WAIT UPON GOD!
In this restless age it is this waiting which many are missing. Even true believers will contrast “being practical” with it; just as if waiting upon God was not a most practical thing, as well as producing most practical results. Later in the letter to the Ephesians, the Apostle exhorts us to “prayer and supplication in the Spirit”; and adds, “watching unto this very thing” (6:18). In the Colossian letter, he exhorts to persevering prayer, adding, “watching in it with thanksgiving.” If we are to succeed in waiting on the Lord, there must be the watching unto it and the watching in it.
The second and more inward part of the book of Isaiah opens at chapter 49. Great and wonderful events are foreseen and foretold in it. Mighty and moving scenes are opened out for us. The Servant of the Lord is coming! The pleasure of the Lord is to prosper in His hand! The distracted nations and their kings shall be astonished! Jesus, the despised Nazarene, the shoot out of Jesse’s roots, brings justice and order, glory and blessing to the earth! The great God, the only God, the just God and a Saviour, brings all to pass through the suffering One; He is God’s personal Servant, and Israel is His national servant. He is personally the Son-Servant, and Israel is nationally the son-servant (compare Hosea 11:1; Matt. 2:15; and Rom. 9:4, where read sonship for adoption). The first said, I have spent My strength for nought. The second became utterly weak both politically and numerically. How then shall glory and blessing come to the nations of the earth? The answer is found in Him to whom belongeth strength and wisdom; and the Servant says, My God shall be My strength; then He replies, I will preserve Thee to establish the earth (49:5, 8); and to depleted Israel He says, The smallest shall become a strong nation (60:22). Therefore the prophet can speak comfort to the heart of God’s people; only their mind must be changed, and their strength too. They must learn that all flesh is as grass, and turn alone to God for strength.
Have we learned that vain is the help of man? Oh, then, how blessed it is that God invites us to turn alone to Him! to Himself! to the everlasting God, who fainteth not, neither is weary! to Him who giveth power and strength to those that wait upon Him!
The word “wait” in Isaiah 40:31 has the thought of simply and singly looking to Him. It also embraces waiting for Him, and expecting from Him. It is a very full word. That accounts for it being variously translated. One word in English does not give the fullness of its meaning. It is upon God alone then we are to wait. We are to look to Him; to wait for Him; and to expect from Him only. In this exercise we deepen in the knowledge of that which is before the mind of God; and that displaces things which have been before our own minds that are not according to His. Who has been HIS counsellor? Who showed HIM the way of understanding? HE makes known to us HIS counsels, and directs our minds in the way of understanding, as we wait upon Him. His thoughts, not those that originate in our minds, are to abide! His strength, not ours, will prevail! and it is this which He would have us to possess. He says, The glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the Lord has spoken it; and again, They that wait upon the Lord shall renew (change) their strength (40:5, 31). The word of our God shall stand for ever (v. 8). Let the eyes look up to the heavens—He created them, and all their starry host. Let them look abroad upon the earth beneath—He weighed the mountains; He meted out the dust of the land; and the waters of the sea; He measured in the hollow of His hand! They all manifest His eternal power and divinity. Even the nations, so prominent now by their strifes and ingenuity in destruction, are to Him as the small dust of a balance. “All nations before Him are as nothing,” and vanity! They are counted to Him less than a cypher (v. 17)! WAIT UPON HIM!
How He values those who do so, both old and young. They are spoken of as His flock in this very chapter, which describes the majesty and might of God so magnificently. He feeds them as a shepherd, and gathers the lambs with His arm, carrying them in His bosom; gently leading those that are with young. With what confidence then we may WAIT UPON HIM. His mind and strength are to be ours. We thus change our strength.
The youth who trusts merely in his own vigour faints and grows weary. The young man who seems so tireless in his natural energy shall fall. But those that wait upon God find strength unfailing. Nature fails, but God fails not. Weariness and fainting are unknown to Him; and it is He who gives strength to those that look to Him alone; so that they may rise above the distractions of this world; or better still, run through them without any weariness; or still better, walk in quietness with God in spite of them, and not faint (v. 31). There it is:—Waiting and its consequences;—mounting up, running and walking in new strength from God! Oh, may my soul know this change of strength in an increasing measure! Therefore will I say to my soul: “Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and He shall strengthen thine heart; wait, I say, on the Lord.”
The special character of our strengthening today is according to the riches of THE FATHER’S GLORY, so that Christ may dwell in our hearts through faith, and the wide reaches of glory in heaven and earth, of which He is the glorious Head and Centre, might be fully apprehended by us; and that we might know the love of Christ which passes knowledge. This is peculiar to the assembly, and is not found in the Old Testament. Nevertheless, the Father now known through the Son is the everlasting God of Isaiah 40:28. He is the Creator of the utmost bounds of the universe. He gives being, character and name to every family in the heavens and upon the earth. He is over all, and through all, and in us all. Let our souls wait upon Him. He is able to do far beyond what we ask or even think, according to His in working power. To Him be glory in the assembly in Christ Jesus for ever and ever.