As a preacher of the Gospel, I am a speaker. But I find myself becoming a listener as much as a speaker. As a matter of fact, I find myself doing more and more listening, listening to the heartbreaking situations in which many people exist. I use the word “exist” because “live” seems to be an exaggeration. The two emotions that most of these people express are “hopelessness” and “helplessness.” Their situation seems hopeless and they are helpless to do anything about it. I’ve been there myself, haven’t you?
But as always, the Bible has something to say about this. The truth is, when we consider God in the equation of our existence, nothing is either “hopeless” or “helpless.” There is HOPE because there is HELP.
Listen to these words in Isaiah 64:4,5: “Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who ACTS ON BEHALF OF THOSE WAIT FOR HIM. YOU COME TO THE HELP OF THOSE WHO GLADLY DO RIGHT, WHO REMEMBER YOUR WAYS. (New International Version).
If you go back and read verses 1-4, you will find that this is a prayer for divine intervention. The things for which Isaiah prays are things that only God can do. This is often God’s strategy — to allow things to get so bad we realize only God can help.
I. God Works on Our Behalf. “ He works for those who wait for Him.”
Isaiah is overwhelmed by this—who has ever seen a God like You? he asks. This is one of the distinctive and unique qualities of our God: He works for us.
The characteristic of pagan Gods is that we work for them. This is how to tell a false God from the true God. This is what Luther discovered as he was climbing the steps of the tower of the church on his knees, trying to win forgiveness of his sins. In the 46th chapter, Isaiah describes these false god: “Bel bows down, Nebo stoops low (Bel and Nebo were the gods of Babylon); their idols are borne by beasts of burden. The images that are carried about are burdensome, a burden for the weary. They stoop and bow down together; unable to rescue the burden, they themselves go off into captivity.” The scene is of an army invading Babylon. The first thing you must do is SAVE YOUR GODS. They can’t do for themselves, so others must work for them. But they are too heavy for the beasts that bare them, and they themselves are captured and carried off into captivity.
Now listen to the prophets sharp contrast beginning in verse 3: “Listen to me, O house of Jacob, all you who remain of the house of Israel, YOU WHOM I HAVE UPHELD SINCE YOU WERE CONCEIVED, AND HAVE CARRIED SINCE YOUR BIRTH.
“Even to your old age and gray hairs I am He, I am He who will sustain you. I HAVE MADE YOU AND I WILL CARRY YOU; I WILL SUSTAIN YOU AND I WILL RESCUE YOU.”
Then Isaiah throws a fatal punch at the false gods: “They lift it to their shoulders and carry it; they set it up in its place, and there it stands. From that spot it cannot move. Though one cries out to it, it does not answer; IT CANNOT SAVE HIM FROM HIS TROUBLES” (verse 7).
A false God is one YOU have to carry; the true God carries you.
II. God Works For Those Who Wait On Him.
Waiting is an act of worship. It is the attitude of stillness in the presence of God. It is recognizing our inability and a determination to do nothing till we hear from Him.
Waiting on God means that we adjust our lives to Him; our time schedule to Him. We set our hope on Him and look to Him rather than to our own efforts or ingenuity.
When a situation gets desperate what is needed is not more effort on our part, but a deepening of our communion with Him, a more intense concentration of worship and fellowship.
III. God Works for Those Who Work Righteousness and Remember His Ways.
God acts on behalf of those who “gladly do right,” those whose heart’s delight is to obey Him and constantly call to remembrance all the wonderful things He has done for them in the past.
Remembering what God has done in the past will encourage us to believe He will not abandon us in the future. Remembering His goodness impels us to gladly obey His will. This is the kind of person on whose behalf God works.