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“The Foundations of the Earth”
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Please Note: All lesson verses and titles are based on International Sunday School Lesson/Uniform Series ©2013 by the Lesson Committee, but all content/commentary written within is original tounless properly quoted/cited. As always you are encouraged to do your own studies as well. Blessings!)
Although it would be over 100 years before the original audience these prophesies are intended reach receive this good news of God’s sovereignty during their plight of captivity, Isaiah continues to prophesy what thus saith the Lord in his day as well.
Prophesying during times of kings such as Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, Isaiah has been God’s mouthpiece heralding warnings and reporting accurately God’s word for the life of His chosen people. They would know suffering, trouble, and defeat (for disobedience always brings about adverse effects), but if they wait and trust in God through the adversity of captivity they would also know comfort and peace.
God has a plan and in that plan speaks deliverance. He and He only is to be the source of His people. He who laid the foundations of the earth has become the solid rock on which they stand.
It may not look like it to the people who have been driven from their land, but God is sovereign even in this. During the hard times they are to be encouraged because God is still in control through it all.
Isaiah 40:21-24 “Have ye not known? have ye not heard? hath it not been told you from the beginning? have ye not understood from the foundations of the earth? It is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers; that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in: That bringeth the princes to nothing; he maketh the judges of the earth as vanity. Yea, they shall not be planted; yea, they shall not be sown: yea, their stock shall not take root in the earth: and he shall also blow upon them, and they shall wither, and the whirlwind shall take them away as stubble.”
Do they not yet perceive exactly who God is? Mind you, this is going out to people who are not yet in captivity, but even in that future time Isaiah saw the people in a state of hopelessness.
Opening this chapter, the command is to “Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished . . .” (Isaiah 40:1-2a). It always amazing me that though people are the ones who get themselves into situations leading to such things as captivity, God is still so compassionate toward His people that He wants them to never forget that He is here for them. He is thinking about them through it all.
The message He has to say to them in this portion of Scripture reflects His power and authority over all creation and time. Looking to their future course, Isaiah questions if they really know God like they think they know God? According to their history of being His people they have had knowledge of Him passed down through generations of teaching and worshipping that He is the “Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty,” (Revelation 1:8), and that He Himself declared to Moses, “I AM THAT I AM,” (Exdodus 3:14).
From the beginning not only was the foundations of the earth declared unto them, but also the foundation of their faith. In that, they, according to head knowledge knew that He was from the beginning. They knew from head knowledge that He formed the foundations of the earth, yet they would have trouble translating their trust into heart knowledge in the sovereignty of the Almighty when trying times of captivity would come their way.
Many fell away to worshipping idols. We see the chastisement of such in verses 18-20 (not in today’s text). Though they have been birthed in their faith to believe in God, they had a heart that fell away often, looking to other substitutes to direct their worship to.
Isaiah presses forth, encouraging them with not only words of comfort, but words of truth that declare His omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, Creator status before all the world; words that show them who the real God is.
Rather, than being carved with the skill of man’s hands and being dressed in gold, Isaiah says of the true God: “It is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers.” One of my absolute favorite verses in Scripture to declare in my prayer time when I am thinking on God’s holy sovereignty comes from the Psalms and says, “The LORD sat enthroned at the Flood, and the LORD sits as King forever,” (29:10, NKJV). In other words, God has always been enthroned with power from even before the time of the flood; from historical event to historical event to all the way back before there was ever a beginning; He has, and always will remain enthroned as King forever. Nothing or nobody can ever take Him off of His heavenly throne, nor take His place.
Isaiah sees Him ruling in authority as we should always view Him. In comparison to His holy uniqueness of being the one and only God, we are but as grasshoppers. Humanity tries to brush off the sureness and power of God, but they need to get into their minds that compared to God, we are nothing. God is greater than all. When the psalmist took all of this in consideration he wrote, “When I consider thy heavens, and the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visited him?” (Psalm 8:3-4).
And, yet it is out of comfort for His future captive people He instructs Isaiah to write these words; it is because of that holy mindfulness He is thinking about His people.
Again, Isaiah schools them to remember His awesomeness before the world. It is He that “stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and speadeth them out as a tent to dwell in.” Can man even fathom to catch one star from the sky, let alone stretch out heavens with galaxy upon galaxy and universe upon universe? God can. As a matter of fact, in the beginning all He did was speak a word and creation obeyed and came into existence.
Jeremiah 31:37 says, “If heaven above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, I will also cast off all the seed of Israel for all that they have done, saith the LORD.” Point being again, it will NEVER happen!
No man, in his finite ability to know creation, could possible measure or count the very stars of heaven. Consider this, it is said that every galaxy holds within it billions of stars. Billions of stars for just one galaxy! Wow! Now consider this, it is also said that in the “observable universe” there are more than 170 billion galaxies, (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galaxy). Is your mind blown? Yeah, mine too!
May they not, nor we, forget the awesomeness of our God! He took something vast and immeasurable to us and spread it out like a curtain or a tent. Amazing!
“That bringeth the princes to nothing; he maketh the judges of the earth as vanity.” We are told in the Psalms, “It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man. It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in princes,” (Psalm 118:8-9). Man is feeble at best. “The LORD knoweth the thoughts of man, that they are vanity,” (Psalm 94:11). The New King James Version changes out “vanity” and puts “futile” in its place meaning it is useless.
Anything that man can even conceive to do or be, no matter the highest authority in the land or not, is nothing before God. This is a thought that even in our current culture we need to grab hold of. Human position means nothing when they have to stand before a holy God. Period.
“Yea, they shall not be planted; yea, they shall not be sown: yea, their stock shall not take root in the earth.” Agriculturally speaking, things that are planted and sown are done so with the purpose of taking root that they may grow and flourish; that they may thrive and be healthy, able to spread out and produce more seed of the like to start the process again of being planted, sown, rooted, and growing.
Here, God through Isaiah declares three times, “they shall not.” When God comes in judgment who shall be able to stand? “They are exalted for a little while, but are gone and brought low; they are taken out of the way as all other, and cut off as the tops of the ears of corn,” (Job 24:24). Before God, none shall remain. There will be no regrowth. There will be no revival of evil lineages. The very foundation of who they are will be removed. They will be gone forevermore.
The people must remember who God is and trust in Him more than those in authority in this world. For He “shall blow upon them, and they shall wither, and the whirlwind shall take them away as stubble.” It would do well for man to remember his finiteness before our infinite God. As the big, bad wolf blew down the feeble structures of the first two pigs in the story of THE THREE LITTLE PIGS, so our Big Awesome God blows away the weak works of prideful, idolatrous humanity. “All the nations before him are as nothing; and they are counted him less than nothing, and vanity,” (Isaiah 40:17).
Question: if the Bible tells us “the channels of waters were seen, and the foundations of the world were discovered at thy rebuke, O LORD, at the blast of the breath of thy nostrils,” (Psalm 18:15), how much shall evil kings and authorities be able to stand before Him when He blows? They can’t. God is, and forevermore must be the trust of His people. He only is our solid Rock source, (see Isaiah 44:8; think of adding an illustration of the third pig’s house of bricks here; cheesy but may be effective in getting the lesson point across to younger children or students of all ages for in God is our sure hiding place).
Isaiah 40:25-26 “To whom then will ye liken me, or shall I be equal? saith the Holy One. Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things, that bringeth out their host by number: he calleth them all by names by the greatness of his might, for that he is strong in power; not one faileth.”
God has no “equal!” There is nobody that can be measured up against Him! There is no comparison, no rival, no match, and no substitutes – none that can be even remotely like God!
Through idol worshiping and trust in man, man has attempted to make God measure up to his standards by bringing Him down to their means of understanding. That just won’t work. God is incomprehensible. God is incomparable! “For who in the heaven can be compared unto the LORD? who among the sons of the mighty can be likened unto the LORD? God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints, and to be had in reverence of all them that are about him,” (Psalm 89:6-7). He only is the “Holy One” and is to be respected as such.
Man has NEVER created ANYTHING of his own. He may have invented stuff from the stuff that God already put here, but man has never spoken anything into existence from nothing as our God has. With that being said we read where Isaiah encouraged the people to remember the awesomeness, power, and sovereignty of God the Creator. He said, “Lift up our eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things, that bringeth out their host by number: he calleth them all by names by the greatness of his might.”
Speaking of the stars and all the heavenly bodies (previously discussed), God did the unimaginable. While man can nowhere near begin to name and claim each and every star, God can. Psalm 147:4 supports Isaiah’s statement by saying virtually the same thing: “He telleth the number of the stars; he calleth them all by their names.” He not only knows how many there are but He knows their name, in the observable universe or not. And, the very one that holds the name of all those stars is the very one that they should continue to trust in even during their future captivity, “for that he is strong in power; not one faileth.”
Isaiah 40:27-28 “Why sayest thou, O Jacob, and speakest, O Israel, My way is his from the LORD, and my judgment is passed over from my God? Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding.”
“There is no searching of his understanding.” This is the thing that puzzles us most when referring to the sovereignty of God. Although the Bible instructs us that our thinking in comparison to God’s is not alike (see Isaiah 55:8-9), we, in our human capacity, still struggle to understand why God does this or allows that. Why does one suffer harshly while another is lavishly brought up in wealth? Why does one seem to be on easy street while others are just trying to make it to the good side of the tracks? Why does one die and one live? Why does one get to experience good health while another doesn’t know what good health feels like?
We simply don’t know. But, we simply are to trust.
They may not understand the full impact of why they are going through what they are going through (and, may never know), but they are to know that God is always in control and paying attention to the plight of His people: “O Jacob . . . O Israel.” Their “way” is not “hid from the LORD” as they suppose. His ears are opened to their cries. His eyes are viewing their cause. God notices everything His people are going through.
Jesus encouraged us in this area giving us a beautiful example. He said, “Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows,” (Matthew 10:29-31). God knows, and His understanding of us and what we are going through is perfect.
Remember, He is “the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary?” God is ruler over all (as we previously established) and His arms are never too short to be help and strength for His people. He is never weak. He is never tired. He will never run out of energy and power to be who He is. He can never be exhausted of Himself or His resources.
He will always be God. He will always be Creator. And, He will always be there for His people when they turn to Him. They, nor we, need to question God’s best intentions for our lives.
Isaiah 40:29-31 “He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. Even youths shall fain 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 faint.”
No matter who you are in life there will reach a time when you need help outside of yourself. When all your inner capacities are drained and strained and we feel like we can’t press through anymore, we need Him to refill and strengthen us in this journey.
The people would surely come to know a time of weariness during their years of captivity. I’m sure questions about how long and how much more are we supposed to take haunted them day and night. Surely, some would be disheartened by the sorrows of life and feel like giving up. But, here is the word of encouragement, look to God because He will give “power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increases strength.”
Jeremiah, in his book, states something similar: “For I have satiated the weary soul, and I have replenished every sorrowful soul,” (Jeremiah 31:25). Times of refreshing would come from the hand of God. He will not leave them without hope of something better to look forward to.
Remember earlier when I quoted Psalm 29:10 as being a source of encouragement for me when talking of God’s sovereignty? The very next verse, Psalm 29:11, is one I often pray in conjunction with it as well. It says, “The LORD will give strength to His people; the LORD will bless His people with peace,” (NKJV).
Simply put, God is there for His people to give them what they need to make it through even the hardest times of life. Where we lack, He will supply. Where we come up short, He can meet us there and provide the means to keep us, deliver us, and set us free.
“Youths and young men” are known for their physical strength and what seems to be boundless energy. I often say of my grandchildren, “If only I had a little bit of their energy I could get so much done.” They are exuberant and so full of life, but even in this they will know times of needing to be refreshed physically, spiritually, emotionally, etc.
“But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength.” They that don’t give in to the circumstances and keep looking to God as the only true source to rely on will find themselves fortified in Him. They can declare with the psalmist, “Our soul waiteth for the LORD: he is our help and our shield. For our heart shall rejoice in him, because we have trusted in his holy name,” (Psalm 33:20-21).
And, that my friend, is what waiting on God is all about. It’s about keeping one’s faith grounded in Him and trusting all the way through to the end. He is where our hope lies, not in the situations we face. When we re-shift our view from what’s around us to Him – there, we find renewed strength in the midst of it all.
“They shall mount up with wings as eagles.” Eagles are not known for dwelling low, but they are known for soaring high. In an article I previously published titled “Fly!” I expressed the same idea:
“Oh, but if I had two wings! I would fly! The idea of rising above every problem and adverse circumstance is very tantalizing. Right there I begin to form a mental picture in my mind of me soaring. Below me is everything that tries to come against me. All those problems and schedules are trying to reach up and grab hold of me, but it can’t! I have risen too high for them. I have learned how to fly above it all!
The problem with that is it is fantasy. Oh, that it were real. While we are living on this side of glory we are always going to have something to deal with, but that still doesn’t mean we can’t fly. Isaiah 40:31 emphatically declares, “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles . . .” God never promised to remove every problem from our lives but, what He did say, is that He will renew the strength of those who turn to Him in the midst of it all.
God is strong in power and there is none like Him, Isaiah 40:25-26. We recognize today, that though I may not have suddenly sprouted two wings coming out of my back, when I rely on His power, it is as if I am already soaring! And, that my friends, is real rest! It is confidence that fills the heart and lets me know that I don’t have to feel beaten down and worn out. God’s got this! He sees what I am going through. Psalms 5:11-12 says, “Let all those that put their trust in thee rejoice: let them ever shout for joy, because thou defendest them: let them also that love thy name be joyful in thee. For thou, Lord, wilt bless the righteous; with favour wilt thou compass him as with a shield.” I may not have two physical wings on the outside, but on the inside I’m flying higher than it all. Why? Because though it may seem at times that I am totally surrounded, I serve the Lord God Almighty who is able to “compass” me “as with a shield.” Therefore, today, I can fly!” (Word For Life Says).
Therefore, no matter what we go through or what Isaiah’s future audience of captives will face, “they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”
From the foundations of the earth God has been in control. All we need to do is simply put our trust in Him and watch Him work. “Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD,” (Psalm 27:14).
(Click here for PDF: The Foundations of the Earth Sunday School Lesson, or simply click print button below. Enjoy!)
Below are activities to support this week’s lesson. Enjoy!
Word Scramble: the-foundations-of-the-earth-word-scramble Answers: the-foundations-of-the-earth-word-scramble-answers
Draw the Scene: The Foundations of the Earth Draw the Scene
Memory Verse: The Foundations of the Earth Memory Verse
How Many Words?: The Foundations of the Earth How Many Words
Isaiah 40:28 Puzzle Craft: Isaiah 40:28 Craft/Coloring Page (This page can be used simply as a coloring page or to make an easy craft. You can print on cardstock paper and attach to a craft stick for a fun project. Or, as I did, I printed it on cardstock and colored. After coloring simply cut it into many shapes to be reassembled again and again as a quick and easy puzzle craft. Enjoy!)
Below are Activities/Links/Resources to support this week’s lesson. Enjoy!
“Isaiah 40:31 Hand Print Craft” (Super easy and super cute. Enjoy!)
“Knowing God” (Preschoolers)
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