Fifth Sunday after Epiphany, February 7

Reader: “Haven’t you heard? Don’t you understand?”

Response: “Are you deaf to the words of God— ” 

Scripture: Isaiah 40:21-31

Haven’t you heard? Don’t you understand?

    Are you deaf to the words of God—

the words he gave before the world began?

    Are you so ignorant?

God sits above the circle of the earth.

    The people below seem like grasshoppers to him!

He spreads out the heavens like a curtain

    and makes his tent from them.

He judges the great people of the world

    and brings them all to nothing.

They hardly get started, barely taking root,

    when he blows on them and they wither.

    The wind carries them off like chaff.

“To whom will you compare me?

    Who is my equal?” asks the Holy One.

Look up into the heavens.

    Who created all the stars?

He brings them out like an army, one after another,

    calling each by its name.

Because of his great power and incomparable strength,

    not a single one is missing.

O Jacob, how can you say the Lord does not see your troubles?

    O Israel, how can you say God ignores your rights?

Have you never heard?

    Have you never understood?

The Lord is the everlasting God,

    the Creator of all the earth.

He never grows weak or weary.

    No one can measure the depths of his understanding.

He gives power to the weak

    and strength to the powerless.

Even youths will become weak and tired,

    and young men will fall in exhaustion.

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.

Reader: “The word of the Lord.”

Response: “Thanks be to God.” 

Some thoughts:

What a magnificent, mind-stretching reminder of our God! It is interesting to me that the first words of this passage have to do with hearing. We go back to the very beginning of creation and how did it come into being? Sound. God spoke! God is not a mute idol, he speaks. Remember, for the Jewish understanding of hearing, it was measured by doing. Do not be deaf to the words of God. All creation speaks of God. 

Isaiah describes the immensity  of God in creation-like terms. People are like grasshoppers in comparison. The universe is his tent! I have an app on my phone called SkyView which enables you to look at the location stars and planets on your phone, along with the Hubble Telescope and International Space Station from anywhere in the world. With it, you just hold your phone up to the sky or point it to the floor (to see the other side of the world!) and you can begin to see the vastness of God’s creation. There is a little circle and you put the circle on the star and it will tell you how many light years away the star is and what it’s name is! Everything you see is part of God’s “tent.” (The app is free.) 

With all the hype about everything people are and do, the next verses are a powerful perspective adjuster! God judges the “great” people of the world and puts them in their proper place. I love the phrase, “they hardly get started.” Not that I’m a great person, but I’ve said my whole life, “I’m just getting started.” Though I’m semi-retired, I still have the sense that I’m just getting started in life. Actually, that is the truth. Life on this earth is the preface to the glorious life that lies ahead for the believer. Even if I live to 100, I’ve only just begun. 

Isaiah then refers back again to the stars of the universe enfolding people in perspective of the massive expanse. He gives a clear picture of minuteness of human beings in contrast to the immensity of all creation. Isaiah concludes this pericope reminding the Israelites and us how very personal God is toward his people. He gives strength to the weak and strong alike. He never wears out. He understands everything perfectly all the time. In spite of his incomprehensible greatness to humans, the sky, the clouds, the earth, sun, moon, stars, galaxies, the universe are all his, yet,  he is intimately and personally involved in the life of those created in his own image. Stop and dwell on the previous sentence. Those who trust the LORD will find new strength. That includes us today!

Music: “The Omnipotence”    Schubert    Hour of Power Choir   excellent!!


Our Father in heaven and on earth and everywhere else, thank you for your renewing strength and tireless love. We find great comfort in knowing you see our troubles, our fears, our weaknesses. We are not alone in our struggles. You give us power when we are weak, strength when we have run out of everything and are ready to quit, understanding when we are confused or troubled, assurance when we are afraid, and faith when we waver in unbelief. There is none your equal and in that we rejoice greatly! Thank you for speaking so clearly in your Word. The wonder of who you are, and that you comunicate and care about us “grasshoppers,” is easy to put into words, but difficult to grasp. All we can say is we love you and thank you for loving us in such a glorious way. We pray this in the name of Jesus, who with you and the Holy Spirit, remain one God forever and ever. Amen.                     ―Daniel Sharp