The fortieth chapter of Isaiah is full of divine comfort, caution, and challenge. It breathes comfort as God tells his ancient people that the day of deliverance is as bright as his promises. He declares: “The glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it” (v. 5). It is a chapter of caution, for in the sentences that follow God warns his people to beware of likening the Creator of the universe to a graven image and a lifeless idol. The concluding paragraph, however, is supremely one of challenge, for it calls God’s people to renewed endeavors despite the weakness of the flesh and the wiles of the devil. The message of these final verses is that of the secret of strength.

To understand this secret, we must consider, first of all:

The Peril Of Expended Strength

“He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall” (vv. 29, 30). In language familiar to us all, the prophet here outlines a perilous sequence. First there is a weariness that leads to weakness, and then a weakness that culminates in utter collapse. The words are intended to convey the danger of expended strength; and every one of us knows how alert the devil is to take advantage of this condition in our spiritual lives.

In Old Testament times Moses cautioned the children of Israel of this peril of expended strength. He warned: “Remember what Amalek did unto thee by the way.… how he … smote … all that were feeble behind thee, when thou wast faint and weary” (Deut. 25:17, 18). Then there is that instance when David found himself in deadly combat with one of the sons of the giants, and would ...

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