Job 26:2 – “What great help you bring to the powerless! What deliverance to the arm without strength!”
Isaiah 40:29 – “He invigorates the exhausted, he gives strength to the powerless.”
Perfectly Promising Prospects for the Powerless Person
The powerless person, according to Isaiah, has many prospective roles to choose from as he or she lives in relationship with the Holy One of Israel, Yahweh, but they must continue to rely and focus on Yahweh’s power to change circumstances, not on their own powerlessness. One can, of course, choose to wholly submit to the powerlessness, making change or progress toward a more fulfilling life impossible, or one can even choose a role that is in direct disobedience to Yahweh.
For those who are willing to recognize that their perceived powerlessness is a temporary (in the face of eternity) phenomenon, Isaiah suggests four primary roles, the fourth of which is the most prominent:
1) Remember your past;
2) Wait upon Yahweh, renew your strength, and fear not present circumstances;
3) Take counsel together and comfort one another; and
4) All men and women will be Yahweh’s witnesses and servants.
Remember Your Past
Isaiah 46:8 – “Remember this and consider, recall it to mind.”
Once again, the people of Yahweh have been exiled; this time to Babylon. This exile, if taken in light of the past, must have brought forth pictures of the four hundred year exile in Egypt that their ancestors had experienced. This role, remembering your past, is quite prevalent throughout Isaiah and is one of the first roles to choose. If the powerless person fails to remember Yahweh’s past faithfulness, they are likely to also forget that Yahweh can change their present circumstances.
Isaiah 41:22 is a typical call for remembrance – “Tell us the former things, what they are, so that we may consider them, and that we may know their outcome.” This call to remember is repeated – “Remember this and consider, recall it to mind” (Isaiah 46:8); “Remember the former things of old” (Isaiah 46:9); “Remember these things, O Jacob, and Israel” (Isaiah 44:21); and “Then they remembered the days of old, of Moses his servant” (Isaiah 63:11).
When powerless, the role of remembrance helps to keep in perspective the awesome power of the Holy One of Israel, Yahweh, despite current circumstances. Remembering, for the exiles, of all that the Holy One of Israel has done in their past helps them to keep their hope alive, to look forward to the future of promise.
Wait Upon Yahweh
Isaiah 40:31 – “Those who wait for Yahweh shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”
While the powerless person reflects upon the past, he or she is to wait upon Yahweh, renew their strength, and not fear present circumstances. This is most powerfully stated above (Isaiah 40:31). Coupled to the role of waiting, is the admonition not to fear – “Do not fear, for I am with you, do not be afraid, for I am your Yahweh; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand” (Isaiah 41:10); “Do not fear, you worm Jacob, you insect Israel! I will help you, says Yahweh” (Isaiah 41:13-14); and again “Do not fear, for I am with you; I will bring your offspring from the east, and from the west I will gather you” (Isaiah 43:5).
The powerless person is to be a fearless, patient person who takes this time to renew their strength for the up-coming journey, and for the purpose of witnessing and servanthood in their current situation. In short, the person must rest his or her whole weight on Yahweh, in faith. By resting completely upon Yahweh and taking his promises at face value, we can drive out the paralyzing fear that hinders our effectiveness in serving. The biblical antidote always works – “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you” (Psalm 56:3). The waiting, resting, and fearing not combines powerfully to keep one’s faith alive and to keep one looking forward to the future of promise.
Comfort One Another
Having such trust and faith, without fear, also allows the powerless person to comfort his or her fellow exiles. “Comfort, O comfort my people, says your God” (Isaiah 40:1). They are to “proclaim the year of Yahweh’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our Yahweh; to comfort all who mourn” (Isaiah 61:2). “As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you” is to be their motto (Isaiah 66:13). This comforting, combined with remembering and waiting upon the Holy One of Israel, Yahweh, in trust, rest, faith, and fearlessness, continues to keep their faith alive and to keep them looking forward to the future of promise.
Be My Witness and Servant
For the exiles, remembrance, waiting upon Yahweh, and comforting are like three of the four engines on a jet. The fourth engine is the engine of service and witnessing. “You are my servant, I have chosen you and not cast you off,” says Yahweh (Isaiah 41:9). “You are my witnesses, and my servant whom I have chosen” (Isaiah 43:10). They are to be Yahweh’s witnesses and servant who says of Jerusalem – “It shall be inhabited, and of the cities of Judah, they shall be rebuilt, and Yahweh will raise up their ruins” (Isaiah 44:26). But this is not all of their task. Of his servant, the Holy One of Israel, Yahweh, says – “It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the survivors of Israel; I will give you as a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth” (Isaiah 49:6).
The exiles have a role to play; they must remember their past, must be faithfully prepared, must comfort, serve both themselves and their captors, and must witness to Yahweh’s redemptive plan. Only in this manner, can they truly keep their faith alive, and keep looking forward to the future of promise. If any of the engines stalls, or quits running, keeping the faith and hope alive gets harder; and if all four quit, the plane becomes completely dependant upon Yahweh for survival, which is why Yahweh boldly claims – “Do not fear, or be afraid; have I not told you from of old and declared it? You are my witnesses!” (Isaiah 44:8). “My purpose shall stand, and I will fulfill my intention” (Isaiah 46:10).
The Holy One of Israel, Yahweh, does not leave his witnesses and servants with only one engine, nor does he leave them stranded with none. He always fulfills his promises so that his powerless people may keep their faith alive and continue to look forward with hope.
Application For Today
Yahweh’s message to the Israelites in exile is equally applicable to today’s people, to today’s witnesses and servants, both here in the United States of America as well as worldwide. Particularly in the United States, the government is no longer “One Nation under Yahweh”, as the Constitution of the realm would have one believe, and its witnesses and servants are under persecution, almost as if in exile. Remembrance of what Yahweh, the Holy One of Israel, Yahweh, has done throughout history is one of the engines that keeps today’s people’s faith alive and keeps them looking forward to the future of promise; the promise of a new city, “the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from Yahweh, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband” (Revelation 21:2).
Today’s witnesses and servants are, likewise, to choose the second role and wait upon Yahweh – “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength” (Isaiah 30:15). “Then shall the young women rejoice in the dance, and the young men and the old shall be merry. I will turn their mourning into joy, I will comfort them, and give them gladness for sorrow”(Jeremiah 31:13) will be their motto, in compliance with the third role. Today’s servants will be Yahweh’s “witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8), they “will be his witness to all the world of what they have seen and heard” (Acts 22:15).
Today’s witnesses and servants who portray the fourth role are the Church body as a whole, and the individual Church member. Part of the witnessing, according to First Timothy, is to set before our brothers and sisters the commands of Yahweh, and, “If you put these instructions before the brothers and sisters, you will be a good servant of Yeshua Ha’Mashiach, nourished on the words of the faith and of the sound teaching that you have followed” (Acts 4:6). 1 Peter 4:11 adds, “Whoever speaks must do so as one speaking the very words of Yahweh; whoever serves must do so with the strength that Yahweh supplies, so that Yahweh may be glorified in all things through Yeshua Ha’Mashiach. To him belong the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen.”
Once again, the fourth key role of the powerless person mentioned by Isaiah, witnessing and serving, comes to the forefront as the prominent role to be displayed. All other roles – remembering, waiting upon Yahweh without fear while renewing our strength, and comforting each other, become enablers of our witnessing and servanthood.
The powerless person, whether an exile in Babylon, or an exile in another country such as America, has many prospective roles to choose from as he or she lives in relationship with the Holy One of Israel, today called Yahweh the Father, Yeshua Ha’Mashiach the Son, and Yahweh the Holy Spirit. The four primary roles that Isaiah suggests; 1) remembering your past; 2) waiting upon Yahweh while renewing your strength without fearing present circumstances; 3) comforting one another; and 4) being his witnesses and servants, are the four keys to keeping faith alive and looking forward to the future of promise. They are the four engines of the jet that keep it airborne, rather than crashing in powerlessness.