Weekly Torah Commentary-Lech Lecha November 11, 2016

Torah reading:  Genesis 12 – 17                Haftorah reading: Isaiah 40:27 – 41:16

Do you not know? Have you not heard?
The Everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth
Does not become weary or tired. His understanding is inscrutable.

He gives strength to the weary, and to him who lacks might He increases power.Though youths grow weary and tired, and vigorous young men stumble badly,

Yet those who wait for the LORD will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary.  (Isaiah 40:28-31)

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We live in a world that prides itself in all its accomplishments. We live in a world that prides itself in being able to do anything it sets its mind to do, a world that has put men on the moon. We live in a world that has so much power stored up in it’s nuclear weapons, it could destroy itself a number of times over.

But where is your strength? Is it in the things of this world? Or as a child of God, are you fully aware where your strength comes from? Our strength is in the LORD, our faithful, covenant God.

The pages of Scripture are full of examples of God’s people placing their trust in the LORD and finding that He is a faithful God, finding that He does, indeed, give strength to those that wait upon Him. Who can forget Israel’s deliverance and victory over the Pharaoh?  Who can forget such men as Elijah, Elisha and Samson, who when they relied on the Lord, when they were faithful, God strengthened them to perform their duties.

When we ponder the lives of biblical personalities, we must be inspired not only by their amazing accomplishments but far more so, by their unshakeable faith in the God of Israel who granted them not simply physical strength but spiritual strength.  That’s the truth that is expressed in our text: God is the source of our spiritual strength and has taught us how to tap into His strength for daily life. “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength.” That is the key.

The fact that the text speaks of our being renewed in strength, implies that there is a weakness. And the text explicitly describes that weakness. In Isaiah 40:30, we read, “Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall.”

Note that the prophet describes the ones who should be the strongest among men – youth. They are in the prime of their lives physically. Youths should be full of energy, able to run and run.

Similarly, the ‘young men’ are those slightly older than the youths, but still symbols of strength and vigor. They can work long hours and still have energy for social gatherings in the evening.

But God says that even they will grow weary and faint. You see, their energy is not endless. The youths may not see it that way. But, set them running a marathon sometime and they will find out. Work them hard enough and they will get tired to the point that to press on will only be with the greatest effort. They will grow weary and they will faint. And the young men, the text says, shall utterly fall.

The message is clear. Man, at his strongest, is weak. We need to understand that this physical picture points to the spiritual picture of weariness and stumbling in our relationship with God.

In Malachi 2:8 we read, “But you have departed out of the way; you have caused many to stumble at the law; you have corrupted the covenant of Levi, says the Lord of hosts.”

Or we could point to Jeremiah 18:15, which expresses a similar idea. “Because my people have forgotten me, they have burned incense to vanity, and it has caused them to stumble in their ways from the ancient paths…”

We are prone to stumble, and most likely to do so when our personal relationship with the LORD has weakened for one reason or another.

But read on!  When we recognize our weakness or are feeling discouraged, the prophet declares: Those who look to the LORD will renew their strength… His care over you has never changed. The everlasting God has an everlasting love for his people.  You may get tired but God never does.

There is no substitute and no shortcut to enjoying the strength that only comes from the LORD. Making it a priority to spend time in His presence every day, in prayer and in meditating on the Scriptures is more essential to your spiritual life than food is essential to your physical life!

God recognizes that we sometimes get tired which is the whole purpose for this text.  Everyone gets weary but to whom is this promise given?  To those who will look to the LORD on a regular basis and draw their strength from Him.

To ‘wait’ conveys the idea of looking forward to, expecting that the Lord will send strength. We want to have Him help us. We want Him to hold us by our right hand, as the Psalmist says in Psalm 73.  Waiting implies a period of time.  Our problem is we want ‘instant’ everything but life isn’t like that.

Those who wait on the LORD are renewed in strength. He is our strength. In Him is complete safety.  That’s a promise that God gives to every one of His people. It’s not just words to impress us with a poetic picture of soaring like an eagle. The text does not say, “They that wait upon the Lord, maybe their strength will be renewed, and maybe not.”  It is a clear promise, as sure as every one of God’s promises.

In Tune with Torah this week: have you been feeling worn out lately? Tired and frustrated with daily life?  The first question we need to ask ourselves is: how much time am I spending alone with God on a daily basis?  The answer to that question is directly related to the message of this week’s Haftorah reading.

Shabbat Shalom

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