Imagine spending twenty dollars on a ticket to see a play. You get there, excited to see what entertainment is in store for you. The curtain opens, the opening lines begin, but you soon realize that there’s no backdrop, no set, and the actors and actresses are in street clothes...no costumes…it’s just a story, a raw script. If the acting is phenomenal, you might get what you paid for, but it’s really difficult to enjoy and understand without the proper setting. Oftentimes the backdrop and costumes help explain the story, the characters, etc. It would lengthen a play significantly if the actors had to explain everything to the audience without these tools.
In some ways, the same can be true of God’s Word, though it will NEVER return to us empty or void. This great treasure is given to us. We open it and read a wonderful verse, maybe a common one that gives us reassurance or peace. Or maybe we've been encouraged to look up a particular verse. We read it and are given insight, but often we miss the full blessing and effect of it because we don’t understand the setting or the characters. Let us take a common passage and explore this idea together:
“Do you not know? Have you not heard?Every time I read this verse, I am humbled, comforted and blessed. However, when I read some of the notes in my study Bible and went back to the beginning of the chapter, I was even more so. By the time I got to this verse, I was truly enlighted and invigorated. The cool thing is that it didn't even matter that I don't have a theology degree. If I were to listen to a Bible teacher instruct on this verse, I’m sure I would learn a ton; however, I’m talking about reading the Bible through my brain, and I’m an every day person with limited education on the background of His Word. That said, with only a few extra minutes, this is what God taught me about this very special passage in Isaiah.
The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary, and His understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall;
But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
They will run and not grow weary,
They will walk and not be faint.”
In the notes of my Study Bible it explains the historical context of the chapters that precede this one. I’m not going to go into that, because one fact would lead to another, but the gist of it is that God has allowed “His people” to go through much hardship…war, battles, death, illness…in chapter 40, he allowed Isaiah to provide comfort to them by reminding them of these three things: 1. Who we are, 2. Who God is, & 3. What God gives to those He loves.
Verse 6 of chapter 20 says that “All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field.” What a beautiful setting to this story!
Isn’t this an amazing backdrop for us to see? Throughout all of Scripture, since it is said to be “God-breathed,” He is that backdrop indeed!This picture of who we are in light of who God is sets us up for the popular passage in verses 28 through 31. Just as we begin to get a grasp on the story, the grand finale of this marvelous play full of beautiful scenery, imagery and interesting characters is revealed to us. We get to see what God, this incredible, One and Only Deity, gives to those He loves, even though we are likened to the grass that withers and fades. Only God would love and comfort us in our smallness, you know?
Doesn’t all that background give a fresh and fuller meaning to the familiar verses we started with?
HE is the everlasting God.Now that’s a play I’d like to pay my twenty dollars to see acted out on stage. I challenge you when you hear a beautiful verse or feel conviction about a passage of Scripture to dive in and research the background, the context, the history, the setting. Let God help you grasp the fullness of His Word through the power of His Spirit which searches even the mind the God.
HE is the Creator of the ends of the earth.
HE never tires, never runs out of energy.
No one can fathom what HE understands.
Only HE can give strength to the weary and power to the weak.
When we hope in HIM, the One who never stumbles, we will have renewed strength.
HE will make us part of the scenery as we soar on wings as eagles.
HE will make us part of His drama as we draw on His energy, walking without becoming faint.