God Works for Those Who Wait

Isaiah 64:1–4; 46:1–4

Principle for Bible Reading

The Bible says several times that our God is utterly unique among all the gods in the world and in history. But what makes him so unique? In this lab, John Piper begins a series looking at key texts for understanding why there is no god like our God.

View the outline.


Introduction/Prayer (00:00–01:15)

Observations (01:15–03:07)

  1. God seems distant in this passage. He is withholding his presence at this point. (Isaiah 64:1)
  2. God’s adversaries seem to have the upper hand right now, so Isaiah is praying that God would come reveal himself and vindicate his name. (Isaiah 64:1–2)
  3. Often when the saints in the Bible were praying for God to do a new thing, they called to mind an old thing God had done. (Isaiah 64:3)

What Makes God Unique? (03:07–05:25)

  1. There isn’t any God like this God. (Isaiah 64:4)
  2. God “works (or acts or performs deeds) for those who wait for him.” (Isaiah 64:4)
  3. What sets God apart from all other gods is that he works for people who are willing to look to him, trust him, and give him the credit for working, rather than presuming that God needs more workers like me. (Isaiah 64:4)
  4. All the other gods go around the world amassing slave labor. They all say prove yourself; come work for me, and then I will bless you.

Same Song, Different Verse (05:25–08:50)

  1. The Babylonian gods must be carried. They do not bear the burden, but put a burden on their worshippers. (Isaiah 46:1)
  2. The other gods say, “Carry me,” but God says, “ I will carry you.” (Isaiah 46:4).
  3. Our God bears. Our God carries. Our God saves. (Isaiah 46:3–4)
  4. Other gods demand performance as a grounds for blessing. Our God offers performance for those who trust in him, and not themselves.

Study Questions

  1. Read Isaiah 64:1–4. Isaiah says in verse 4 that God is utterly unique. From this passage, describe what makes God so unique from other gods?
  2. What do you learn about Bel and Nebo in Isaiah 46:1–4? Do you see similarities with other popular gods or religions today?
  3. How does Isaiah 46:1–4 reinforce or support the uniqueness you were seeing in Isaiah 64:1–4? Are there any new dimensions in these verses?
Piper: “God makes, God bears, God carries, and God saves.”