“Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
Has it not been told you from the beginning?
Have you not understood since the earth was founded?”
—Isaiah 40:21 (all passages, TNIV).
How would we begin to describe the works and character of God to a stranger to our planet—an alien from another planet? One big, deep breath would breathe anticipation into the very thought of launching a great task like that. Yet, there are people who call this planet their home who cannot see the living glory of this all-creating God, let alone begin to comprehend with awe the dazzling truth.
Of all the passages in Job 38 – 41, Proverbs 8, and many psalms as well as other biblical references perhaps it’s this one in Isaiah which most successfully links and introduces the theme of salvific comfort and the truth of the gospel—strength for living is wrought in weakness (vv. 40:28ff).
But, we miss out when we skip right over a section like Isaiah 40:21-26 in search of imagery of weary youth, eagle’s wings and all that. This passage begins by arousing wonder-filled curiosity; imagine the wonderment of the person who has seen and experienced the works of God in the midst of someone who’s not. How could we not see the evidence of God, present since the very dawn of time, at least?
And what of his grand position in the commanding bastions of the heavens?
“He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth,
and its people are like grasshoppers.
He stretches out the heavens like a canopy,
and spreads them out like a tent to live in.”
When we read truly we can see. We can picture the heavens. We see him anthropomorphized (seen in human form even though God is not human) and we see ourselves as perhaps he sees us. Even those in royalty are like ants, beavering on, over and around the earth feverishly, yet quite inconsequentially, without even the remotest thought of the Almighty.
“He brings princes to naught
and reduces the rulers of this world to nothing.”
“No sooner are they planted,
no sooner are they sown,
no sooner do they take root in the ground,
than he blows on them and they wither,
and a whirlwind sweeps them away like chaff.”
We’re a staggeringly frail lot, but how ignorant are we to stand there and shake our stupid fists at God. Yet, even in the pathetic image of our delusion he derides us not. His voluminous, most capacious grace reacts only in the presence of truth, not responding to totally sweep us away, or at best, just utterly embarrass us.
The light of our years seems so long. A year or three seems to take an eternity and we bemoan the small but significant challenges ever before us; we make it twenty or thirty of those seasons and yet we look back at basically nothing—how could this be so? We’re confused and overwhelmed. We cannot fathom both the fullness and emptiness of life in the context of God—in our comparatively small minds it doesn’t compute.
“‘To whom will you compare me?
Or who is my equal?’ says the Holy One.
“Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens:
Who created all these?
He who brings out the starry host one by one,
and calls them each by name.
Because of his great power and mighty strength,
not one of them is missing.”
And the final word becomes this. When we see just but a glimpse of all the foregoing how could we even think of transgressing the spiritually proud, deluded person—even in their rank oppression of us and others. Their blind rebellion is pitiful. We could only plead God to remove the blinds from their eyes.
The mystery and majesty of God is tantamount to the blowing of our minds, so reverent are we in our collapsing prostrate before him in the slightest recognition of who and what he is and what he represents.
© S. J. Wickham, 2009.