Summary: Even though God is Great, Wonderful, Sovereign and All Powerful, He is still the ‘Great I AM,’ the same God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, who left His glory and became flesh through Christ to save us!
Opening illustration: In 2004, scientists pointed the Hubble telescope at a blank-looking patch of sky near the Orion Constellation. The Hubble stayed focused on that spot for 400 orbits over 11 days. The patch of sky they were looking at is no bigger than a grain of sand held out at arm’s length. And in that tiny patch of sky, they discovered over 10,000 galaxies!
Not too long ago, astronomers thought that there were 100 billion galaxies in the universe. Then the number jumped to 200 billion galaxies. Today scientists think that our universe may have as many as 500 billion galaxies. Each of those galaxies has hundreds of millions of stars. And Jesus made them all! (Rick Crandall, Sermon: “Take Life’s Journey with the Lord”)
Introduction: If God made everything, and if He is sovereign over all nations, and if He is incomparable, then all creation is under His power. Verse 21 begins this section with four rhetorical questions to remind the people of this that they already knew. The repetition is meant to be a rebuke, like hammering a point home: “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?” They had centuries of time to have these truths sink in, but their weak faith and stubborn hearts had not taken it all to heart.
Now in verses 22-26 he picks up themes he has already introduced—creation, nations, incomparability—but focused on how God controls. According to verse 22 God is the Lord of creation and rules with providence. The heavens are like a canopy with everything in His tent. According to verses 23 and 24 He is sovereign over kings—they are planted (hypocatastasis) by Him and then just as quickly as He lets them grow to full flower and power He blows them away like chaff. But His reign is eternal and constant.
How Great is Our God?
1. The earth is in His hands (vs. 21-22a)
In four rhetorical questions Isaiah takes his readers back to the beginning/the foundations of the earth, i.e., the creation. From that time forward men should have been able to perceive that behind creation is a Creator. Even if they had not been able to perceive this fundamental truth on their own, they should have heard that truth proclaimed by those who did perceive it.
So what is meant when the Bible teaches that God is sovereign? Basically, two things:
(i) God is the King of the Universe. He has both the control of everything and the authority of kingship. In His control, “God has the power to direct the whole course of nature and history as He pleases.” NOTHING happens outside of His reign and control. This includes all things in the past, all things happening now, all things that will happen in the future. And His authority means that he has the right to do with His creation as He pleases. No one has taken it from Him and He has not been disqualified from holding the position. There is no one above Him to whom He is accountable; no one to whom He must explain His actions.
(ii) He does whatever He wants. Anything that God decrees He can accomplish (Isaiah 46:10-11). The other side of that coin is true as well—anything that may happen is, in some way, decreed by God.
God is King over His creation. First of all, He created it (Genesis 1-2). Isaiah covered this truth in proclaiming God’s great power and wisdom (Isaiah 40:12-14). Secondly, God is the One who sustains it (Job 38:12-41; Matthew 6:26-30). He did not get it started and then just sit back and let it go. It is He who continues to uphold it. Thirdly, God exercises His sovereignty over creation by doing with it as He pleases in order to accomplish His plans. This is seen in the ten plagues He brought on Egypt (Exodus 7-13), the parting of the Red Sea (Exodus 14), the providing of water, manna and quail for the Israelites in the desert (Exodus 16-17), the opening up the ground to swallow up rebels (Numbers 16), in making the sun and moon stand still (Joshua 10), and making a virgin girl have a baby (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1-2; Luke 1-2). The “laws of nature” are not binding or a hindrance to God. He has the right and ability to step in and move His creation as He pleases to accomplish His good work (Lamentations 3:27-28; Romans 8:28).
Jesus Christ exercised His command over nature as a proof of His deity. He calmed the raging storm (Mark 5:35-41), cured lepers and paralytics with a word or touch (Mark 1-2; Luke 5), opened blind eyes (John 9), walked on water (Mark 6:45-52), and raised the dead (Matthew 9:18-31; John 11); including Himself (Matthew 28; Mark 16; Luke 24; John 20). God does with His creation as He pleases to accomplish the plans that He has decreed. And nothing happens that is not a part of His plan.