The Ultimate Question
What is God Like?
Introduction: Our text for this morning is Isaiah 40. Let us read the first 11verses.
NAS Isaiah 40:1 "Comfort, O comfort My people," says your God. 2 "Speak kindly to Jerusalem; And call out to her, that her warfare has ended, That her iniquity has been removed, That she has received of the LORD’S hand Double for all her sins." 3 A voice is calling, "Clear the way for the LORD in the wilderness; Make smooth in the desert a highway for our God. 4 "Let every valley be lifted up, And every mountain and hill be made low; And let the rough ground become a plain, And the rugged terrain a broad valley; 5 Then the glory of the LORD will be revealed, And all flesh will see it together; For the mouth of the LORD has spoken." …9 Get yourself up on a high mountain, O Zion, bearer of good news, Lift up your voice mightily, O Jerusalem, bearer of good news; Lift it up, do not fear. Say to the cities of Judah, "Here is your God!" 10 Behold, the Lord GOD will come with might, With His arm ruling for Him. Behold, His reward is with Him, And His recompense before Him. 11 Like a shepherd He will tend His flock, In His arm He will gather the lambs, And carry them in His bosom; He will gently lead the nursing ewes.
John Blanchard, in his booklet “Ultimate Questions” writes: “Life is full of questions. Some are trivial, some are serious and tremendously important… you may have questions about your health, your financial situation, your job, your family or your future, but the greatest and ultimate questions are about God and your relationship to Him.” There are nine (9) questions that he considers we should ask and know the correct answer
1.Is God Speaking?
2.What is God like?
3.Who am I?
4.What went wrong?
5.Is sin serious?
6.Where do I go from here?
7.Can religion help?
8.Is there an answer?
9.How can I be saved?
Out of these, I want us to consider – “What is God like?” – and though I will not answer it in the outstandingly brilliant and well manner Blanchard does it in his booklet, I will attempt to do it from Isaiah 40.
CONTEXT: some sundry remarks about the context of our passage
Isaiah ministered around the year 750 BC. He wrote this book after King Uzziah died – a good king but whom God stroke at the end of his term because he became proud - Isaiah saw the declension of God’s people spirituality and in 39:6-7 he prophesied the Babylonian captivity
’Behold, the days are coming when all that is in your house, and all that your fathers have laid up in store to this day shall be carried to Babylon; nothing shall be left,’ says the LORD
The book was not written in one shot. Experts believe that there is an obvious division between chapters 1-39 and 40-66.
First Part 1-39
Second Part 40-66
Contemporary & contextual: Israel and its surroundings during Isaiah’s time
Universal and Future. The future Glory of God’s People Jews and Gentiles
Assyria as the world power
Babylon as the world power, later conquered by the Medes & Persians
Young & Fiery Isaiah
Older and more mellow Isaiah
Indictment and condemnation
Consolation and comfort
The first part deals with the settings and circumstances under which Isaiah ministered. The second part deals with a distant future. The rising and fall of Babylon, the ministry of John the Baptist and of Christ.
Chapter 40 opens the Evangelical section of Isaiah, with many references to the death and reign of Messiah, and where the prophecies concerning His death are outstandingly accurate in Chapter 53.
God is introduced in this section in verse 9: Get yourself up on a high mountain, O Zion, bearer of good news, Lift up your voice mightily, O Jerusalem, bearer of good news; Lift it up, do not fear. Say to the cities of Judah, "Here is your God!"
THESIS: WHAT IS GOD LIKE?
1. He is Infinite & Omniscient (He knows all things)
12 Who has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand, And marked off the heavens by the span, And calculated the dust of the earth by the measure, And weighed the mountains in a balance, And the hills in a pair of scales?
The water supply of the world is 326 million cubic miles.
A cubic mile of water = 1.1 trillion gallons
So the earth has 346,049 quadrillions gallons of water
God measures that in the hollow of his hand!
And marked off the heavens by the span
Light travels in space roughly at 187,000 miles per second
(In one second light goes around the earth 7-1/2 times)
It travels about 673 million mph
In one year light travels 5,900 billion miles
This doesn’t mean too much I know, but it takes light 5-1/2 hours to reach Pluto, (which is not even the fathest planet any more) …
The known universe is 93 billion light years long (and it’s still growing)
God “takes a quart” to measure that distance!
And calculated the dust of the earth by the measure, And weighed the mountains in a balance, And the hills in a pair of scales?
6,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 (6E+24) Kg (6 Sextillion) Kilograms
God puts all of that as dust in a pair of scales!
Of course this is figurative language, anthromorphisms, to describe that God is Infinite and His knowledge has no limits
NAS Psalm 139:1 O LORD, you have searched me and known me. 2 you know when I sit down and when I rise up; you understand my thought from afar. 3 you scrutinize my path and my lying down, And you are intimately acquainted with all my ways. 4 Even before there is a word on my tongue, Behold, O LORD, you know it all. 5 you have enclosed me behind and before, And laid your hand upon me. 6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is too high, I cannot attain to it.
Home: notice the personal awareness David had of God’s knowledge of him. He sounds like if he were the only person in the planet, and that experience is true of everyone, because God’s knowledge is without knowledge. “And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.” Heb 4:13
2. God is Infinitely wise
It is not the same. You can know a lot and be a complete fool. An astronomer is an amazingly knowledgeable person, but if he believes the universe came from the explosion of an infinitesimally compacted dot of space, mass and energy he is a complete fool. Psalm 14:1
God is not only omniscient, but He is most wise
Isaiah puts it this way: 13 Who has directed the Spirit of the LORD, Or as His counselor has informed Him? 14 With whom did He consult and who gave Him understanding? And who taught Him in the path of justice and taught Him knowledge, And informed Him of the way of understanding?
That was the point that God facetiously made Job see when he asked him. You are an old man Job, why don’t you explain to me about the way I created the universe and ordained nature to be a self-sustaining biosphere.
Paul applied the same principle, when he ponders on how God devised a plan to save sinners, by enclosing everyone under sin to then send a Savior, even Jesuschrist His Son cf Rom 11:33-36
3. God is Omnipotent
Omnipotence means to have all power to do whatever requires power to be done, but more importantly, omnipotence is to have the ability to do whatever one wishes without limit, at any time and under any circumstance.
Ex: the Leper kneeling before Jesus: “if you wish you can make me clean”, and Jesus said: “I will” and touching the man, his leprosy disappeared.
Isaiah, again in anthromorphic language describes God’s omnipotence this way: 15 Behold, the nations are like a drop from a bucket, And are regarded as a speck of dust on the scales; Behold, He lifts up the islands like fine dust.
Transition: perhaps at this point, you may feel dazzled by this God, but now Isaiah moves to an area that starts to make us feel a bit uncomfortable…
4. God is Infinitely Righteous and Morally perfect
16 Even Lebanon is not enough to burn, Nor its beasts enough for a burnt offering. 17 All the nations are as nothing before Him, They are regarded by Him as less than nothing and meaningless.
Isaiah is using imagery that his readers could understand well. The law prescribed sacrifices and burnt offerings as the only way a sinners could draw near to the holy God whose lightening & thundering they witnessed at Sinai. The writer of Hebrews captures this thought when speaking about the entrance of Christ into the world he indicates that the sacrifices and blood of animals could not appease God’s righteous indignation, who is unmarred, untouched and completely averse to sin
Ps 5:5, Ps 7:11, Hab 3:15, Jam 1:17
5. The Otherness of God
The question of verse 18 is asked three times in Isaiah’s prophecy
18 To whom then will you liken God? Or what likeness will you compare with Him? 40:25 "To whom then will you liken Me That I should be his equal?" says the Holy One. 46:5 "To whom would you liken Me, And make Me equal and compare Me, That we should be alike?
There are more than 50 references to God’s holiness in the book
26 times Isaiah refers to God as the Holy one of Israel or of Jacob
Isaiah was marked by the vision of God’s Glory described in chapter 6…
Hence the folly and blasphemy of idolatry
19 As for the idol, a craftsman casts it, A goldsmith plates it with gold, And a silversmith fashions chains of silver. 20 He who is too impoverished for such an offering Selects a tree that does not rot; He seeks out for himself a skillful craftsman To prepare an idol that will not totter.
Modern man is more sophisticated than that but he still commits the same sin of forming his own “god”… “My god does this or that…” but who cares for a “god” who is as old and as powerful as you are.
6. The Majesty & Sovereignty of God
21 Do you not know? Have you not heard? Has it not been declared to you from the beginning? Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth?
22 It is He who sits above the vault of the earth, And its inhabitants are like grasshoppers, Who stretches out the heavens like a curtain And spreads them out like a tent to dwell in. 23 He it is who reduces rulers to nothing, Who makes the judges of the earth meaningless. 24 Scarcely have they been planted, Scarcely have they been sown, Scarcely has their stock taken root in the earth, But He merely blows on them, and they wither, And the storm carries them away like stubble.
25 "To whom then will you liken Me That I should be his equal?" says the Holy One. 26 Lift up your eyes on high And see who has created these stars, The One who leads forth their host by number, He calls them all by name; Because of the greatness of His might and the strength of His power Not one of them is missing.
Scientists cannot agree on how many billions of stars exist. The sun’s diameter is a hundred times wider than earth’s, and there are stars which are 1,000 times larger than the sun. God knows them all by name and guides their orbits. That same God ordains the affairs of men according to His will. All flesh to Him is like grass that withers and no one can boast before His presence.
CONCLUSION: the first question is what is God Like? But there is a second question that immediately arises from this consideration…
2. How can a person relate to this awesome, fearful, morally perfect, and infinitely righteous and holy being identified as God?
We have read in verse 16 that the entire Lebanon does not have sufficient wood to burn the sacrifices that are necessary to placate his holy indignation against sin. Therefore God took the matter in His own hands. He sent His Only Begotten Son into the world
Jn 1:1 – the Word who was face to face with God
Jn 14:6 – He became flesh and dwelt among us
Jn 1:18 – To explain and unveil for men who is this God in Himself
Jn 3:16 – Jesus, the Only Begotten Son, whom the Father sent to save
Jn 14:6 – He is the only way, true and life that can lead a man to God
Acts 4:12 – No other Name under whom man can be saved, but Jesus Christ
I Jn 1:8 – Because nobody can claim to be sinless before a Holy God
I Jn 1:9 – But to those who confess and repent, God forvives…
I Jn 2:1 – Through Christ, the only one who satisfied and appeased God
THE PERSONAL APPLICATION
27 Why do you say, O Jacob, and assert, O Israel, "My way is hidden from the LORD, And the justice due me escapes the notice of my God"? 28 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.29 He gives strength to the weary, And to him who lacks might He increases power. 30 Though youths grow weary and tired, And vigorous young men stumble badly,31 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.
1.Christian, behold your God! What is it that you have that is so big and difficult for Him?
2.Cornerstone Bible Church, behold your God! Can we contain Him in our little box? When will we experienced the power of His majesty and greatness? The deacons know that I do not take “it’s not possible” for an answer, unless it is clear that God shut the door of opportunity
3.Father and Mother, behold your God! Has His arm shortened to save your children or your marriage?
4.People of God, behold your God! Is He not powerful and sufficient to satisfy the deepest longings of your souls?
Is it not this what made the apostle tick, and which he confessed this way:
7 But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8 More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish in order that I may gain Christ, 9 and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, 10 that I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; 11 in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. Phil 3:7-11
Perhaps, the Lord will be pleased to let us see – with spiritual eyes – what the servant of Elisha saw, when the King of Aram was enraged against Elisha and sent troops to capture the prophet…
2 Kings 6:15-18 15 Now when the attendant of the man of God had risen early and gone out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was circling the city. And his servant said to him, "Alas, my master! What shall we do?" 16 So he answered, "Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them." 17 Then Elisha prayed and said, "O LORD, I pray, open his eyes that he may see." And the LORD opened the servant’s eyes, and he saw; and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.
I am not going to lie to you. Life is full of trouble! They do not disappear when you come to the Lord…Job 5:7 For man is born for trouble, As sparks fly upward.
But your world (our world) will be turned upside down, the day we get to know this God and experience fellowship with Him through Christ
8 "But as for me, I would seek God, And I would place my cause before God;
9 Who does great and unsearchable things, Wonders without number.
May the Lord open our eyes, and show us the power of His might, and the greatness of His condescension, to stoop down and rescue the likes of us