Summary: Crisis and Choice, Pt. 5


One day a man goes to a pet shop to buy a parrot. The assistant takes the man to the parrot section and asks the man to choose one. The man asks, “How much is the yellow one?” The assistant says, “$2,000.” The man is shocked and asks the assistant why it’s so expensive. The assistant explains, “This parrot is a very special one. He knows typewriting and can type really fast.”

“What about the green one?” the man asks. The assistant says, “He costs $5,000 because he knows typewriting and can answer incoming telephone calls and takes notes.”

“What about the red one?” the man asks. The assistant says, “That one’s $10,000.” The man says, “What does he do?” The assistant says, “I don’t know, but the other two call him boss.”

Who runs the world? Who is in charge? The President of the United States? The Premier of China? The Prime Minister of England? Whose power on earth is unquestioned, unequaled and unchanging?

During the dark days before Judah’s exile to Babylon, the Israelites complained that God was not doing anything, nothing was working for them and things were an absolute mess. The Israelites then forged foreign alliances, worshipped pagan gods and forsook the Lord. Isaiah reminded Israel that not all was doom and gloom, all was not lost. God would preserve a faithful remnant and return them to the Promised Land to rebuild the nation. He comforted and warned the Israelites, reminding them that God is the Lord of all the earth and He would punish the nations, uproot her leaders and show His power.

Why is God so slow to act? When is He ever making His move? What is His response to charges against Him and His reign?

The Rulers are Powerless

15 Surely the nations are like a drop in a bucket; they are regarded as dust on the scales; he weighs the islands as though they were fine dust. 16 Lebanon is not sufficient for altar fires, nor its animals enough for burnt offerings. 17 Before him all the nations are as nothing; they are regarded by him as worthless and less than nothing. (Isa 40:15-17)

God’s first question to Israel was, “What are the nations to me?” Nations come and go, empires unite and disintegrate, governments change hands and philosophies.

The glories of the Roman, British, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Turks, Austro-Hungarians and Dutch empires are nothing but a faint and distant memory today. It’s been said that only the British Empire ended decently. The most unbelievable and unforgettable event of the last century must be the unimaginable and impossible breakup and the fragmentation of the powerful Soviet and East-European bloc in 1989.

War, hunger, ambition, corruption and decay will continue to undermine, destabilize and topple even the latest superpowers of today, whether they be the current economic superpowers today known as G7 (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States) or G8 – including Russia, the two military superpowers in the world (United States and Russia), or the five veto countries in the United Nations Security Council (US, UK, China, France, Russia).

All the nations of the world are like a drop in the bucket. This drop is not the measurable type, like a drop of rain that falls to the ground as a result of gravity. This particular drop is the finest existing particle or the tiniest conceivable droplet. It is not big enough to see or heavy enough to drip. It is as light and as miniscule as a single molecular unit of vapor, mist or steam. God considers all countries, empires or kingdoms as nothing but mere fizzle and hot air.

The biggest and strongest nations are as substantial as dust on scales (v 15)! Their land is merely dust or powder — a speck of dust or a glob of dirt, no bigger than a ping-pong ball or a golf ball. It is not oversized, nor is it really that big or heavy to God. Next, He weighs the islands (v 15), scoops and lifts them like feathers or air.

Islands are pristine, unspoiled and beautiful shores and perfect tourist spots, but God sneezes at the worth of these paradises in the sun. The “fine dust” of island is more cutting than the “dust” of the nations in verse 15. The word “fine” means refer to skinny, thin strips of material, no more impressive than a strip of bacon, a shoestring or a piece of mouth floss. This is the same word that describes the skinny cows and the thin heads of grain Joseph saw in his dream (Gen 41:3, 6). Islands are not the stuff of dreams, but just child’s play or small stuff to Him.

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