This is part two in a series on Isaiah 40. To see the first post, click here.
“To whom will you liken God?” (Isaiah 40:18)
This ancient question shocked the ears of the original listeners. These people were Israelites, descendants of the patriarchs, sons and daughters of Abraham, followers of Moses. From their youth up they had been taught the sacred words of the Shema – “Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one!” (Deut. 6:4)
The uniqueness and exclusivity of Jehovah was core to the identity of this nation. Not just that Jehovah was powerful or that He demanded exclusive loyalty, but also that God alone was God. There were no other gods alongside, ahead, before, or even behind Him.
So when Isaiah asks to whom they will compare God, the answer seems almost self-evident – no one!
But even a summary overview of the history of this nation as recorded in the Old Testament will reveal that they constantly bowed themselves down before any and all gods of the nations.
Comparing the Incomparable
“To whom will you compare the LORD?” The proper answer is no one. But practically, in the temple of their heart, these people had been comparing God.
They had engaged in the utter folly of comparing an incomparable God to idols. Before this nation ever bowed down on their knees before the idols of the nations, they had compared Him in their hearts and minds. And He had not fared well by them in this comparison.
Who were they comparing God to? An idol (vs. 19) – something made by hands…a created creator!
You can dress them in gold and adorn them with silver but they are powerless because they are the work of your hand. You have ascribed the honor and worship reserved for the Creator to something you, a creature yourself, have created. Creatures worshipping created things is the most pathetic picture painted by God. And this was happening in the hearts of God’s own people, who more than any other people had the true knowledge of the true God.
“Do you not know? Do you not hear? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth?” (vs. 21)
Yes! You have heard. This is not an information problem – this is a heart problem!
You have indeed compared God to others and weighed Him in the balances of your own making – and you have found Him wanting! For this reason or that, for this circumstance or that. And so you have bowed down to another god, one of your own making, one that you can control and bend to your own will on earth.
A Long, Refreshing Look
And in the midst of all this bowing and comparing, Isaiah calls out – “Behold your God!” (vs. 9)
Consider who He is, what He is like, what He knows, what He does! And He does this and is like this all the time – he never faints! He never grows weary!
So take a long, refreshing look at this God – and remember, He is YOUR God!
He gives strength and power to the faint and weary. In circumstances that would exhaust even the strongest among you, God gives strength. You will walk. You will run. You will live.
Gods We Can Control
And now this ancient word comes roaring quietly into our present lives.
We who call upon God’s name, who follow His Son, who have possession of His Word, and are enabled by His indwelling Spirit…
We are prone to compare God when He does not meet our expectations or act in ways we think He should.
We often join the ranks of the ancient fellowship of global idolaters, who seek a god they can manipulate and control. And when God refuses to be controlled or manipulated to our wills, we look for other gods. And if we can’t find them, we make them!
We serve them and bow down to them and eventually become slaves to them and are made barren by them.
And into our broken, barren, and impoverished lives, Isaiah says anew –
“Behold your God!”