This is a great chapter because addresses one of the most crucial questions, “what is God like?” God is transcendent meaning he is above time and space, he doesn’t need or rely on anything. The bible also reveals that God is not only transcendent but also immanent, meaning he is actively involved in the universe and human affairs.
Here Isaiah speaks of God’s great power but also love and compassion for his people. Five headings today looking at the contrast of power and compassion;
- One who holds creation holds me
- One whose word is timeless speaks to me
- One who names the stars calls my name
- One who is all powerful empowers me
- One who is God became man
One who holds creation holds me. Isaiah uses towering poetic language to describe God’s power. Held the dust of the earth in a basket (v12), and measured off the heavens. Even the greatest forest in the Middle East cannot supply enough wood for burnt offerings (v16). He brings princes and rulers to nothing (v23) and the nations are as nothing (v15).
Yet this same God tends his flock like a shepherd and carries the lambs in his arms (v11). Sheep need care they have to be led to pasture and protected from predators. Many people used by God were shepherds, Able, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, David and Amos. Of course this looks forward to Jesus who is;
- The Good Shepherd who lays down his life for the sheep – John 10:11
- The Great Shepherd who equips and empowers the church – Hebrews 13:20
- The Chief Shepherd who will return in glory – 1 Peter 5:4
One whose word is timeless speaks to me. The word of our God stands forever (v8) in contrast with human beings whose lives are short. God’s word is always under attack even this week with Elton John’s comments. A few years ago Christians were concerned at the prospect of the film “The Da Vinci Code”. It was from a bestselling novel, with a great cast, a big budget and a gifted director. In the end the film was universally panned by the critics, it has come and gone but God’s word still stands.
The same word speaks today, Peter quotes this verse and applies it to New Testament believers
Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart. For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. For, “All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord stands forever.” And this is the word that was preached to you. (1 Peter 1:22-25)
In verse one God speaks comfort to his people; Paul tells us that he is the God of all comfort
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. (2 Corinthians 1:3&4)
One who names the stars calls my name. God cannot be compared he is beyond comparison (v25). God urges his people to look at the greatest visible sign of his great power. Look to the heavens (v26), there are 70,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 stars in the visible universe (apparently). He knows them each by name.
Yet God knows his people, he asks why do you complain my cause is disregarded? Later Isaiah will tell us
“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; (Isaiah 49:15&16)
One who is all powerful empowers me. God’s power runs through the chapter. His purposes will be fulfilled and fulfilled using weak human beings. In the contemporary paraphrase “The Word on the Street”, Rob Lacey translates the final verses here with the phrase “plug in to his power supply”. The word “renew” suggests an exchange of strength, perhaps similar to Paul’s thoughts in Colossians 1:29 “To this end I labour, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me.” He will enable us to soar, run and walk
One who is God became man. When we meditate on the nature and character of God, we are amazed that he should ever become man in Christ. These words look ahead to John the Baptist (John 1:23). There is a need to remove the obstacles and clear the way. John speaks of repentance as our part in preparing the way (Matthew 3:1-8) clearing away issues in our lives by repenting and turning away from sin.
On the cross, Christ has levelled mountains, raised valleys and revealed his glory. He has removed the greatest obstacles when he dealt with the problem of sin clearing a way for people to be reconciled to God.
God’s glory is revealed in Christ but also in his church. It’s a sobering thought that most people don’t read the bible they read Christians. We should reflect God’s glory in our lives
“And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit” – 2 Corinthians 3:18