The Greatness of God
Scripture reading: Isaiah, chapter 40.
The Apostle Paul said that prophecy was given with a view to edification, exhortation, and comfort (1 Cor. 14:3). In the light of this statement, it would seem that should ministry fail in this regard, it fails in its primary purpose. It is clear that when Isaiah wrote that part of his Prophecy called chapter 40, he was endeavouring to comfort God’s people for he opens this chapter with the words, “Comfort ye, comfort ye My people” (V. 1).
Let us see how in a very simple yet important way he sought to do this by directing their thoughts to God, “Behold your God” (V. 9). No doubt Isaiah realized it was important for the people of God to be taken up at times with their circumstances, their responsibilities, their leaders, and even with their mistakes and failures, but he definitely saw their need for a more intensive occupation with God. What better theme could any preacher have before him than this? What more important subject could be uppermost in any believer’s heart than being taken up with God and His things?
Notice please how he challenged them, “Behold your God.” He did not say, behold the God of Abraham, of Isaac, or of Jacob. It is true that He was likewise the God of these patriarchs, but it seems that the prophet wanted to more deeply impress the people, so he said, “Your God.” Jabez called Him, “The God of Israel;” Jacob called Him, “The God of my father;” but Daniel reached further and said, “My God.” How sweet and blessed for the child of God, however weak, poor, or simple to be able to look to heaven and say concerning the God Who sits there, “My God.”
Isaiah presents God to them in a fourfold way: in His grace (V. 2), His greatness (V. 12), His glory (V. 5), and His gift (V. 29). While it would be helpful and comforting to consider each of these in this article, we shall confine ourselves to the one feature, the greatness of God.
The Greatness of His Person
In order to manifest His greatness Isaiah makes mention of a number of created things.
The Waters: This writer likely had in mind much more than the oceans, even if only these with their vastness, depth, and seemingly irresistible force are meant, how great must be the person of God, for Isaiah writes concerning Him, “Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of His hand.”
The Heavens: If the grandeur of the ocean causes us to stand in awe and wonder, how much more the heavens! We, like David, the shepherd boy of the hills of Judea, consider the heavens and are at once impressed with the nothingness of man and the greatness of the One Who measured these with His span.
The Nations: The great and populous nations that occasionally have drenched the world in blood and, we fear, threaten to do so again, are to our God as only a drop in a bucket. A drop of a bucket! We would hardly bother to turn the bucket over in order to empty it, or take a cloth to wipe it out. Such then are the nations in the sight of God. How small, how valueless, and how unimportant they all are!
The Greatness of His Power
“He that sitteth upon the circle of the earth…that bringeth the princes to nothing” (Vv. 22-23). As the prophet wrote this, his mind must have been engaged in retrospect, and as we read his words, our minds as well become occupied with the salient points of history. Proud Pharaoh said, “Who is the Lord that I should obey His voice?” No one else mattered to him, but self; therefore, he openly defied the God of heaven. What happened to him in his pride? God drowned him in the Red Sea.
Nebuchadnezzar (Dan. 4: 30) in some respects was in the same frame of mind; he was a boastful haughty man, but God humiliated him and sent him out to graze like a beast of the field until he knew that the Most High ruled among the children of men.
Herod, a similarly proud monarch beheaded James, and intended to do the same to Peter (Acts 12). We are familiar with the wonderful way in which God delivered Peter, and how He dealt with Herod. Such is the greatness of God’s power, He sent a few worms and Herod’s life ended in pain, humiliation, and shame.
Napoleon boastingly said, “God is on the side of the army with the heavier battalions,” and so he set out for Moscow. God sent a few snowflakes, bogged down his armies, and smashed his power. “He…bringeth the princes to nothing.” How comforting to know that there is nothing too hard for the Lord, and that He can right every wrong in the Church, the home, and in the world!
The Greatness of His Understanding
“There is no searching of His understanding” (V. 28). God is not only great in His person and power, but He is infinite in His wisdom and knowledge. He knows the end from the beginning, and the darkness and the light are alike to Him. He looketh on the heart, and all things are naked and open before Him. His knowledge was made evident in His dealings with the seven churches of Asia (Rev. 2-3). To each He said, “I know.” To one of them, He said, “Where thou dwellest;” to another, “What thou doest;” and to a third, “What thou art.” How comforting such a fact is to those who are right and doing right! How searching to those engaged in anything of a questionable nature! God knows the widow’s tears, the orphan’s struggle, the young Christian’s temptation, the overseer’s burden, and the preacher’s need. Like Peter, we bow in His presence and with worshipping hearts say, “Thou knowest all things.”
The Greatness of His Care
“He shall feed His flock like a shepherd” (V. 11). While He has been brought before us as a great personage possessing great power and infinite understanding, lest we should be over-awed and made to feel too small and too weak and insignificant in His sight, He is pictured for us as a Shepherd in His tender care for the sheep of His pasture. When we think of a shepherd, we think of one who has to deal firmly with the sheep, yet of one who is tender, kind, and sympathetic. As a shepherd, Christ feeds and gathers His own; moreover, He carries them in His bosom. What a blessed example for the under-shepherds! Amidst all the changing scenes and trials of their work, how comforting to know that God is the God Who cares.
The Apostle Paul asks, “Doth God take care ….?” (1 Cor. 9:9). He then goes on to prove from the Old Testament that He does care, and cares even for the beasts of the field. During His earthly sojourn the Lord Jesus showed that He cared for the lilies, the ravens, and the sparrows. Let us stop and consider how very much He cares for His blood-bought children.