The Expository Files

 To Whom Then Will You Liken God? 

Isaiah 40:1-31

What people think about God is often very different from how God has revealed Himself to be. But God is real. He is not someone that we can twist and bend into whatever we want Him to be. But that is precisely what many attempt to do today. I recall, for example, a television talk show where  deviant sex was being discussed. Someone had referred to what the Bible says about God's attitude toward the practice and one very respected host said, "My God is not like that." Well, since there is only one true and living God, then if her God is not the one who revealed His truth in the Bible, then she has the wrong god. Israel had fallen away from God during Isaiah's time. One of the reasons behind this is that they had forgotten who God was.

Many in our own time have become just as estranged from the true and living God. It is good for believers to remember every day just who God is. We find the answers in His word, the Scriptures. The title of this article is taken from the fortieth chapter of Isaiah, the whole chapter devoted to remembering who God is.

A God That Forgives
"Comfort, O comfort My people," says your God.... that (their) iniquity has been removed..." (Isaiah 40:1,2). God is holy, pure and righteous. There must be payment made for our sin or we are lost. Jesus sacrificed Himself to atone for our sins. He became "the way" back to the Father (John 14:6).  God forgives on His terms, not ours. To reject the gospel is to reject God's forgiveness. Man may try to reinvent a God who forgives through other means than faith in Christ, but in truth there is no other way (Acts 4:12; Acts 3:37,38).

A God That Came
"A voice is calling, 'Clear the way for the Lord in the wilderness; Make smooth in the desert a highway for our God.'" (Isaiah 40:3; see vss. 3-8). God came personally and directly to our world to answer our deepest need. Jesus, the Son of God, was announced by the voice crying in the wilderness, "Behold, the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world!" (John 1:29). It was about seven centuries after the prophet Isaiah had written these words that the voice of John announced the Lord's presence in the wilderness. The words of Jesus are those by which God speaks to us today (Hebrews 1:1-3). Isaiah placed great confidence in the word of the Lord and so should we. "The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever." (Isaiah 40:8).

A God That Rewards
"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. 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." (Isaiah 40:10,11). This is good news and refreshing for the troubled souls of Isaiah's day. But it ought not to be any less refreshing for us as well, but that  depends on the amount of faith we have. The Lord will come and His "recompense" or "reward" is with Him. He is not so unjust as to ignore our efforts (Hebrews 6:10). Isaiah uses the figure of a super-shepherd tending His lambs, even carrying them all with a strong, providing and protecting arm. Jesus, in the New Testament, refers to Himself as "the good shepherd" (John 10:11).

A God of Infinite Power and Wisdom
"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?" (Isaiah 40:12; see vss. 12-17). God is the beginning of all wisdom, knowledge and power. He is the source of the universe. He can do that which is impossible for man to do. God has "pushed the camel through the eye of a needle" with respect to saving us from sin (Matthew 19:24). This means that if we will truly place our trust in Him, then we can be confident and assured about the outcome of our faith - the salvation of our souls. We are in "good hands" when we place ourselves in God's care.

A Jealous God
"To whom then will you liken God? Or what likeness will you compare with Him? As for the idol, a craftsman casts it, A goldsmith plates it with gold, And a silversmith fashions chains of silver. 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." (Isaiah 40:18-20). The Lord will not accept second place in our lives. He is the Creator. He is not just another idol of wood or stone. He is not just another friend, or possession. He is not a hobby to pursue when we feel like it or a game to play when convenient. He is the living God. As Jesus said, "You cannot serve God and mammon." (Matthew 5:24).

A Creator God
"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." (Isaiah 40:26; see vss. 21-26). At a word God willed the galaxies into existence. At a word He created them, and the day will come when He will remove them because they will have performed their purpose (Psalm 19:1-3; Hebrews 1:10-12; 2 Peter 3:9-13). This God of such dynamic creative ability and power is also aware of every single event in His universe. Jesus said not even a sparrow falls to the ground without His notice and that we are of more value than sparrows (Matthew 10:29-31).

A God That Judges
"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"? (Isaiah 40:27). People seem to have an idea that God does not see, or that perhaps we can explain our sin away. It's an old idea. God is aware, and will bring every act to judgment (Ecclesiastes 12:13, 14).

A God That Provides
"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." (Isaiah 40:31). There is no good reason to exchange God as He truly is for a god of our own imagination. Our God will provide us with what we need to overcome and win eternal victory. That is something other god can do.

By Jon W. Quinn
 From Expository Files 9.3; March 2002