The Expository Files


 “So Are My Ways Higher Than Your Ways”

Isaiah 55:8-9


I think there could be a no more unsettling, disturbing moment filled with distraught and fear than to stand face to face with God as a sinful, unprepared human being. And without the confidence that is ours by grace in Jesus Christ, even the best of us are woefully sinful and unprepared. Isaiah, in a vision shown him by God, was drawn into the Divine Presence and witnessed a manifestation of God on His throne in the midst of unspeakable glory. But even that this was only a vision granted him by God (for no mortal can behold the true image of God and live) did not keep Isaiah from feeling a great deal of fear - knees buckling and heart melting.

"Woe is me, for I am ruined!
Because I am a man of unclean lips,
And I live among a people of unclean lips;
For my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts."

(Isaiah 6:5)

But I am glad that this is the God we serve. I am glad that there is such a wide gulf between the nature of God and man.

8 "For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways," declares the LORD.
9 "For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways
And My thoughts than your thoughts.

(Isaiah 55:8,9).

Lets consider why we ought to be glad that the God we love and that loves us is holy and separate from us in this sense.

Who Is Overcome By Evil's Temptation?
Who is overcome by temptation? That would be man; not God. It is not difficult to at once cite example after example of people overcome by temptation to do evil in our world. Corruption in politics and business; brutality and hate; degrading passions and perversions; blasphemy and irreverence.

Am I talking about the first century or the 21st? Either one; take your pick (Romans 1:18-32). God, however, cannot be tempted by evil because of His righteous nature (James 1:13).

All those sinful behaviors that come forth from man, "unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice…"; God is not tempted to partake in any of them because they are contrary to His very character. I am glad that I serve a God who is not and cannot be inclined toward such! I'll be happy to tremble as Isaiah did when I first behold Him knowing that He is far above and separate from these things.

Who Thinks He Knows Everything But Does Not?
Man typically believes whatever he wishes to believe; looking for convenience rather than truth. This is especially true when man considers himself independent of God (Ephesians 4:17-21). But the mind of man is finite. There are limits to what we can know accurately. We have an inability to know all.

But it is also true because of man's unwillingness to know and accept the truth. He often wishes to excuse his own sin and so closes his eyes to unwanted truth. We have a world full of people who fancy themselves wiser than God (1 Corinthians 1:21; 2 Corinthians 11:13-15).

Nothing is hidden from God. No darkness is so great that He does not see (Psalm 139:12; Daniel 2:20-23). Again, the gulf between God and man is significant. (Romans 11:33-36). This is precisely why it is so important for us to put our trust in Him and become as He directs us to be in His word! I am glad God has revealed to us the things we need to know!

Who Thinks He Can Rescue Himself But Cannot?
Many calamities have been caused by man's sin. Has anyone noticed that while technology has brought many improvements to our lives, it has also brought many dangers. In our world, doctors use it to heal us and terrorists use it to kill us!

Technology has not and will not lessen the viciousness and hatred of evil men. This has always been the case (Genesis 6:5; Ecclesiastes 7:29). It will not deliver us from such.

God is our Savior! Freedom will come by the hand of God (1 Timothy 2:3,4), and knowing that fills our hearts with hope even as we live in the midst of a sinful and suffering world ( Romans 8:18-25). This is not to say that all of us ought not work to make things better here in this world. Yes, we should. We can in some small measure live graciously and unselfishly and effect the world for good. We can be, as Jesus put it, “the salt of the earth” and “the light of the world”. But we will still live in a fallen world tomorrow in spite of our best efforts today, as long as there is a tomorrow.

I cannot save myself, I must freely acknowledge that. It takes Someone with a nature far superior to my own to do this. Certainly I am glad that, though it may cause me to one day tremble in His presence, that God has this superiority! He will one day deliver us from the evil of a fallen and spoiled world.

So, I am glad that this is the God we serve. I am glad that there is such a wide gulf between the nature of God and man. I wish more of the world's people would come to terms with this. We ought to be glad that the God we love and that loves us is holy and separate from us in this sense. When I see Him, I am sure that I will be filled with awe as Isaiah was, but if I am prepared by faith in Jesus, then the terror will be gone (1 John 4:17,18).

By Jon W. Quinn
From Expository Files 19.8; August 2012