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God’s Word for You

Isaiah 40:25-31

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Thursday, May 15, 2008

25 “To whom will you compare me?
     Or who is my equal?” says the Holy One.
26 Lift your eyes and look to the heavens:
     Who created all these?
He who brings out the starry host one by one,
     and calls them each by name.
Because of his great power and mighty strength,
     not one of them is missing.

As I was reading this passage, my youngest son Eric was playing on the couch with his cars, laying them out and calling them by name. It was too much of a coincidence to pass up, so please forgive the indulgence of a daddy.

Imagine God doing exactly what this passage describes. It may be impressive to me that a three-year-old boy can know the difference between a Thunderbird and a Camaro (something I don’t know myself), but God knows everything about every corner of the universe. As to naming the stars? Of course it’s a case of anthropomorphism: placing a human quality onto God so that we can have a reference point to understand him. But God created far more objects in the night sky than we can see with a telescope.

Who can count the stars? Certainly no one. Why, then, do we dare to count up and extol our righteousness before God, something that surely no one can do. (Martin Luther)

God made all of it. The wonders of the universe are there because he called them into being.

But why make this point? Why haul out the whole cosmos and show it to us? When God did this for Abraham, it was to make a point, and to make a promise: “I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore” (Genesis 22:17).

This time, God makes the point to Israel, and he make a promise to us, turning from constellations to consolation:

27 Why do you say, O Jacob,
     and complain, O Israel,
“My way is hidden from the LORD;    
     my cause is disregarded by my God”?
28 Do you not know?
     Have you not heard?
The LORD is the everlasting God,
     the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
     and his understanding no one can fathom.
29 He gives strength to the weary
     and increases the power of the weak.
30 Even youths grow tired and weary,
     and young men stumble and fall;
31 but those who hope in the LORD
     will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
     they will run and not grow weary,
     they will walk and not be faint. (NIV)

God knows our troubles. It isn’t that he is so far above us that he can’t see us. It’s that his strength is as boundless as his mind, and as infinite as his mercy. We can’t comprehend all of this, but we should at least humbly accept this. His judgment on idolaters is severe: “The rest of mankind that were not killed by these plagues still did not repent of the work of their hands; they did not stop worshiping demons, and idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone and wood—idols that cannot see or hear or walk.  Nor did they repent of their murders, their magic arts, their sexual immorality or their thefts.” (Revelation 9:20-21). This is a terrifying scene because people can look around themselves at the world and know that there is a creating God who hates sin, and yet they have been deceived into worshiping the creation itself. And those who do the deceiving will be judged as well: “Do you not know that we will judge angels?” (1 Corinthians 6:3). And God still calls out to mankind: “Each of you must turn from your wicked ways and reform your actions; do not follow other gods to serve them” (Jeremiah 35:15).

But God gives us this comfort: When others are condemned, we who have humbly set our faith in God will be rescued. “Thus is the man blessed who fears the LORD” (Psalm 128:4). When we struggle with any temptation, we need to remember that we will not be better off if we give in. When a sin presents itself to us like a dollar on the sidewalk, we need to look past the need and the longing we might have to pick up that dollar and commit that sin, because we can’t always see that the devil has a string attached. Ask the Holy Spirit for the strength to walk past the sin, turn from it, and leave it behind. Our God has given us a Savior from sin, and he promises us rest from all our troubles.

Note: The judgment of the evil angels, spoken of directly in 1 Corinthians 6:3 (see also Jude 6) is also taken up in the apocryphal book 1 Enoch:

“...till the day of their judgment and of their consummation, till the judgment that is for ever and ever is consummated. In those days they shall be led off to the abyss of fire: and to the torment and the prison in which they shall be confined for ever.” (1 Enoch 10:12-14)

(Spoken to wicked angels): “You have brought great destruction on the earth: And you shall have no peace nor forgiveness of sin” (1 Enoch 12:5-6)

“These are being prepared for the hosts of Azazel (a demon), so that they may take them and cast them into the abyss of complete condemnation, and they shall cover their jaws with rough stones as the Lord of Spirits commanded. And (the good angels) shall take hold of them on that great day, and cast them on that day into the burning furnace, that the Lord of Spirits may take vengeance on them for their unrighteousness in becoming subject to Satan and leading astray those who dwell on the earth.” (1 Enoch 54:5-6)

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim SmithAbout Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. His wife, Kathryn, attended the Chapel from 1987-1990 while studying Secondary Education (Theater and Math) at UW-Madison. Kathryn’s father, John Meyer, was also the first man to serve as a Vicar at Chapel.

To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.