A Better Understanding


Who is God? The prophet is challenging the idolatries of his day in chapter 40 of the Book of Isaiah. Idolatry remains with us today in entirely new ways, and the prophet’s questions are as worthy of our contemplation now as they were a millennia ago. Beginning at verse 12 the prophet asks: “Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens?” You can see where he was going here. He is addressing human pride and its propensity to presume its own powers. He is telling us to look around us at the heavens and the earth and to ask ourselves, who among us has created any of this? Is there anything that mankind has created, or can do, that compares to the power of God?

In our own day, there are those who want us to believe that God is dead, that all this “religious” stuff is nothing more than primitive legends and myths. They tell us that we are fools, that we need to “progress,” to enter the new Age of Humanity that says that man is the measure of all things. Is this not just another form of idolatry? Is this not just a new god? Does it not claim all knowledge and power to itself? I cannot help but hear Shakespeare’s character Puck in his comedy, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, whispering in my ear, “What fools these mortals be.”

But the prophet speaks the truth here. “Before him the nations are as nothing…With whom, then, will you compare God? To what image will you liken him?” (verse 18) Will “science” replace him? Will the great power of technology? Will the power of wealth? Or the power of great armies and the mightiest of weapons that science and technology can craft? Did science create the heavens? Did some mindless, random series of chemical reactions bring about the stars, the earth, all the living things? Or man himself? On the contrary, the evidence is overwhelming that there is a Mind at work in all of this complexity, all of this wondrous diversity. It is a beautiful Mind. It is an infinite Mind, a limitless Mind, a Mind that can contain within itself the entirety of the universe and yet, can have an infinitely intimate and personal relationship with each and every one of us.

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Though there are those who harass us from every side, just as the Jews were being harassed at the time the prophet writes these words; though we often grow weary from the struggle, the prophet reassures us with these words: The Lord is everlasting, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak…Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on the wings of eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not grow faint.” (verses 28-31)

Lord, we believe, help our unbelief. We grow weary at times, strengthen us. Let our hope in you be increased even in our suffering. You are God. There is no other to compare with you. Guide our feet in the way of peace for your name’s sake. We pray these things in your name, Jesus. Amen!

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Dan Doyle is a husband, father, grandfather, Vietnam veteran, and retired professor of Humanities at Seattle University. He taught 13 years at the high school level and 22 years at the university level. He spends his time now babysitting his granddaughter. He is a poet and a blogger as well. Dan holds an AA degree in English Literature, a BA in Comparative Literature, and an MA in Theology, and writes regularly for The Veterans Site blog.