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God’s awesome nature and loving character is revealed in the first two verses of Isaiah 66.
Thus says the Lord:
Heaven is my throne
and the earth is my footstool;
what is the house that you would build for me,
and what is my resting place?
All these things my hand has made,
and so all these things are mine,
says the Lord.
But this is the one to whom I will look,
to the humble and contrite in spirit,
who trembles at my word. (Isaiah 66.1-2)
God’s Awesome Nature
I believe that Isaiah is one of literature’s greatest poets. His words attempt to capture the awesome nature of God, but he can only touch the greatness of his being.
Isaiah didn’t have a Hubble Telescope to explore the heavens when he pictured God’s immense creative power. We can look at pictures of stars and galaxies and marvel at God’s awesome creativity.
When Isaiah wrote, little was known about how vast is the earth’s surface. Yet, he knew that no matter how large it is, it was a mere footstool for God.
The Temple and the Most Holy Place within the Temple was a grand structure, but God’s greatness far exceeded anything even the most skilled human could construct.
J. B. Phillips wrote a small book, “Your God Is Too Small.” How accurate is Phillips’ book when it comes to God.
You may be like me and treat God with less respect and trust than we should. A question that I ask myself reflects the truth of this statement. If God is so great, why don’t I trust more of my life to his guidance?
God’s Loving Character
The awesome God we know pays attention to the humble and crushed (contrite) of the earth (verse 2).
Jesus emphasized the blessings God has for people who have been humbled by life’s circumstances.
He said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth” (Matthew 5.3-5).
Our culture produces bumper stickers proclaiming “The Power of Pride.”
God says, “Not so! There is power in humility and brokenness, because I will dwell with people like that.”
Why is humility so important in our relationship with God? Here are a couple of thoughts.
(1) Isaiah faced a common problem. His audience was religious, but relied on their prideful self-sufficiency for decision making.
The most difficult person to teach is the man or woman who knows it all. How can God lead his people, when they believe that they already know it all?
The root of idolatry is that humans construct a god who will give them what they want. The height of pride is that humans believe they can fashion an image of their god.
Contrast God, who is the Creator of the heavens and earth with Isaiah’s impoverished picture of an idol.
To whom then will you liken God,
or what likeness compare with him?
An idol? —A workman casts it,
and a goldsmith overlays it with gold,
and casts for it silver chains.
As a gift one chooses mulberry wood
—wood that will not rot—
then seeks out a skilled artisan
to set up an image that will not topple. (Isaiah 40.18-20)
(2) Pride and self-sufficiency allows people to harm the vulnerable.
Proud people want a god who will allow them to take advantage of the poor, immigrants, widows, and orphans.
Each Sunday, I sit with men who live in recovery houses. Recently, my pride was revealed by how I thought about a couple of their fellow residents. I was thinking negative thoughts. Thankfully, I didn’t express my views out loud.
The men, who have all been humbled by their addiction, had a much more Christ-like view of their friends than I did.
Jesus taught that wrong thoughts lead to wrong actions.
He said, “But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgment; and if you insult a brother or sister, you will be liable to the council; and if you say, ‘You fool,’ you will be liable to the hell of fire” (Matthew 5.22).
Prideful thinking can lead to wrong actions and excuse the oppression of the vulnerable.
(3) A proper view of God will always lead to great humility.
Moses and Isaiah received awesome encounters with God. The result was a humility that led to obedience.
Both Moses and Isaiah trembled when God spoke. They were willing to follow God’s direction no matter what, because they had experienced the awesome and loving nature of God.
The real test of humility is obedience. When we stand before God in humility, we are willing to take his direction for every aspect of our lives.
About This Blog
Rudy Ross and I discuss this passage on the Bob Spradling YouTube channel. Rudy is an excellent student of the Bible and lover of God. I think you will appreciate the insights he gives to this passage.
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