08 Jan A True Portrait of God
Isaiah 40 was written to the nation of Israel during a time of intense turmoil and spoke of their coming exile to Babylon, where their lives would be turned upside down for a whole generation. By ignoring and rejecting God, their dreams had been crushed and their sense of hope was hanging by a thread. I’m sure they believed that being rescued and returned to their homeland was the most important thing, but what they needed most was a new vision of God–the God who is, not the God they had created in their own minds.
We are no different. Regardless of what is going on in our lives or businesses, an accurate image of God is essential for all of us. Isaiah 40 beautifully paints a true and timeless portrait of God for the ancient Israelites and for us in the 21st century.
God is full of grace (40:1-5)
God was continuing to discipline His people for rejecting Him, but constantly assuring them that He was not finished with them. Far beyond the Babylonian exile, Isaiah foresaw One who would, centuries later, come to redeem this suffering people from their sins (see Matthew 3:1-3). God is not finished with you, either! Through Jesus, God pardons your sin. He brings comfort in your distress. He has a sure future for you.
God’s Word is a constant we can count on (40:6-8)
We can all attest to how rapidly industry trends change, and as we scan the cultural landscape, we readily recognize that values, codes, and laws ebb and flow with public opinion. But God is above all earthly powers and idols. Ultimately everything here will wither and fade like flowers and grass; however, God continues to reveal Himself to humans through His spoken and written Word, which will endure and never fail.
God is both powerful and gentle (40:9-11)
We are so easily impressed by compelling leaders and influential companies. Have we forgotten the greatness of God and all he has accomplished from Creation to Redemption? But even with the ultimate power God can wield, Isaiah foretells a tender Shepherd who gently leads his sheep (see John 10:28). Our generation has experienced more of the reality of that good news: “Behold your God!”
God’s knowledge and wisdom is beyond compare (40:12-20)
The greatness and glory of God can encourage downcast people. This section serves as a reminder of God’s nature and ways. Are you amazed by the water feature in a modern development? I give you the oceans and coral reefs created by God. Are you confounded by the inequities of life? Listen and learn from the Source of justice and righteousness. But whom does God consult? No one is like–or above our Creator God whose power is unlimited, wisdom is unsearchable, and purposes cannot be thwarted.
God is ruling and reigning over the universe (40:21-24)
Sometimes it feels like the world is spinning out of control. It is certainly humbling to be compared to grasshoppers, yet this analogy puts into context the magnitude and weight of God’s glory and authority. Everything we deem powerful in business, politics or entertainment is fragile compared to God, whose perfection and holiness could make them disappear like particles of dust. Remember, though, He has made us in His own image. We are a part of His glorious plans.
God knows, helps and strengthens us (40:25-31)
It’s easy to relate to verse 27 when life gets hard: “my way is hidden from the LORD and my right is disregarded by my God”. Isaiah corrects this wrong tendency of thinking by reasoning with us. This all-seeing, all-powerful, everlasting God knows you by name (vs. 26). He will help the weak and the willing—and the strong and young who tend to believe they are tougher than they really are. God renews us based on His greatness and great promises. Who receives this strength and help? Those who know their need. Those who wait for Him, which means to acknowledge God and all that He is. To actively pray and express trust in His promises. And to turn our affections and will toward Him.
Behold a true portrait of God . . . incredible, isn’t it?
This week join me in reading and meditating on Psalm 139 as we continue to pursue a greater vision of God.
Waiting on Him with you,
Lord, I confess that I am so easily impressed by what I can see with my physical eyes–influential leaders, super successful companies, all that wealth can acquire, families with seemingly perfect relationships, and more. Oh Lord, awaken me and turn my thoughts to You as the everlasting God and Creator and Shepherd and Savior. There is no one else like You. There is no one else that has forgiven my sin and healed my heart, who has given me inner peace and joy and satisfaction that is literally impossible to describe. Please Lord, allow me to behold Your true glory today that you showed us in Jesus Christ. Amen.
“Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. “ –Jeremiah 9:23-24
ADDITIONAL REFLECTIONS: NEW YEAR, NEW VISION