A Picture of God
“Behold, the Lord GOD will come with strong hand, and his arm shall rule for him: behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him.” (Isaiah 40:10)
Have you ever wondered what God would look like if you could take a snapshot of Him? Think about what you would paint if all that God is were laid out in front of your canvas and you were commissioned to paint a portrait. What would it look like? It would have to be a wide-angle lens or a massive mural, for we know how “big” God is. In the words of Solomon in 1 Kings 8:27, “But will God indeed dwell on the earth? behold, the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house that I have builded?” The Bible, itself, is a mosaic of the image of God. Each truth in the scriptures is but a tile in the giant picture of our God, set against the backdrop of eternity. One microcosm of the character of our God, illustrated in brilliant detail, is found in our reading. Isaiah is a master painter and gives rise to the vividness of the person of God as he prophesies the return of the Jews from exile in Babylon.
In this passage, Isaiah is instructed to give comfort to God’s people, shouting it without fear from the tops of the highest mountains, in their time of despair and to tell them that the sins of His people have been paid for two-fold. God’s nature as a stern but loving Father is seen as He calls His children back from their punishment, as, like a shepherd, He tenderly gathers His flock, taking the lambs unto His bosom. Isaiah not only tells of the exodus from Babylon, but prophesies the coming of the ultimate deliverer in Jesus Christ and that the people should prepare the way through their repentance. The crooked will be made straight, the rough places will be made smooth and the valleys made even with the hills in preparation of the coming of this Monarch when the glory of God is revealed incarnate.
Isaiah’s masterful strokes reveal the character and power of God as the Creator, much less the Deliverer and Redeemer. In rhetorical questions, Isaiah breeds uncanny images in our minds of the vastness of God; “Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out heaven with the span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance?” I can just see God, at His creative best, setting up His intricacies by His own measurements. I am humbled by the knowing that islands are dust in the scale and entire nations are but drops in the bucket to God.
Who can worship Him appropriately for His work, asks Isaiah as he describes all the cedars of Lebanon as inadequate for stoking alter fires nor its animals satisfactory for offering. The wealth and affluence, temporary on God’s timeline, are nothing to Him and are described as vanities. God paves His streets with the wealth many desire most and hold most dear. But even in our best effort of likening God to anything we can make tangible, we fall dreadfully short. Idols of silver and gold or wood can never even conceive of modeling the glory of God, not to mention that idols are not alive as our God. Can an idol love you?
The prophet asks “Have you not known? Have you not heard?” as though in surprise of the lack of knowing of God’s power as demonstrated in His creation. The colors of his words add to the portrait of the magnitude of God’s person. To God, elaborates Isaiah, the ongoing heavens are but a tent, stretched out over the earth for His children to live in. He humbles royalty and principality as they are but moments in time, flashes on the grand scale before God. Who, again asks Isaiah about God, is my equal? Isaiah directs the eyes of his people upward to behold the might of the One who calls out the hosts of Heaven BY NAME. God looses them into Heaven and, even in spite of their great number and magnitude, none of them are missing! Humbling indeed.
In the final touches to this masterpiece-glimpse of God’s greatness, Isaiah now questions why, in light of all that his people see and all that they have heard and all that they know of this great and awesome God, why do they cry out in disdain? Can God not soothe them? Can God not comfort them? Can this God, our God, not deliver them from their greatest of woes? Heaven forbid! God, even in majesty and all power in the creation of all that we see, gives ear to the least of all of us. He gives strength to the weak and sustenance to the faint. His understanding of our selves and our problems is depthless, and His endurance is never-ending. So, as Isaiah closes, seek comfort in the Lord and wait upon Him for deliverance. He is faithful and true and will renew your strength. We know this to be true and good, for God’s own signature is on the portrait.
The awesomeness of God is rarely captured in a thought, a word or a picture. Only in the hearts of His people can we even begin to paint a picture of His presence. This is because God, Himself, holds the brushes and the palate.