GETTING THE MESSAGE/Isaiah 40:18-22
This passage exhorts us to compare the living, true God to the idols we form in our hearts. All men are idolaters; it is the root of all sin to form God in our own image. And all men are inescapably religious; they worship the true God, (as he has revealed himself), or elevate themselves to that position, choosing for themselves what is good to worship in their own eyes.
Isaiah challenges us to consider God: “To whom then will you liken God, or what likeness compares to him (verse 18)?” This rebukes idolatry by pointing us to the transcendence of God. He has dominion over all things, a being above and separate from his creation.
You cannot replicate God or replace him with something of the creation or creature. God points us to his transcendence to awaken us to the evil of idolatry as well as the futility of it. It leads to death; it is a dead end road. It conveys wrong, sinful notions of God.
So we should do what he says and consider him. In verse 22 we read: “It is he who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers, who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them like a tent to dwell in.”
We are directed to think of the immensity of God. The “circle of the earth,” refers to what we see in this world. If you walk outside you see the horizon, where the sky seems to come down to the earth in the distance. If you turn around and look in the opposite direction, you see the same, so there appears a semi-circle in the sky. It looks immense, but God “sits” above it.
God is omnipresent, everywhere. He isn’t just above the earth. But this is an easy way to be reminded the earth is a small place to him; he knows all that is going on upon it as easily as you would observe a small aquarium. It is common today for people to mock a “sky god,” but they underestimate God. He is not only out there somewhere, but he is imminent; he knows the hearts of men. He sees and knows all.
The language is an appeal to turn from ignoring God to considering him. He compares men to “grasshoppers.” This is a rebuke us for how easily we are distressed or conversely, impressed, by men who dwell in palaces or fortresses. We consider princes more than we consider Almighty God, who isn’t impressed by men.
This is a rebuke, but also a gracious appeal. When God says consider me, he is appealing to us to turn to him and live. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Whatever we are most impressed with is what we fear. Until we are converted, we would rather displease God than men.
There is no one converted who doesn’t become impressed with God. A redeemed soul is still sinful, but now considers that the great God is full of mercy, and communion with him is the delight of the soul. He knows now that God’s command to consider him was a beckoning to come to life.
The Lord gives particular gifts to those whom he gives life to. The graces of his Spirit are his best; an humble, broken heart, and a believing heart, and a lowly heart, that goes out of itself, and goes into Christ by faith, which reflects the self-denial of conversion that leads to love, first to God but also toward men.
Also, the love of God toward those in Christ will be particularly expressed to them in times of crisis in the world. Inward peace of conscience, inward joy, and inward comforts; these are signs of love that God bestows on his children, when he will own them in the worst times, and speak peace to the soul when nothing in the world will speak peace.
Another token of God’s love is to have seasonable and sanctifying correction. The Lord disciplines those he loves. When we are in a way of straying, God will bring us home by correction; and when we have sanctified correction we find by experience that all is turned to our good.
Maybe you need to consider God anew. Read carefully through Isaiah 40. It is a message of good news; of salvation to those who are far off by nature becoming close with God. Consider God, the prophet Isaiah says. Many have and lived by doing so. Let us follow the same path.