Isaiah 40: 12-14 GETTING THE MESSAGE/Isaiah 40: 12-14
In these verses we have rhetorical questions to help us understand the Lord’s attributes. Sadly, we aren’t inclined to dwell on the awesome attributes of God. We are nudged this way by the previous verses, which spoke of good news being spread widely and loudly (verse 9).
This good news is because the Lord God will be a Shepherd to his people; gathering and leading them (verse 11). This is clearly a reference to the Lord Jesus Christ. The gospel is literally “good news,” and Christ is the substance of that good news. So you must learn in the prophets of the Old Testament that God is speaking to you of the wonders of Christ.
The good news is exemplified in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” There is emphasized here God’s love, his great gift of love in His Son, the acceptance of any who believe in His Son, and the great promise of not perishing, but having eternal life.
When we come to verse 12 of Isaiah 40, we are being taught to combine the wonderful promise of God with the unmatched attributes of God. The more we know of the attributes of God, the more we trust, the more we take hold of the promise. We are prone to doubt God’s willingness, but Christ crucified for sinners instructs us of the grace, love, compassion, and mercy of God to sinners. We can then combine God’s willingness to have us with his immutable nature.
The first question in our text is: “Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand and marked off the heavens with a span?” The “waters” means all the waters, meaning oceans, rivers, lakes, and such. Next time you go to the ocean or a river, scoop a handful of water and compare what is in the hollow of your hand with all the waters on earth, which God can hold easily, and knows every drop of.
To mark off the heavens with a span means the span of your hand between the little finger and the thumb when the hand is stretched out, open palm, fingers not touching. There is not a lot of distance there, at least for us. The Lord is saying he can fit the universe in the span of his hand. Now, we know the Lord does not have a literal hand, but this figure of speech helps us to understand the immensity of God.
Isaiah continues by asking who has enclosed the dust of the earth in a measure and weighed the mountains in scales and the hills in a balance? You might have some powder in a pint jar, and there you can judge how much you have. The Lord can tell you the amount of dirt in the world. And he can tell you how much all the mountains of the earth weigh.
In the last week or so we saw the Space X spacecraft launched with NASA astronauts. People were immersed in the whole process. I read of people holding their breath, tensed, amazed, and in awe after the successful launch. And it was truly a sight to behold.
Yet men are not like that about God and his attributes. They can read of his attributes like we see in this passage and yawn. They are impressed with men, but not God. Compare the attributes of God with what men usually trust. Men would trust in the strength of a spider web over the strength of God. There is no fear of God before their eyes.
But there is good news here for those who look to the Lord. We see rhetorical questions in verse 14 teaching us that the Lord God needed no counsel, or instruction on the “path of justice,” which means the right way to do things. This includes his plan of redemption; a perfect plan. Christ is the perfect Savior, and gives us perfect acceptance with God.
More than this (in a manner of speaking) all the attributes of the only God are directed toward benefiting his redeemed people. And we are given the unimaginable blessing of knowing God as Father. Forever and ever.
For the Christian, this is a text to return to again and again in troubled times. God will not deny us what we need after giving us his Son. And he is able to meet all our needs easily. No one can hinder him. He upholds us that we may learn of him, seek him, and have our joy in him.