Oftentimes, when our external world begins to crack, creak, and crumble, so does our internal world. For many of us Christians, we begin to doubt God’s goodness and His sovereignty. Anxiety, fear, and anger can weaken the confidence of many believers in God, especially their trust in God’s sovereignty. Disturbing questions haunt many of us: “Is God still in control? If He is, does He know what He’s doing?” “Is He as good as He says He is?” Where do we turn to strengthen ourselves and banish such terrifying questions?
God’s Awesome Greatness
Isaiah the prophet turns us to the sovereignty of God in chapter 40 of his prophecy. In similar circumstances of national disaster, Isaiah prepared God’s people for the imminent national catastrophe of exile by multiplying comforting pictures of God’s sovereignty. Let’s watch as he strengthens the inner world of God’s people with the external world of God’s sovereign power.
God’s hand: “Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand?” asks Isaiah in verse 12. It’s one of a series of rhetorical questions that expect the answer, “Our sovereign God.” There are an estimated 332,519,000 cubic miles of water on the planet, yet our sovereign God holds them in the palm of His hand.
God’s ruler: “Who has . . . marked off the heavens with a span?” (v. 12). A large human handspan is about 8–9 inches. That can’t measure much, can it? But God can measure the heavens with just His handspan. The nearest star is four light years away. In other words, it would take four years to get there traveling at 186,000 miles per hour. But God can measure to the farthest star with just His thumb and little finger.
God’s cup: “Who has . . . enclosed the dust of the earth in a measure?” (v. 12). Can you measure how much sand there is on a beach? Of course not. We couldn’t find a container big enough or strong enough. Yet God’s kitchen has a measuring cup that can hold the sand from every beach and every desert in the world.
God’s scales: “Who has . . . weighed the mountains in scales and the hills in a balance?” (v. 12). Ever tried lifting a large boulder? Yet God can lift the Alps, the Himalayas, the Andes, and the Rockies and not trouble His scales.
God’s teacher: “What man shows him his counsel?” (v. 13). A series of questions reminds us that God doesn’t have or need a teacher. God never sits down with His creatures and asks, “So what do you think I should do?”
God’s bucket: “Behold, the nations are like a drop from a bucket” (v. 15). We look at the population of China, the military might of Russia, and the threat of North Korea as these nations jostle with the superpower of the USA. But none of them are superpowers to God; they aren’t even superdrips.
God’s calculator: “All the nations are as nothing before him, they are accounted by him as less than nothing and emptiness” (v. 17). Although we look at GDP (Gross Domestic Product) numbers in the world economic tables, when God adds up all these trillions, His calculator returns the answer “less than zero.”
God’s mirror: “To whom then will you liken God, or what likeness compare with him?” (v. 18).
The God who made man looks at all the man-made gods, then looks at Himself and says, “Really? That’s the best you’ve got?” There’s no competition and there’s no comparison.
God’s seat “It is he who sits above the circle of the earth” (v. 22). The horizon seems to stretch from infinity to infinity. But it’s just a little stool for God.
God’s grasshoppers: “And its inhabitants are like grasshoppers” (v. 22). We look at presidents, prime ministers, kings, and tech titans as monstrously powerful. God looks at them all and says, “Just grasshoppers.”
God’s curtains: “Who stretches out the heavens like a curtain” (v. 22). Each night God easily pulls down the blinds and sends the world to sleep.
God’s telescope: “Lift up your eyes on high and see: who created these? He who brings out their host by number, calling them all by name; by the greatness of his might, and because he is strong in power not one is missing” (v. 26). God created, numbered, names, and supports all the stars. At the last human count there were ten trillion galaxies, each containing one hundred billion stars. But that’s just an estimate. God has the exact number and knows all their names.
Remember your questions? “Is God still in control? If He is, does He know what He’s doing?” Has Isaiah answered them with his graphic pictures of God’s awesome sovereignty? Instead of chaos, are you seeing and feeling control, calm, comfort, and courage? Does the future look less scary now? When our external and internal worlds are crumbling, we must look to another world for confidence.
God’s Awesome Gentleness
But Isaiah hasn’t finished yet. He’s painted awesome pictures of God’s greatness, but he introduces them all with an awesome picture of God’s gentleness. “He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young” (v. 11). He’s an awesome Sovereign and an awesome Shepherd. He’s awesomely great and awesomely gentle. Indeed, He puts His awesome greatness in the service of His awesome gentleness. Our Shepherd is sovereign, and our Sovereign is a shepherd. He’s raising and removing leaders, and He’s lifting and leading lambs. Behold your God and experience new comfort and courage for whatever is ahead.