It is easy to look at the world around us, the culture around us, the institutions around us, and to despair. It is easy to see all that is wrong, all that looks so dark and dangerous, and to lose our hope, to lose our confidence. I have been helped here by J.I. Packer in a powerful little part of Knowing God. Packer teaches the benefit of comparing God with whatever forces and powers we regard as great, and then he does that very thing, drawing on Isaiah 40. It is a powerful and encouraging bit of writing that I’ve adapted right here. God speaks to his people and simply asks them to look and consider.
Look at the tasks I have done. “Could you do them? Could any man do them? ‘Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand and marked off the heavens with a span, enclosed the dust of the earth in a measure and weighed the mountains in scales and the hills in a balance?’ (verse 12). Are you wise enough and mighty enough to do things like that?” “I am,” says God. Behold your God!
Look at the nations. Look at all those nations that you fear, that you stand in awe of because of their vast armies and great power. “But now consider how God stands related to those mighty forces which you fear so much. “Behold, the nations are like a drop from a bucket, and are accounted as the dust on the scales; … All the nations are as nothing before him, they are accounted by him as less than nothing and emptiness’ (verse 15, 17). You tremble before the nations, because you are much weaker than they; but God is so much greater than the nations that they are as nothing to him.” Behold your God!
Look at the world. “Consider the size of it, the variety and complexity of it; think of the [billions] who populate it, and of the vast sky above it. What puny figures you and I are, by comparison with the whole planet on which we live. Yet what is this whole planet by comparison with God? ‘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’ (verse 22). The world dwarfs us all, but God dwarfs the world.” Behold your God!
Look at the world’s great ones. Look at the people who rule this world, the great kings and presidents, “the governors whose laws and policies determine the welfare of millions; the would-be-world-rulers, the dictators and empire-builders, who have it in their power to plunge the globe into war. … Do you suppose that it is really these great men who determine which way the world shall go? Think again; for God is greater than the world’s great men. He is the one ‘who brings princes to nothing, and makes the rulers of the earth as emptiness’ (verse 23).” Behold your God!
Look at the stars. “The most universally awesome experience that mankind knows is to stand alone on a clear night and look at the stars. Nothing gives a greater sense of remoteness and distance; nothing makes one feel more strongly one’s own littleness and insignificance. And we, who live in the space age, can supplement this universal experience with our scientific knowledge of the actual factors involved. … But what is this to God? ‘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’ (verse 26).” Behold your God!
If you are reading Knowing God with me as part of Reading Classics Together, please read chapters 9 and 10 for next Thursday. If you are not yet doing so, why don’t you join us? We aren’t that far into the book yet, so you will not have a difficult time catching up.
The purpose of Reading Classics Together is to read these books together. This time around the bulk of the discussion is happening in a dedicated Facebook group. You can find it right here. A thousand people are already interacting there and would be glad to have you join in or just read along.