As I mentioned in my previous post Mr Dawkins is under his own God delusion, a delusion shared by many others and in my worse moments by me. The root of this common delusion lies at both our lack of understanding of the full godness of God and the pride of our hearts which hampers us even further.
We do not like to think of how above us God is because to do so is to remind ourselves of how far we have fallen.
There is only one way to correct this deliberate misunderstanding of who God is and that is to turn to the Bible and see what it has to say about the full glory of God or the ‘weightiness’ of God (the technical term for this is the transcendence of God.)
If we are looking for one of the fullest pictures of the godness of God then Isaiah 40 is our port of call.
“Comfort, comfort my people,
says your God.
2 Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
and proclaim to her
that her hard service has been completed,
that her sin has been paid for,
that she has received from the LORD's hand
double for all her sins.”
Isaiah starts this chapter on God’s transcendence by introducing it as a comfort to God’s people. That too should be our reaction to it.
3 A voice of one calling:
"In the desert prepare
the way for the LORD;
make straight in the wilderness
a highway for our God.”
This verse prophecies about the work of John the Baptist 700 years before he came which is pretty cool if you think about it. Again, this illustrates the fact that God is outside of the passage of time – he knows (and indeed planned) the entirety of human history.
4 Every valley shall be raised up,
every mountain and hill made low;
the rough ground shall become level,
the rugged places a plain.
5 And the glory of the LORD will be revealed,
and all mankind together will see it.
For the mouth of the LORD has spoken."”
Verses 4 - 5 talk about God’s power over creation and the earth. It also talks about a future day where everyone will see the glory of God.
6 A voice says, "Cry out."
And I said, "What shall I cry?"
"All men are like grass,
and all their glory is like the flowers of the field.
7 The grass withers and the flowers fall,
because the breath of the LORD blows on them.
Surely the people are grass.
8 The grass withers and the flowers fall,
but the word of our God stands forever."”
These verses compare man to God. Man withers and fall like the grass but the Word of God stands forever. To say that we should respond to this in humility is an understatement. Our pride resists being compared to grass but that is because we refuse to grasp the full power of God.
9 You who bring good tidings to Zion,
go up on a high mountain.
You who bring good tidings to Jerusalem,
lift up your voice with a shout,
lift it up, do not be afraid;
say to the towns of Judah,
"Here is your God!"”
Once again Isaiah reinforces that though men are like the grass God’s people shouldn’t fear him instead they should take courage.
10 See, the Sovereign LORD comes with power,
and his arm rules for him.
See, his reward is with him,
and his recompense accompanies him.
11 He tends his flock like a shepherd:
He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart;
he gently leads those that have young.”
These two verses combine God’s transcendence with his imminence (i.e. his nearness). God is both far and away above us (verse 10) and he cares for his people like a shepherd his sheep (verse 11).
12 Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand,
or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens?
Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket,
or weighed the mountains on the scales
and the hills in a balance?
13 Who has understood the mind of the LORD,
or instructed him as his counselor?
14 Whom did the LORD consult to enlighten him,
and who taught him the right way?
Who was it that taught him knowledge
or showed him the path of understanding?”
Here Isaiah directly asks questions to us that show the folly of trying to compare ourselves to God. Can any human answer these questions in the affirmative? I think not. For more such questions see Job 38 onwards. God’s wisdom is ultimate – our minds cannot comprehend his.
15 Surely the nations are like a drop in a bucket;
they are regarded as dust on the scales;
he weighs the islands as though they were fine dust.
16 Lebanon is not sufficient for altar fires,
nor its animals enough for burnt offerings.
17 Before him all the nations are as nothing;
they are regarded by him as worthless
and less than nothing.”
Man’s pride goes out the window again.
18 To whom, then, will you compare God?
What image will you compare him to?
19 As for an idol, a craftsman casts it,
and a goldsmith overlays it with gold
and fashions silver chains for it.
20 A man too poor to present such an offering
selects wood that will not rot.
He looks for a skilled craftsman
to set up an idol that will not topple.
21 Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
Has it not been told you from the beginning?
Have you not understood since the earth was founded?
22 He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth,
and its people are like grasshoppers.
He stretches out the heavens like a canopy,
and spreads them out like a tent to live in.
23 He brings princes to naught
and reduces the rulers of this world to nothing.
24 No sooner are they planted,
no sooner are they sown,
no sooner do they take root in the ground,
than he blows on them and they wither,
and a whirlwind sweeps them away like chaff.”
Isaiah takes the time to poke fun at other people’s idols and the futility of falling false gods. Verses 21 and 22 are among my favorites of this passage. They aptly sum up the foolishness of ignoring the only true God.
25 "To whom will you compare me?
Or who is my equal?" says the Holy One.
26 Lift your eyes and look to the heavens:
Who created all these?
He who brings out the starry host one by one,
and calls them each by name.
Because of his great power and mighty strength,
not one of them is missing.”
God as creator and sustainer of the universe.
27 Why do you say, O Jacob,
and complain, O Israel,
"My way is hidden from the LORD;
my cause is disregarded by my God"?
28 Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The LORD is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.
29 He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
30 Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
31 but those who hope in the LORD
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.”
And there we have it, Isaiah 40, one of the most encouraging and challenging chapters of the Bible.
How did your view of God fare?
Had you fully grasped the power of God? How beyond man he is? Did you think of God as some petty deity? Some old man in the sky? Did you think God didn’t exist? Did you think that your problems are too big for God to solve? That this world is outside of his control? Did you think God wasn’t doing anything for you? Did you expect to be able to fully understand God?
Bearing all the above in mind it is no wonder Paul gets wonderfully carried away in Romans and writes in praise of God:
“Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
How unsearchable his judgments,
and his paths beyond tracing out!
"Who has known the mind of the Lord?
Or who has been his counsellor?"
"Who has ever given to God,
that God should repay him?"
For from him and through him and to him are all things.
To him be the glory forever! Amen.”
Romans 11 v 33 – 36
If Dawkins could only understand the truths of Isaiah 40! It is my hope and prayer that God will so work in him that one day he will.