This week our boys and girls have had a great time in VBS. Some of us adults have had a pretty good time as well. Each night the boys and girls had a ‘Praise Phrase’ and when they heard this phrase, they were supposed to shout out – “Praise God!”
- Praise Phrase: Our God is wonderful! Praise God!
- Praise Phrase: Our God is incredible! Praise God!
- Praise Phrase: Our God is amazing! Praise God!
- Praise Phrase: Our God is magnificent! Praise God!
- Praise Phrase: Our God is awesome! Praise God!
This morning I want us to study how this wonderful, incredible, amazing, magnificent, awesome God – cares about you and me. He’s right beside us and involved in our lives. Praise God!
I. The Wonder of God’s Greatness
One of the songs the boys and girls sang was ‘God of Wonders.’ I love singing that song. I especially love the phrase, ‘The universe declares Your majesty.’ I’m sure many of us have stood out under a starry sky and been amazed at what we saw. We read in Psalm 19:1, ‘The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.’ Many of us have at one time or another looked up into the sky and been amazed at its wonder and beauty. Thousands upon thousands of stars; perhaps millions upon millions of stars can be seen. Actually there are billions upon billions of stars.
Our planet Earth is a part of what is called the Milky Way Galaxy. A galaxy is a large grouping of stars and some scientists estimate that there may be as many as 400 billion stars in the Milky Way. If we could travel at the speed of light, it would take us at least 100,000 light-years to travel from one side of the Milky Way to the other. That’s incredible. But that’s not all. The Milky Way is only one of at least another 100 billion galaxies, many which are even larger than the Milky Way. In other words, multiply 400 billion stars times 100 billion galaxies and that’s a rough estimate of just how enormous the universe really is – we think. Perhaps it’s even larger.
I have often wondered why God made the universe so big. It is so big that only God Himself will ever know just how big it is. The book of Isaiah tells us that the greatness of the universe helps us to understand the greatness of God.
Isaiah 40:25 To whom then will ye liken me, or shall I be equal? saith the Holy One. 26 Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things, that bringeth out their host by number: he calleth them all by names by the greatness of his might, for that he is strong in power; not one faileth.
God knows how many stars there are and He calls them all by name. Isaiah 40:12 says ‘Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out heaven with the span …’, or as other translations put it, God has ‘measured off the heavens with His fingers.’
There are many who scoff at the thought that there is a God and that He created the universe. Not only do they believe that life originated and evolved on its own; they also believe that the entire universe was once condensed into one piece of solid mass that was perhaps no larger than a dime. Roughly 14 billion years ago, a massive explosion occurred, often called The Big Bang, and fragments of mass were hurled across the open space of the universe and formed billions upon billions of galaxies and solar systems like our own. Aren’t we lucky that the rock we live on settled at just the right distance from a fire-ball we call the sun, so that by chance, earth was able to produce and sustain life? Wow! Just a little closer and it would be too hot for life to exist and a little further and it would be too cold. Aren’t we lucky that life has evolved from nothing to the state we now enjoy?
I admit that I’m not a scientist and that it wouldn’t be very hard for someone with a PhD in physics to overwhelm me with scientific theories and terminology. Yet there are a few questions that I would like to have answered:
#1 This original piece of solid mass that later exploded, where did it come from?
#2 And how do you suppose there was this enormous amount of open space for the stars to fill?
#3 And what lies just beyond the boundaries of the universe?
I’m not a scientist and so there’s a lot I don’t know. I read this from the book of Hebrews.
“Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.” (Heb 11:3)
In other words, God created all that we see from nothing. How did He do this? The Bible tells us – “And God said, ‘Let there be …’ ” He merely spoke it into existence. ‘Foolishness!’ some might say. But how else would He create something out of nothing? It’s not like He could go to the store and buy the parts and come home and put it all together.
II. The Wonder of God’s Grace
Though many skeptics scoff at the Bible, it’s amazing some of the scientific details found in it.
Isaiah 40:22 It is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth …
Every 4th grade school child knows that until just a few hundred years ago, men thought that the world was flat. Certainly thousands of years ago, there was no way for someone to know that the world was round. Scientific details are found throughout the Bible, yet Isaiah was offering more than a less on the universe or creation. Instead he was trying to tell his people something about the Creator.
Isaiah 40:1 Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. 2 Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the LORD’S hand double for all her sins.
The word ‘comfort’ is an amazing word for Isaiah to use here because for the previous 39 chapters, he has been warning them about judgment. It had been almost 500 years since David sat upon the throne and during those 500 years, the Israelites had wandered a long ways from God. They had accepted many of the idolatrous ways of neighboring nations and though God warned them repeatedly through the prophets, they continued to rebel. In the chapter just prior to this, we read -
Isaiah 39:6 Behold, the days come, that all that is in thine house, and that which thy fathers have laid up in store until this day, shall be carried to Babylon: nothing shall be left, saith the LORD.
Judgment was coming; yet the LORD would not abandon His people. ‘Comfort them…’ God says. How would Isaiah comfort them? Why should he comfort them? Comfort them because God loves them and He has a plan for their salvation.
Isaiah 40:3 The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. 4 Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain: 5 And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.
Prepare the way – God would be coming to His people!
6 The voice said, Cry. And he said, What shall I cry?
All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field: 7 The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: because the spirit of the LORD bloweth upon it: surely the people is grass. 8 The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever.
Isaiah asked, ‘What shall I cry out to the people?’
First of all, tell them that men are nothing more than the grass of the field. They’re here today and gone tomorrow. Therefore we should not depend upon the strength of men to save us.
Secondly, tell them that the Word of the God is secure. vs. 8 ‘The word of our God shall stand for ever.’ If God, the mighty Creator of the universe, decrees something, it will happen.
Thirdly, tell them that God would be coming to them in the form of a Shepherd.
Isaiah 40:9 O Zion, that bringest good tidings, get thee up into the high mountain; O Jerusalem, that bringest good tidings, lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God! 10 Behold, the Lord GOD will come with strong hand, and his arm shall rule for him: behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him. 11 He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.
Tell them that God has good news! ‘Behold your God! Behold He is coming to you like a gentle shepherd.’
Isaiah 40 teaches us about the Wonder of God’s Greatness; but it also teaches us about the Wonder of God’s Grace. How could God, in advance, determine that He would forgive His people and save them? He could do so only because of grace. Grace is unmerited favor. God was declaring to Israel that He had unmerited favor for them. Behold your God shall come to you like a shepherd, gathering the lambs in His arms, and gently carrying them in His bosom.
Israel needed to learn a valuable lesson; a lesson that many of us needs to learn as well – God desires to be gracious to His people. Look back to an earlier chapter in Isaiah.
Isaiah 30:1 Woe to the rebellious children, saith the LORD, that take counsel, but not of me; and that cover with a covering, but not of my spirit, that they may add sin to sin: 2 That walk to go down into Egypt, and have not asked at my mouth; to strengthen themselves in the strength of Pharaoh, and to trust in the shadow of Egypt! 3 Therefore shall the strength of Pharaoh be your shame, and the trust in the shadow of Egypt your confusion.
When Israel first began to see that Babylon was planning an attack, Israel tried to buy the help of Egypt. They gave them great treasures, hoping that Egypt would come to their rescue. Yet the Lord decreed that such actions would backfire. ‘The strength of Pharaoh shall be your shame.’
15 For thus saith the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel; In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength: and ye would not. 16 But ye said, No; for we will flee upon horses; therefore shall ye flee: and, We will ride upon the swift; therefore shall they that pursue you be swift . 17 One thousand shall flee at the rebuke of one; at the rebuke of five shall ye flee: till ye be left as a beacon upon the top of a mountain, and as an ensign on an hill.
18 And therefore will the LORD wait, that he may be gracious unto you, and therefore will he be exalted, that he may have mercy upon you: for the LORD is a God of judgment: blessed are all they that wait for him.
The word word ‘wait’ means to- [look for, to hope with expectation] Leupold says in his commentary that it is a ‘synonym for faith … It means to lean heavily on the Lord for strength.’
III. The Wonder of God’s Goodness
Why would a great God, who is able to speak this universe into existence, be gracious to sinful men? Because He is good. Isaiah concludes this chapter with three important truths about God’s goodness:
A. God Is Aware
Isaiah 40:27 Why sayest thou, O Jacob, and speakest, O Israel, My way is hid from the LORD, and my judgment is passed over from my God?
B. God Is Able
Isaiah 40:28 Hast thou not known? Hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? There is no searching of his understanding.
George Duffield, Jr. wrote these words in a song – “The arm of flesh will fail you, ye dare not trust your own.” Solomon wrote in Proverbs 3: 5 Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. 6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.
C. God Is Available
Isaiah 40:29 He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. 30 Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: 31 But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.
God is available to those who will wait upon Him. Isaiah included a great promise back in chapter 30 when he encouraged the people to look to God and not to men.
Isaiah 30:21 And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left.
If you are a child of God and going through a difficult time, here are four steps you need to take:
1. Ask God to search your heart and reveal to you if there is something in your life that needs to change.
2. If there is, confess it to God and ask for forgiveness.
3. Accept God’s forgiveness. Don’t let the devil keep beating you up over something that God has forgiven. Receive God’s forgiveness and renew your relationship with Him.
4. Pour out your heart to God and ask Him to help you. Ask for His will to be done in your life. Wait upon the Lord and let Him daily renew your strength.