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The Awesome God (Isa 40:18-31)

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Focusing on God rather than his gifts

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Just a little background in context first:
1. Just a little background in context first:
a. Isaiah is organized very similar to that of the Bible. Our Bible has 66 books. Isa has 66 chapters. The first 39 books of the Bible is the OT and the last 27 books is the NT. In the book of Isaiah the first 39 chapters generally pronounces judgement on Israel. The last 27 chapters promised hope and salvation in the future.
b. The 39 books of the OT recorded the rebellious nature of man and the resulting judgement from the just God. But the OT also promised deliverance for Israel and the hope for the human race. In the 27 books of the NT God fulfilled the promises through Christ and ended with the grand finale of Christ’s imminent return.
c. The first 39 chapters of Isa reminded God’s people Israel how much they have rebelled against Him. It prophesized the destruction of Israel that will come. They will experience subjugation by foreign nations. And exiled from the promised land. Just like we all are subjugated to death because of our sins and exiled from God’s presence.
d. Amidst all the judgement and destruction prophesized God also sprinkled promises of hope throughout those 39 chapters. Embedded examples such as when the prophet prophesized the way the Messiah Jesus will come as a child; the temporary peace and deliverance of King Hezekiah in chapters 37-39.
e. But staring with chapter 40 which is the beginning of the last 27 chapters of Isaiah, God promised a far better deliverance than the temporary restoration of Israel as a nation.
f. It starts with “comfort, comfort my people” in verse 1. In the Hebrew style of writing whenever there is a severe emphasis it repeats the word. ( is another example). In this case it is the word comfort. This comfort is Immanuel, God is with us. We will see how awesome is our God.
g. There are promises of salvation such as “iniquity is pardoned” in verse 2.
h. A voice cries in the wilderness to prepare the way of the Lord in verse 3 is basically repeated and fulfilled in the beginning of all 4 of the gospels (; ; ; ).
i. So in today’s passage the chapter begins like the 4 gospels. The gospel means good news. proclaims “..herald of good news” repeated twice. It is God’s passionate proclamation. It is the promise of deliverance just like the NT beginning with the 4 gospels.
j. In verses 10 and 11 he said behold the Lord God comes with might like a mighty ruler and yet he is like a gentle shepherd leading and carrying his lambs. It is not natural to see a mighty shepherd but God is beyond natural. He is super supernatural. Beyond our human comprehension. God is loving and gentle but powerful to protect. The Psalmist used the same language in “your rod and you staff, they comfort me.”
k. basically spelled out how the messiah will one day redeem his people through his own sacrifice. Not the sacrifice of man. Jesus died on the cross and rose again to conquer death itself. That is why he is both the lion and the lamb. By his own wounds we are healed.
2. Can God comfort?
a. In today’s passage it starts with verse 18. “To whom then will you liken God or what likeness compare with him?” This is a rhetorical question to express how great God is. You can see that in the verses before (vv 12-17) and after (vv 19-28).
b. Why does God need to remind his people how awesome he is? It is because he wants his people to know that he can comfort them. That he can deliver them.
c. After God said comfort my people who are going through a lot of trials and was told they will be destroyed as a nation because of their sins, he reasons with them why he can comfort them.
d. I will elaborate with two reasons why he can. The first reason is he has the power and the second reason is he loves his people. Through his love he has made a way to pardon us without compromising his justice.
e. By the way, this applies to all of us here. Not just the Israelites over 2,700 years ago. It is because we are extended the privilege through Christ to be his people and we also need deliverance from evil every day. We are no better than they are back then. We will stumble and have trouble in our journey on earth. The only difference is when we fail, God is working in us to grow us. We experience God from both victories and failures.
f. First reason he can comfort us; he is the almighty and he is able:
i. Suppose you are in deep trouble. Very deep. Like hopelessly deep. And someone comes and say don’t worry. I will comfort you. The first thing you may think of is how is he going to comfort me? Like who are you?
ii. If it was a big debt you cannot pay, would you want a billionaire to comfort you or your dog? I mean as much as your dog loves you and wants to help you pay your debt it is beyond her capability. Your dog’s comfort does not solve your debt. But a billionaire can. I mean like the best the dog can give you is a lick on your face and then you have to feed her.
iii. When I go talk to a bagger in the street I don’t just say, be comforted. The only way he will be comforted is if I give him some money. (My experience in China).
iv. If you try to comfort someone who is dying of hunger it would make a big difference if you bring food with you when you comfort him.
v. If you got food poisoned, the comfort would be better if it comes from a doctor who can help you.
vi. When Jesus began his gospel ministry on earth he also healed people of their sickness and bodies, fed their hunger, even raise one from the dead. Why? Because he wanted them to know that he has the power to make the gospel true. That he is able to provide the comfort. Not just by words but by deeds. How great are God’s deeds!
vii. Isaiah starts the comparison of God’s awesomeness with the trap that people usually falls into, an idol (40:19-20). An idol made of gold, silver, or wood cannot move. If you think the idol didn’t like where it is, you will have to move it.
viii. The closest thing I have in my house is this Minion piggy bank. I found out his official name is Dave. Unlike the character in the movie Despicable Me, this piggy bank Dave cannot speak or hear. I can talk to it till I am blue in the face it has no reaction. It has the same expression no matter the circumstances. It cannot speak to defend you in a court.
ix. I remember the famous line from the Bruce Lee movie Enter the Dragon in 1973. In the scene where he was in a martial arts match his opponent Ohara was trying to impress him by breaking a wooden board first. Bruce Lee was not impressed. His remark to him was “boards don’t hit back.” I guess the object lesson is if I need somebody to fight for me I cannot count on a wooden board because I cannot even defend itself. It cannot even call 911 for me.
x. Once my aunt dropped her porcelain idol while washing it in the tub and it shattered into many pieces. My thought was how can this idol help you when it cannot even help itself?
xi. You may say to yourself, that is because they worship idols and don’t know any better. But I want to remind you that your idol is not the object. it is what is in your heart. You fashion a god in your heart that pleases you. The most dangerous idol is one that you limit your view of who God is. E.g. God is only a loving God without regard to justice. Or a God who is only justice without mercy. Too often we limit God to our own understanding. That is why (ESV) 5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. 6 In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
xii. So in verses 21 he challenges his people, which includes us, with another set of rhetorical questions. “Have you not know and do you not hear” is another way of saying open up your eyes and ears. Be conscious about the creation around you. They testify the deeds of God! God used this phrase again later in verse 28 to remind his people that he is God and he has not abandoned them. It is a phrase to emphasize how great God is!
xiii. The second half of verse 21 and verse 22 declares that the foundation of the earth and the canopy of heaven is a testimony of how great the creator is. Verse 22 says: “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;” Elsewhere like “The havens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.”
xiv. Let’s take a moment to appreciate how great He is by looking at just one of these creation reminders.
1. Borrowing this from Tim Keller:
a. If distance between the earth and sun of 92 million miles is reduced to the thickness of a piece of paper, distance between the earth and the next nearest star it will stacked 75 feet high.
b. The diameter of our galaxy will be a stack of paper 310 mile high.
c. And our galaxy is a speck of dust in the universe.
2. Play How Big is God video.
3. Alternative if not possible to play the video. Francis Chan: known universe
a. Speed of light – 186,000 per second
b. 1 light year is traveling at the speed of light for 1 year
c. distance from one edge to the other edge of our Milky Way galaxy is 100,000 light years.
d. Our earth is less than a speck of dust in our galaxy. From the view point of 100 million light years away we see a large cluster of galaxies. Our galaxy is a speck of dust within that cluster. We don’t yet have the technology to discover beyond 100 million light years away.
e. Estimate 300 Billion galaxies in our known universe.
xv. I hope this gives you a perspective of how great He is. He used his creation as a reminder to them (and us) how great he is in verses 21-22.
xvi. And if that is not enough he brought it down to earth quite literally in verses 23-25. He metaphorically declares that all the rulers and princes of the earth were planted by him and he can blow on them and they will wither and carried off like stubbles. Think of all the great and powerful world leaders you know today. Just like those in previous generations. They will also wither and die one day within the next 50 – 70 years. The life span of these powerful rulers are nothing compared to the infinite eternal God who placed them in power so history will play out according to the great and good plan he has already established.
xvii. So who can you compare God to? Verses 25-26 says who can you compare the creator of the universe to? Insignificant like an idol, like this Minion piggy bank, none in history can say they have created anything out of nothing.
xviii. Create is not the same as make. If I say to you make a bracelet out of a spoon without a spoon, with nothing, you will not be able to make that bracelet. If you can, then it is create.
xix. He challenges us in verse 26 to “lift up your eyes on high and see: who created these? He who brings out their hose by number, calling them all by name; by the greatness of his might and because he is strong in power, not one is missing.” Not only is he the creator. He is a meticulous and caring creator. He names everything he created. When you name something there is a special identity, a special relationship. Before we had children when I was a newlywed, we had a 10 gallon tank of goldfishes. We name each one of them alphabetically. We have kind of a special bond. We cared about those fishes.
But when we have children naming them takes us to a whole new level. It is a whole different level of relationship. Our children is an image of me and my wife.
xx. That is the same way God treats us. Yes, he care for all his creation, animals, fishes, plants, heavenly bodies and all. But the fact he is talking so passionately to his people in it shows his special bound with them above other creations. Man is created in his image and our new creation in us seals our relationship with him as his children. When one of my goldfishes died I am sad but I just flush it out in the bathroom. But if one of my children is even ill I feel the pain myself because I love them with a special love reserved for my own flesh and blood. Likewise God feels our pain. In fact he endures it with us because he dwells in us who belong to him (). No matter where we go, what we experience he is there because he is in us.
xxi. So far God illustrated his awesomeness. But it does not end there. If he stopped there it would not help the people at all. In fact it would just confirm their hopelessness. Because if the almighty God is angry with them there will be no one to rescue them. But as we read at the beginning and the end of the chapter, He did not abandon them. With his love he pardons them. Within his awesome greatness he cares for them. From his infinite power he give them strength to carry on and prosper. Again, as his extended people through Christ, his care applies to all of us.
g. Second reason he can comforts us: Because of His love towards us He has made a way to pardon us without compromising his justice.
i. That is what verses 27 – 31 say. It basically says why do you think you have been abandoned? Just because you are being punished for your sins you are still my people. Just because you are experiencing exiled from your promised land I have not disregarded you. I still love you enough to give you strength to carry on. I will restore you one day.
ii. In verse 28 God used the same phrase as verse 21 again. “Have you not known? Have you not heard?”. Again, God is saying listen carefully. I have passionately counsel you and pass on knowledge to you about me throughout your generations. “I have been you dwelling place in all generations. Even from everlasting to everlasting I am still your God.” (). Why do you still not understand? I am the almighty God. There is none like me. No one can even come close in comparison with me. I have shown you my power and deliverance with the 10 plagues upon Egypt to free you from bondage, provided food and water in the wilderness, split the Red Sea, destroyed the pursuing mighty army of Pharaoh. Have you forgotten? I don’t ever get tired. I have infinite strength and power. And I understand everything. There is nothing that will perplex me. I understand all your troubles! I know everything you are going through because I am with you even in your exile. There is nothing too hard for me. Nothing can hide from me.
iii. People can get tired. Strong young people can get exhausted. Remember our dear brother Damon in college when he had over exercised and became seriously ill? We all were very concerned prayed fervently for him. Asking God earnestly for healing and fast recovery. Thank God for answer our prayers and gave him complete healing.
iv. In a personal level God knows our suffering. Are you going through tough times? These verses say he knows and he will renew your strength to sore like eagles. He will give you strength from his own infinite strength. Not that you will escape the bad things in life and solve everything but through those bad things in life you will experience his greatness and goodness towards you because he loves you with an everlasting love. Unless we experience bad we will not know what is good when good comes upon us. He would even suffer with you and for you. Not that he has to but he wants to out of love.
v. From a church perspective, we can substitute “my people” in this chapter with our church CABC. Are you thinking that things are so bad in our church that we are hopeless? Are you so discouraged that God has abandoned us? In the midst of your discouragement remember verse 27. He said he has not disregarded us.
vi. First, let me remind you that no church is without problems. Why? Because sinners are in it. Sinners like you and me. Though we are sinners saved by grace we still are imperfect as long as we still live in this body. One sinner is bad enough. Imagine a lot of sinners get together? I have shared with you once that the more sinners there are the more troubles there will be. It is just pure statics. That is why God constantly reminds us to overcome the troubles with loving God and loving each other. When there is love, the numbers multiply.
vii. Second, I don’t want to just say focus on the good and not the bad so you will not be so discouraged or critical of each other. It is an obvious good counseling. But that is not enough. We tend to forget the good especially in the midst of trouble. Focusing on the positive will help remind you of the blessings God has already bestowed upon us. Like two new baptisees last week. New families joining us when others leave. Unbelievers are coming to this church in the weekdays through community outreaches that we have. A new roof over our heads. Our kids getting older.
viii. But most of all, clinging onto the promise of these verses in will prepare our attitude for the future. Remember what God did for this church already and trusting God at his word that he will renew our strength. That is when our encouragement will be firm because it will be firmly founded in God. He says, he has not disregarded us. Are we his people? (Get and answer). If you respond with a resounding yes then He will renew our strength and bless this church. Who are we to argue with God?
3. One more point before I conclude.
a. The reason he can comfort us is the fact that He is also the judge and executioner.
b. Because he is the Almighty God there is no higher authority that he needs to go to request a pardon. Yes that is the word used in verse 2. In fact the pardon is so sure that even though it is a prophesy for the future he used the pass tense “pardoned”. Have anyone promised you something that because he has so much or so powerful that it is as good as done. There is a phrase people used to say, “you can take it to the bank”. It is a sure guarantee.
c. It is like this. Let’s suppose that you broke something in the house out of carelessness. You are scared of the punishment. You wished you can turn back time and not do what you did. That is called repentance. Note that to be scared you are also humbled. If your dad recognizing your repentance says to you don’t worry about it. I forgave you. I took care of it. Just don’t do it again. You know you are comforted. You are safe from the punishment because in your family there is no one with a higher authority over you than your dad. But there is still a price to pay. He has to pay for the fix. It is like that with our awesome and merciful God. The one whom we owe is the same one who paid for our penalties. Only a loving God would punish his own son to pardon a rebellious people who is not worthy of his love.
Conclusion:
1. I notice from reading Isaiah and the Bible as a whole, no matter how bad we are, how much we have failed, how unrighteous we are, God’s love is greater. He still loves us and saves us. But there is one condition, or you can say response, that lets us own that love. It is repentance. Repentance requires humility, pray and focus on God and God alone. Listen to what God said to Solomon and God’s people. After Solomon finished building the temple 964BC, God promised deliverance only if his people humble themselves and pray.
(ESV) 13 When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people,
14 if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.
15 Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayer that is made in this place.
What causes that humility and repentance? It is God’s love. (ESV) 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.
2. Church, are you worthy to be call his people? Then love one another with humility. Only then can we cling to the promise of as his people. “Comfort, comfort my people”.ent from the just God. But the OT also promised deliverance for Israel and the rest of human race. The first 39 chapters reminded God’s people Israel how much they have rebelled against Him. It prophesized the destruction of Israel that will come. They will experience subjugation by foreign nations. But God also sprinkle promises of hope throughout those 39 chapters. Examples in when the prophet prophesize the way the Messiah Jesus will come as a child. The temporary peace and deliverance of King Hezekiah in chapters 37-39. But staring chapter 40 which is the beginning of the last 27 chapters of Isaiah, God promised a far better deliverance than the temporary restoration of Israel as a nation. It starts with “comfort, comfort my people” in verse 1. In the Hebrew style of writing whenever there is a severe emphasis it repeats the word. ( is another example). In this case it is the word comfort. This comfort is Immanuel, God with us. We will see how awesome is our God. There are promises of salvation such as “iniquity is pardoned” in verse 2. A voice cries in the wilderness to prepare the way of the Lord in verse 3 is basically repeated and fulfilled in the beginning of all 4 of the gospels (; ; ; ). So in today’s passage the chapter begins like the 4 gospels. The gospel means good news. proclaims “..herald of good news” repeated twice. It is the promise of deliverance just like the NT beginning with the 4 gospels. In verses 10 and 11 he said behold the Lord God comes with might like a mighty ruler and yet he is like a gentle shepherd leading and carrying his lambs. It is not natural to see a mighty shepherd but God is beyond natural. He is super supernatural. Beyond our human comprehension. basically spelled out how the messiah will redeem his people through his own sacrifice. Not the sacrifice of man. He died on the cross and rose again to conquer death itself. That is why he is both the lion and the lamb. By his wounds we are healed.
a. Isaiah is organized very similar to that of the Bible. Our Bible has 66 books. Isa has 66 chapters. The first 39 books of the Bible is the OT and the last 27 books is the NT. In the book of Isaiah the first 39 chapters generally pronounces judgement on Israel. The last 27 chapters promised hope and salvation in the future.
b. The 39 books of the OT recorded the rebellious nature of man and the resulting judgement from the just God. But the OT also promised deliverance for Israel and the hope for the human race. In the 27 books of the NT God fulfilled the promises through Christ and ended with the grand finale of Christ’s imminent return.
c. The first 39 chapters of Isa reminded God’s people Israel how much they have rebelled against Him. It prophesized the destruction of Israel that will come. They will experience subjugation by foreign nations. And exiled from the promised land. Just like we all are subjugated to death because of our sins and exiled from God’s presence.
d. Amidst all the judgement and destruction prophesized God also sprinkled promises of hope throughout those 39 chapters. Embedded examples such as when the prophet prophesized the way the Messiah Jesus will come as a child; the temporary peace and deliverance of King Hezekiah in chapters 37-39.
e. But staring with chapter 40 which is the beginning of the last 27 chapters of Isaiah, God promised a far better deliverance than the temporary restoration of Israel as a nation.
f. It starts with “comfort, comfort my people” in verse 1. In the Hebrew style of writing whenever there is a severe emphasis it repeats the word. ( is another example). In this case it is the word comfort. This comfort is Immanuel, God is with us. We will see how awesome is our God.
g. There are promises of salvation such as “iniquity is pardoned” in verse 2.
h. A voice cries in the wilderness to prepare the way of the Lord in verse 3 is basically repeated and fulfilled in the beginning of all 4 of the gospels (; ; ; ).
i. So in today’s passage the chapter begins like the 4 gospels. The gospel means good news. proclaims “..herald of good news” repeated twice. It is God’s passionate proclamation. It is the promise of deliverance just like the NT beginning with the 4 gospels.
j. In verses 10 and 11 he said behold the Lord God comes with might like a mighty ruler and yet he is like a gentle shepherd leading and carrying his lambs. It is not natural to see a mighty shepherd but God is beyond natural. He is super supernatural. Beyond our human comprehension. God is loving and gentle but powerful to protect. The Psalmist used the same language in “your rod and you staff, they comfort me.”
k. basically spelled out how the messiah will one day redeem his people through his own sacrifice. Not the sacrifice of man. Jesus died on the cross and rose again to conquer death itself. That is why he is both the lion and the lamb. By his own wounds we are healed.

2. Can God comfort?

a. In today’s passage it starts with verse 18. “To whom then will you liken God or what likeness compare with him?” This is a rhetorical question to express how great God is. You can see that in the verses before (vv 12-17) and after (vv 19-28).
b. Why does God need to remind his people how awesome he is? It is because he wants his people to know that he can comfort them. That he can deliver them.
c. After God said comfort my people who are going through a lot of trials and was told they will be destroyed as a nation because of their sins, he reasons with them why he can comfort them.
d. I will elaborate with two reasons why he can. The first reason is he has the power and the second reason is he loves his people. Through his love he has made a way to pardon us without compromising his justice.
e. By the way, this applies to all of us here. Not just the Israelites over 2,700 years ago. It is because we are extended the privilege through Christ to be his people and we also need deliverance from evil every day. We are no better than they are back then. We will stumble and have trouble in our journey on earth. The only difference is when we fail, God is working in us to grow us. We experience God from both victories and failures.
f. First reason he can comfort us; he is the almighty and he is able:
i. Suppose you are in deep trouble. Very deep. Like hopelessly deep. And someone comes and say don’t worry. I will comfort you. The first thing you may think of is how is he going to comfort me? Like who are you?
ii. If it was a big debt you cannot pay, would you want a billionaire to comfort you or your dog? I mean as much as your dog loves you and wants to help you pay your debt it is beyond her capability. Your dog’s comfort does not solve your debt. But a billionaire can. I mean like the best the dog can give you is a lick on your face and then you have to feed her.
iii. When I go talk to a bagger in the street I don’t just say, be comforted. The only way he will be comforted is if I give him some money. (My experience in China).
iv. If you try to comfort someone who is dying of hunger it would make a big difference if you bring food with you when you comfort him.
v. If you got food poisoned, the comfort would be better if it comes from a doctor who can help you.
vi. When Jesus began his gospel ministry on earth he also healed people of their sickness and bodies, fed their hunger, even raise one from the dead. Why? Because he wanted them to know that he has the power to make the gospel true. That he is able to provide the comfort. Not just by words but by deeds. How great are God’s deeds!
vii. Isaiah starts the comparison of God’s awesomeness with the trap that people usually falls into, an idol (40:19-20). An idol made of gold, silver, or wood cannot move. If you think the idol didn’t like where it is, you will have to move it.
viii. The closest thing I have in my house is this Minion piggy bank. I found out his official name is Dave. Unlike the character in the movie Despicable Me, this piggy bank Dave cannot speak or hear. I can talk to it till I am blue in the face it has no reaction. It has the same expression no matter the circumstances. It cannot speak to defend you in a court.
ix. I remember the famous line from the Bruce Lee movie Enter the Dragon in 1973. In the scene where he was in a martial arts match his opponent Ohara was trying to impress him by breaking a wooden board first. Bruce Lee was not impressed. His remark to him was “boards don’t hit back.” I guess the object lesson is if I need somebody to fight for me I cannot count on a wooden board because I cannot even defend itself. It cannot even call 911 for me.
x. Once my aunt dropped her porcelain idol while washing it in the tub and it shattered into many pieces. My thought was how can this idol help you when it cannot even help itself?
xi. You may say to yourself, that is because they worship idols and don’t know any better. But I want to remind you that your idol is not the object. it is what is in your heart. You fashion a god in your heart that pleases you. The most dangerous idol is one that you limit your view of who God is. E.g. God is only a loving God without regard to justice. Or a God who is only justice without mercy. Too often we limit God to our own understanding. That is why (ESV) 5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. 6 In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
Proverbs 3:5–6 ESV
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
xii. So in verses 21 he challenges his people, which includes us, with another set of rhetorical questions. “Have you not know and do you not hear” is another way of saying open up your eyes and ears. Be conscious about the creation around you. They testify the deeds of God! God used this phrase again later in verse 28 to remind his people that he is God and he has not abandoned them. It is a phrase to emphasize how great God is!
xiii. The second half of verse 21 and verse 22 declares that the foundation of the earth and the canopy of heaven is a testimony of how great the creator is. Verse 22 says: “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;” Elsewhere like “The havens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.”
xiv. Let’s take a moment to appreciate how great He is by looking at just one of these creation reminders.
1. Borrowing this from Tim Keller:
a. If distance between the earth and sun of 92 million miles is reduced to the thickness of a piece of paper, distance between the earth and the next nearest star it will stacked 75 feet high.
b. The diameter of our galaxy will be a stack of paper 310 mile high.
c. And our galaxy is a speck of dust in the universe.
2. Play How Big is God video.
3. Alternative if not possible to play the video. Francis Chan: known universe
a. Speed of light – 186,000 per second
b. 1 light year is traveling at the speed of light for 1 year
c. distance from one edge to the other edge of our Milky Way galaxy is 100,000 light years.
d. Our earth is less than a speck of dust in our galaxy. From the view point of 100 million light years away we see a large cluster of galaxies. Our galaxy is a speck of dust within that cluster. We don’t yet have the technology to discover beyond 100 million light years away.
e. Estimate 300 Billion galaxies in our known universe.
xv. I hope this gives you a perspective of how great He is. He used his creation as a reminder to them (and us) how great he is in verses 21-22.
xvi. And if that is not enough he brought it down to earth quite literally in verses 23-25. He metaphorically declares that all the rulers and princes of the earth were planted by him and he can blow on them and they will wither and carried off like stubbles. Think of all the great and powerful world leaders you know today. Just like those in previous generations. They will also wither and die one day within the next 50 – 70 years. The life span of these powerful rulers are nothing compared to the infinite eternal God who placed them in power so history will play out according to the great and good plan he has already established.
xvii. So who can you compare God to? Verses 25-26 says who can you compare the creator of the universe to? Insignificant like an idol, like this Minion piggy bank, none in history can say they have created anything out of nothing.
xviii. Create is not the same as make. If I say to you make a bracelet out of a spoon without a spoon, with nothing, you will not be able to make that bracelet. If you can, then it is create.
xix. He challenges us in verse 26 to “lift up your eyes on high and see: who created these? He who brings out their hose by number, calling them all by name; by the greatness of his might and because he is strong in power, not one is missing.” Not only is he the creator. He is a meticulous and caring creator. He names everything he created. When you name something there is a special identity, a special relationship. Before we had children when I was a newlywed, we had a 10 gallon tank of goldfishes. We name each one of them alphabetically. We have kind of a special bond. We cared about those fishes. But when we have children naming them takes us to a whole new level. It is a whole different level of relationship. Our children is an image of me and my wife.
But when we have children naming them takes us to a whole new level. It is a whole different level of relationship. Our children is an image of me and my wife.
xx. That is the same way God treats us. Yes, he care for all his creation, animals, fishes, plants, heavenly bodies and all. But the fact he is talking so passionately to his people in it shows his special bound with them above other creations. says that God is mindful of man above his other creations. Man is created in his image and our new creation in us seals our relationship with him as his children. When one of my goldfishes died I am sad but I just flush it out in the bathroom. But if one of my children is even ill I feel the pain myself because I love them with a special love reserved for my own flesh and blood. Likewise God feels our pain. In fact he endures it with us because he dwells in us who belong to him (). No matter where we go, what we experience he is there because he is in us.
xxi. So far God illustrated his awesomeness. But it does not end there. If he stopped there it would not help the people at all. In fact it would just confirm their hopelessness. Because if the almighty God is angry with them there will be no one to rescue them. But as we read at the beginning and the end of the chapter, He did not abandon them. With his love he pardons them. Within his awesome greatness he cares for them. From his infinite power he give them strength to carry on and prosper. Again, as his extended people through Christ, his care applies to all of us.
g. Second reason he can comforts us: Because of His love towards us He has made a way to pardon us without compromising his justice.
i. That is what verses 27 – 31 say. It basically says why do you think you have been abandoned? Just because you are being punished for your sins you are still my people. Just because you are experiencing exiled from your promised land I have not disregarded you. I still love you enough to give you strength to carry on. I will restore you one day.
ii. In verse 28 God used the same phrase as verse 21 again. “Have you not known? Have you not heard?”. Again, God is saying listen carefully. I have passionately counsel you and pass on knowledge to you about me throughout your generations. “I have been you dwelling place in all generations. Even from everlasting to everlasting I am still your God.” (). Why do you still not understand? I am the almighty God. There is none like me. No one can even come close in comparison with me. I have shown you my power and deliverance with the 10 plagues upon Egypt to free you from bondage, provided food and water in the wilderness, split the Red Sea, destroyed the pursuing mighty army of Pharaoh. Have you forgotten? I don’t ever get tired. I have infinite strength and power. And I understand everything. There is nothing that will perplex me. I understand all your troubles! I know everything you are going through because I am with you even in your exile. There is nothing too hard for me. Nothing can hide from me.
iii. People can get tired. Strong young people can get exhausted. Remember our dear brother Damon in college when he had over exercised and became seriously ill? We all were very concerned prayed fervently for him. Asking God earnestly for healing and fast recovery. Thank God for answer our prayers and gave him complete healing.
iv. In a personal level God knows our suffering. Are you going through tough times? These verses say he knows and he will renew your strength to sore like eagles. He will give you strength from his own infinite strength. Not that you will escape the bad things in life and solve everything but through those bad things in life you will experience his greatness and goodness towards you because he loves you with an everlasting love. Unless we experience bad we will not know what is good when good comes upon us. He would even suffer with you and for you. Not that he has to but he wants to out of love.
v. From a church perspective, we can substitute “my people” in this chapter with our church CABC. Are you thinking that things are so bad in our church that we are hopeless? Are you so discouraged that God has abandoned us? In the midst of your discouragement remember verse 27. He said he has not disregarded us.
vi. First, let me remind you that no church is without problems. Why? Because sinners are in it. Sinners like you and me. Though we are sinners saved by grace we still are imperfect as long as we still live in this body. One sinner is bad enough. Imagine a lot of sinners get together? I have shared with you once that the more sinners there are the more troubles there will be. It is just pure statics. That is why God constantly reminds us to overcome the troubles with loving God and loving each other. When there is love, the numbers multiply.
vii. Second, I don’t want to just say focus on the good and not the bad so you will not be so discouraged or critical of each other. It is an obvious good counseling. But that is not enough. We tend to forget the good especially in the midst of trouble. Focusing on the positive will help remind you of the blessings God has already bestowed upon us. Like two new baptisees last week. New families joining us when others leave. Unbelievers are coming to this church in the weekdays through community outreaches that we have. A new roof over our heads. Our kids getting older.
viii. But most of all, clinging onto the promise of these verses in will prepare our attitude for the future. Remember what God did for this church already and trusting God at his word that he will renew our strength. That is when our encouragement will be firm because it will be firmly founded in God. He says, he has not disregarded us. Are we his people? (Get and answer). If you respond with a resounding yes then He will renew our strength and bless this church. Who are we to argue with God?
3. One more point before I conclude.
a. The reason he can comfort us is the fact that He is also the judge and executioner.
b. Because he is the Almighty God there is no higher authority that he needs to go to request a pardon. Yes that is the word used in verse 2. In fact the pardon is so sure that even though it is a prophesy for the future he used the pass tense “pardoned”. Have anyone promised you something that because he has so much or so powerful that it is as good as done. There is a phrase people used to say, “you can take it to the bank”. It is a sure guarantee.
c. It is like this. Let’s suppose that you broke something in the house out of carelessness. You are scared of the punishment. You wished you can turn back time and not do what you did. That is called repentance. Note that to be scared you are also humbled. If your dad recognizing your repentance says to you don’t worry about it. I forgave you. I took care of it. Just don’t do it again. You know you are comforted. You are safe from the punishment because in your family there is no one with a higher authority over you than your dad. But there is still a price to pay. He has to pay for the fix. It is like that with our awesome and merciful God. The one whom we owe is the same one who paid for our penalties. Only a loving God would punish his own son to pardon a rebellious people who is not worthy of his love.
Conclusion:
1. I notice from reading Isaiah and the Bible as a whole, no matter how bad we are, how much we have failed, how unrighteous we are, God’s love is greater. He still loves us and saves us. But there is one condition, or you can say response, that lets us own that love. It is repentance. Repentance requires humility, prayer and focus on God and God alone. Listen to what God said to Solomon and God’s people. After Solomon finished building the temple 964BC, God promised deliverance only if his people humble themselves and pray.
(ESV) 13 When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people,
2 Chronicles 7:13–15 ESV
When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people, if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayer that is made in this place.
14 if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.
15 Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayer that is made in this place.
What causes that humility and repentance? It is God’s love. (ESV) 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.
2. Church, are you worthy to be call his people? Then love one another with humility. Only then can we cling to the promise of as his people. “Comfort, comfort my people”.
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