Understanding No One Can Fathom

 

Do you not know?  Have you not heard?  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. (Isaiah 40:28 NIV)

This simple statement about the nature and character of God is one of those “plaque-worthy” verses.  You know what I mean, you’ll find the verse on a nice plaque you hang in your house or printed on a card you send to a friend going through hard times.  It is from the chapter of Isaiah that begins with “Comfort ye my people,” which I can’t read without hearing Handel’s Messiah in the background. If you have a Bible on your phone or tablet, take a minute to read Isaiah chapter 40 before you go on because it will put the verse and the rest of this post into context.

When you see the verse in context, you find that Isaiah’s statement above in verse 28 is made in response to the people of Israel complaining, “My way is hidden from the Lord; my cause is disregarded by my God.”  That sentiment may not be “plaque-worthy,” but we have all felt it.  We face trouble and we pray and plead and seek God’s intervention to fix the problem or make it go away.  Yet, the problem continues, and we feel like our prayers are unheard.  In those situations, verse 28 is not comforting at all, it is frustrating.  God, the everlasting creator of the universe knows exactly what I am going through and He is choosing not to fix it.   Why?  Because, He has understanding no one can fathom.  He knows what is best for me.

These times of testing are difficult to go through and difficult to understand.  For a long time, I thought of God as the great professor in the sky who would teach me a lesson and then test me, so He could see if I had learned it.  “OK, Dave, this week we learn about patience.  Here’s what the Bible says about patience.  Now, here is a totally frustrating situation so I can see if you have paid attention.”  Then it occurred to me one day that God knows how I will do on the test before it even begins.  He knows me better than I do.  So, who is the test for if it isn’t for God?  It is for me.  The tests and trials I face show me where I need to grow and where I need to change.

In his letter to the Romans, Paul said, “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” (Rom 5:1-5 NIV). Just as precious metals are refined by fire, our faith is refined by testing.

This chapter ends with another plaque-worthy section that you have probably seen but may not have had the context:

He gives strength to the weary

and increases the power of the weak.

Even youths grow tired and weary,

and young men stumble and fall;

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.

(Is 40:29-31)

God may not sweep in and take away our problems.  But,  instead of stumbling and falling, He will give us strength to run and soar and, in doing so, we will learn about God’s character and develop our own.

I also want you to know that God does intervene in situations and deliver His people in times of trial.  If you have time to read a great book about God working miracles today, I recommend Miracles by Eric Metaxas.

Press On!

David

 

 

 

 

 

 

Make 2018 the Year of the “Do”

Genesis 1: 1 – In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.  

Our culture has fully bought in to the idea of moral relativity.  Which means that it is up to each person to decide what is morally right for them.  Usually it is subtle, “Well, I wouldn’t do that, but he needs to make his own choices and I can’t judge him.”  Like me, not everyone has bought into the idea of relative morality. They believe there are moral absolutes; things that are right and wrong regardless of what the rest of the world thinks.

Folks who believe in relative morality get along pretty well with all the other moral relativists, but they butt heads with the moral absolutists.  Because, the moral relativists hold back one absolute, which is, the people who believe in moral absolutes are always wrong. You don’t need to follow the argument very far before it begins to unravel.  If I don’t believe in moral absolutes, I cannot believe that moral absolutes are wrong. (The best I can say is that I have not chosen to accept moral absolutes.) To believe there are no moral absolutes is, itself, a moral absolute, and my position collapses.

What the moral relativists are really saying to the moral absolutists is, “In my universe, I have the moral authority to condemn you for holding moral absolutes that disagree with my moral decisions.  But, you don’t have the moral authority to disagree with my moral decisions.”

That’s where today’s verse comes in.  God’s response to the moral relativist is, “It’s not your universe. I made the universe and I included physical and moral laws.  You can’t change the moral laws any more that you can change the physical laws.” If we believe Genesis 1, one of the conclusions that follows is that God is the self-existent first cause of the universe.  Which means that a thing is good if God has made it and it is right is God has said it is right.

With the heady introduction invoking God’s moral authority, this is where you expect me to give you God’s big moral “don’t” list.   You can take the list into the morally relative world and club it into submission by pointing out the logical inconsistencies with its position.  The problem is, that doesn’t work.  Following a big “don’t” list may make us feel morally superior, but it won’t change the world.

Instead, let me kick off your week with a short moral “do” list.  The great thing about this list is that they will change the world and most moral relativists won’t condemn you for doing them.  Do these things and see how they change your life and the lives of those around you:

  1. Love God with everything you have;
  2. Love your neighbor as yourself;
  3. Feed and clothe the poor;
  4. Visit those in prison;
  5. Care for windows and orphans,
  6. Go into the world and make disciples.

OK, you’d feel better if I also gave you a couple “don’t” ideas:

  1. Don’t worry about what you will wear and what you will eat, God takes care of the birds and flowers and He will take care of you.
  2. Don’t grow weary of doing good.

As you read the Bible, you can develop your own moral “do” list.  Pick one or two at a time and focus on them until they become habits. Then move on to something else.

Make 2018 the year of the “do.”

Press On!

David