[Jan 31]--Dust On The Scales

Isaiah 40:12-17

            When was the last time you actually had something weighed? I was pondering that as I typed out the title for today’s devotional. I can’t remember when exactly it was, but I suppose it was when I last bought a certain amount of meat from my grocery’s deli. On instructions from my wife, I went to the deli and got a half-pound of some type of meat that she wanted. The deli worker put the meat on the scale, measured out what I asked for, wrapped it and handed it to me.

            That’s where today’s title comes in. Hopefully they keep their scales relatively clean, but of course there’s always going to be a minute amount of dust that settles on the scales. You probably can’t even see it, and it certainly isn’t going to affect the price you pay.

            And so we come to today’s passage. Remember the main point of this chapter? God told his prophet to “comfort [his] people,” and that’s what the prophet’s words are meant to accomplish. So we come to an interesting point that he’s trying to make concerning the Lord.

            He starts by asking some rhetorical questions. He asks who has measured the entire oceans in his hands? Who has marked off the breadth of the heavens,  the whole of creation beyond our world? Well, besides God himself, the answer is “no one.”

            And who has instructed the Lord? Who's been his counselor? To whom has God ever gone for advice? To whom has the Almighty ever gone and said “Gosh, I could really use some input on this issue. Can you enlighten me?” The answer, once again, is “no one.”

            We move from looking at God himself to comparing him to the nations of the earth. Think about all the military might which has trodden the earth in all the years that mankind has gathered armies. Think of the great hordes of troops commanded by the likes of Napoleon, Caesar, Hannibal, General Lee and Grant, and Eisenhower. Think of all the industrial might of all those nations. And if you gathered them all together and put them on God’s “scales,” they wouldn’t even register. They’re just “dust on the scales.” They’re beneath contempt.

I’m reminded of the nations as presented in the second Psalm. They’ve gathered together in a grand conspiracy to keep the Lord from anointing his chosen One, the Son whom he's appointed as heir to everything. And what’s the Lord's response to the plans and schemes and gathered resources which have gathered together against him and his Messiah? Wringing his hands up on the throne? Biting his nails? Um, no. He’s laughing at them. And then he tells them “Too late! I’ve already done it! You’re a day late and a dollar short!”

But let’s get back to the main point here. This isn’t an esoteric lesson in theology. The Spirit (through his messenger) has a point to make. And that point, once again, is to comfort his people. So how does this comfort us? How does making an issue of God’s omnipotence versus the relative impotence of the nations meant to bring us comfort?

Here’s why, and it directly addresses something that’s bothered me for some time concerning American-style Christianity. We tend to focus on the personal side of the equation of our relationship with God, a “Jesus is my bestest friend!” type of perception.

My friend, a God who's just your “buddy” is not going to be very comforting when your world is falling apart. I don’t know about you, but I find it very comforting that my Father is waaaaaaaaaay bigger than anything this world has ever seen. He made the world, and he holds it together by just the word of his power. He’s not Atlas, carrying the world upon his shoulders. He spoke it into existence once, and that word is powerful enough to hold creation together as long as it takes.

And he manipulates kings and presidents and tyrants and dictators and nations like pieces on a chess board for his own purposes and for our good. And that’s key. If he was just a God “up there” who didn’t really know or care about the intimate details of my personal life, then that wouldn’t be very comforting either. But we can praise and thank him that even though the nations “are counted as less than worthless and less than nothing,” he counts each and every individual one of us as infinitely precious. He knows and he cares. Bask in that for a while.

Father God, it astounds me that the God of the universe, who runs this world and this universe actually cares about me. Not because I deserve it, but because you’ve chosen to care. And love. And forgive. And redeem. And adopt. Wow.

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