What’s the root of all of our problems? That’s one of the big questions that philosophy and religion try to address. Well, if you’ve been reading this blog, then you know my answer, which I think jibes with the Bible’s answer: sin. Remember the definition? Any lack of conformity to the expressed will of God. That’s where all our problems come from. No matter what problem you can think of—physical, spiritual, mental, social, governmental, environmental, etc.-- you can trace it back to sin.
But now that I think about it, if we dig a little deeper, we find that there’s a root even underneath this root. At the heart of any sin is one insidious thought: I know better than God does. He tells me to do X, but I know better than he does, so I do Y instead. Our first parents bought into this, and we’ve been following their pattern ever since.
Today’s passage provides a great corrective to that. We think we know which way to go in life. We have our own plans, our agenda, our schemes, our task list. But his ways are higher than our ways. How much higher? Well, how much higher are the heavens than the earth? Infinitely. No measurement is possible. That’s how much.
And our thoughts versus his thoughts? We think we have it all covered. We have all the answers. We think we’ve figured it out, at least what we need to know. No, we haven’t. His thoughts are higher than ours, times infinity.
Why is this important? Well, as I pointed out, it’s the root of every sinful thought and action. But there’s more to this. Perhaps like the exiles addressed here, you’ve gone through a massive tragedy in life. Or maybe not even a tragedy, maybe just a huge obstacle in the road. When times are really tough, it’s easy to get mad at God or blame him. But he knows what he’s doing. He really does.
Then he gives us some insight into his word and how it operates. The reason this is linked to the verses above is because God’s word is his main method of expressing his will to us. He predicted that Israel would be restored in his timing, and he asked his people to trust him in the meantime. And they needed to know something about God and his word which would bring them to the other side of this hardship: God’s word never fails to deliver on its purpose.
Imagine a rain storm. Rain falls out of a cloud and lands on the ground. It doesn’t stop mid-air and return back to the cloud. No, it hits the ground and produces an effect—watering the earth. In the same way, God’s word does not return to him empty, but always accomplishes the purpose for which he sent it. His message of judgment on sinners will accomplish what he sends it to do: Either it’ll bring them to repentance, or it’ll serve as an accuser when they stand before the Throne. When he sends the Good News about Jesus to someone, it’ll bring them to salvation, or again it’ll be their accuser some day.
And his words of comfort, if you’ll listen to them, will accomplish what he sent them to do as well. Hear some of them right now, straight from God’s lips: He knows what he’s doing. You don’t know what he’s doing, but that doesn’t mean a thing. His ways are (infinitely) higher than your way of doing things, and his thoughts are (infinitely) higher than yours.
And as the rest of the passage makes clear, once we accept this and see it in action, real blessing will be ours. To some degree we’ll see it in this world, and to the fullest degree we’ll see it in the next. Just trust. And obey.
Father God, I do trust you. Not nearly as enough, not nearly as much as I should. By your grace, I want to.