walk in the word
25To whom then will you compare me, that I should be like him says the Holy One. 26Lift up your eyes on high and see: who created these? He who brings out their host by number, calling them all by name, by the greatness of his might, and because he is strong in power not one is missing. —Isaiah 40:25-26
In today’s passage, Isaiah speaks to the transcendence of God—the idea that God is wholly beyond us and completely above us. In fact, He is so not like us, every comparison fails. As if the universe was a vast military parade, God has the entire starry host numbered! Not only does He know every rank and serial number, He is also “calling them all by name, by the greatness of his might, and because he is strong in power not one is missing.” God is utterly beyond anything we could comprehend or understand.
John 1:18 says, “No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.” The writer of Hebrews says no one can see God and live, “for our God is a consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:29), and “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:31). This is the transcendence of God.
And alongside that truth is the immanence of God, which is completely different than His transcendence. The Bible teaches that in spite of His transcendence, God is very personal—He is very near, very close. He is immanent.
Both immanence and transcendance are important aspects of our sovereign God. I am so thankful for the comfort of His nearness, but it breaks my heart to hear His immanence preached in many churches to the exclusion of His awesome transcendence. A God who is only immanent is, in a sense, too close for comfort. Then we end up with a tiny God who might be immanent, but is totally impotent. A God who has become intimately available to us, but is somehow no longer able to help us—nothing like the Holy One of Isaiah 40 who created the universe!
What we need to do is to bring both truths from Scripture back to bear upon our lives. Like two towers that can never be toppled, God is both transcendent and immanent. Ominous…and near. Out of this world…yet as close as your next breath.
God is infinitely above and beyond you…still He knows you and loves you, and cares deeply for your concerns.
“By the greatness of his might, and because he is strong in power”, our incomparable and awesome God can work on behalf of those who love Him—as only the One who created and called all the stars by name can do!
Lord, I praise Your nearness and Your awesome greatness! Because You are immanent, You hear my prayer at this moment. Because You are transcendent, You also hear all the other prayers rising from Your people right now! You hear all of us, and You hear each of us. Thank You that Your answers are always the best for us, as well as the wisest route to Your will being done. I choose to trust You, and I offer my faith to You who are beyond me, in Jesus’ name, amen.
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