Behold Your God | Isaiah 40
Brian Hedges | September 20, 2020
Let me invite you to turn in your Bibles this morning to Isaiah 40. While you’re turning there, let me read a statement to you from A.W. Tozer. This is the first line in the very first chapter of his wonderful book The Knowledge of the Holy. Tozer said, “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.”
The very most important thing about you this morning is not what you think of yourself, it’s not what you think of the world, it’s not what you think of this church. It’s not what you think about a host of other things that you probably do think about a lot; it’s what you think about God. I wonder, if you just took inventory right now of your thoughts of God over the last week, what have your thoughts of God been like? Have you thought about God? Has he even been in your thoughts? Probably for most of us he has been, at least some. But then, have you thought rightly about God? Have you thought about God as he really is? Have you thought about God as he has revealed himself to be?
This morning we’re kicking off a new series. This is going to take us through the next ten weeks, up until Advent, and we’re going to be looking at a number of passages from Scripture, and the title of the series is “Behold Your God,” coming directly from Isaiah 40. In this series, it’s really an invitation for us to look with fresh eyes at who God is as he has revealed himself to be in Scripture.
There are several reasons I think this series will be important for us.
(1) It’s important for us, first of all, just for our salvation, for salvation is, in its essence, knowing God. It’s coming to know God through Jesus Christ. Do you remember what Jesus said in John 17:3, in that great high priestly prayer? He said, “This is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” Now, of course, this doesn’t mean merely that we know facts about God or that we have certain theology about God. The theology, of course, is included, but it means that we actually know him, that we are in relationship with him. But you can’t be in a relationship with a God that you know nothing about.
So knowing who God is is essential for actually knowing him and growing in our acquaintance with him, and this is right at the heart of what it means to be a Christian. If you do not know God at all this morning, you’re not a Christian. It may be that you’re a true Christian and that you have some faulty thoughts about God, and if that’s the case then hopefully this series will be helpful for you, as I think it will be for all of us.
(2) Another reason this series could be helpful is because knowing God is the key to our sanctification, our transformation. 2 Corinthians 3:18 says that “we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” It is in beholding the glory of the Lord that we are transformed, that we are changed. You will not grow spiritually, you will not grow in holiness, you will not grow in Christlikeness, you will not experience transformation, unless you behold the glory of the Lord. It’s in beholding God that we become more and more like the Savior.
(3) Then a third reason (and this is really the most important reason of all) is that God is worthy of our greater worship, and he is therefore worthy of being thought of as he really is. He requires this of us. Psalm 145:3 says, “Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; his greatness is unsearchable!”
I think this series could be helpful for us in our worship, both on the corporate level and on the individual level. Of course corporately, when we come together week by week to worship the Lord, we want to worship the Lord in Spirit and truth, we want to worship him with all of our hearts, but we want to worship him as he is. So we need to see him, we need to have our thoughts of God raised and elevated, and I think looking with some focus for a number of weeks at the character of God will help us in that.
But also on the personal level, worshipping God personally—that is, your personal devotion to God and to the Lord Jesus Christ, your personal devotional life, your worship of him on a personal, individual level; I think that will be increased as you come to know him more clearly and more fully. So my hope in this series is that all of those things will be true for us, that we will grow in our knowledge, in our communion and fellowship with God, grow in our transformation, and that we will grow in our worship of God and glorify him, for he is worthy of it.
This morning we’re going to begin this series by looking at some passages from Isaiah 40. We’re not going to look at the full chapter, but I want to read a few verses to start us off and then explain to you where I want to go in this message. We’re going to look at the three different parts of this chapter, and I think we’ll get an overview of what this chapter is about.
Let me begin by reading Isaiah 40:9-10. This is the exhortation given to Jerusalem to lift up their voices and to shout out a message to the surrounding cities. Isaiah 40:9:
“Go on up to a high mountain, O Zion [Zion’s another name for Jerusalem], herald of good news! Lift up your voice with strength, O Jerusalem, herald of good news; lift up, fear not. Say to the cities of Judah, ‘Behold, your God! Behold, the Lord God comes with might, and his arm rules for him. Behold, his reward is with him, and his recompense before him.’”
It’s a call that Isaiah ushers to the people of God to look and to see and to behold their God as he comes with salvation and redemption to his people. That’s the call for us in this series.
In this particular message, I want us to look at Isaiah 40, and I want us to see three things. I want you to see something about the glory of God, sometimes about the greatness of God, and something about the care of God. The glory of the Lord secures our salvation. The greatness of the Lord rebukes our idolatry. And the care of the Lord renews our strength.
1. The Glory of the Lord Secures Our Salvation
Okay, so first of all, the glory of the Lord secures our salvation. Look at verses 1-5. Isaiah the prophet, speaking the words of God, says, “Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly [literally, speak to the heart] to Jerusalem, and cry to her that her warfare is ended, that her iniquity is pardoned, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.”
Just stop right there. Remember that Isaiah’s an eighth-century [B.C.] prophet, writing before the Assyrian invasion, and of course before the Babylonian exile, and here he is addressing the people of God in their condition of exile. It’s a prophetic text, it’s looking forward, and it’s saying to the people of God that comfort is coming, that there is forgiveness, that there is pardon. This is a word of grace and a word of comfort to the people of God, to Jerusalem.
Verse 3 continues, “A voice cries, ‘In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord! Make straight in the desert a highway for our God.’” So the Lord here is coming, and the voice in the wilderness is calling for the way to be prepared. Then notice how verse 4 shows that every obstacle will be overcome. “Every valley shall be lifted up, every mountain and hill made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain.” No obstacles, no hindrances here, as the Lord comes to rescue his people, using the imagery here of the exodus. This is a voice in the wilderness, and the Lord comes and he makes his way through the wilderness. It’s a new exodus, a new redemption, a new day of salvation for the people of God.
Then notice especially verse 5, “And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”
How is this salvation to be brought about? Through the revelation of the glory of the Lord. And all flesh—not just Israel; all human beings will see the revelation of this glory. The glory of the Lord secures our salvation.
Now, what is the glory of the Lord? We use that language all the time in church, don’t we? We talk about the glory of God. But what is the glory of the Lord? What does it really mean?
Both the Hebrew word and the Greek equivalent, both of those words, at their root, the word carries the idea of that which is heavy, that which has weight. The reason was because in the ancient world the worth or the value of something was often defined or was measured by its weight.
For example, you might just think of gold. Of course, the heavier the gold, the more gold there is, the more valuable it is. Even today, when we talk about someone’s situation we talk about their “net worth,” don’t we?
Well, at the root of the word “glory” is this word “heavy,” and it came to connote the idea of that which is significant, the worth of something, the significance of something, or even the honor and the fame of something. This would be the glory. So, when we talk about the glory of the Lord we’re talking about a summary attribute of God, something that describes the worth and the significance of who God is, or maybe the representation or the expression or the recognition of his worth and his significance as we recognize and declare the glory of the Lord.
Now, here’s one of the things you’re going to find as you read Scripture carefully. When you read through all of Scripture, you will find over and over and over again that the glory of the Lord is the reason why the Lord himself works. He works for his glory. He does things for his glory.
One of the most significant books I ever read—I probably read it over 20 years ago now for the first time—was Jonathan Edwards’ treatise called The End for Which God Created the World. It’s a short little book, but a very closely reasoned book that just oozes Scripture. It’s full of Scripture. He quotes text after text after text where Edwards is asking the question, “Why does anything exist?” Why did God create the world? Why does the world exist? What was God’s end or God’s purpose? What was his mission in creating the world in the first place? Why did God decide for there to be something where once there was nothing except his own being?
Edwards reasons from text after text after text that the reason that God created—and the reason God does everything he does—is for his glory. Here’s one of the key summary statements. He says, “For it appears that all that is ever spoken of in the Scripture as an ultimate end of God’s works is included in that one phrase, ‘the glory of God,’ which is the name by which the ultimate end of God’s works is most commonly called.”
If we had time this morning, I could take you through text after text and show you that everything that is created was created for the glory of God, that the reason God governs history as he does, God’s works of providence, he does for the glory of God. The reason he chose Israel as a nation was for the glory of his name. The reason he made a covenant with his people was for the glory of his name. The reason he sent Jesus to be the mediator between God and man was for his glory. The reason that he redeemed a people for himself, and the reason why salvation is offered to you, is for the glory of God. This is why the church exists, it’s why all things exist. Everything exists for the glory of God.
What this means, very simply, is that in the great solar system of Christian theology, man is not central. God is. Even in the story of salvation, you’re not at the center of that story. God is at the center of that story. God does not exist for you; you exist for him. God’s glory is the reason for everything. It’s the reason that all things exist, and therefore we are to live lives for the glory of God. This is the resounding call of Scripture, isn’t it? In everything that you do, whether you eat or whether you drink—in everything that you do, do everything for the glory of God—that is, to make his glory known, to enjoy his glory, to worship him, and to ascribe worth and glory to his name.
Now, that might raise an objection in some minds. You might hear that and you might think, “Wow, that seems very self-centered of God.” Is God some kind of a megalomaniac who’s out for his own honor and his own fame? Is God just out to look out for himself? Doesn’t he care about people? Is God a selfish God?
The answer to that question is no, God is not a megalomaniac, and God is not selfish. That accusation I think does not stick, and it doesn’t stick for two reasons.
The first reason is that God is qualitatively different than any other being in the universe. It would be selfish if you were looking for your own glory. If your ambition was to pursue your fame and your glory and your honor, that would be self-centered; you would be a megalomaniac—maybe you are. Certainly there are people in the world who are that way.
But it’s not true of God, because God actually is worthy. No matter how great you think you are, you’re not really all that; but God is. God is qualitatively different than we are. He is the most glorious being in the universe.
Now, if you just think about being, things which have life, and think especially about sentient beings, everything from the animal kingdom through human beings angelic, spiritual, supernatural beings to the being of God himself; and there is this ascending scale, isn’t there? There is this hierarchy of being.
For example, I have a pet dog, my dog Brittany. Brittany is a being; she’s not very smart, but she can think a little bit. I love this dog. Now, there are other beings that have life that occasionally show up in our house, like spiders, and I wouldn’t hesitate for a moment to squash any spider I ever see. Even though this is an insect, this is something that God created that has life—I don’t know why God created spiders, but he did—a spider has life. It doesn’t belong in my house, so I’m going to squash it. I value the life of my pet, Brittany, far more than I would spider. I don’t think twice about killing a spider, but it would be inhumane to just snuff out the life of my dog. I mean, something would be wrong with me to do that. Because we all recognize there is more inherent worth in a pet dog than there is in a spider.
But if I were to compare the being of Brittany with the beings of my children, there is no comparison. I love my children infinitely more than I love my pet, and if I were forced to choose between the two, there would be no choice, of course, because my children are made in the image of God and they are my flesh and bone. I love them infinitely more than I love my dog, because they are worth more. We know that. We know that inherently there is more worth in a human being than there is in an animal, and there’s more worth in a pet than there is in a spider.
But then you put God in the picture, and the being of God is so infinitely greater and qualitatively different than any other being that there is no comparison. There is no comparison. Human beings are transient beings; we live here for a little while, and then we’re gone. God is. He simply is. He has always existed. There has never been a point when there was no God. He is. He is the source of all being. We all “live and move and have our being” in him! The reason you exist is because God chose for you to exist. If God should at any moment choose for someone or something not to exist, with a word he could remove its existence. But God’s existence simply is; it is eternal. He is qualitatively different from us.
You might think of this illustration. Again, going back to the idea of weight (glory is related to weight), think about the weight of two different things. Think about the weight of a feather. A feather’s really light, right? I had to look this up. How much does a feather weigh? A feather weighs 0.00082 grams. If you were to try to get a pound of feathers, you know how many feathers that would take? 55,316 feathers, for one pound. They’re really light! This is a really insubstantial thing.
Compare that with Mount Everest, if it’s even possible to weigh Mount Everest. Some people estimate that Mount Everest would weigh 357 trillion pounds, but who really knows?
But if you were to take the net worth of every human being, angelic being, every person who has ever lived, and were to put it in a scale with the net worth of God, you would be weighing feathers with Mount Everest ten million times beyond. He’s worthy of our glory, and therefore he is not wrong to seek it.
The other reason why God is not a megalomaniac to seek his glory is because the revelation of his glory is actually what’s best for you and me. The revelation of his glory is what brings our salvation. Everything bad in our lives has happened because we have fallen short of the glory of God. It’s our lack of seeing and loving and adoring God in his glory that is our fallen condition, and restoration, salvation—what is that? It is being restored into the fellowship of God, it is being restored to the worship of God, and it is being restored to a life that glorifies God. His glory, the revelation of his glory, and the experience of his glory, is our salvation.
You see that in the text. This passage comes with comfort to the people of God. Salvation is coming for them, but it comes through the glory of the Lord being revealed, and it’s in the glory of the Lord being revealed supremely through the work of Jesus Christ that you and I are saved. The glory of the Lord secures our salvation; that’s first.
2. The Greatness of the Lord Rebukes Our Idolatry
The second thing that Isaiah shows us (we’ve already begun to get a glimpse of this) is the greatness of the Lord. Not just the glory of the Lord, but the greatness of the Lord. Especially we see in Isaiah 40 how the greatness of the Lord rebukes our idolatry.
The greatness of God shows up in this chapter over and over again. Here’s just a list of some of the references. There is the glory of the Lord in verse 5; there’s his might in verse 10. There is his gentleness as he leads Israel like a shepherd in verse 11. He is called the Holy One in verse 25. You see his power in verse 26, his eternality—“He is the everlasting God”—in verse 28, “the creator of the ends of the earth, whose understanding is unsearchable,” also verse 28.
These are all just angles, aspects of the greatness of God, and it’s only when we see the greatness of God and we begin to understand God as he has revealed himself to be that our low conceptions of God begin to change.
I remember reading the story one time of a little boy who was stretched out on the living room floor with paper in front of him, and crayons and pencils, and he’s intently working on this piece of art. He’s drawing something, he’s coloring something. His dad noticed this, noticed how focused and intent—I mean, this little creative boy, he’s so focused on this piece of art; what is it that he’s drawing? So he comes up to his son and he says, “Son, what are you drawing there?”
The little boy, without looking up, says, “God.”
The dad was a little taken aback, and said, “Well, son, no one knows what God looks like.”
The little boy, without missing a beat, says, “They will when I’m finished with my picture!”
You remember the saying, I think it was Voltaire who said that God created man in his own image, and man returned the compliment. We’ve created God in our image. We reduce God to our imagination. That’s what this chapter confronts.
You see it, first of all, just with the questions raised in verses 12-14. Read those verses. “Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand and marked off the heavens with a span, enclosed the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains, and scales the hills in a balance? Who has measured the Spirit of the Lord, or what man shows him his counsel? Whom did he consult, and who made him understand? Who taught him the path of justice and taught him knowledge and showed him the way of understanding?” Sounds a lot like those last several chapters of Job, where the Lord speaks to Job from the whirlwind and essentially just asks him questions like this.
John Oswalt, in some of his comments on this text, says, “The formidable series of rhetorical questions in verses 12-14 can be distilled into three basic questions: One, who created the universe? Two, who counseled him in the process? And three, who in creation can be compared to him?” The answers, of course, are that God created the universe, nobody counseled him, and no one can compare with him! He is the incomparable God.
You see that in verse 18 and again in verse 25. Verse 18: “To whom then will you liken God, or what likeness compares with him?” Verse 25: “To whom then will you compare me, that I should be like him, says the Lord. Lift up your eyes on high and see. Who created these?” He’s surveying the heavens, the stars. 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.”
This is one of the strategies that the Bible uses to help elevate our thoughts of God, to compare God to the vast universe that he has created and to show that even in comparison God is incomparable, that he is infinitely greater.
I remembered in preparing this message a statement made about the great scientist Albert Einstein. I first heard John Piper share this quotation, and then I read it again in a commentary recently. It’s a statement from a man named Charles Misner, who was a scientist, and he was reflecting on Einstein and how Einstein seemed to have nothing to do with organized religion, and he’s wondering why. This is what he said.
He said, “I do see the design of the universe as essentially a religious question; that is, one should have some kind of respect and awe for the whole business. It’s very magnificent and shouldn’t be taken for granted. In fact—” listen to this “—I believe that is why Einstein had so little use for organized religion, although he strikes me as basically a very religious man. He must have looked at what the preachers said about God and felt that they were blaspheming. He had seen much more majesty than they had ever imagined, and they were just not talking about the real thing. My guess is that he simply felt that religions he had run across did not have a proper respect for the author of the universe.”
What about you and me? Do we have a proper respect for the author of the universe? If you have small thoughts of God, try looking up at the stars and just meditate for a few minutes. Just think for a minute about the scope and the size, and then God in comparison.
Think about the earth, first of all. Have you ever been in an airplane, and you look out the window and you see the horizon, you see the circle, and you just suddenly feel how small you are and how big the earth is? The earth is 3,958.8 miles in its radius, relatively small in our solar system. We’re 93.35 million miles away from the sun, and the sun has a radius of 432,000 plus miles. The sun is so large that if you hollowed it out you could put 1 million, 300 thousand earths inside. And the sun is essentially a medium-sized star, not nearly one of the largest.
The star Betelgeuse, 642.5 light years from the earth, is 700 times larger than the sun, with a radius of 383.4 million miles. The largest known star, from what I’ve been able to find, is Stevenson 2-18, over 19,000 light years from the earth and over 2,000 times larger than the sun, with a radius of 929.42 million miles. And there are millions of stars, and God made them all with a word!
Your God is too small. My God is too small—our vision of God is too small. I don’t care how accurate your theology is this morning, your vision of God is still not as great as he really is. So we all need to have our vision of God elevated, because this God is incomparable in his character, he is matchless in his majesty, he is unrivaled in his reign, unequaled in the quality of his being, the grandeur of his power, and the weight of his glory.
This was the reminder that Israel, facing exile, needed. They need to lift up their eyes and see the greatness of the God who would bring redemption to them. It’s also what you and I need. Isaiah, in sharing this message with them, was rebuking idolatry.
You see that rebuke in verses 18-20. “To whom then will you liken God, or what likeness compare with him? An idol! A craftsman casts it and a goldsmith overlays it with gold and casts for it silver chains. He who is too impoverished for an offering chooses wood that will not rot. He seeks out a skillful craftsman to set up an idol that will not move.”
Of course, we read words like that and we see the lunacy of it, to worship something that our own hands have made. But listen, the Bible not only condemns idols that are carved out of wood, it also condemns idols of the heart. Ezekiel talks about the idols of the heart.
J.I. Packer, in his book Knowing God, talks about both molten and mental idols. What is a mental idol? It is a conception that you have of God that is not true to who he really is and how he has revealed himself to be.
Let me quote Tozer again. Tozer says, “Low views of God destroy the gospel for all who hold them. Among the sins to which the human heart is prone, hardly any is more hateful to God than idolatry, for idolatry is, at bottom, a libel on his character. The idolatrous heart assumes that God is other than he is, in itself a monstrous sin, and substitutes for the true God one made after its likeness. The essence of idolatry is the entertainment of thoughts about God that are unworthy of him.”
Do you and I have thoughts of God that are unworthy of him? What would that be like? What would be some examples of that?
Well, have you ever thought about God as an old man in the sky? That’s certainly unworthy of him. Now, my guess is that most of us think better than that. We probably do have a higher view of God than that. But that’s probably, with many people, when they think God, that’s kind of the image that will pop in.
I think more likely for us is we think about certain aspects of God’s attributes that we are attracted to, or that we like, but we separate those attributes from others. We may think about the love of God without the justice of God. Or, conversely, you might think of the power of God and lose sight of his goodness. Or you might think that God, in his disposition towards human beings, is essentially like a genie in the bottle, who exists for our comfort and our convenience. Or, on the other hand, you might think that God is basically indifferent, the great watchmaker who wound up the world like a clock and then leaves it to run for itself and is unconcerned with the intimate details of your life. All of those are thoughts that are unworthy of God.
God, in the words of Psalm 50, rebukes those who think of God wrongly. He said, “You thought that I was one like yourself, but now I rebuke you and lay the charge before you.” The greatness of God rebukes our idolatry.
3. The Care of the Lord Renews Our Strength
The glory of the Lord revealed secures our salvation; the greatness of God rebukes our idolatry; and then, here’s the final thing to see: The care of the Lord renews our strength. Most of this message so far, we’ve been looking at the greatness of God, the transcendence of God; but of course, this is balanced in Scripture by the imminence of God, the God who draws near to us.
You see that in verses 27-31, maybe the most well-known verses from Isaiah 40. Verse 27, “Why do you say, O Jacob, and speak, O Israel, ‘My way is hidden from the Lord, and my right is disregarded by my God’?” Here’s Israel, here’s the people of God, and they think God is indifferent to them. “My way is hidden from the Lord; my right is disregarded by my God. God’s not concerned for me.”
Isaiah rebukes that. He says in verse 28, “Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength.” Listen, God’s greatness does not mean that he is unconcerned with you.
Derek Kidner says, “The wrong inference from God’s transcendence is that he is too great to care; the right inference is that he is too great to fail.” He is great, and he cares about you. That’s what this text is showing us.
The text then goes on to say in verses 30-31, “Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted…” The strongest, most vigorous among us, the young, their strength won’t last, “but those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” The care of the Lord renews our strength.
Anybody need renewal this morning? Do you need renewal? Do you need spiritual renewal in your life? How do you get it? You get it by waiting on the Lord, hoping in the Lord.
What does that look like? I want to end by just giving you some ideas of things that you can be doing. These are the takeaways, practical things that you can do, and I hope will do with new and fresh earnestness in your own pursuit of God over these next ten weeks as we together, Sunday by Sunday, look at different aspects of God’s character and who God is. What can you be doing personally in pursuit of him?
(1) Spend time with God. You wait on the Lord by spending time with him, spending time in his presence.
Here’s one more quote from Tozer. He said, “It is well that we accept the hard truth now: the man [or the woman] who would know God must give time to him. He must count no time wasted which is spent in the cultivation of his acquaintance. He must give himself to meditation and prayer, hours on end. So did the saints of old, the glorious company of the apostles, the goodly fellowship of the prophets, and the believing members of the holy church in all generations, and so must we if we would follow in their train.”
Now, I know how a quotation like that hits most of us. You read a quotation like that—if you want to know God you must spend hours on end in meditation and prayer—most of us are going to feel either a twinge of guilt because we’re not doing that or we’re going to greet it with a yawn, “Yes, I’ve heard this before.” Spend hours in meditation and prayer.
Let me ask you something. How long has it been since you just spent 30 minutes in undistracted communion with God by yourself? Some of you are. Some of you are, and I’m not saying any of this to condemn anybody. But my guess is that most of us, we pray on the run, we pray on the go, we crack open our Bible maybe a few times a week, but we’re not doing this. I don’t think most Christians that I know are doing this. I don’t think we’re opening our Bibles, poring over the words, and spending 30 minutes, much less an hour or hours on end, in meditation and prayer. Is it any wonder if we do not know God? You have to spend time with him.
(2) Number two, you have to seek him in prayer. The Lord promises that those who seek him will find him. Seek his face. If you seek him and you seek him with all your heart, you will find him.
(3) Then, Scripture, of course, is crucial. Meditate on God’s revelation of himself in Scripture. We’re going to do that together as we come together week by week, but you should be doing that on your own, reading your Bible, and maybe with the help of a book, like Tozer’s Knowledge of the Holy or Packer’s Knowing God. But spend time getting to know God as he’s revealed himself in Scripture.
(4) Finally, and this is the final thing and the most important thing, if you want to know God, if you want to wait on the Lord, you’re especially and most supremely going to know him through his revelation in and through Jesus Christ. This passage talks about the revelation of the glory of the Lord. “The glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it.”
In John 1:14 we read that “the word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
One day Jesus was with his disciples, and one of them said, “Jesus, show us the Father.” Do you remember what Jesus said (John 14:9)? “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.”
The writer to the Hebrews, meditating on the greatness of the person of Christ, says that the Son is the “radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature.”
Isaiah 40 is quoted at least 16 times in the New Testament, and one of those times is in the very first Gospel that was ever written, the Gospel of Mark. The Gospel of Mark opens by quoting Isaiah the prophet, Isaiah 40:3-4, applying these words to John the Baptist, the voice in the wilderness, preparing the way of Yahweh, the Lord! But who is John the Baptist preparing the way for? He was preparing the way for Jesus, because Jesus is Yahweh, the Lord, made flesh.
Listen, the greatest demonstration, the greatest revelation, the supreme manifestation of the glory of the Lord, is in the face of Jesus Christ, in the life of Jesus Christ, and in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the glory of God on display. In Jesus Christ you have the perfect union of greatness and goodness, of justice and mercy, of holiness and love. If you want to know God, the only way you will know God is by knowing him as he is revealed in Jesus Christ and through his cross. It’s the one point of access into the presence of the supremely holy one. “This is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom he has sent.” Let’s pray.
Our holy God, we bow in your presence and we ask you to forgive us for low thoughts of you. We ask you to forgive us for squandering so much time on lesser things instead of giving our hearts to you. We ask you to forgive us for our idolatry, and we ask you to renew us this morning by a fresh vision of your majesty, of your greatness, of your holiness, your justice, your mercy, your goodness, your truth. We ask you to give us eyes to see Jesus, to see in Jesus the glory of God revealed.
Even as we come to the table this morning, may it be a means of contemplating again the greatness of both your justice and your love displayed in the cross. You’re so just, and we are so sinful, that there had to be a sacrificial victim, there had to be a mediator, there had to be someone to pay the debt, and you are so loving and so gracious and so good that you sent your Son, Jesus, to take that judgment upon himself. May we remember that, meditate on that, as we come to the table this morning, and may it renew our hearts.
Lord, I pray that you would do a fresh work in us. Do a fresh work in me and do a fresh work in my brothers and sisters here, especially over these next ten weeks. Raise our thoughts of you, elevate our understanding of who you are. Give us deeper hearts of worship, and be glorified in our lives and in our church. Draw near to us now and help us, we pray in Jesus’ name and for his sake, Amen.