God on Trial
Isaiah 40:12-17, 21-26
Dr. Jim Denison
A schoolteacher injured his back and had to wear a plaster cast around the upper part of his body. It fit under his shirt and was not noticeable at all.
On the first day of the term, still with the cast under his shirt, he found himself assigned to the toughest students in the school. Walking confidently into the rowdy classroom, he opened the windows as wide as possible and then busied himself with deskwork. When a strong breeze made his tie flap, he took the desk stapler and stapled the tie to his chest.
He had no discipline problems with any of his students that year.
The philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche claimed that the “will to power” is the basic drive in human nature.
We want more money, more fame, more status, more success, not for what they are in themselves, but as a means to power. Every crime is an expression of power. Nearly every item in the news reduces to a quest for power. Who will be in charge in Iraq? Who will win in Israel? Who will be governor of California, or the Democratic nominee for president? Who will have the power?
Faith reduces to this question: will I trust God’s power, or seek my own? Will I make Jesus the King of my ambitions, my future, my money, my family and friends, my life? Or am I on the throne, using faith and worship as a means to my end?
Judah is captive in Babylon. Does this mean their God is powerless? That he cannot or will not help his people? He is on trial, in the minds and faith of his people. Our text is a defense attorney’s speech on behalf of his client. He tells them, and us, why we should trust the power of God. Why we should make him King of our lives, our problems, our resources, our present and future. Let’s join the jury and listen in.
He is Lord of creation (vs. 12-14)
First, the attorney claims that the God on trial creates and controls all that exists. That he is Lord of all the universe. Therefore, he is God, and they are not. What data does he enter into evidence?
One: he is Lord of the oceans (v. 12a). He has “measured” them, a word which means that he has them under his complete understanding and control. And we do not.
The world’s oceans average 12,230 feet in depth, with a total volume of 322,280,000 cubic miles. How heavy are they? Each cubic mile of seawater weighs 4.7 billion tons. That’s what this God measures in the “hollow of his hand.”
By contrast, the deepest anyone has gone into the ocean without assistance and lived to tell about it was 236 feet, the dive of one Umberto Pelizzari in 1992. That’s just slightly longer than one New York City block. Who is more powerful, God or us?
Two: he is Lord of the “heavens,” the air and the universe beyond it (v. 12b). The part we can see is 90 billion trillion miles across. All the visible stuff in our solar system fills less than a trillionth of the available space. There are approximately 200 billion stars in just our galaxy. If you were randomly inserted into the universe, the chances that you would be on or near a planet would be less than one in a billion trillion trillion. That’s how large this universe is. But God measures it with the palm of his hand. Who is more powerful, God or us?
Three: this God is Lord of the earth, that he holds the dust of our planet in a basket (v. 12c).
We’re dealing with entities like protons, so small that the dot on an “i” in your Bible can hold 500 billion of them.
They make up atoms, which are somewhat larger. Find a “dash” in your Bible. An atom is to that dash as the thickness of a sheet of paper is to the Empire State Building. God holds and controls all of that.
And that he weights the mounts and hills of our planet in his balance as well (v. 12d). We’re dealing with 5.97 billion trillion metric tons. Who is more powerful, God or us?
Now the attorney claims that this God designed all of that, in far greater complexity than we can possibly imagine (vs. 13-14).
One cubic centimeter of air, about the size of a sugar cube, contains 45 billion billion molecules. What’s more, every atom you possess has passed through several stars and been part of millions of organisms across the universe’s history, before becoming you. I learned this week that a billion of your atoms probably belonged to Shakespeare, and another billion to Buddha, and Genghis Khan, and Beethoven, and George Washington, and any other historical figure you care to name.
By contrast, I read recently that the average American rush-hour driver wastes 51 hours sitting in traffic each year. Now, who’s smarter, God or us?
You’d be pleased today if Warren Buffett were to volunteer to guide your investment strategy, or Tiger Woods agreed to give you golf instruction; if Pete Sampras were to be your tennis coach, Don Nelson agreed to coach your son or daughter in basketball, or Bill Parcells volunteered to help you turn around a business or a team. This almighty God of the universe is available and ready, right now, to guide your steps, direct your decisions, and give your life greater joy and purpose than you can imagine. But only if he is your King. Only if you agree.
He is Lord of the nations (vs. 15-17, 21-24)
Now the defense attorney claims that this God who creates and controls the universe is also Lord of our planet, of our nations, of our people. Of your life and mine.
He regards the nations and all their power as “dust on the scales,” as “fine dust” (v. 15). The world’s armies comprise some 22 million soldiers. The world’s economy produces some $18 trillion a year. All this is “nothing,” “worthless,” and “less than nothing” to this God (v. 17). When we learn that he measures the entire universe with the palm of his hand, we can see why.