The Grandeur of God
Isaiah 40:12-28
Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out heaven with the span…

The prophet's notions of God are diffused through all the verses of the text. The prophet's design in describing the Deity with so much magnificence is to discountenance idolatry, of which there are two sorts.

1. Religious idolatry, which consists in rendering that religious worship to a creature which is due to none but God.

2. Moral idolatry, which consists in distrusting the promises of God in dangerous crises, and in expecting that assistance from men which cannot but be expected from God. The portrait drawn by the prophet is infinitely inferior to his original. Ye will be fully convinced of this if ye attend to the following considerations of the grandeur of God.

I. THE SUBLIMITY OF HIS ESSENCE. The prophet's mind was filled with this object. It is owing to this that he repeats the grand title of Jehovah, "the Lord," which signifies "I am" by excellence, and which distinguisheth by four grand characters the essence of God from the essence of creatures.

1. The essence of God is independent in its cause. God is a self-existent being. We exist, but ours is only a borrowed existence, for existence is foreign from us.

2. The essence of God is universal in its extent. God possesseth the reality of every thing that exists. He is, as an ancient writer expresseth it, a boundless ocean of existence. From this ocean of existence all created beings, like so many rivulets, flow.

3. The essence of God is unchangeable in its exercise. Creatures only pass from nothing to existence, and from existence to nothing. We love to-day what we hated yesterday, and to-morrow we shall hate What to-day we love.

4. The Divine essence is eternal in its duration. "Hast thou not known," saith our prophet, "that He is the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth?"

II. THE IMMENSITY OF HIS WORKS (vers. 22, 26). A novice is frightened at hearing what astronomers assert. Over all this universe God reigns.

III. THE EFFICIENCY OF HIS WILL. The idea of the real world conducts us to that of the possible world. The idea of a creative Being includes the idea of a Being whose will is efficient. But a Being whose will is self-efficient, is a Being who, by a single act of His will, can create all possible beings: that is, all, the existence of which implies no contradiction; there being no reason for limiting the power of a will that hath been once efficient of itself.

IV. THE MAGNIFICENCE OF SOME OF HIS MIGHTY ACTS, AT CERTAIN PERIODS, IN FAVOUR OF HIS CHURCH. The prophet had two of these periods in view. The first was the return of the Jews from that captivity in Babylon which he had denounced; and the second, the coming of the Messiah, of which their return from captivity was only a shadow. Such, then, are the grandeurs of God! Application — We observed that the prophet's design was to render two sorts of idolatry odious: idolatry in religion, and idolatry in morals. Idolatry in religion consists in rendering those religious homages to creatures which are due to the Creator only. To discredit this kind of idolatry, the prophet contents himself with describing it. He shames the idolater by reminding him of the origin of idols, and of the pains taken to preserve them. A man is guilty of moral idolatry when, in dangerous crises, he says, 'My way is hid from the Lord; my judgment is passed over from my God.' God is the sole arbiter of events. Whenever ye think that any more powerful being directs them to comfort you, ye put the creature in the Creator s place; whether ye do it in a manner more or less absurd; whether formidable armies, impregnable fortresses, and well-stored magazines; or whether a small circle of friends, an easy income, or a country house. The Jews were often guilty of the first sort of idolatry. The captivity in Babylon was the last curb to that fatal propensity. Thanks be to God that the light of the Gospel hath opened the eyes of a great number of Christians in regard to idolatry in religion. Ye who, in order to avert public calamities, satisfy yourselves with a few precautions of worldly prudence, and take no pains to extirpate those horrible crimes which provoke the vengeance of heaven to inflict punishments on public bodies; ye are guilty of this second kind of idolatry. Were your confidence placed in God, ye would endeavour to avert national judgments by purging the state of those wicked practices which are the surest forerunners and the principal causes of famine, and pestilence, and war. And thou, feeble mortal, lying on a sick-bed, already struggling with the king of terrors; thou, who tremblingly complainest, I am undone! — thou art guilty of this second kind of idolatry, that thou hast trusted in man and made flesh thine arm. Were God the object of thy trust, thou wouldest believe that though death is about to separate thee from man, it is about to unite thee to God.

(J. Saurin.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out heaven with the span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance?

WEB: Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and marked off the sky with his span, and calculated the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance?

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