The Great Contrast
Isaiah 55:8-9
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, said the LORD.…

Nature, Providence and Grace abound in eloquent illustrations of the text.


1. God's works are characteristic. They manifest His character. Man's do not. We cannot tell infallibly what a fellow-creature is by remarking what he does. A garment is made for you. Are you able, as you look at it, to discover what the maker is? A carpenter constructs a box, table or chair; but nothing in its manufacture informs the spectator of the workman's holiness or sinfulness. It is even so with books. The productions of the pen sometimes oppose the deeds of the life. But God's works show us Himself. The purity and power, the mercy and majesty of Jehovah, are all displayed in creation.

2. God's works will bear the most minute examination. In yonder gallery of art is a painting. Stand from it at a certain distance and you are struck with its beauty. Look at it closely and it becomes a mere confusion of colours. But ascend a hill. Gaze at the landscape. Here it is a Divine picture. The fields are emerald with grass, golden and white with prolific wild-flowers. Beheld afar off, the scene is glorious. Come down the hill, however. Go into the meadow. Pluck one of the flowers, and gaze at it minutely; gather a blade of grass, and subject it to a most scrutinizing examination. It will bear it. It is as beautiful as ever. A piece of lace which looks delicate and fine to the naked eye becomes coarse and clumsy under a microscope. Not so the wing of a fly or a moth. Magnify the finest needle ever made, and it immediately looks rude and rough; but magnify the sting of a, bee a million of times, and its surface is still smooth and unvarying.

3. Gods works are inexhaustible in attractiveness. We never tire of nature. Human achievements are limited in the interest which they yield.

II. STUDY PROVIDENCE. How opposed to men's expectations have been many of God's dealings. Placed in His position they would ]lave done the very opposite of what He was pleased to accomplish. E.g. Israel when brought out of Egypt; Joshua and Jericho; Gideon and the Midianites; Naaman and his leprosy. "Man proposes, God disposes." We form our plans; He frequently leaves them where they are, and never allows them to crystallize into action. Brains are racked and hearts made anxious touching divers schemes and sundry intentions, when, lo! He who has the disposing of the lot quietly ignores them, and leads us into an altogether different path from that which we expected. I once visited the house of a friend. While waiting for admission my attention was arrested by a trivial but suggestive object. Beside the door an evergreen had been planted It was drooping and dying. Close to it, however, was a wild flower. Dropped by a passing bird, or cast there on the wings of the wind, some seed had taken root. It flourished and grew strong. Nor is it otherwise with human events. Schemes which we set, water, and watch, disappoint us and fail, while God gives to something very different vigour and life.

III. CONSIDER GRACE. In His" spiritual dealings with us, Neither are your ways My ways, saith the Lord.

1. God loves all. We do not. Large-hearted philanthropists, whose affection takes in the whole race, are exceptional.

2. God makes allowance for our difficulties. Physical infirmities commonly awaken pity. We take. them into account when we judge. Would that we carried out the same rule a little further! Not seldom when we Judge of our fellows morally and spiritually, we lose sight of the difficulties which they have to encounter. If we remembered their peculiar trials and temptations, we should speak a little less harshly of them. God makes full and large allowance for our difficulties. He sees and appreciates the obstacles with which we grapple. "He remembereth that we are dust.

3. God helps us through our difficulties. Adversity is a severe ordeal. Tried thereby, many friendships are found wanting. Fair weather and smooth sailing on life's sea will win fellow-voyagers, but clouds and breakers few will share with us. How different is it with God; "I will never leave thee nor forsake thee" — not even in trial. Nay, He is nearer to us then than ever. He not only makes allowance for our difficulties, but helps us through them. Two children were once overheard talking about the Good Shepherd. "What does He do?" said one. "He feeds the sheep, and drives away the wild beasts," was the reply. "But," rejoined the first, "He does more for the sheep; He carries them up hill."

4. God is very forgiving. Man is not: he is slow to pardon (ver. 7).

(T. R. Stevenson.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.

WEB: "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," says Yahweh.

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