I am absolutely loving all of the ways that God describes Himself throughout the book of Isaiah, and chapter 48 is no different.
Isa 48:12 Hearken unto me, O Jacob and Israel, my called; I am he; I am the first, I also am the last.
Isa 48:13 Mine hand also hath laid the foundation of the earth, and my right hand hath spanned the heavens: when I call unto them, they stand up together.
We haven’t talked a lot about the eternality of God, but it is both incredibly simple and incredibly complex. By simple, I mean that God existed forever. He will continue existing forever. There is nothing overly complicated about that. It might seem hard to believe, but it is at least not confusing.
The complex part comes when you begin to combine that characteristic of eternality with something like omniscience. It is hard to understand from a human perspective. Let’s go into a little thought experiment.
I have been conscious during my entire time on earth except of course when I was sleeping. However, during the entire time of my existence, I have been observing the world around me, and I have taken in quite a bit of information. I don’t remember all of that information though. I could be omniscient in theory about my past; I have been observing it all, and the information was in my mind at one point. I am not omniscient though about my past. This didn’t even say anything about my future which is an entire mystery.
God has been around for much longer than I have been. I can’t remember things that happened five years ago, but God can remember everything from eternity past. That is pretty hard to fathom. What kind of mind can do something like that?
There are people who claim that they can see the future. However, those claims never really seem to hold water. They undoubtedly have gaps in that knowledge that I highly doubt is there anyway. The claim we get here from God is that He also has unlimited knowledge of the future. That is a pretty bold claim, but we do have some evidence that this is true. Consider the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy in the person of Jesus Christ.
God was there in the beginning, and He will be there in the end. It is just kind of mind blowing to think about someone who has perfect knowledge of all of history when our finite minds can hardly remember what happened yesterday. How much greater is the mind of God?
I have heard it said before that the God of the Bible is arrogant, and as I was reading Isaiah 42, I came across a verse that I assume proponents of this position could use to demonstrate why it is obvious that God has some kind of inflated ego.
Isa 42:8 I am the LORD; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols.
Basically, God is reminding everyone yet again that He is greater than any kind of idol. In fact, we should not give glory to anyone else. Why can’t God share? Sure, God might be the top priority in our lives, but can’t we only give Him 75% and distribute the other 25% as we see fit? He is still on top, so why can’t He just be happy with that? Why is he so arrogant to believe that He deserves all of it?
I think it is important to realize just to we are talking about here. A few verses earlier, Isaiah introduces God’s speech in the following way.
Isa 42:5 Thus says God, the LORD, who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and what comes from it, who gives breath to the people on it and spirit to those who walk in it:
We are talking about the infinite Creator of the universe. We are talking about the one being in the universe who is able to speak matter and energy into existence. We are talking about the omnipotent, omniscient and morally perfect ruler of all of creation.
How could anyone possibly compare to Him?
There is an interesting distinction to be made here if we try to compare God to anything else in the universe. Let’s say we try to compare God to a human being. Human beings are pretty impressive creatures, but there is no way to compare finite, weak and morally imperfect creatures to God. If we had to decide between those two where we ought to put our praise, we should choose the greater one. That makes sense. You praise what is most impressive.
Now, say you want to give a human one unit of praise. After all, there are some people who are pretty impressive here on earth. However, God is infinitely greater than even that human. Now, what happens mathematically when something goes to infinity? Everything else goes to zero because in comparison to infinity; it is not anything.
I think this similar concept applies to God. In comparison to whatever praise you might think a human or anything else for that matter deserves, God is infinitely more, and in comparison, the praise left over for the human goes to zero.
God doesn’t demand praise unjustly is my point. He deserves all the praise because of who He is. It is not arrogant to claim to be and establish your position as exactly who you are.
Psalms 45 emphasizes again many of the major themes that we have been hearing for most of this book and honestly most of the Bible that we have read so far.
Psa 45:6 Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: the sceptre of thy kingdom is a right sceptre.
Psa 45:7 Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness: therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.
We are again brought into contact with some other major attributes of God. For one thing, we find out that He is infinite in terms of time. I wrote an entire post on that concept about a week ago, but since He is infinite, He is capable of having control over our infinite future.
Then we find out that God is just. He uses His power rightly. We have definitely talked about that one before as well, but it is important that God is fair. If He wasn’t, how could He be the all-good God of the universe?
Then we find out that God loves righteousness. In other words, He loves when people have a relationship with Jesus Christ. We do not have any righteousness on our own, but we are imparted that righteousness through the work of Jesus on the cross. God loves to have us as part of His family.
Finally, God hates sin. We know that, have talked about that many times and understand the important distinction that God really does hate the sin but love the sinner. I know that that has become a cliché, but I don’t know how to phrase it any better. God sent Jesus to die while we were still sinners. At the same time, sin is what separates us from God, and we need to have a way to bridge that gap. Jesus is the way.
The Psalms have a way of bringing together many things that we have heard before. For this particular one, we are able to confirm several major traits of God. The cool part is that it is not like we have learned anything new. This passage works perfectly within the context of the Bible as a whole even though it is a collection of books written by several different authors over hundreds of years. They all have a consistent conception of who God was and is and what some of His attributes were and are still.
Psalms 39 helps put everything in perspective. As someone who has studied quite a bit of mathematics, I am always intrigued by the concept of infinity. It is something that has a definition, but the definition is also partially undefined. We cannot put a value on infinity, but we know that it is greater than any other number in existence that we can put on a number line. However, as soon as you advance to another number, you know what one comes next. In essence then, infinity has no boundary other than itself. It is abstract yet very real.
Why do I mention infinity?
Psalms 39 puts our time on earth into perspective, and for me, it is also a great reassurance of an incredibly bright future.
Psa 39:4 LORD, make me to know mine end, and the measure of my days, what it is; that I may know how frail I am.
Psa 39:5 Behold, thou hast made my days as an handbreadth; and mine age is as nothing before thee: verily every man at his best state is altogether vanity. Selah.
Think about it this way. If you and I are in the same room, you seem to be a certain size. If I move one hundred feet away from you, you haven’t changed in size, but you look smaller because of the distance between us. If I move another hundred feet away, you seem even smaller. If I went a mile away, maybe I could still see you, but you would look like nothing more than a speck on the horizon.
Imagine if I went an infinite number of miles away. You have not changed whatsoever because you are still the same size that you were. However, from my perspective, I can’t even see you anymore. You are infinitely small compared to the distance between us.
In a way, that is how our lives are as compared to infinity. As Christians, we believe that God exists from infinity past to infinity future. Compared to a time span of that width, this time that we spend here on earth is practically insignificant.
I said earlier that this is comforting. I know that our time here on earth is certainly full of difficulties. I have some, and I’m sure that all of you have some as well. When you think about it, approximately 100 years is insignificant compared to this mathematical concept of infinite time. Because of the gift of salvation and the promise of eternal life with God for all those who believe, we receive an infinite time of comfort when our time on earth is done. When we look back, as compared to infinity, our time of difficulty will be a tiny speck on the horizon.
I am not trying to be dismissive of our difficulties here on earth whatsoever. However, I am saying that in comparison, an eternity with God is much more will outshine all of the darkness we experience here.
Think about it. David wanted to know his time on earth so that he had understand how insignificant he was as compared to God. I think that is important and valuable. However, for me personally, this verse does reassure me that God is indeed infinite.
I read the Bible through about three years ago, but I have to admit that I did not remember anything special about Deuteronomy 30. I wish I had because I think I just found some of my favorite Bible verses.
Deu 30:10 If thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to keep his commandments and his statutes which are written in this book of the law, and if thou turn unto the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul.
Deu 30:11 For this commandment which I command thee this day, it is not hidden from thee, neither is it far off.
Deu 30:12 It is not in heaven, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it?
Deu 30:13 Neither is it beyond the sea, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it?
Deu 30:14 But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it.
Deu 30:15 See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil;
The reason that I love this passage so much is because it speaks to one of the biggest misconceptions about Christianity.
God tells us everything we need to know to make a decision. We know the truth about Jesus, we know what He came to do and we know what our response needs to be.
We are not operating with incomplete information. Yes, there are certain things that are hard to wrap our heads around. For example, we know that God is an infinite being, but we really cannot comprehend infinity. In our world, everything has a definite beginning and end. It is hard to think about something that is defined as being undefined.
It is even hard to comprehend the concept of the Trinity. We know that there is a Father, Son and Holy Spirit. However, it is a little bit harder to think about how there are three distinct beings who also operate as one.
Our salvation is not predicated on the fact that we understand infinity or comprehend the exact nature of the Trinity though. There are certain things that we will probably not understand, but that is okay. Look back at verse 10. The important part for us is to listen to God, keep His commandments, and follow Him with all of our hearts.
We are not judged on unfair criteria. Everything that we need to know in order to accept the free gift of salvation is in the Bible. That decision will determine our eternal home. If you want to know a little bit more about this particular decision, you can check out my newest page. It is the most important decision you will ever make.
In Numbers chapter 26, the Israelites took a version of a census. Every man that was of military age was counted, and as a result of this count, the relative portions of land in Israel were allocated.
Num 26:52 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
Num 26:53 Unto these the land shall be divided for an inheritance according to the number of names.
Num 26:54 To many thou shalt give the more inheritance, and to few thou shalt give the less inheritance: to every one shall his inheritance be given according to those that were numbered of him.
Num 26:55 Notwithstanding the land shall be divided by lot: according to the names of the tribes of their fathers they shall inherit.
Num 26:56 According to the lot shall the possession thereof be divided between many and few.
Obviously, this census had huge implications for the people of Israel. God had chosen this particular moment in time to decide what Israel would ultimately look like. I don’t necessarily know why this moment was chosen, but God had a reason. If He would have gone through this process even one day later, the relative populations in Israel might have changed.
The reason I emphasize that is because even though God exists outside of time and doesn’t have to be constrained in the same way that we do, He chooses to do certain things at certain times for certain reasons.
Jer 29:11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.
I haven’t come back to this verse for a while, but I think that it helps us learn why God chose the time He did to allocate the land in Israel. He had a plan ahead of time, and the end was always expected. The land needed to be allocated at this time because that is the way God wanted it.
We might not understand everything, and I do not know if we will ever be able to know everything. However, I do know that God does. I do know that He had a plan in place at this time.
As we enter Exodus chapter 15, the people of Israel were understandably excited. They had seen impending doom, and God delivered them from those problems.
Because of that, Moses decided to write a song to show how much God meant to him. Here is part of it for you to think about.
Exo 15:1 Then sang Moses and the children of Israel this song unto the LORD, and spake, saying, I will sing unto the LORD, for he hath triumphed gloriously: the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea.
Exo 15:2 The LORD is my strength and song, and he is become my salvation: he is my God, and I will prepare him an habitation; my father’s God, and I will exalt him.
The second verse is really what I care more about for the purposes of this entry.
When you look at those verses, we can see an outline of the many of the different titles that God has.
It is kind of interesting because throughout the entire Bible, every name that God is given adds a different dimension to what we know about Him already.
However, even with all of this information that we are provided, compared to the infinite nature of God, we really don’t know very much at all. People always say that the more you learn, the more you realize that there’s so much more than that you don’t know.
I think that Christianity is somewhat similar. When we’re young children hearing the Bible stories that we all know, it seems incredibly simple. As we progress beyond that most basic level, we can appreciate the fact that there a lot of things that we simply don’t understand yet.
In my mind, the fact that there is always something more to learn about the character of God is appealing. He is not a simple being that we can easily learn some set parameters of and feel like we have an entire understanding.
By nature of being infinite, there are a lot of things that we don’t know, but that is why there are verses like the one I have noted above. We may not know everything, but when we are given images of who God is, that can help us as we develop a relationship with Him.
When this happens, even though we will still not understand everything right away, we will begin to draw closer to Him and learn more about who He is.