God is a God of awesome and infinite power.

Because God is one of a kind, who cannot be likened or compared with anyone or anything [Isaiah 40:18,25], he can only be described by contrasting him to things we know, and by use of physical images.

Isaiah 40 does this in several ways:

The power of infinite size:

[1] Verse 12 states that God measured the water 'in the hollow of his hand'. Water is a powerful agent of change and destruction; water also generates power. Yet all the water there is can be held and contained within the 'hand' of God. Our human hand can hold barely a spoonful: yet God's 'hand' can hold all the water that exists. The contrast is staggering in its indication of God's power.

[2] Verse 12 also states that God 'marked off the heavens' with the breadth of his hand. We might measure the width of a table with so many hand spans, but God measures the heavens with his. That is an incalculable distance, as yet unknown to scientists, yet to God it is just so many hand spans. Amazing power.

[3] Verse 13 presents a picture of God holding all the dust of the earth in a basket and weighing the mountains on his scales. Again, our 'basket' and our 'scales' are so puny and weak compared to God's. Imagine carrying around all of earth's soil in your basket - how big and how strong is that!

The power of infinite knowledge:

[4] Verse 13 draws our attention to God's infinite mind: it is beyond our understanding.

[5] Verses 13 and 14 point out that there is no one beyond God from whom God obtained instruction, counsel, enlightenment, knowledge and understanding. He did not need anyone to teach or instruct or advise him because his knowledge is infinite - there is nothing he does not know, there is nothing he does not understand, there is nothing he does not know how to do. In addition, there is no one who knows and understands more than God.

This unlimited and unequalled knowledge is a key component of God's infinite power.

The power of infinite strength and authority:

 [6] Verse 15 uses the image of a drip of water in a bucket to contrast the nations of the world to God. Together the nations are but a 'drop in a bucket' - insignificant, powerless, when viewed alongside the incredible power and authority of God. A drop of water. Dust on the scales. As Isaiah states in verse 17, 'nothing'. Yet we know that they are not 'nothing' - the nations have the power to create fear and destruction all over the earth. Contrasted with the power of God, however, they are 'nothing', 'worthless', 'less than nothing'.

 [7] The nations, and those who lead them, are also totally under God's control [verse 23,24].

The power of ultimate reality:

[8] Isaiah's next contrast is between God, who is unmade, uncreated, and idols, that are made by man [verse 18-20]. Their reality is dependent on the action of the craftsmen who made them. God's reality is independent. Nothing threatens his existence. Nothing can diminish the reality of his power. Unlike the idols he cannot be destroyed, nor is he of the same substance as any other thing. Because he is completely independent his power is unconditional, absolute and unthreatened.

The power of creation:

 [9] Because God created everything, everything is under his power and dependent on him [verses 21-22, 26-26], both things on the earth and things in the heavens. Even those things which are incomprehensible to us, are known, understood and controlled by him.

The power of infinite awareness:

[10] In verses 27- 28 Isaiah describes the eternal and infinite awareness of God: there is nothing of which he is unaware; there is never a time when he is not conscious; there is never a moment when by reason of tiredness his alertness is diminished; there is nothing that dulls his understanding. Nothing escapes his notice. Nothing is beyond his awareness and observation. God knows. God hears. God sees.  God understands. Everything. Everyone. Everywhere. All the time.

Copyright Rosemary Bardsley 2007