Meditations on Isaiah 40: No.14. The All-Knowledgeable God
Isa 40:13,14 Who can fathom the Spirit of the Lord, or instruct the Lord as his counsellor? Whom did the Lord consult to enlighten him, and who taught him the right way? Who was it that taught him knowledge, or showed him the path of understanding?
Overview: In verses 12 to 14 the prophet asks ‘who’ or ‘whom’ six times and they start the second half of the chapter that perhaps might be summarised in its entirety as, “There is no one like Him!” So we are considering these six questions and have already looked at the first two: Verse 12a: Question 1: “Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens?” Verse 12b: Question 2: “Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket, or weighed the mountains on the scales and the hills in a balance?” Now we can move on.
Verse 13: Question 3: “Who can fathom the Spirit (or mind) of the Lord, or instruct the Lord as his counsellor?” Learned men and women spend their lifetime researching and revealing just one tiny area of knowledge and then we realise that it is merely one tiny area of knowledge. The realm of knowledge is infinite, but we scale it down to manageable sight by the talk of mega-computers, quantum computers that are apparently incredibly fast and will hold incredible volumes of data. But it’s like looking down a microscope or up through a telescope, vision is brought close, but it is vision of enormity and that literally becomes mind blowing. This approaches in a small way the mind of God, but inadequately.
Verse 14a: Question 4: “Whom did the Lord consult to enlighten him.” Does God need telling about any of this? Is He ever caught out by knowledge – “Oh, wow, that is wonderful. I didn’t know that”? No, His mind is beyond limit. For each and every one of us, we start life with a blank slate and we have to learn everything but one of the many incredible things about God is that He just knows – everything – and He always did and always will. Unlike us He never needed someone else to teach Him everything.
Verse 14b: Question 5: “and who taught him the right way?” One of the amazing things of the world is that it works. It appears we are messing it up with holes in the ozone layer caused by too much carbon dioxide, but basically, it works. In the last century mathematicians and astronomers have observed that every sun and every planet appears to be moving outwards and therefore they work back and postulate a big-bang beginning (which of course was not a beginning but merely a continuation because we cannot conceive absolutely nothing and especially something coming from absolutely nothing – from ‘nothing nothing’ as Francis Schaeffer used to call it). But even human beings have a ‘right way’ to live, the way God has designed us to live and when we divert from that, as the history of the world shows us (“the history of the world is the history of wars” said one historian), it all goes pear-shaped. As we said before, we need someone (or a book or a computer produced by another human being) to teach us, but God needed no one to help Him design the world, and so when He made this world He, “saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.” (Gen 1:31) It was perfect.
Verse 14c: Question 6: “Who was it that taught him knowledge, or showed him the path of understanding?” There it is, summing up all that has gone before. Who taught God all this? This is the challenge of the Bible to the mind of the atheist. If there is no God, all these things – the seas, the deserts, the mountains, the cosmos, all this is pure chance and should be utterly chaotic and random. One atheistic fiction writer has our end as dust in the Cosmos. No meaning, no purpose just dust. How staggeringly different from the magnificent respect and dignity given to human created in the image of God, with a destiny with Him in eternity.
Atheist Richard Dawkins at the beginning of one of his books quotes a friend of his: “We are the children of chaos, and the deep structure of change is decay. At root, there is only corruption, and the unstemmable tide of chaos. Gone is purpose; all that is left is direction. This is the bleakness we have to accept as we peer deeply and dispassionately into the heart of the Universe.” Dawkins, ever since recognizing how unappealing this is to humanity, has spent much time writing in a romantic vein about how wonderful the world is. Film makers like David Attenborough make wonderful films about how staggeringly wonderful the wild life of this world is – and it is!
And yet all these atheistic ‘philosophers’ (for that is what they are at heart) are struggling to deny what the rest of us acknowledge, that an impersonal beginning (i.e. no God) has an impersonal end and everything in between may appear to settle in a mechanistic pattern but the mystery is still why there is a pattern instead of no pattern and why there was not total chaos so nothing is predictable – but it is. The other struggle with us human beings (which shouldn’t be there in a bunch of accidental molecules), is that we have this sense of meaning and purpose in life, or as the wisest man on the earth once wrote about God, “he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.” (Eccles 3:11)
The prophet cries out through history – God is coming, the God who made everything, the Creator of all things who, the Bible expands to include, is unique in His greatness, power and authority, His love, care, compassion and goodness and His knowledge, understanding, wisdom and insight. This is the God who is coming to His people. This is the message Isaiah brings. It was the message back there, and it is, now in a different context, the message for today. He is coming, and we will ALL have to face him.
Application for further thought and prayer: Lord, please forgive us that so often when we pray we tell you things you already know and even dare tell you how things should work out. I bow before you and acknowledge that you are all-mighty, all-powerful and all-knowing. You are God Almighty, my Lord.