Who Can Compare with Him?
Dr. Joe Temple

Introduction

We will be reading from Isaiah, chapter 40, beginning with verse 12:

Isaiah 40

12Who 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?
13Who hath directed the Spirit of the LORD, or being his counsellor hath taught him?
14With whom took he counsel, and who instructed him, and taught him in the path of judgment, and taught him knowledge, and shewed to him the way of understanding?
15Behold, the nations are as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance: behold, he taketh up the isles as a very little thing.
16And Lebanon is not sufficient to burn, nor the beasts thereof sufficient for a burnt offering.
17All nations before him are as nothing; and they are counted to him less than nothing, and vanity.
18To whom then will ye liken God? or what likeness will ye compare unto him?
19The workman melteth a graven image, and the goldsmith spreadeth it over with gold, and casteth silver chains.
20He that is so impoverished that he hath no oblation chooseth a tree that will not rot; he seeketh unto him a cunning workman to prepare a graven image, that shall not be moved.
21Have ye not known? have ye not heard? hath it not been told you from the beginning? have ye not understood from the foundations of the earth?
22It is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers; that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in:
23That bringeth the princes to nothing; he maketh the judges of the earth as vanity.
24Yea, they shall not be planted; yea, they shall not be sown: yea, their stock shall not take root in the earth: and he shall also blow upon them, and they shall wither, and the whirlwind shall take them away as stubble.
25To whom then will ye liken me, or shall I be equal? saith the Holy One.
26Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things, that bringeth out their host by number: he calleth them all by names by the greatness of his might, for that he is strong in power; not one faileth.
27Why sayest thou, O Jacob, and speakest, O Israel, My way is hid from the LORD, and my judgment is passed over from my God?
28Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding.
29He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.
30Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall:
31But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

Keep in mind that in the first eleven verses of chapter 40 there is what we have referred to as the recommission of Isaiah , because we are in the second half of the book of Isaiah. We pointed out to you that in the first half of the book of Isaiah, Isaiah was commissioned to be a messenger of judgment , and in the second half, he was commissioned to be a messenger of comfort .

In the first commission of Isaiah in chapter 6, God spoke to him one time, and he received the commission and went about his business. In the second commission, which we discovered in the first eleven verses of this chapter, God spoke to him in a fourfold fashion, before he was completely commissioned to carry out the message of comfort that God gave him to give.

The message of comfort, you will recall, was summed up in a phrase that was twice repeated. You will find it in the last part of verse 9: “Behold your God!” Then in verse 10: “Behold the Lord GOD.” We pointed out to you that every member of the Trinity was included in those two phrases. Isaiah's message was to the Israelites in the midst of their trial and tribulation, and our message should be the same to them, in the midst of their trial and tribulation. The message of the people who will be living on the earth during the time of the Tribulation who will be representative of the Lord Jesus Christ will be this very same message: “Behold your God! Behold the Lord GOD!”

A Reminder of the Incomparable God

The reason that this message was to be given and the reason for the entire section of Scripture which we just read is found in verse 27:

Isaiah 40

27Why sayest thou, O Jacob, and speakest, O Israel, My way is hid from the LORD, and my judgment [or my justice] is passed over from my God?

Israel was saying, “God has forgotten. God is not interested in my cause and my needs. God has passed completely over my need. He is not interested in me at all.”

I have emphasized that Israel does say that at the present moment, and will say it, but will you keep in mind that every passage of Scripture has one interpretation and then as many applications as is consistent with the Word of God. One of the applications that we can make, and I trust that the Holy Spirit will minister to our hearts, is that just as certainly as the nation of Israel arrives at the place in her experience that she feels as though God has forgotten, we have at some time or other arrived at such a place, or will. Perhaps at the very moment we wonder if God is interested at all in the thing that burdens our heart. We need to be reminded, as was Israel reminded, of the kind of God that we have.

Notice, please, in verse 21, we find a question. We are going to find that question repeated again later on. Verse 21:

Isaiah 40

21Have ye not known? have ye not heard? hath it not been told you from the beginning? have ye not understood from the foundations of the earth?

Then, you find in verse 28, the question repeated in somewhat the same fashion:

Isaiah 40

28Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard…

We will be noticing the latter part of the verse about the everlasting God a bit later. These verses serve to remind us that what we are going to be considering in this lesson is a reminder of what I am referring to as the incomparable God . There is none like Him.

The Self-sufficient God

Isaiah reminded Israel, and he reminds our own hearts, of several things about this incomparable God. The first thing that he brings to our attention is that this God who is our God is utterly self-sufficient. Will you let that sink in? He is utterly self-sufficient. It is not God and , it is God .

To emphasize how self-sufficient He is, he mentions God in connection with nature. You will notice in verse 12 he says, “Who hath measured the water in the hollow of His hand,” and you see a comma there. We are going to put a question mark, because actually it is a question, as is indicated by the question mark at the very end of the verse. It takes a while for you to get to the question mark, and you may forget that it is a question. Isaiah is saying, “Who has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand?” The entire sense of the passage of Scripture is in connection with the creation of the world. “Who do you know who has taken the waters of the earth and measured them in the palm of his hand?”

Certainly this is a metaphor, and certainly this is metaphorical language, for God does not even have a human body. God is presented to us in language that we can understand, and Isaiah is saying, “God is so great and God is so marvelous that He is able to take the waters of the whole world and He is able to measure them in the hollow of His hand.”

Then, he asks another question. “Who has meted out the heavens with a span?” A span is the distance between the tip of your thumb and your little finger. A rule of thumb is 9 inches. “Who has meted out the heavens with a span?” God measured the heavens above the earth. When He was creating the earth, how did He do it? He just spanned it off, just like that. That is how great God is.

In this same verse of Scripture we see, “And who is it that has comprehended the dust of the earth?” Look at the word comprehended . It is a word that certainly does not convey the meaning of the original Hebrew word. The original Hebrew word is difficult to translate with one word. It is the very word that describes an action, and the best we can do is to say, “Who is He that has taken the dust of the earth between His thumb and his forefinger?” That is the meaning of that word comprehend . God was able to lift up all the dust of the earth between His thumb and His forefinger. That is how great God is.

We know a little bit about dust in West Texas, but you think about all of the dust that there is on the earth. Isaiah would have us know how great God is so, comparitively speaking, he said, “God, who takes all of the dust of the earth between His thumb and His forefinger, is able to put the earth in a measure.” Then he explains what he means by that.

Do you know what putting the mountains and the hills in the scales means? Isaiah had in mind the man who had a little pair of scales that he could hold up right in the middle. In each tray he would put something, and he would hold it in such a way that the scales would balance or not balance as the case would be. God says here in the Word that He holds up the scales. He puts the mountains in one side and He puts the hills in the other side. Can you visualize that? Can you grasp it? An ordinary mortal would take a very large size scale and put several pounds in one side and several pounds of something in the other and would do well to hold it up, but God holds up the scales, putting the hills in one side and the mountains in the other, and thus He measures the earth. Our God is able to do that. Who is able to do that? “Israel, your God—the God whom you say has forgotten you, the God whom you say is not interested in you. Behold Him! Behold how great and behold how wonderful He is.”

Look down at verse 13, where we see that Isaiah mentions that He is not only self-sufficient in relation to the fact that He made the earth all by Himself, but He is self-sufficient in that nobody needed to give Him any counsel or advice. He didn't need to consult an architect. He didn't need to consult an engineer, for in verse 13 we read:

Isaiah 40

13Who hath directed the Spirit of the LORD, or being his counsellor hath taught him?

The question, of course, is a rhetorical question which demands no answer.

Isaiah 40

14With whom took he counsel, and who instructed him, and taught him in the path of judgment, and taught him knowledge, and shewed to him the way of understanding?

“Where is the person from whom God got His advice?” He isn't, because God did not get His advice from anybody.

God's View of Nations

You will recall that in our entire study of the book of Isaiah, one of the biggest problems was the nations of the earth which were going to surround the nation of Israel and literally cut them off and squeeze them to death. These nations were a big problem in their life just as if we were in an all-out war, our enemies would be the biggest problem we faced. Notice down in verse 15, where Isaiah said:

Isaiah 40

15Behold, the nations are as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance: behold, he taketh up the isles as a very little thing.

Not a whole gullywasher, just one drop. It doesn't make any difference to God. God counts the nations of the world as the small dust of the balance. Would a little grain of dust make any difference on those scales that I was talking about a while ago? You wouldn't even pay any attention to a little grain of dust. You wouldn't even bother to wipe it off the scales. That is how God feels about the nations. This word isles here doesn't mean “islands.” It could be translated coastlands , and it is a word that describes the far distant lands. The lands that were in the view of the prophet were as a drop in the bucket, and God even considered the nations far distant as a very little thing.

So great is God that if you really wanted to offer Him a sacrifice in the terms of the Old Testament practice that you would think sufficient for Him, look verse 16:

Isaiah 40

16And Lebanon is not sufficient to burn, nor the beasts thereof sufficient for a burnt offering.

You could cut down all the trees on Mt. Lebanon, and if you took all the animals from all the land and made one great sacrifice, it wouldn't be sufficient, for God is so great.

In the next verse he takes up something that may seem like a repetition, but it isn't. It is a double emphasis:

Isaiah 40

17All nations before him are as nothing; and they are counted to him less than nothing, and vanity.

This word vanity is the word that is used in Genesis, chapter 1, when we read that the earth became without form and void—chaotic conditions. The nations of the earth are chaotic. Isaiah said, “This is the God that you think has forgotten you.”

Comprehending the Greatness of God

In order to keep some of these facts together, skip down to verse 26, where Isaiah said:

Isaiah 40

26Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things, that bringeth out their host by number: he calleth them all by names by the greatness of his might, for that he is strong in power; not one faileth.

This verse doesn't do full justice to the original text. There is nothing particularly wrong with it, but it doesn't present the full picture. Let me try to paint it for you that you might glimpse the greatness of God. Isaiah said, “Look up there in the heavens; see all of the stars, all of the planets, all of the heavenly bodies. How do you suppose they got there? God put them there, and you know something else? God calls each one of them by name. God not only calls them by name, He calls them by name one after the other, and says, ‘make your appearance, make your appearance, make your appearance,' and they come out at the time God says come out, because they are afraid to disobey the voice of God. They do not fail to obey one thing that God says. That is how great God is. This is the God that you think has forgotten you. He hasn't forgotten you. He is so great that you have difficulty in comprehending Him, and so you try to whittle God down to your size.”

Manmade Images of God

In the paragraph beginning with verse 18 and going down through verse 20, there is a description of how men try to make an image of God. If he is a rich man, he makes it out of gold and silver. If he is a poor man, he makes it out of wood. He can't comprehend how marvelous and how wonderful God is, so he makes some of the foolish looking objects that men worship.

Romans, chapter 1, tells us that because man cannot comprehend what God is and how God is, he makes his God like himself and gives him all the human attributes of a sinful man.

Look now at verse 21, where Isaiah said:

Isaiah 40

21Have ye not known? have ye not heard? hath it not been told you from the beginning? have ye not understood from the foundations of the earth?
22It is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth…

You see, the Bible never declared the world to be flat. God is sitting on the rim of the universe, and He is observing the whole earth, and the people are as grasshoppers before Him. The idea, of course, is the tremendous distance. If you have ever been very high up in the air, you know something about the rim of the universe, and you know something about how small things look on the earth. That is our God. He isn't the one who is made out of dirt and of stone and of wood. He is the living God who sitteth upon the rim of the universe. Notice verse 22:

Isaiah 40

22…that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in:

What has God done? God has put between us and the rays of the sun, between us and outer space, a film. He has spread it out as a curtain. He has spread it out as a tent, so that we might dwell safely without any special kind of clothing or atmospheric conditions that men have to have when they go beyond this curtain that God has spread.

The Inexhaustible God

In the next few verses he goes on to say that the princes of the world are like so many plants that are planted. God can plant them. God can root them up. God can plant them and before they have a chance to take root very deeply, He can remove them, so that they can be destroyed by a whirlwind and become nothing more than mere stubble. This is your God. Look at Him:

Isaiah 40

27Why sayest thou, O Jacob, and speakest, O Israel, My way is hid from the LORD, and my judgment is passed over from my God?

Now, understand that Israel was not saying, “I am doing something that I shouldn't be doing, and I know that God can't see me.” People say that. Some people forget that God can. What they were saying is, “My cause, my need, my burden, God isn't even noticing it. He doesn't care anything at all about it. It makes no difference to Him.” Isaiah answers them in verse 28:

Isaiah 40

28Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding.

I think the middle part of that verse is one of the most precious verses there is in the Word of God. “The everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth fainteth not, neither is weary.” You need to read that statement in the light of the whole passage. The nation of Israel was saying, “We have been so disobedient. We have had our own way. We have done what we wanted to do so much that God is weary with us. God is ready to faint. He is ready to give up. He is ready to say, ‘Let them have their own way if that's what they want'.” Isaiah said, “I want to remind you that no matter how trying you become to God, He doesn't get weary. He doesn't faint. He doesn't give up.”

When you are dealing with people, and you are trying to help them, and you feel like you have them over the hill, then suddenly they are back down again, you think it may not be worth the effort, but God never thinks that. He never gets weary. He never gives up. He is always ready to go on.

The Infinite God

Do you realize the reason for it? Look at verse 28:

Isaiah 40

28…there is no searching of his understanding.

Somebody says, “If I could understand God, everything would be all right.” You will never be able to understand Him. Never. Try as we try to put God into the little capsule of our little finite minds, it is an impossibility. He is bigger than that. He is bigger than your conception. He is infinity, and there is no way in the world ever to be able to understand.

Look at verse 29. It is a precious verse indeed:

Isaiah 40

29He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.

Yes, our God knows what it is to be weary, though He never gets weary to the point of giving up. Our God who remembers our frame, remembers that we are but dust, and He knows what it is to faint. He is the One who gives power to the faint. The next statement is interesting:

Isaiah 40

29…to them that have no might he increaseth strength.

That is a strange thing to say, isn't it? It is almost a contradiction, but not if you keep in mind what is recorded in chapter 12 of II Corinthians. Look at that verse and notice a New Testament testimony to this about whom we are thinking—the One who is able to give power to the faint, and the One who is able to give strength to him who has no strength. II Corinthians, chapter 12, verse 7:

II Corinthians 12

7And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, [speaking of what is discussed in the verses before] there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.

I don't know if you are in danger of being exalted above measure for any reason. I doubt seriously if any of us need to worry that we will be exalted above measure because of some special revelation, but I want to ask you if you have experienced the buffeting of Satan? It is not a pleasant thing.

The Sufficiency of God's Grace

You have seen some pictures of an individual slapping a man on the sides of the face repeatedly. That is the buffeting of Satan. It isn't one little attack. He comes again and again and again. Paul didn't like it. Notice verse 8:

II Corinthians 12

8For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.

This word thrice here is not a word that means that he asks the Lord three times, but he asks repeatedly, over and over and over again. He said, “Lord, let it depart from me.”

That was a normal thing to pray about, wasn't it? Maybe you have prayed that way about some buffeting of Satan. Paul reached the place where he hardly had any strength left to pray. I don't know what this thorn was. It could have been a physical ailment. Some people are convinced that it was, but other people think it was a spiritual weakness. I don't know that it matters, but it was something that he wanted to get rid of. What was it God said to Him:

II Corinthians 12

9And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee…

Paul said, “I don't know how it can be sufficient in an individual like me,” and God answered:

II Corinthians 12

9…for my strength is made perfect in weakness.

Literally, “My strength is full when there is no strength;” and that is exactly what Isaiah had in mind in chapter 40, when he said, “He giveth power to the faint, and to them who have no might, He increaseth strength, for His strength is made perfect in weakness.”

A Promise of Renewed Strength

Look back at Isaiah, chapter 40, and notice the verses that need practically no comment, because there is practically nothing that we could add to them, for many of you have rested upon them, particularly the last verse:

Isaiah 40

30Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall:

Normally speaking, that is true. Youths are weary and sometimes fall all the way down even in the midst of their vigor, but notice the next verse. It is a precious promise. It is a matter of taking an Old Testament verse of Scripture, and making application and letting it represent a promise we can claim as individuals today. Look at verse 31:

Isaiah 40

31But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength…

That is the promise. You learn to wait upon the LORD, and you shall renew your strength. Then he describes the kind of strength that you will have in inverse order to what we would commonly expect. We would ordinarily talk about walking, running, and then flying. That would be the ordinary procedure: Walking along doing pretty good, then we get up more steam and we are running, then we put out our arms and we are flying. That would be the normal procedure, but you know that isn't the way that God's strength works, and the reason that it is not the way that God's strength works is that usually our spiritual experiences don't happen that way. Our spiritual experiences usually begin on the mountain top and then down the side of the mountain and finally in the valley. Our spiritual experience usually begins with a song of joy, then a whisper of hope and then a tear, for there is something about one's relationship to Christ that seems to begin in a wonderful way and then begins to slowly dribble away to learn to wait upon the Lord.

That is the reason that the message is presented in inverse order. You will notice the general statement, “They that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength,” and then, the way in which it shall be done:

Isaiah 40

31…they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

Yes, they shall fly, and they shall run, but even when you get to the walking stage, that's the hard thing to do, isn't it? The walk, to keep on keeping on, just to plug along. Oh, there is something exhilarating about flying. I never cease to be thrilled with space, the heighth, everything about flying. When running you are at least moving fast, but walking, you are just plodding along. I don't think you need nearly as much strength to fly. I don't think you need nearly as much strength to run, but Beloved, mark what I tell you: You will need the strength to walk, because it is the long, slow process of Christian experience that is difficult to maintain.

Israel was in the walking stage. They were in that place where they were weary, where they said, “God doesn't care anymore. He isn't interested.” But, Isaiah said, “Oh, but I have been commissioned to give you a message, and it is a message of comfort. The message is, ‘Look at your God. There is nobody in all the world like Him. He never gets tired of you, and He is willing to meet your needs if you give Him the opportunity'.”

Conclusion

I don't know your hearts today. You may be weary. You may be tired. You may feel like you have had about all you can stand, and you may wonder if anything else could happen. You may have said, “I don't see how I can stand one thing more.” You are in the walking stage, and if you wait on the LORD, you will not faint, for He is able to renew your strength, and He is able to give power to him who has no might. This is our God. Look at Him. Enjoy Him, and recognize Him as your own.


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