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Dooley Noted: God is Bigger Than You Think

Dr. Adam Dooley

I’ve been thinking about God a lot lately. Big news flash, huh? I am a pastor after all. What else would a man of my calling be doing? Lately, my focus has been different, though. So much of Christian service prioritizes helping others turn to God, finding answers to life’s dilemmas in Scripture, and equipping the saints to do the work of ministry for themselves. Outside of knowing Christ myself, these exercises are among my greatest joys in life. 

But sometimes we need more than answers. Few people would deny that our world is broken, yet pinpointing the solutions is where conflict arises. After years of sowing relativism, perversion, and greed, along with a watered-down gospel, our nation is finally reaping the devastating harvest of an atheistic secularism that destroys everything it touches, including its most ardent proponents. Professing to be wise, we have become a land of fools (Rom. 1:22) whom God seems to have given over to the impurity of our hearts (Rom. 1:24-32). 

How should Christians live in such a degrading climate? Recently, a passage from the book of Isaiah comforted me with an answer more simple and profound than I ever imagined. After years of warning Judah of God’s coming judgment apart from their repentance (chapters 1-39), God finally handed His people over to Babylon through a devastating exile (chapter 40). Ironically, this was the precise moment God revealed Himself in order to comfort His wayward people. No matter what needed solutions laid ahead for the Jewish people, recovering the glory of their God was their greatest need. 

Can I suggest that the same is true today? America is not God’s chosen people and the covenantal promises do not belong to us. Still, the blessings of God are available to any nation that reveres the Lord, and the judgment of God is certain for those who do not (Jer. 18:7-10). Thus, what we need more than anything else is to see the glory of WHO God is. Isaiah had no solutions for the exiled Jews except a renewed appreciation for the God they served. His message to them strikes at the heart of what we need to hear today.

Tucked away in Isaiah 40 are four reasons to take our eyes off the problems around us in order to feast on the strength and beauty of our God. First, remember that He created all things and is over everything. The prophet utilizes four rhetorical questions to prove God’s size and strength (Isaiah 40:12). Only the Lord measures the earth’s waters in the hollow of His hand. Only He can mark off the heavens with the span from His thumb to His pinky finger. Only God can calculate the dust of the earth what amounts to less than a bushel. Only He is strong enough to weight the mountains in a balance and the hills on a scale. These poetic descriptions give a sense of how big our God is. 

Second, remember that no one can teach God or understand Him. Five more rhetorical questions compel us to see that none can rival the Lord (Isaiah 40:13-14). Who can direct Him: No one. Who can inform Him? No one. With whom does God consult? No one. Who gives Him understanding? No one. Who teaches Him the path of justice or gives Him knowledge? No one. The foolishness of humanity does not rival the wisdom of God.

Third, remember that the nations of the earth are small and subject to Him. The socio-political realties of our day mean nothing to God (Isaiah 40:15-17). Our boundaries are meaningless. Our populations are but a drop in a bucket to Him. Our armies are like a speck of dust. Don’t be fooled into thinking that God needs the United States. Do you really believe He is worried about Russia? Or that He fears the intimidating bullies from Middle East? Do you suppose that the secularism of the world’s superpowers will hinder the agenda of the Almighty? Not on your life!

In a similar point, Isaiah also reminds us that God alone chooses and uses world leaders (Isaiah 40:23-23). He determines who rises and He plants them where He wills. He gives power and He takes it away. Do you think God is nervous about the upcoming presidential election? Is His hope in the Republicans or the Democrats? Certainly, we benefit from choosing godly leaders, and we should always seek to do so, but is God more secure when the “right” people win our political contests? Don’t fall for alarming rhetoric. The rulers of history are but pawns in the hands of Almighty God! He is not impressed with our favorite politicians, nor does He tremble over those we disdain.

Finally, remember that no idol compares to Him. All people are inherently religious, even if they worship themselves. So, in his most sarcastic correction yet, Isaiah exposes the foolishness of the idols we substitute for God (Isaiah 40:18-20). Granted, most modern people quickly affirm the foolishness of fashioning a god to worship out of a piece of wood. Yet, make no mistake, 21st century Americans are just as skilled in making our idols. Some recklessly, reduce God to someone or something they can control. Others deny God’s existence in order to place themselves on equal footing with the Divine. We worship our intellect, our possessions, and our hedonistic impulses rather than the true God. Despite all of our efforts, though, we reveal our weakness and wickedness rather than strength.  

What is the point of these incredible insights? Our God is big; He is strong; He is wise! Focus on Him while the rest the world goes mad. Trust Him when your circumstances are difficult. Rest in Him when you don’t have answers for life’s problems. When what we want is out of reach, God will always be exactly what we need.
Dr Adam B. Dooley is pastor of Englewood Baptist Church in Jackson, TN, and author of Hope When Life Unravels. Contact him at adooley@ebcjackson.org. Follow him on Twitter @AdamBDooley.

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