Saturday, December 27, 2008

To whom will you compare God?

In Isaiah 40:18 the prophet asked, "To whom, then, will you compare God? What image will you compare Him to?" Every religion in the world is, in a sense, an attempt to answer this question. What is God like? What can we point to and say, “That is God!”

To the people of God, Isaiah’s question was rhetorical. There simply is no one to whom God can be compared; no image (mental or physical) that will adequately reflect His being. Any image is inevitably misleading.

With the revelation of Jesus, this abruptly changed. Suddenly God supplied His own image. The question "To whom will you compare God?" suddenly had an answer. Those who want to see what God is like can see Him in Jesus.

In 2 Corinthians 4:4 and Colossians 1:15 Jesus is called the image or icon of God, the representation that God has chosen to reveal Himself to man. In even more explicit terms, the author of Hebrews 1:2-3 writes that Jesus is the "exact imprint” of God’s nature and the radiance of God’s glory. Jesus is the exact reproduction of God. When you look at Jesus, you see what God is like. Those who want to know what God is like can see Him in the person of Jesus.

But what do people see when they look at Jesus? What kind of God does He reveal?

In Isaiah 53 we read, "He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. . . .” By coming and living among us, Jesus took on all aspects of what it meant to live in a fallen world. As He saw the suffering of people, his sympathy was so intense that he actually felt their pain and weaknesses. He saw the burdens that many carried, and He stepped under the load with us and helped carry it (Matthew 8:17).

Jesus continues to do that with His people today, especially those who suffer persecution because they follow Him. When Israel was in bondage in Egypt, God not only saw their plight and heard their groaning (Exodus 2:24) but Isaiah 63:9 says "In all their affliction He was afflicted." When the Lord struck down Saul of Tarsus on the dusty road to Damascus, He asked, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?" (Acts 9:4). In this statement, Jesus declares His solidarity with His Church when they suffer for His sake.

When His people suffer, He suffers. Our God does much more than merely watch over us. He is Emmanuel, God with us. He does more than feel sorry for us; He gets involved. As Deuteronomy 31:8 says, "The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you or forsake you; do not be discouraged."


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