higher mountain

God’s “Ways” and “Thoughts” are Higher

Isaiah 55:8-9 is one of the more often quoted passages in the Bible. It reads:

            … my thoughts are not your thoughts,

neither are your ways my ways …

As the heavens are higher than the earth,

so are my ways higher than your ways

and my thoughts than your thoughts (vss. 8-9).

This passage is frequently cited as an expression of God’s “wholly other” transcendence, sometimes even being invoked to protect incoherent theological positions from reasonable objections. However, is this what God’s “ways” and “thoughts” are referring to here?

If we read from verse one in this chapter, we see that verses 8-9 actually conclude a larger section where the Lord confronts the nationalistic myopia of his people by announcing that anyone from any nation who is thirsty or hungry can come and feast at his banquet table for free (vss. 1-2). He promised all who come to his feast that he will bring them into the “everlasting covenant” that he “promised to David” (vs. 3). For, the Lord says, David was raised up not just to be the earthly king of the Jews but also to be a “witness” and “ruler” of all nations (vs. 4). If Israel was God’s chosen nation, we see, it was only to be used to help all nations realize that they too are “chosen.”

The Lord reiterates this point further when he goes on to proclaim to his nationalistic-minded people that they will someday “summon nations you know not, and nations you do not know will come running to you” because the Lord “has endowed you with splendor” (vs. 5). Only then can we see what is really going on when the Lord proclaims the nature of his “ways” and “thoughts.”

Yahweh is here confronting the myopic, nationalistic mindset of his people. His ways are “higher” than theirs precisely because, while Israel always had a tendency to think Yahweh somehow belonged uniquely to them, everything Yahweh was doing in and through them was in fact being done with a view of reuniting and blessing all humans by bringing them under his loving reign.

Image by Samuel Zeller.

Category:
Tags: , , , ,
Topics:
Verse:

Related Reading

Sermon Clip: Mark Moore Israel Week 2

In this sermon clip, Mark Moore talks about how God interrupts Abrahams life by asking him to have huge faith.  In week two of The Forest In The Trees, Woodland Hills takes a look at the early history of the Hebrew people and the formation of the nation of Israel. Throughout these stories, we see…

Was Jesus Fully Human and Fully God?

The New Testament is very clear that Jesus was a full human being. He had to grow in wisdom (Lk 2:52) and learn obedience by going through trials, just like every other human being (Heb. 5:8). He grew hungry and tired, like the rest of us. He experienced the same range of emotions as the…

Terror in the Night

I’ll never forget the night it first happened to me. I was thirteen, sharing a bedroom with my older brother. I woke up in the middle of the night and felt as if something was pinning me to the bed, choking me, and electrocuting me, all at the same time.   The wind was blowing through…

Is God Good?

Andrew Stawarz via Compfight This reflection by David D. Flowers seemed like a good addition to Greg’s recent blogs on free will. Here David talks about the problem of evil and how it is that we can call God “good” in light of a world full of evil. He even quotes Greg extensively. From the…

Theology Matters

DugDownDeep_Carnahan.mov from Covenant Life Church on Vimeo. We found this fun video over at David D. Flowers’ blog and loved it so much we wanted to share it with you here. Thanks David!

Tags: ,

Nations and Violence

In this video by The Work of the People, Greg shares why there is no such thing as a Christian nation. Nations are not the kind of things that turn the other cheek, love their enemies, or lay down their sword as Jesus commanded. They exist because they use the sword. Nations and violence go…