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

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…

Does the Doctrine of the Trinity Matter?

Jesus reveals the greatest, most beautiful, and mysterious aspect of God when he, despite being himself God Incarnate, relates to God as his “Father” and refers to God as “the Holy Spirit.” There is, of course, only one God (1 Cor 8:6). Yet Jesus reveals that God somehow exists as Father, Son and Holy Spirit.…

Topics:

God as Covenant Keeper

Covenant lies at the heart of the biblical understand of God’s relationship to the world. Simply put, a covenant stands in contrast to a contract where parties enter into a quid pro quo arrangement. With a contract an agreement is made to protect oneself. With a covenant, one commits oneself with promises to another for…

Is God Personal?

Hamed Saber via Compfight How can we trust that God is personally involved in our lives? Are our seemingly “small” lives significant enough for God to get involved when you consider the vastness of all that goes on in the cosmos. These are common question raised by skeptics and seekers. In Letters from a Skeptic,…

The Cruciform Beauty of Horrific Divine Portraits

“Only a person who is aware of the crucified Christ can properly understand Scripture.” Luther (Table Talks) In the last three posts I’ve been wrestling with how insights from Matthew Bate’s book, The Hermeneutics of the Apostolic Proclamation might help us interpret violent portraits of God in the OT in a way that discloses how…

What Does It Mean to Be Married to Christ?

The New Testament calls Christ the “bridegroom” and the church his “bride.” To understand what this means can change your life. We need to read this through the lens of first century Jewish marriage. In what follows we’ll highlight six aspects of first century Jewish marriages to see how each sheds light on the New…