Hubble: Mystic MountainWho is like the Lord, Our God?

He spoke, and all of Creation came into being from nothing. He spoke, and the wind and the waves obeyed. He spoke, and the sick were healed, the dead were raised, the demons were cast out.

He is the Lord, our God, who says,

Isa. 46:8 “Remember this, and be assured;
Recall it to mind, you transgressors.
9 “Remember the former things long past,
For I am God, and there is no other;
I am God, and there is no one like Me,
10 Declaring the end from the beginning,
And from ancient times things which have not been done,
Saying, ‘My purpose will be established,
And I will accomplish all My good pleasure’;
11 Calling a bird of prey from the east,
The man of My purpose from a far country.
Truly I have spoken; truly I will bring it to pass.
I have planned it, surely I will do it.

Who is like the Lord, Our God?

He is the perfection of Holiness. Those who have seen Him trembled in fear as their sin was exposed by His Holy presence. Angels, by having once stood in His Holy presence, reflect the glory of His Holiness and incite fear in the men to whom they appear. The mighty angelic cherubim who enjoy the privilege of dwelling in His presence day and night are so moved by the glory of His Holiness that they never cease to cry out, “HOLY, HOLY, HOLY is THE LORD GOD, THE ALMIGHTY, WHO WAS AND WHO IS AND WHO IS TO COME.”

He is the Lord, our God, who says,

Ezek. 39:7 “My holy name I will make known in the midst of My people Israel; and I will not let My holy name be profaned anymore. And the nations will know that I am the LORD, the Holy One in Israel. 8 “Behold, it is coming and it shall be done,” declares the Lord GOD. “That is the day of which I have spoken.

Who is like the Lord, Our God?

He is the Creator, and Sovereign over all He has made. He laid the foundations of the earth and caused the dawn to know its place. He leads forth the constellations in their season and opens the floodgates of the earth. He knows the time when the mountain goats give birth and commands the eagle to make his nest on high.

He is the Lord, our God, who says,

Is. 40:25 “To whom then will you liken Me
That I would be his equal?” says the Holy One.
26 Lift up your eyes on high
And see who has created these stars,
The One who leads forth their host by number,
He calls them all by name;
Because of the greatness of His might and the strength of His power,
Not one of them is missing.

Is. 29:15 Woe to those who deeply hide their plans from the LORD,
And whose deeds are done in a dark place,
And they say, “Who sees us?” or “Who knows us?”
16 You turn things around!
Shall the potter be considered as equal with the clay,
That what is made would say to its maker, “He did not make me”;
Or what is formed say to him who formed it, “He has no understanding”?

Jer. 18:6b “Can I not do with you as this potter does?” declares the LORD. “Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand.”

Who is like the Lord, Our God?

He is the Almighty, and none can be compared to Him. He does as He pleases in heaven and on earth and no one can hold back His hand or say to Him, “What have you done?” He executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and shows His love for the alien by giving him food and clothing. Righteousness and justice are the foundation of His throne; Lovingkindness and truth go before Him. His work is perfect, all His ways are just.

He is the Lord, our God, who says,

Isa. 55:8 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD.
9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways
And My thoughts than your thoughts.
10 “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven,
And do not return there without watering the earth
And making it bear and sprout,
And furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater;
11 So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth;
It will not return to Me empty,
Without accomplishing what I desire,
And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.

Who is like the Lord, Our God?

He is gracious and merciful; Slow to anger and full of compassion. As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him. He is good and His lovingkindness is everlasting; His faithfulness endures to all generations. His lovingkindnesses never fail, His compassions never cease; they are new every morning, great is His faithfulness! He is never slow about His promises, but His timing is always perfect.

He is the Lord, our God, who says,

Ex. 33:19b “I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show compassion on whom I will show compassion.”

Isa. 43:10b “Before Me there was no God formed,
And there will be none after Me.
11 “I, even I, am the LORD,
And there is no savior besides Me.

13 “Even from eternity I am He,
And there is none who can deliver out of My hand;
I act and who can reverse it?”

When God sent Moses to bring the people of Israel out of Egypt, Moses asked for God’s name. Moses said, “If I tell the people that the God of your fathers sent me to you, they are going to want me to prove it. They will say to me, ‘What is His name?’ And what can I tell them?”

How did God respond? “I AM WHO I AM, just tell them, I AM has sent you.” (Ex. 3:13-14)

I AM WHO I AM.

We want to pin God down to something we can understand. Something we can get a hold of. Something we can wrap our minds around. Something we can manage. But we can’t.

I AM WHO I AM.

He is Who He is. Consider with me the story of the serpents in the wilderness. In Numbers chapter 21, we read of the people of Israel fighting their way past the Canaanites and God giving them victory. From there they set out by way of the Red Sea in order to avoid crossing into the land of Edom. And what happened?

Num. 21:4 …they set out from Mount Hor by the way of the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom; and the people became impatient because of the journey. 5 The people spoke against God and Moses, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we loathe this miserable food.” 6 The LORD sent fiery serpents among the people and they bit the people, so that many people of Israel died.

What do you think about that story? How does it affect your view of God? Maybe you’re thinking, “What? The LORD sent deadly serpents to bite the people? He let them DIE?”

Be honest. What is your first reaction? Are you thinking God is… Mean? Vengeful? Throwing a temper tantrum? Unfair?

What exactly did the people do that incited God against them? The text says they became impatient …So, everybody gets impatient now and then, right? They were tired and thirsty and they complained about the food …Well, wouldn’t you? Wouldn’t anybody? In stories like this, we tend to identify ourselves easily with the sinners: the whining, complaining Israelites. When we put ourselves in their shoes, we begin to think of ways to justify their actions.

Try looking at it from another perspective. What if you were a parent and these were your children. Might you view the situation a little differently? Would you want to do something about that bad attitude? Take another look at verse five. Sounds to me like they were being pretty disrespectful and ungrateful. Does the situation look different when you view it from God’s perspective? What are you thinking now?

Okay, so… maybe the people were being disrespectful. That’s bad. But poisonous serpents? Letting people die? Isn’t that a little extreme?

Is it? Is it a small thing to disrespect God? If you think so, your view of God is too small. That’s something for you to think about, and I hope that you will.

But let’s continue on with the story. After God sent the serpents,

7 …the people came to Moses and said, “We have sinned, because we have spoken against the LORD and you; intercede with the LORD, that He may remove the serpents from us.” And Moses interceded for the people. 8 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a standard; and it shall come about, that everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, he will live.” 9 And Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on the standard; and it came about, that if a serpent bit any man, when he looked to the bronze serpent, he lived.

What did the people ask God for? To get rid of the serpents, of course! Did God get rid of the serpents? No.

Why not?

I think the answer to that question lies within the nature of God and the nature of sin. God is holy. God is just. God is deserving of all glory. God is Sovereign and deserving of honor and obedience. Sin, on the other hand, is contrary to all that God is and all that He does. It is simply impossible for sin to abide in the presence of a Holy God, and in consequence, the one who sins cannot remain there. But because of His love and mercy, God chooses to discipline the sinner in hopes that he may repent and draw near to Him.

So, what did God do with the people? He didn’t remove the serpents, but He provided a way for them to be saved from the serpents and restored to Him.

Has God changed? No. He is the same, yesterday, today, and forever.

In the New Testament, when Nicodemus came to Jesus by night to search for answers, Jesus talked to him about the story of the serpent in the wilderness. Here is what He said,

John 3:14 “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; 15 so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life.

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. 17 “For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.

It is not in God’s nature to ignore sin, nor to remove its consequences. But it is in His nature to do all that must be done to provide salvation from sin. That salvation is in His Son, Jesus. When Moses lifted up the bronze serpent, any who looked to it in faith, trusting that God would save them from the serpent’s deadly bite, were indeed saved. Jesus was lifted up on the cross and shed His blood for us that any who look to Him, trusting that God will save them, will indeed have eternal life.

Have mercy on us Lord.
We see with eyes that are blind to Your Glory.
We hear with ears that are deaf to Your Words.
Our hearts are filled with selfish treasures.
We plead the blood of Christ.

Cleanse our hearts!
Renew our minds!
Fill us with Your Holy Spirit!
Transform us with Your mighty power,
For Your Name’s sake.

For there is none like You.
In all of heaven and earth, we have none but You.

 

Pastor Cindy

[Adapted from a sermon originally preached May 24, 2015]

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