“For who can know the Lord’s thoughts? Who knows enough to give him advice? And who has given him so much that he needs to pay it back?”
Romans 11:34-35 NLT
Again Paul dives into his memories and quotes two Old Testament Scriptures, one from Isaiah and one from Job. He was surely well versed and even “steeped” in the Jewish Scriptures, making it all the more remarkable that he was able to embrace the Christian faith. But then he had a life changing encounter with Jesus back on the Damascus Road.
The first Scripture he quoted from was from Isaiah 40:13, in a section labelled “The Lord Has No Equal” in my Bible translation. Isaiah wrote, “Who else has held the oceans in his hand? Who has measured off the heavens with his fingers? Who else knows the weight of the earth or has weighed the mountains and hills on a scale? Who is able to advise the Spirit of the Lord? Who knows enough to give him advice or teach him? Has the Lord ever needed anyone’s advice? Does he need instruction about what is good? Did someone teach him what is right or show him the path of justice?” (Isaiah 40:12-14). These questions seem so obvious that it is a wonder that they were asked in the first place. But in Isaiah’s day perhaps the wonder of the world around him caused mankind to question how it all happened. Our specialists in earth sciences today issue the results of their investigations and research, puffed up with their “factual” explanations of how it all happened. But we have to go to the Creator of the Universe for the answers because there is so much that neither we, nor the so-called experts, know anything about.
There is much going on around us that seems inexplicable. The mother who has lost a child to war, or a businessman whose company has collapsed, or a footballer struck down with motor neurone disease. A nation suffers from famine, or earthquakes. And people and national leaders come up with advice of how God should run the world, and how they would do it so much better. They perhaps question if God knows what he is doing. They try and offer advice – “If it was up to me, I would …”.
We pilgrims know that there is a God in Heaven. And we acknowledge that we could never know His thoughts. But Isaiah 40 famously ends with these much-quoted verses, “Have you never heard? Have you never understood? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth. He never grows weak or weary. No one can measure the depths of his understanding. He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion. But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:28-31).
We pilgrims “trust in the Lord” knowing that there is no other way. And through His Spirit we too can “soar high on wings like eagles”, never needing to fret over our lack of understanding of God’s thoughts and ways. We trust that He is a God of righteousness and justice. We know that He is behind our every breath. And freed from the worry of finding answers to seemingly inexplicable world and societal events, we can perhaps have a glimpse of God’s perspective, as we soar high above all that is going on. We read the news reports and feel God’s pain with the sinful practices of men. We experience our own challenges, with health or finances, with family difficulties – the list seems endless sometimes – but we trust that our loving Heavenly Father is there with us, holding our hands and even carrying us through the pain. Perhaps answers will only come when we see Him in Heaven. With David we acknowledge Psalm 18:30-31, “God’s way is perfect. All the Lord’s promises prove true. He is a shield for all who look to him for protection. For who is God except the Lord? Who but our God is a solid rock?” There is no other way.
Dear Father. You have supplied us with spiritual wings to allow us to rise up above circumstances. Please forgive us for the time we spend worrying about what is happening around us and instead please help us to trust in You. In Jesus’ name. Amen.