“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8,9).
By nature, the human race has a problem with its creator and master. The one who carries the name, LORD, declares that he is better than us. He is more powerful (actually all-powerful), and he is more decent (actually all-holy). The human race may be willing to grant him that. But we are quick to challenge the claim that the Lord God is omniscient, all-wise—and we are not. He has the nerve to tell haughty humans: “You’re not so smart!”
We pride ourselves on what we know. We have invented complex machines. We have sent people to the moon. We are people of science. We know things. But compared to God, we don’t know much. We make the mistake of thinking that he thinks like we do. If the ant thinks we think like he does, he is making that same mistake. Ants are not in the same league with us. We are not in the same league with God.
God does not think like us, nor does he act like us. We excuse sin. Sometimes, even defend it.
He does not.
He says there is only one God, yet three Persons. And we say, “One plus one plus one does not make one. We know better than that.”
Yet it is true. He is the triune God—even if we are not smart enough to understand that. We try to measure him by our mental yardsticks. When our ruler is not long enough to reach a certain point, we say there cannot be anything beyond that. “So, God must be wrong.” Or we take the safer approach and say, “He never really said that.”
But, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways.” He does mean this. Our inability to comprehend should not surprise us. He is God. We are not. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
Our level of modern scientific knowledge allows us to understand that the distances referenced here are much greater than was realized even a century ago. The heavens are higher than what we can see with our eyes—even higher than what our telescopes can measure. We have sent probes into space that have now traveled for decades at fantastic speeds—and they still have not reached the limit of what the Bible calls the heavens. If we ask, “How much higher are God’s thoughts and ways than ours?” The answer is: “Compare it to how far the celestial bodies are beyond earth.”
That comparison is not merely to put us in our place. It is there to reassure us of our salvation. It verifies that the Word of God is able to deliver to our souls the gift of life eternal. As the rain and snow come down from the clouds to bring forth seed for the sower and bread for the eater, God says, “So is my word that goes out from my mouth; it will not return to me empty but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it” (v.11).
And what is his purpose? That we might hear about and believe in the Son of God who died so that we might live with him beyond the stars. We recall the words: “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding” (Proverbs 9:19).
Now, that’s smart.
We pray, Holy, Triune God, we must bow before you in reverence as we remember that you are the God of amazing grace. Continue to bless us in ways and means that transcend our understanding. Amen.
Written by Pastor Paul Ziemer
WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military
Provided by WELS Ministry to the Military