Isaiah 57:15; 66:1-2
In these verses we are reminded of two very important truths.
First, we see the power and majesty of God. We talked about that on Monday. God is almighty. He is not some god that we made up, He is the creator and sustainer of all things. In that we can take confidence.
Secondly, and really the point of today’s lesson, is the fact that God is not just the transcendent, almighty God. He is also the tender, compassionate, very near and intimate lover of our souls. Here is the important part. God does not live intimately in everyone’s souls, only in those with a humble and contrite spirit, and who tremble at His word.
Let’s take a moment and look at the definitions of the Hebrew words that are translated “humble” and “contrite” in the NIV.
In 57:15: the Hebrew word shiphel which means “to be low in station.”
In 66:2: the Hebrew word awnee which means “afflicted or poor”.
In 57:15: this is the Hebrew word dacah which means “crushed.”
In 66:2: it is the Hebrew word nakah which means smitten or beaten. Literally, the phrase is “a beaten down spirit.”
We live in an age where pop-psychology is focused on helping us see all the good in ourselves; helping us to feel good. This emphasis has seeped into the church and put pressure on pastors and teachers to only focus on the grace of God; creating a “kinder, gentler” God from that image of God which may have been portrayed in days gone by.
While this emphasis is good and very important, there is a danger in leaning too heavily toward that end of the continuum of understanding God’s nature and our relationship with Him. With too soft a picture of God we can be tempted to inflate the picture of ourselves and begin to treat God with contempt, or at best with flippant familiarity.
Notice the progression of thought in these verses. First, God is almighty and transcendant, above anything we could ever aspire to be. Second, God is intimately relational with humans if, and only if, one important thing happens. The human must be crushed, poor, beaten down, and of low position. Yikes! As terrible as this may sound, when we stop to think about it, it is the only thing that makes sense. Not until we are completely broken can God truly enter into our hearts and begin to rebuild us into the image He wants us to be. Only then can He be the potter, shaping the clay for useful application. It is our pride, our sense of self-reliance, that inhibits the presence of God to fill us and transform us.
The challenge before us today is to ask, “what part of my life still needs to be crushed?” “where am I still holding back and not completely giving over to God in absolute surrender?” Money, work, parenting, relationships? Is He calling you to ministry and you are afraid of financial security? Is He asking you to love an unlovely person and you are afraid of being hurt? Give in, get crushed, let God build it.