Who has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand: Isaiah 40:12-17
New American Standard Bible
Who has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand,
And measured the heavens with a span,
And calculated the dust of the earth with a measure,
And weighed the mountains in a balance
And the hills in a pair of scales?
Who has directed the Spirit of the Lord,
Or as His counselor has informed Him?
With whom did He consult and who gave Him understanding?
And who taught Him in the path of justice and taught Him knowledge,
And informed Him of the way of understanding?
Behold, the nations are like a drop from a bucket,
And are regarded as a speck of dust on the scales;
Behold, He lifts up the islands like fine dust.
Even Lebanon is not enough to burn,
Nor its animals enough for a burnt offering.
All the nations are as nothing before Him,
They are regarded by Him as less than nothing and meaningless.
The greatness and awesomeness of God is displayed in these verses. In the previous verses the Lord spoke of being a shepherd to His people. If any doubt tried to creep into the hearts of the people of Isaiah’s day and beyond, the Lord now displays how truly awesome and great He is. The Lord does this for our benefit as humanity. We are prone to walk in doubt and unbelief. But the more time we spend in God’s word, the more we come to know God and who He truly is.
The Lord speaks of measuring the waters in the hollow of His hand, measuring heaven with a span, calculating the dust of the earth with a measure, weighing the mountings in a balance and the hills in a pair of scales. This points to the greatness of Almighty God. When we view things from our vantage point on earth we must remember we see things in the here and now. When we view circumstances we cannot see beyond the next moment. Over and over in scripture the Lord tells us to not be afraid. He tells us to trust Him. This is what faith is, it is a journey of trust in the Living God. To know that no matter what we face, God is indeed greater.
It is only God that determines His own course and direction. God never has to stop and ask counsel from anyone. God is sovereign and His will and ways are sovereign. It is impossible to stop the will and purposes of Almighty God. God gives people ample opportunity to turn to Him. But for those who resist the will and purposes of God, in the end they will be destroyed by their own wickedness and sin. This is why the message of the gospel goes forth. The mercy of God can only be experienced when we humble ourselves before the Lord and all His ways.
The Lord asks these questions to again show how great and awesome He truly is. He asks with whom did He consult and who gave Him understanding? Who taught Him in the path of justice and taught Him knowledge? These are questions to ponder and meditate on. When we meditate on the vastness and awesomeness of God it shows us how truly foolish it is to be filled with doubt and worry. We struggle with doubt and worry because our minds become distracted and taken from where our focus should be. For when our minds and hearts are immersed in scripture, our minds will be fixed upon the Lord and who He is. But we live in an age where many are distracted and overwhelmed by information and deception. The only cure for this is rightly understanding and dividing truth.
The Lord says “the nations are like a drop in the bucket, and regarded as a speck of dust on the scales”. As human beings from our perspective the nations seem vast and huge. But to the Living God they are nothing. He created all things by His mighty power. He created time and exists outside of it. He holds the nations of the world in the palm of His hands. It truly places things in perspective when we examine our current political climate. We may look at the geo-political landscape and somehow think God is up in heaven ringing His hands. He is not. He knows all things, and in His time will fulfill His will and His purposes.
The Lord says “He lifts up the islands like fine dust”. That word island can mean both island and coastland. The Lord can lift up the land as if it is nothing. He compares it to fine dust. We must remember why God has given us His word. It is to reveal Himself to us. He uses language and phrases that we can understand. Our minds are finite and limited. Because of this even when we think we may understand how great and powerful God is, we have not yet begun to even scratch the surface. Understanding this truth puts the circumstances and challenges we face in proper perspective. When we pray we take whatever battle we are facing and simply put it in the hands of the one who is described in these verses. True peace is found only when we have a right understanding of God.
Lebanon was known for its forest and its abundance of animals. God in this verse is stating if all the trees in Lebanon were burned and all the animals were sacrificed, it would not scratch the surface of a great enough sacrifice for the greatness of God Almighty. God has given us His word to reveal Himself to us. Often we may become overwhelmed with whatever we are facing or dealing with. But with God He is above all things. He simply calls us to trust Him each step of the way. He calls us to look to Him and keep our eyes fixed upon Him.
The Lord says “all the nations are as nothing before Him, they are regarded by Him as less than nothing and meaningless”. Throughout Israel’s history they often looked to the surrounding nations for help instead of looking to God. They would often take on the worship practices of these nations which were contrary to God and His ways.
Here the Lord shows that the nations are meaningless, they are nothing next to the Living God. He holds them in the palm of His hands. He holds the hearts of leaders in His hand and moves them as He desires. This is Almighty God and the failure to trust Him is simply foolishness. When we take time to read the word and meditate upon the word, our minds are renewed and our lives are transformed. Because we come to a right understanding of who God is, it leads to living according to God’s ways and purposes.