I feel like Isaiah 55:8-9 is in the air like pollen this summer. Every time I turn around, there it is. In my bible study, on social media, in conversation, or in the sermon streamed in on my phone:
“‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways,’ says the LORD. For 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 NKJV)
Whenever I meditate on this verse I find myself in awe of the magnitude of God. He is omnipresent, omniscient, and all powerful. God sees what I see and more, in fact He sees the whole picture. The whole of time, as well as my little part in it. God is the alpha and the omega in our story, but in His own story He is without beginning or end – eternal.
Of course the ways of the LORD are not our ways. Of course His thoughts are not our thoughts. He is so much more than our perspective and experience. He is functioning on a higher level.
Somehow there is a depth to the height of God’s thoughts. Psalm 92 tells us, “O LORD, how great are Your works! Your thoughts are deep.” (Ps. 92:5 NKJV) There is a quantum quality to God, as high as one might go in thought He is higher. Equally, as deep as one might dive into the fathoms of thought, He is deeper.
God is vast. Sometimes that makes Him feel distant to me. How could I ever rise up to meet Him in His vast infinity?
God is vast, yes. He is also gracious. In His grace He tells us that though His ways and thoughts are higher than ours there is a part of Him that comes down to us. “For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, and do not return there, […] so shall My word be that goes forth from my mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.” (Is. 55:10-11 NKJV) The word of the Father comes out from the vastness of God and lands here in our reality. His words are not empty words, but intentional and full of purpose. They are potent words that change things and prosper the desires of God.
The apostle John called Jesus the Word in the beginning of his gospel, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1 NKJV) Like Isaiah, John asserts that the Word comes down to be here where we are, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14 NKJV) God’s ways and thoughts may be in heaven, but His Word is with us.
It’s not a dormant, inactive Word. It is a Word that is working and furthering something, something that pleases God. A little later in John’s gospel, Jesus is in an upper room in Jerusalem. He is having the last supper with His disciples. While Jesus is praying, He tells us what this desire is, “Father, I desire that they also whom You gave to Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.” (John 17:24 NKJV emphasis added) Jesus wants us to be with Him.
One could argue that the disciples were with Jesus in that moment. They were having a meal with each other, sharing food and laughter. Which is why Jesus qualified His request. He wants His people to be with Him where He is when He is in His glory. The glory that was His from before the beginning of time and creation.
Jesus goes on in His prayer, “O righteous Father! The world has not known You, but I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me. And I have declared to them Your name, and will declare it, that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.” (John 17:25-26 NKJV emphasis added) Jesus was the Word God sent down to earth, and He knew it.
He came to declare the name of God to the world, to live that declaration even to the point of death on a cross. That declaration didn’t end in death, but life, because He rose again on the third day and the declaration of the name of God lived once again. It lives still, because Jesus ascended to heaven about 40 days later and He is sat down at the right hand of the Father (Hebrews 12:2). Not only alive, but working still because Jesus is interceding for us that all might be saved and brought to where He is that His desire might be fulfilled (Romans 8:27).
Why? Why all of this?
Jesus loves us so much He wants us to have the love of the Father fill our hearts and our understanding. His desire cannot be truly fulfilled without it. If we were to go to where Jesus is and behold His glory without being filled with the experience of the love of God the Father, that glory would have no context.
It’d be like looking at the Mona Lisa without her smile. Like looking at the mist coming off the Niagara Falls, but having our back to the falls themselves. Like reading Pride and Prejudice with all references and mention of Mr. Darcy cut out. The glory of these things are in their relationship to each other, and it is the same with Jesus and the Father.
Even though Jesus is not physically here with us since His ascension, His declaration of the love of the Father continues to prosper through the Holy Spirit. Jesus said in John 16 He was sending the Holy Spirit to be our helper. He reveals the sin that hinders us from receiving the love of the Father. He helps us to break its power in our hearts so we are again able to open our hearts to His love. Not only that but to trust that love and the One giving it. So that one day when we are indeed where Jesus is, beholding Him in His full glory, we will know Him and say, “Oh, it’s you!”