18 To whom then will you liken God,
or what likeness compare with him? – Isaiah 40:18 ESV
5 “To whom will you liken me and make me equal, and compare me, that we may be alike?” – Isaiah 46:5 ESV
11 Who is like you, O LORD, among the gods? Who is like you, majestic in holiness, awesome in glorious deeds, doing wonders? – Exodus 15:11 ESV
18 Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance? – Micah 7:18 ESV
For those of us who claim to know God, there is a great deal of information concerning Him about which we are ignorant and even indifferent. Some of us have known Him for decades but, if put to the test, there would be little we could share that could give evidence that we knew Him intimately. So much of what we know about God is academic, a compilation of disconnected bits of information that bear little resemblance to the one true God.
If I asked you if you knew the president of the United States, you would probably respond by telling me his name. If pressed, you could probably tell me the year he was elected, his political party affiliation, the name of his wife, and your personal assessment of his administration’s policies and programs. But the truth would be that you do not know him at all. Your knowledge of him would have been gleaned from news reports, the op-ed section of the local paper, and from the opinions of others.
Sadly, the average Christian probably has more familiarity with the president of the United States than they do with God. Some of us spend far more time keeping up with the Kardashians than we do with the Creator God. We live in the information age, a time when access to knowledge about virtually any topic or individual is at our fingertips. And yet, we suffer from a lack of intimacy with and intelligence about God.
The goal of this series of blog posts is to help us get to know our God better. To do so, we will be exploring the attributes that God alone possesses. As the verses above so clearly state, our God is without equal. He is incomparable. He is not one among many, but He stands as the solitary and sovereign God of the universe whose power, knowledge, and all-pervading presence is unparalleled and non-reproducible. God can be mimicked, but never matched. He is, to put it mildly, one of a kind. And yet, how easy it is to treat Him with a familiarity that borders on contempt.
To know God. That was the divinely-ordained objective when God created Adam and Eve. They were made so that they might enjoy unbroken fellowship and undiminished intimacy with Him. But sin changed all that. Because the first man and woman chose to disobey God, they were banned from His presence. They found themselves cast from the garden and operating in isolation from the one who had made them. And with each succeeding generation, humanity moved further and further away from the garden and, at the same time, far from the presence of God.
But God still desires for men to know Him, and not just cognitively. He longs that mankind might know Him intimately and personally. And, as the apostle Paul points out, God has revealed Himself in the universe He created. He has placed signs of His presence and proofs of His character all around us. And yet, most of humanity has remained blind to the evidence and oblivious concerning the God to whom it points.
They know the truth about God because he has made it obvious to them. For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.
Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn’t worship him as God or even give him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. As a result, their minds became dark and confused. Claiming to be wise, they instead became utter fools. And instead of worshiping the glorious, ever-living God, they worshiped idols made to look like mere people and birds and animals and reptiles. – Romans 1:19-23 NLT
Yet, as the prophet Jeremiah points out, God still longs for mankind to know Him. And He intimates that it is not only possible but preferable.
This is what the Lord says:
“Don’t let the wise boast in their wisdom,
or the powerful boast in their power,
or the rich boast in their riches.
But those who wish to boast
should boast in this alone:
that they truly know me and understand that I am the Lord
who demonstrates unfailing love
and who brings justice and righteousness to the earth,
and that I delight in these things.
I, the Lord, have spoken!” – Jeremiah 9:23-24 NLT
God is knowable. But He is also irreplicable. There is nothing in all creation that remotely resembles God Almighty. Even in His thought processes, God remains distinctly different from humanity.
“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord.
“And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.
For just as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so my ways are higher than your ways
and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” – Isaiah 55:8-9 NLT
Yet, we tend to view God as little more than a more powerful version of ourselves. The psalmist alludes to this common misconception when he quotes God as saying, “you thought that I was one like yourself” (Psalm 50:21 ESV). The French agnostic Voltaire said, “God created man in His own image, and man returned the favor.”
Psalm 97:9 describes God as “most high over all the earth” and as “exalted far above all gods.” He is transcendent. That simply means that He is totally distinct from all that He has made. He cannot be reproduced and there is nothing that remotely mirrors His likeness. Psalm 99:2 adds that God “is exalted over all the peoples.” Men are not mini-gods. Being made in His image does not infer that we resemble God. That is why Isaiah 40:18 asks the rhetorical question: “To whom then will you liken God, or what likeness compare with him?” The answer is “No one and nothing!” God alone is God.
And God is in need of nothing. He has no lack or insufficiencies. He requires no complement or counterpart to complete Himself. He did not create humanity because He was lonely or in need of fellowship. There is nothing missing in God’s character. His being is whole and holy. The apostle John would have us remember that “God is light, and in him is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5 ESV). Timothy adds, “He alone is immortal and dwells in unapproachable light” (1 Timothy 6:16 BSB).
And yet, God has made Himself known to men. He has displayed His divine attributes through the universe He has made. All around us, we have evidence of His power, glory, wisdom, creativity, grace, mercy, and love. Our very existence is proof that He exists. Despite man’s wisdom, no one has been able to come up with an explanation for the existence of the universe. Our most educated and well-reasoned theories are little more than shots in the dark.
In the book of Job, we have recorded the words of God as He confronts the arrogance and audacity of mere humans who question His will and His work.
“Who is this that questions my wisdom
with such ignorant words?
Brace yourself like a man,
because I have some questions for you,
and you must answer them.
“Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?
Tell me, if you know so much.
Who determined its dimensions
and stretched out the surveying line?
What supports its foundations,
and who laid its cornerstone
as the morning stars sang together
and all the angels shouted for joy?
“Who kept the sea inside its boundaries
as it burst from the womb,
and as I clothed it with clouds
and wrapped it in thick darkness?
For I locked it behind barred gates,
limiting its shores.
I said, ‘This far and no farther will you come.
Here your proud waves must stop!’” – Job 38:2-11 NLT
Man has no business questioning God or trying to explain the existence of the universe apart from God. All that exists, does so by the expressed will of God. He spoke and it came into being. And within all that He made God has revealed Himself. But that is the most important point regarding the solitary nature of God. He must reveal Himself to man in order to be known by man. Man cannot find God on His own. In fact, according to the apostle Paul, “no one seeks for God” (Romans 3:11 ESV). And Paul was simply echoing the sentiments of David.
God looks down from heaven
on the entire human race;
he looks to see if anyone is truly wise,
if anyone seeks God.
But no, all have turned away;
all have become corrupt. – Psalm 53:2-3 NLT
Amazingly enough, this transcendent, invisible, and unfathomable God has chosen to reveal Himself to man. And we will see more of His divine attributes on display as we continue our quest to know God better.
English Standard Version (ESV)
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
New Living Translation (NLT)
Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.