Day 17 ~ The Most High

by | Jan 17, 2015

“All nations before Him are as nothing; and they are counted to Him less than nothing, and vanity.”

//Isaiah 40:17//

aurora

 When you hear, “All nations before Him are as nothing” … what comes to your mind? Is it a picture in your mind? What does the word ‘nothing,’ mean to you?

{just think about it before continuing}

My first thought on that phrase was something like, “Ok. If you take a nation with its cultural history, politics, foods it’s known for, world-breaking records it holds, its wealth, scientific advancements and discoveries, its prestige, its boasting rights; anything that it could connect its name to and take credit for – if you wipe all of that away, that’s a pretty ‘nothing’ picture, right?” I envisioned it as being sort of like, instead of “A Man without a Country,” it’s like “A Country…without a Country” type of deal – a desert country, if you will.

Second thought: You know that phrase we sometimes use when you’re thanked for something you did and you {not wanting to make a huge deal out of it} blushingly reply, “Aw, it was nothin’.” Well, it’s not that that phrase means you literally did nothing, it simply tries to convey that what you did was no big deal. So, with that context, you could look at the holding breathnations and what they boast, and say, “Those countries think they’ve got some claim to fame? Well, the world’s record for holding one’s breath {22minutes} is nothing compared to a God, Who when He breathes, the very stars of the universe are brought into existence!” {which, would be true} Point being, from this perspective, the nations, hypothetically, actually have something that they’re trying to boast about {toothpick-sized though it may be.}

Thought-that-put-an-end-to-even-thinking-about-any-other-thoughts:

So, I looked up the definition of ‘nothing’ – and this is what I found.

 Webster’s def. of ‘nothing’: something that is nonexistent.

 “All nations before Him are as nothing;” So, it’s not that they even have ANYTHING to wave up at God and say “Hey! We did this!” – they are literally as nothing.

Zilch. Zip. Zippo. Zot. Zero. Not-anything. Oblivion. Nought. Blank. Diddly.{those would be ten different words for our word, ‘nothing’}

It’s as though the nations aren’t.there.

“He stretches out the north over the empty place, and hangs the earth upon nothing.” –Job 26:7

The Hebrew word for ‘vanity’ in Is. 40:17 – ‘Tohu’ – means the samehiding thing as ‘the empty place’, found in this verse from Job, when Job is giving a rebuttal to his friend’s accusations. Job reminds Bildad, “Hey! This is the God that is in the business of making everything out of nothing!” That thought is absolutely c.r.a.z.y. to any finite mind. And yet, it’s exactly what OUR GOD has done!

In my Bible, it gives two cross-references for Is. 40:17. The first is in Psalms and the second one is Daniel 4:35:

“And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and He does according to His will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay His hand, or say unto Him, What doest thou?”

So, I read that and thought, “Yes, that connects well with our verse in Isaiah…” but, then! my eye caught the name ‘Nebuchadnezzar’ on the column just opposite of the one I was in. I felt my heart rate quickening because I remembered a story about that guy! You know, the one where he has a dream about the tree “which grew, and was strong, whose height reached unto the heaven,” symbolizing greatness and wealth, and he’s told that the tree is going to be cut down but the stump and roots are going to remain and something about growing feathers and eating grass? Yeah, that’s the one. =) Well, the king, not knowing what the significance of this dream is, and feeling rather unsettled, asks Daniel to interpret it for him. He tells the dream to Daniel, and the following verse says, “Daniel was astonished for one hour, and his thoughts troubled him.” {not looking so good for the king}

summer big treeWell, Daniel hates to be the bearer of bad news and even urges Nebuchadnezzar to repent, in hopes that it might lessen the consequences the king is about to face for his pride. But, from what we’re told, it’s as though the king didn’t even hear him. {you can read the account of what happens to Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 4:29 – 33.} Because of the pride and arrogance of his heart, this king faced pretty extreme consequences. Yet, our God was merciful! He could’ve just killed Nebuchadnezzar when he lifted up his heart above the Lord’s; instead, He gave him the opportunity to repent. And this is when we read about Nebuchadnezzar giving praise to the Most High!

 “And at the end of the days I Nebuchadnezzar lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, and mine understanding returned unto me, and I blessed the most High, and I praised and honored Him that lives forever, Whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and His kingdom is from generation to generation.” {you can read more in Daniel 4:35 – 37}

Can you imagine the emotion and sincerity with which Nebuchadnezzar spoke those words? May our worship be the same!

But back to our verse =)

“And they are counted to Him less than nothing, and vanity.”

As though ‘nothing’ isn’t strong enough … they’re LESS than nothing, AND vanity!

We find an interesting contrast here as we look at the word ‘vanity’:

Webster’s def.: Vanity 1. egotism, complacency, vainglory, ostentation; excessive pride in one’s appearance, qualities, abilities, achievements, etc.; conceit. [See PRIDE*]

Here’s the same word, different meaning:dictionary

Vanity 2. Lack of real value; hollowness; worthlessness. Something worthless, trivial, or pointless.

Did you know that there’s a map of the world that has a guide to what each country is known for? I wouldn’t recommend looking for it. A couple of them would make you laugh; but mostly you would be sad.

Anyways, if you were to look up those countries, you would find that they’re proud of their identities associated with the respective things their country is known for.  

-Most abortions.

-Highest divorce rate.

-Cocaine use.  

And there’s 193 more. It’s heart-breaking; and if it is to US, just imagine how it must grieve the Author of Life. 

It struck me. This word, ‘vanity,’ in its first definition is demonstrated by the nations in how they openly flaunt and draw attention to what they think is important and praiseworthy – they celebrate those things.

‘*egotism, and vainglory; the flaunting of offensive characteristics.’

This same word, ‘vanity,’ in its second definition is the way that it’s used in our verse; describing the nations as being less than nothing, and vanity.

little girlSo, there you have it. The exact word that allows a nation to boast itself of its ‘appearance, qualities, abilities, achievements, etc.’ is the very same word that condemns it as the epitome of emptiness. How interesting.

Well, we’ve discussed some very sobering and potentially discouraging things here … what do we do with it?

We could just throw our hands in the air and say with ‘the preacher,’ “Vanity of vanities; all is vanity.” What hope is there for our country, let alone the world?? Where is our God in all this? When will He do something? How will we get through these things?

Well, friend, I’m excited to tell you …

THE ANSWER IS COMING IN THE VERSES AFTER THIS!

I know, I know, that wasn’t very nice … but it’s TRUE. So you better come back and check it out. =)

You’ve been hearing some amazing realities of Who the LORD is to us in these verses of Isaiah 40.

Let me remind you of the God we serve.

 He is, THE KING OF HEAVEN

The Holy One before Whom the nations are counted as nothing!

 He is, THE MOST HIGH

Who lives forever and Whose dominion is everlasting!

{‘most’ means ‘most’ – there’s nothing above that!}

 He is, THE SUPREME AND SOVEREIGN GOD

Commander of the Armies of Heaven!

and no less than all these mighty titles,

He is, OUR GOD OF MERCY

Freely offering Grace and Pardon 

 “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and SEEK MY FACE, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”

–II Chronicles 7:14-

 Friend, may we ever live our lives to GIVE PRAISE TO HIS GLORIOUS NAME! Not just because of what He’s DONE for us, but simply because of WHO.He.IS.

He is worthy!

 

~Sophia Fredrickson

1 Comment

  1. Daniel

    What an incredible perspective this brings to life! What is man, that God is mindful of Him?? (I think this is the best discussion on “nothing” I have ever read =). Thank you for putting these thoughts together!

    Reply

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