The Inscrutable God

How does God address the charge of His people that He was ignorant and apathetic to their need?

The approach taken is reminiscent of that taken in the book of Job. Job wanted to question God. He wanted an explanation for his affliction. But he is never given an answer. He is presented not with a why but with a Who. When presented with the grandeur of God’s glory, his response was that he spoke without knowledge, speaking to things too lofty for him to fathom.

 

There is a joke that goes like this. A grizzled old man and a teen were having a conversation. The man said, “You young people today. All of you are ignorant and apathetic. Why is that?” The teen shrugged and responded, “I don’t know and I don’t care.”

That was the charge against God by His people Israel.
Why do you say, O Jacob,
and speak, O Israel,
“My way is hidden from the LORD,
and my right is disregarded by my God”?
Isaiah 40:27

Their distress led them to conclude that God, their God, either didn’t know what was happening to them or He plain didn’t care.

Does that thought ever occur to you? Perhaps you’ve prayed and prayed for relief from a health issue or financial burden and not only did things not improve, they got worse. In your darker moments you wonder why a loving Father would allow such adversity to afflict you in the first place. Aren’t fathers supposed to protect their children, especially when it is in their capacity to do so?

Either God doesn’t know or He doesn’t care. Like hurricane-driven surf pounds the sea wall protecting a shore town, tidal waves of doubt threaten to swamp our faith. Discouragement surrounds us like a shroud. The enemy of our souls whispers his taunts of “See, I told you so.”

How does God address the charge of His people that He was ignorant and apathetic to their need? Through His prophet, He shows them His glory.

Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The LORD is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
his understanding is unsearchable.
(Isaiah 40:28)

The approach taken is reminiscent of that taken in the book of Job. Job wanted to question God. He wanted an explanation for his affliction. But he is never given an answer. He is presented not with a why but with a Who. When presented with the grandeur of God’s glory, his response was that he spoke without knowledge, speaking to things too lofty for him to fathom (Job. 42:3).

That’s the approach God takes in Isaiah to provide comfort and to provoke perseverance for His people who also wanted an answer. He displays His glory. He lays out His credentials. He is God, whose ways are beyond our comprehension. He is the God who does all things well. God’s answer in Isaiah 40:28 is a thumbnail of the portrait of glory displayed in Isaiah 40:9-26, that show God to be God, wholly Other from us His creatures.

When we go through adversity, when a wave knocks us down and another crashes upon us before we can find our feet, causing us to gasp for breath, what do we need? Certainly, we need perspective to gird us against the assault on our faith. But we also need strength.

That’s what God offers those who rest in Him and wait upon Him in trust and expectation.

He gives power to the faint,
and to him who has no might he increases strength.
Even youths shall faint and be weary,
and young men shall fall exhausted;
but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint.
(Isaiah 40:29–31)

Even the vigor of youth will fail, but the strength of our God will not. The answer is not in a stronger us, but in a sovereign God. On Him we rest. In Him we trust. The waiting Isaiah calls for is not passive. It is active, even aggressive, relentlessly pursuing God against the tide of unbelief that would pull us from Him.

God’s ways are perfect but they are inscrutable to us. Know that He is aware. He does care. The greatest evidence of all is Jesus, the Son He gave for the sinners He loves. He invites us to find both solace and strength in that reality.

When the Apostle Paul was addressing mysteries of God in election in the book of Romans, matters that reached to the inner counsel of the mind of God, things beyond the scope of man, what was Paul’s response? Was it resistance or complaint, bucking against creaturely limitations, wanting to be in the know? No, his response was not to grouse but to glory in so great a God.

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!

“For who has known the mind of the Lord,
or who has been his counselor?”
“Or who has given a gift to him
that he might be repaid?”
For from him and through him and to him are all things.
To him be glory forever. Amen
. (Romans 11:33–36)

Stan Gale is a pastor in the PCA and is the author of several books, including Finding Forgiveness: Discovering the Healing Power of the Gospel.”..This article is used permission.