This morning’s first light did not diminish the brilliance of Venus in the southern sky. Intending to do it for weeks, I grabbed binoculars and took a long look, amazed at how close it appears even to the naked eye, and how lovely against the deep blue before dawn. I can understand why the pagans venerate the stars, but this morning I again worship the God who created them.
For who in the skies can be compared to the Lord? Who among the heavenly beings is like the Lord . . . ? (Psalm 89:6)
Today’s readings glorify the One who is like no other. The first is a prayer of Solomon as he dedicated the temple . . .
Then Solomon stood before the altar of the Lord in the presence of all the assembly of Israel and spread out his hands toward heaven, and said, “O Lord, God of Israel, there is no God like you, in heaven above or on earth beneath, keeping covenant and showing steadfast love to your servants who walk before you with all their heart; you have kept with your servant David my father what you declared to him. You spoke with your mouth, and with your hand have fulfilled it this day. (1 Kings 8:22–24)
There is no God like you. I can invent gods, worship stuff or money, put people on a pedestal, even adore myself, but there is no God like our God. Isaiah asks many questions in a passage from chapter 40. Here are some of them . . .
Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand and marked off the heavens with a span, enclosed the dust of the earth in a measure and weighed the mountains in scales and the hills in a balance? . . . Who has measured the Spirit of the Lord, or what man shows him his counsel? . . . Whom did he consult, and who made him understand? Who taught him the path of justice, and taught him knowledge, and showed him the way of understanding? . . . . All the nations are as nothing before him, they are accounted by him as less than nothing and emptiness . . . To whom then will you liken God, or what likeness compare with him? . . . To whom then will you compare me, that I should be like him? says the Holy One . . .
The passage ends with these favorite verses and puts all my foolish ‘idols’ in their place and on their face beside me and before Him . . .
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. 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 40:28-31)
As I think about all the things that so easily become substitutes for God, not one of them can compare. They get tired of me, or let me down, or fail to give me whatever I’m hoping to get. But when I wait on the Lord, He never fails me. Whatever I need, He supplies. Even as a grandmother and great grandmother, He helps me make through my busy days. Not one of those substitutes are able to lift my weariness nor promise me that I can walk and not faint.
Jesus addressed the implications and importance worshiping this One God who is like no other . . .
And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
The scribe agreed with Him and when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” (Mark 12:28–34)
Like the scribe was told, knowing the right answer is had him going the right direction, but it was not quite enough. Knowing there is only One God is wonderful; knowing I am to love Him with all my heart and soul is also a step in the right direction, but as Jesus also said, even calling Him ‘Lord, Lord’ is not enough. The goal is a mature faith that is displayed by abandoning anything else that I trust (idols) and relying on Him alone . . . for everything . . . all the time.