Behold Your God: Creator, Counselor, Controller, and Comforter

We all worship something. Despite the unbelief some confess, the truth is that people don’t want to have no god—although they often desire to have a “god” that makes them comfortable, allows them to believe whatever they think is best, and whose opinions about how they ought to live align with their own. The fact that we all worship something is a fundamental truth of Scripture. In Romans 1, Paul explains that out of a driving need for something that transcends our knowledge and experience, we exchange the true and living God for something lesser—often something manageable, containable, and congruent with our moral proclivities.One of the greatest antidotes to idolatry is capturing a true sight of the living God. He is Almighty Creator, Counselor, Controller, and Comforter. So, what can help guard us from attempting to refashion God in our own image? What makes the difference between idolatrous worship that suits our preferences and genuine worship that beholds the one God over all? Spurgeon, speaking to his London congregation in 1855, said that our deepest need is to “plunge” ourselves into “the Godhead’s deepest sea” and “be lost in his immensity.” [1] In Paul’s language, it is precisely “beholding the glory of the Lord” (2 Cor. 3:18) that transforms us. To help us revel in God’s self-revelation, thereby guarding ourselves from false conceptions of God, we can consider Him as (1) Creator, (2) Counselor, (3) Controller, and (4) Comforter, using Isaiah 40 as an anchor. 1) Creator The God who reveals Himself to us in His Holy Word is infinite, eternal, and unchangeable—unlike His creation (including us), which is finite, temporal, and subject to change. Isaiah describes Him with this question: 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? (40:12) Water covers more than 70 percent of the earth’s surface—and God holds it all in the hollow of His hand. God weighs out the solid material of the earth as if He were measuring out produce in the grocery store. Even the nations and all their inhabitants “are like a drop from a bucket” (v. 15). Isaiah continues, To whom then will you compare me,   that I should be like him? says the Holy One. Lift up your eyes on high and see:   who created these? He who brings out their host by number,   calling them all by name; by the greatness of his might   and because he is strong in power,   not one is missing. (vv. 25–26) God is utterly incomparable—limitless in power, might, and glory. If the night sky with its rolling waves of stars and planets seems immeasurable, then we have no other recourse than to be flattened with awe at the God who “determines the number of the stars” and “gives to all of them their names” (Ps. 147:4). Immeasurably vast and boundless—this is our God. 2) Counselor Not only is God so vast that the heavens are merely the work of His fingers (Ps. 8:3), but He is also unsurpassable in wisdom. As Isaiah puts it, “Who has measured the Spirit of the LORD, or what man shows him his counsel?” (40:13). The answer, of course, is a resounding no one, anywhere, ever. God goes on to describe Himself in this way: I am God, and there is no other;   I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning   and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, “My counsel shall stand,   and I will accomplish all my purpose.” (46:9–10) In other words, what God says goes. There is no contest, because there never were nor will there ever be any real contenders. We might often think that God is in over His head or simply not in control, but that’s just the view from our finite, narrow perspective. The truth is that “the counsel of the LORD stands forever, the plans of his heart to all generations” (Ps. 33:11) Impenetrably and inscrutably wise—this is our God. 3) Controller Out of such unmatched wisdom, our God governs and controls all things. He’s not just powerful and wise enough to set the universe in motion; He actually maintains and upholds all things continuously. Here’s the way Isaiah expresses it: Do you not know? Do you not hear?   Has it not been told you from the beginning?   Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth? It is he who sits above the circle of the earth,   and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers; who stretches out the heavens like a curtain,   and spreads them like a tent to dwell in; who brings princes to nothing,   and makes the rulers of the earth as emptiness. (40:21–23) God stretches the cosmos at His bidding—yet He is also involved in the affairs of women and men. As Daniel would tell us, “He removes kings and sets up kings” (2:21). And, of course, His good providence extends down past the higher-ups to the daily comings and goings of ordinary folks. The psalmist declares, “I trust in you, O LORD; I say, ‘You are my God.’ My times are in your hand” (Ps. 31:14–15, emphasis added). We know, too, from the very lips of our Lord Jesus, that “even the hairs of your head are all numbered” (Luke 12:7).The vastness of our God is utterly unsurpassed. Only He can hold the oceans in the hollow of His hand—all while tenderly numbering every hair on our heads. Indeed, God knows what He’s doing, both on a macro level and on an everyday level. We don’t often, perhaps rarely, know what God is really up to. But we can take heart that whether we find ourselves in “the valley of the shadow of death” or “green pastures,” our God is leading us along “paths of righteousness for his name’s sake” (Ps. 23:2–4). Inimitably sovereign and unparalleled in providence—this is our God. 4) Comforter The good news for us in the face of God’s utter vastness and sovereignty is that He is also supremely gentle. Isaiah’s fortieth chapter opens like this: Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,   and cry to her that her warfare is ended,   that her iniquity is pardoned, that she has received from the LORD’s hand   double for all her sins. (vv. 1–2) Our God uses His unsurpassed power to comfort, build up, and redeem, not to destroy. Yes, sometimes His discipline appears to bring ruin, but His final and ultimate purpose is always to save, even when His people stray. In the words of Hosea, “He has torn us, that he may heal us; he has struck us down, and he will bind us up” (6:1). Gentle comfort is also the testimony of the Suffering Servant, whom we now know as God’s one and only Son, Jesus Christ: “A bruised reed he will not break, and a faintly burning wick he will not quench” (Isa. 42:3; see also Matt. 12:20 ). He was torn that we might now live. Eminently mighty to save and comfort—this is our God. Your Everlasting God With all His infinite power and wisdom, God stands with you. Here is what He promises today and every day: Fear not, for I am with you;   be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you,   I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isa. 41:10) The everlasting God is on your side, and He is ready, willing, and eager to strengthen you, help you, and uphold. If all of this is true—and it is!—how could He be anything other than worthy of all our worship? 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. (Isa. 40:31) Creator, Counselor, Controller, Comforter—Christian, this is your God. This article was adapted from the sermons “‘Behold Your God’ — Part One” and “Part Two” by Alistair Begg. * ^ C. H. Spurgeon, “The Immutability of God,” The New Park Street Pulpit 1, no. 1, 1.

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