Isaiah declared that the Lord says, “I am the first and I am the last; apart from me there is no God…. Is there any God besides me?” (Is. 44:6, 8)
Is this arrogant for God to say? My son says so; he says, “I cannot respect a God like that.” He believes that statements like this in the Old Testament were written by men and do not accurately reflect the Creator of the Universe.
Certainly, if you or I made a similar statement, it would be the height of arrogance. Imagine how our siblings, parents or friends might respond if we made a statement like that?
No, actually, it would be delusional. Though we sometimes may act like the world begins and ends with us, we might be committed if we actually said something that like.
But, is it out of character for God to say something like that?
If there is a God, the world actually does begin and end with Him.
On the other hand, the “books” of the Bible were written by men, right?
One difference between the books of the Bible and other religious texts, like the Qur’an or Book of Mormon, is that the Bible is not claimed to have been dictated by God. Yet, people refer to it as the “word of God”.
The people who wrote the various portions of what we call the Bible claim to be conveying what God conveyed to them, what God told them to say or what God showed them. It was written by men who claimed to have seen, heard or experienced God.
While many people would say it is simply written by men, anyone seeking to understand any text should, at least, respect the text for what it claims to be. It may be written by men, but it claims to be written by men who had encounters with the God of the Universe.
These men were often out of step with their contemporaries. They pointed “true north” to what they urged was the one true God; while most of their contemporaries were heading in different directions: given to immorality, worshiping idols, trusting in their own might, bowing to foreign kings and making unholy alliances that betrayed the revelation of the one true God that passed down to them. Many of these men were not accepted in their own times.
I realized a long time ago, before I professed any faith, that a Creator of the Universe could control His own story. Even if He had to (or chose to) communicate through His own creation (like us), He could (and certainly would) protect and preserve His communication if He wanted to.
A God who created the Universe could certainly choose people who accurately ascertained and understood Him, like Abraham and his progeny. He certainly could choose human kind, the most god-like creatures in the Universe, to be His vessels of communication.
While we are beings the most like gods of all the beings we know in the universe, we certainly are not gods. We are creative, but we did not create the Universe. We are intelligent, but we don’t know all there is to know in the Universe. We have understanding, but we don’t understand everything.
As finite creatures, how could we fully understand an infinite God? Even as we can understand that a God who is able to create the Universe must be infinite, “outside” the time and space and matter that we know to be the Universe, how could we know that God? How could we accurately understand such a God?
“No one stops to think,” says Isaiah (Is. 44:19) How could we really know and understand such a God unless He communicated Himself to us?
Isaiah tells us that God says, “I have made you….” (Is. 44:21)
A simple fact, but from it flows much that we tend to miss or brush aside. We did not make ourselves and, therefore, we are not the lords of our own destinies. Our ultimate fate lies in the hands of our Creator. Whether He is kind and loving or cruel and arbitrary – or whatever – God is God, and we are not.
The good news is that God has revealed Himself to be loving!
But, we don’t dictate the terms of His love. Really, how can we?
Yet, we often act as if we can and do dictate to God how He must love us.
The attitudes we have today or no different than the attitudes of the people in Isaiah’s time. In Isaiah’s time, as now, God is speaking through people who have committed themselves to His service to remind us that God is God, and we are not. God made us, and we did not make ourselves. God is the ultimate arbiter of our destinies, and we are not the captains of our own souls.
God is not arrogant when He reminds us of these things because it is exactly true. Our fates, our relationships to our Creator, depend on our understanding this. But there is more: He made us for a special purpose.