“For this is what the high and exalted One says –
he who lives for ever, whose name is holy:
‘I live in a high and holy place,
but also with the one who is contrite and lowly in spirit,
to revive the spirit of the lowly
and to revive the heart of the contrite.” (Isaiah 57:15 )
The world about us looks pretty bad.
But it did so too when Isaiah wrote these words. People often respond with suspicion about God’s character or misgivings about how you live.
Is Christianity worth it?
This was Isaiah’s reply: He vindicated God’s character by saying that He is “the high and lofty One that inhabits eternity.”He encouraged those who were trodden down to perseverance, by reminding them that real dignity is something very different from present success. God dwells with him “that is of a contrite and humble spirit.”
So what is the greatness of God?
It’s the greatness of TIME
Even just thinking about Eternity gives you pause for thought. It humbles you and cuts you down to size a bit. You have come in contact with something so immeasurable, so beyond the narrow range of your common speculations, that you are lifted up just by thinking about it.
How do we think of it? We go step by step, charting history, or imagining a science-fiction future based on what we know now until (after a few minutes) we’re lost in the sheer size of time and our littleness within it. You feel dizzy and bewildered with new strange thoughts, that have no name.
And every possible idea is present with Him now. It was present with Him ten thousand years ago. God’s dwelling-place is that eternity which has neither past nor future, but one vast, immeasurable NOW.
And think of the greatness of SPACE where He dwells….
Yuru Gagarin was our planet’s first man in space. From his cockpit (just a few miles outside the earth’s atmosphere) he said “I can’t see your God up here….” But it was a very small boast. We can seemuch further now, and the awe which comes upon the heart is only, after all, a tribute to God’s greatness. And what is beyond what we can see? the only answer is, “The high and lofty place.”
And third, think of the greatness of CHARACTER.
What does it mean to be Holy? We are tossed about by a thousand gusts of unholy passion. We can only form a dim conception relatively of what “Holy” implies.
As someone said: “None but the pure can understand purity. ”
The way we take in knowing holiness comes from our acquaintance with unholiness. . We know what God is not.
Holiness implies justice, truth, loving-kindness. BUT HOW DO YOU KNOW THESE? This is what God has done in Jesus. “No man has seen God at any time, the only begotten of the Father He has made him known.”
So when Christ died for man, I know what God’s love means; and when Jesus wept human tears over Jerusalem, I know what God’s compassion means; and when the stern denunciations of Jesus rung in the Pharisees’ ears, I can comprehend what God’s indignation is; and when Jesus stood calm before His murderers, I have an idea of what serenity is. But we see in part that God is holy. One day judgement will divide….. This is something of the greatness of God.
But what is the greatness of man?
Simply this: that God dwells in us: and with us …. “I dwell with him that is of a contrite and humble spirit.”
There’s a profound distinction between what is great in God and what is great in man. It’s this: To be independent of every thing in the universe is God’s glory, and to be independent is man’s shame.
All that God has, He has from Himself, all that man has, he has from God. And the moment man cuts himself off from God, that moment he cuts himself off from all true grandeur.
The presence of God “Don’t you realise that you are temples of the Holy Spirit?” And again, in Ephesians, “In Christ you are built as a habitation of God through the Spirit.”
What does that mean? How does it work? ”
If a man love me he will keep my words, and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him and make our abode with him.” God dwelling in the heart is the same thing exactly as God’s showing himself to the heart. In these two things the greatness of man consists. One is to have God so dwelling in us as to impart His character to us; and the other is to have God so dwelling in us that we recognize His presence, and know that we are His and He is ours. They are two distinct things.
To have God in us, this is salvation; to know that God is in us, this is assurance.
Pharoah said, “Who is the Lord that I should obey his voice? I know not the Lord, neither will I let Israel go.“In his arrogance he shut himself out from the knowledge of God. “Have a sane estimate of yourself.” If we saw ourselves as God sees us, we should be willing to be anywhere, to be silent when others speak, to be passed by in the world’s crowd, and thrust aside to make way for others. We should be willing to put others in the way of doing that which we might have got reputation for by doing ourselves.
This was the spirit of Jesus, and this is the life of the humble with whom the high and lofty One dwells.