What Is God Like?

The prophet Isaiah lived during the final days of the nation of Israel. The people of that nation had become “a people heavy with iniquity” (Isa. 1:4). They were described as the “seed of evildoers” who had “forsaken Yahweh” and “spurned the Holy One of Israel” (Isa. 1:4). God announced through Isaiah that the people of Israel would be swept away by the king of Assyria because of their attitudes and behavior (Isa. 7:17; 8:4). The author of Kings recorded Israel’s tragic end. He wrote, “In the ninth year of Hoshea, the king of Assyria captured Samaria and took Israel away into exile to Assyria, and settled them in Halah and Habor, on the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes” (2 Kings 17:6).

There was another nation that God wanted Isaiah to address. The nation of Judah was following in the steps of Israel. God looked for justice in Judah, but He found bloodshed (Isa. 5:7). Their words and their deeds were against Yahweh (Isa. 3:8). They were unwilling to listen to Him (Isa. 30:9). Judah, too, would be carried away into exile because of their conduct. Isaiah told King Hezekiah of Judah that “the days are coming when all that is in your house and all that your fathers have treasured up to this day will be carried to Babylon; nothing will be left, says Yahweh” (Isa. 39:6).

Isaiah died before the Judah was carried away into Babylonian exile. However, he had a message for Judah. The fortieth chapter of Isaiah contains that message. Judah needed to understand why Jerusalem and the temple would be destroyed by the Babylonians. He wanted them to know why they would be carried into exile. Above all, however, he wanted them to know about the God they had angered and provoked by their sinful behavior. He wanted them to know what God is like. People begin to be very serious about life, temptation, and sin when they understand what God is like.

God is not like an idol. Idolatry had plagued the nations of Israel and Judah. It led to their ruin. Isaiah wanted future generations to understand that God was not an idol and that He would not tolerate idolatry. Isaiah asked, “To whom then will you liken God? Or what likeness will you compare with Him?...Do you not know? Have you not heard? Has it not been declared to you from the beginning? Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth?” (Isa. 40:18, 21). The people had not angered a stone or a piece of wood. They had not sinned against an object that a craftsman had covered with gold. They had sinned against the One “who inhabits above the circle of the earth...who stretches out the heavens like a curtain and spreads them out like a tent to inhabit” (Isa. 40:22).

 Every generation needs to understand who God is. Our generation is not the exception. Has our knowledge of God impacted the way we live? It should.