“Who has measured the waters in the hollows 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 the balance?”
Imagine the raging waters of Niagara falls or the constant ebb and flow of the ocean. There seems to be no end to these great waters, but yet God holds them in the hollows of his hand. Think of the ever-growing expanse of the universe. Boundless and endless, yet God has marked out there bounds saying this is as far as you can go and he has done it with just the breadth of his hand (from his pinky to his thumb as they are extended). One of the endless tasks we humans face is to keep the still and unmoved objects around our house from becoming coated with the slow and steady accumulation of dust. Each grain is so fine and insignificant that we can only see it as it gathers over time or is stirred up and the right light is cast on it as it falls. All these are seemingly never ending signs and are purposely placed images pointing us to the vastness of the glory of God. Psalm 19:1-4 tells us:
“The heavens declare the glory of God,
The sky above proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours forth speech,
and night to night reveals knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are their words,
whose voice is not heard.
Their voice goes out through all the earth,
and their words to the end of the world.
In them he has set a tent for the sun.”
Again in Psalm 104, the psalmist uses the creation to reveal the knowledge that exudes from its Creator.
“He set the earth on its foundations,
so that it should never be moved.
You covered it with the deep as with a garment;
the waters stood above the mountains.
At your rebuke they fled;
at the sound of your thunder they took to flight.”
As it is read, it is as if David’s interpretation stands on the back of Moses’ account of creation. It is almost an orchestral scene as we read in awe the stillness and hovering of the Spirit over the waters in its formless state. Then “there was light” that was shed on the darkness that “was over the face of the deep”. God the Father thinks it, the Word the Son speaks it, and the Spirit of God applies it. The waters separate and “at the sound of [his] thunder they took to flight”! The stillness of the scene is broken up first by the very Word of God proclaiming in the beginning “Let there be light”! As the sound of his voice produces ripples on the quiet waters, the next sound rising up is heard by the gurgling of the waters and the splashing of waves as the mountains burst forth:
“The mountains rose, and the valleys sank down
to the place that you appointed for them.
You set a boundary that they may not pass,
so that they might not again cover the earth.”
Looking back at the original passage, Isaiah is shedding light on the settling dust of creation in two attributes of God. First, he is stating his preeminence before all things. God put all these things into motion in the creation. Even in the seemingly chaotic moment of the universe’s beginnings, God sovereignly planned out every drop of water, every inch of the universe, and every grain of dust that would fall from the heavens because of remaining inertia left on the once still, but now ever-growing expanse of his creation. Even the mountains and the hills were weighed as they rose from that stillness to the place where he appointed for them.
This reveals the next attribute, which is his transcendence. The beauty of his sovereign glory is not only in the preordained motive of his order in creation, but it is also in his ordination of all things that come after that explosive moment. In his act of creation, he set time into motion. Although giving time in this moment, he ordained it before in eternity past and he transcends all time into eternity future. He knew what would happen next. Just as the waters were measured before the mountains broke their plane, so they were planned as they flowed down from their peaks.
“You make the springs gush forth in the valleys;
they flow between the hills;
they give drink to every beast of the field;
the wild donkeys quench their thirst.
Beside them the birds of the heavens dwell;
They sing among the branches.
From your lofty abode you water the mountains;
The earth is satisfied with the fruit of your work.”
From these things we cry with the prophet Isaiah, “Behold your God!” We are heralds of the good news, proclaiming that the earth is full of his glory. Paul states in Romans 1:20, “For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.” We then, who do not suppress these truths and are deemed righteous and godly through the work and word of Christ, are also without excuse if we do not proclaim with joy to those around us what a mighty God we serve. Go forth and proclaim the good news of God’s creation today and may it give us all strength to proclaim the ultimate good news of how Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection has given us a new life as we are a new creation in Him.