This Guardian is described as “triune”- existing in three forms, each being peculiar and unique, while possessing the powers of the others. In a word, this Guardian transcends everything we can comprehend about guardians. A trinity of powers; a unity of personality.
This is the God who stunned Isaiah in our text. The prophet writes, "I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lofty; and the hem of his robe filled the temple. Seraphs were in attendance above him; each had six wings: with two they covered their faces, and with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew."
Movie producers should love this stuff! If they read this seriously, they would probably want to make a video game. All the elements are there: A powerful Being whose glory covers "the whole earth," very cool clothes, celestial beings that fly around with six wings, lofty thrones, powerful earthquakes, lots of smoke…imagine all of this in digital animation!
Isaiah records the words of the Guardian who says, "Who has measured the waters in the hollow of their 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).
Not only is God the Guardian, but God created everything that is now guarded.
Moreover, Isaiah says of the Guardian, "All the nations are as nothing . . .; they are accounted as less than nothing and emptiness. To whom then will you liken God, or with what likeness compare God?" (40:17-18).
Isaiah lays it on even thicker: "Have you not known? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth? It is God 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 live in; who brings princes to naught and makes the rulers of the earth as nothing" (40:21-23).
So let's go with this today! Rather than trying to examine the nature of God on this Trinity Sunday and Memorial Day Sunday, let's assume it, and instead review some attributes of the Biblical Guardian of the galaxy.
The list of God's attributes includes at least the following (in alphabetical order): eternality, goodness, grace, holiness, immanence, immutability, justice, love, mercy, omnipotence, omnipresence, omniscience, righteousness, self-existence, sovereignty and transcendence.
We cannot possible consider each of these, so let’s begin with the attribute of holiness, since this particular aspect of God's nature is emphasized in Isaiah, and three related aspects: goodness, justice and love.
Anselm (1033-1109) is credited with developing what we call the ontological argument for the existence of God. Of course, his argument does not prove the existence of God. No argument can. But it is a rational argument.
One point he makes is that if we can think of a being more powerful and awesome than God, then that conception or being is actually God, not the one we had before. In other words, God is the greatest God that the human mind can conceive.
So such a Guardian must be all-powerful and all-knowing and must have the superpower of being able to be everywhere at once! This is the God described in the Trinity-- the Super Guardian of the universe who is omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent. And, you have to admit, a God with these powers is an amazing God!
The problem with studying the attributes of God is that it leads to disturbing questions. For example, if God is all-powerful, then why doesn't our all-powerful Guardian of the galaxy use this superpower to do the mighty things we think need to be done on behalf of the welfare of the human race and planet Earth?
On Memorial Day Sunday we may well ask, why doesn’t this all-powerful God do something to help us establish justice with peace among all peoples and nations?
No satisfactory answer to that question exists. We don't know why God uses and does not use such powers we describe and proclaim. If we believe, however, that God is infinitely wise beyond human imagining, that is, possessing an intelligence that bends galaxies toward justice and brings things into being with a mere thought, it's kind of odd that we would question such an intelligence.
Goodness is one of the attributes by which we describe God. God is not only good in essential nature but is the source of goodness as well. Consider these verses in Psalm 34:8 "O taste and see that the Lord is good." The psalmist also declares, "O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good" (107:1). Jesus reminded the rich, young ruler that "there is only one who is good. If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments" (Matthew 19:16-17).
Why is the goodness of God an important attribute?
Well, you would not want God the Creator of all that exists to be an evil tyrant, would you?
Have you ever worked for a tyrant, or had one for a neighbor or landlord?
But you know what? There are so many people who believe that God is exactly that. Anselm would argue that such a God is inconceivable, because a better God can be conceived. If your God is evil, my God does you one better. My God is good. Everything about my Guardian is good and pleasant. An evil god is by definition or according to reason an inferior god to a Super God who is all goodness.
God can hardly be unfair, even though we may be inclined sometimes to think God is. But an unfair God lacks perfection. A perfect God is one who is just and fair. And so God must be.
We like people who are fair and just. It is a quality that we appreciate in those who are our “superiors” in life, whether a parent, an employer, a magistrate or someone possessing another kind of power over us. If these people are fair, the quality of fairness highly recommends them to us.
To be unfair is arbitrary, unkind, unreasonable and mean-spirited. No one could like such a God, much less worship such a God.
In Fact, this God of the galaxies does not want anyone to face wrath and justice. "God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance" (2 Peter 3:9). Thus, although God is just, and God's justice demands that evildoers receive their just reward, God offers everyone, including evildoers, a path to redemption. God provides this loophole because God's essential nature is pure, all-encompassing, unblinded love. God is love (see 1 John 4). God loves. God loves the world. God loves the natural world. God loves the mountains and lakes, the meadow and its flowers, the deer and the rabbits. God loves saints and sinners alike. God loves children. God loves us when we're good and when we're bad, when we're happy and when we're sad. In fact, there's no power in the galaxy that can separate us from the love of God (Romans 8:38-39).
And this God who is love, calls us to love and to be makers of peace and justice also.
What's not to like and love about this Super God who loves us, is fair with us and who is essentially good?
We should stand like Isaiah, in total awe and amazement in that moment when God's incredible power and fearful essence are revealed, when the veil is lifted. Like Isaiah, we might say, "Woe is me! I am lost, for I am a [person] of unclean lips ... yet my eyes have seen God, the Lord of hosts!" (1:5).
Granted, God can often seem confusing to us. God is love, yet sometimes God seems capricious, whimsical, perhaps even moody. Perhaps part of the confusion is generated by our anthropomorphic attempts to understand God's nature -- an anthropomorphic approach that even the biblical authors use.
Yet it is critical to remember that our need for God to be tidy, understandable and rational is a human need. We cannot fit God into that kind of tidy box. God will be testy with Job, have compassion on the sinners of Nineveh and forgive someone like David. God will be God.
And the most incredible part is yet to come! This same God sends us out to speak to the world. In verse 8, we read, "Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, 'Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?'"
Isaiah responded as we, too, want to respond: "Here I am; send me."
God then said, "Go and say ..."
I, the Lord of sea and sky,
I have heard My people cry.
All who dwell in dark and sin,
My hand will save.
I who made the stars of night,
I will make their darkness bright.
Who will bear My light to them?
Whom shall I send?
Here I am Lord, Is it I Lord?
I have heard You calling in the night.
I will go Lord, if You lead me.
I will hold Your people in my heart.
--Lyrics by Dan Schutte