Isaiah 40:18 MEANING

Isaiah 40:18
(18) To whom then will ye liken God . . .--The thought of the infinity of God leads, as in St. Paul's reasoning (Acts 17:24-29), to the great primary argument against the folly of idolatry. It is characteristic, partly of the two men individually, partly of the systems under which they lived, that while the tone of Isaiah is sarcastic and declamatory, that of St Paul is pitying, and as with indulgent allowance for the "times of ignorance." We must remember, of course, that the Apostle speaks to those who had known nothing better than the worship of their fathers, the prophet to those who were tempted to fall into the worship of the heathen from a purer faith.

Verse 18. is more the complement of what precedes than the introduction to what follows (comp. ver. 25). If God be all that has been said of him in vers. 12-17, must he not be wholly unique and incomparable? Then, out of this, the thought arises of the strange, the poor, the mean "likenesses" of God, which men have in their folly set up in various times and places. It has been said that Israel in captivity did not need to be warned against idolatry, of the inclination to which the Captivity is supposed at once to have cured them (Urwick, 'Servant of Jehovah,' p. 15). But there is no evidence of this. Rather, considering the few that returned, and the many that remained behind (Joseph., 'Ant Jud.,' 11:1), we may conclude that a large number adopted the customs, religion, and general mode of life of their masters.'

40:18-26 Whatever we esteem or love, fear or hope in, more than God, that creature we make equal with God, though we do not make images or worship them. He that is so poor, that he has scarcely a sacrifice to offer, yet will not be without a god of his own. They spared no cost upon their idols; we grudge what is spent in the service of our God. To prove the greatness of God, the prophet appeals to all ages and nations. Those who are ignorant of this, are willingly ignorant. God has the command of all creatures, and of all created things. The prophet directs us to use our reason as well as our senses; to consider who created the hosts of heaven, and to pay our homage to Him. Not one fails to fulfil his will. And let us not forget, that He spake all the promises, and engaged to perform them.To whom then will ye liken God?.... There is nothing in the whole creation that can bear any resemblance to him, or he to them; since all nations are as a drop of the bucket, as the small dust of the balance, as nothing, yea, less than nothing, and vanity: "or what likeness will ye compare unto him", (w) order, ordain, and appoint for him? in what rank can he be placed? to what class of beings can he be likened? what similitude can be given of him? what is there that is fit to be named with him, or compared to him? this, with what follows, is mentioned as an antidote to prevent the Jews falling into idolatry in Babylon, where they would be exposed unto it; or rather to prevent Christians in Gospel times from going into the idolatry of the Papists; see Acts 17:28.

(w) "et quid similitudinis ponetis ei", Pagninus; "ordinabitis", Montanus; "disponetis", Vatablus.

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