1 Thus says the LORD:
“Heaven is My throne,
And earth is My footstool.
Where is the house that you will build Me?
And where is the place of My rest?
2 “For all those things My hand has made,
And all those things exist,”
Says the LORD.
“But on this one will I look:
On him who is poor and of a contrite spirit,
And who trembles at My word.”
Look at this vast universe, the stars above and the expanse of the earth. Look at the span of a human lifetime against the life cycle of the sun, against the seemingly endless progression of the phases of the moon. Look at the pitiful sound we make compared to the roar of thunder or the rushing waters of a storm. Look at our tiny hands and the tall buildings we create and put them next to the mountains of Asia or the height of the clouds. We are a speck on a speck, a spot of dust on a mountain, a flicker of an eyelid in the lifetime of a star. David understood this.
Indeed, You have made my days as handbreadths,
And my age is as nothing before You;
Certainly every man at his best state is but vapor.
Or as Solomon said, our pursuits, all our great works are truly just “vanity and grasping for the wind.” (Ecclesiastes 1:14)
And yet God listens to us. We tiny and insignificant creatures, we blades of grass in a tiny field in a desert, we vapors swept away by the winds of time and toil, we have the ear of God. He hears us!
In the early days of the tabernacle, Moses was the intermediary between God and the Israelites, but it was not always so. Remember Adam in the garden? Remember Enoch? Remember Abram sharing a meal with God? Remember all the times that the Lord or His angels appeared to men and women in the Bible? The tabernacle was a convenience, a necessary part of God’s interaction with a rebellious and proud and doubting people, but it wasn’t necessary for God in His capacity as our Redeemer or our Father. The tabernacle was necessary for MEN, to teach us our place, to lead us to respect and reverence and fear, to guide us to proper interaction with the Almighty God. But no matter where the Israelites went, no matter what they did, no matter whether they prayed in the tabernacle or prayed in the wilderness, God heard their cry. God was listening–and still is.
In today’s verses from Isaiah, God puts it all in perspective. You see, although God commanded the construction of the tabernacle and the temple, they are still just man-made things, places constructed from materials that God Himself has provided. They are essentially not anything new, not something God really cares about. With heaven as His throne and the earth as His footstool, what could men create that would impress God or give Him a better place to rest? Created things are not what God desires. Huge temples or grand venues are not what God requires if He is to come into our presence. God will not hear us better if we are at the top of a mountain He Himself has made.
God listens to “him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles at [His] word.” That is what God asks of us. Not grand church buildings nor selfless missionary works, not fancy altars nor fancy preaching, not even giant gatherings of believers. What God desires is repentance. What God wants is for us to want Him. What God hears is the voice of the broken and contrite, not the song of the self-righteous and proud. What God is listening for is the groanings our hearts cannot express, the deep calling unto deep, our crying out for our salvation, our singing “Hosanna” when our mouths are stopped with awe and fear of the Lord our God.
God is listening, yes, and God is speaking. Through the mighty mountains that dwarf our homes, God speaks of His power and majesty. Through the stars without number and the vastness of space, God speaks of His glory. Through the tiny child born to this world and held in our trembling hands, He speaks of His love for us. God listens, and He speaks from the Cross, “Forgive them…” Forgive. God forgives.
God is listening and waiting for us to repent and believe in the gospel–the good news of our peace with Him. The Creator of all we know wants to be the focus of all we love. He waits, He listens, He speaks. His Word is not far from us, it is in our mouths and in our hearts. (Deuteronomy 30:14) God is listening, waiting, ready to forgive and watch over those who repent and who seek Him with trembling heart. Let us seek Him that way today.
Lord God in heaven, great is Your faithfulness, and great is Your power and glory. Great, too, is Your love and mercy for us. We are not worthy, but You are, O Lord, You are. You are worthy of all our praise, worthy of being exalted, worthy of our repentance. Help us, Father, to listen to You, to seek You always. Guide us aright, Lord God, so that we truly understand how great You are and how much You love us. Amen.