A Drop in the Bucket

Tin_bucket_ice_bucket2Surely the nations are like a drop in a bucket; they are regarded as dust on the scales; he weighs the islands as though they were fine dust.   Lebanon is not sufficient for altar fires, nor its animals enough for burnt offerings.   Before him all the nations are as nothing; they are regarded by him as worthless and less than nothing.   With whom, then, will you compare God? To what image will you liken him?   As for an idol, a metalworker casts it, and a goldsmith overlays it with gold and fashions silver chains for it.   A person too poor to present such an offering selects wood that will not rot; they look for a skilled worker to set up an idol that will not topple.   Do you not know? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood since the earth was founded?   He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers. He stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in.   He brings princes to naught and reduces the rulers of this world to nothing.   No sooner are they planted, no sooner are they sown, no sooner do they take root in the ground, than he blows on them and they wither, and a whirlwind sweeps them away like chaff.   “To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?” says the Holy One.   Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one and calls forth each of them by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.   Why do you complain, Jacob? Why do you say, Israel, “My way is hidden from the Lord ; my cause is disregarded by my God”?   Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.   He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.   Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall;   but those who hope in the Lord  will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. – Isaiah 40:15-31

The water reference in this passage is a bit tangential, but the passage started in such a familiar way that I thought I should reflect on it.  I had no idea that the expression “drop in the bucket” came from the old testament.  You never know what you will find when you float the “whole river”.  The meaning of this expression here is that what we think of as important human constructs, nations, are actually nothing from God’s perspective, merely “dust on the scales”.   “Before him all the nations are as nothing”.  To put this simply, we are not as important as we think we are.  This is a paradox.  From God’s perspective we are apparently both infinitely valuable and like a “drop in the bucket” at the same time.

God is reminding the people of Israel, and us, that we are but dust that He fashioned into human form to house our souls here on earth.  Our time here on earth is short-lived, “No sooner are they planted, no sooner are they sown, no sooner do they take root in the ground, than he blows on them and they wither, and a whirlwind sweeps them away like chaff.”  I do not think God is saying this to make us feel insignificant, in a way it actually means just the opposite.

The part of us that matters, our souls, is infinitely more important than our ephemeral bodies.  That is the part that God is continually striving to reach.  We try to reach God by trying to fashion Him in our image out of metal, wood, and stone.  What we should be trying to do is seek Him out with our souls.  “Do you not know? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood since the earth was founded? He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers. He stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in.”  God is trying to prepare our souls to live with Him, our bodies are in many ways are just a distraction.

God reminds the people of Israel that if they but look skyward on clear night they will understand who He is: ” Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one and calls forth each of them by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.”  The response of the people of Israel is to look inward rather than skyward, “My way is hidden from the Lord ; my cause is disregarded by my God”.  They focus on themselves and their “cause” rather than the glory of God in front of them.  God wants them to know that their real meaning and strength lies in Him and not in their “causes”.

God encourages all of us wearing travelers in the final part of this passage: “He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”  What does it mean to “hope” in the Lord?  Merriam-Webster defines hope as “to want something to happen or be true and think that it could happen or be true”  So What God really wants is for us to believe in Him as much as he believes in us.  He wants us to want to Him to be true and fashion our lives accordingly.

Prayer: You give power to the powerless and strength to the weak.  Help us to believe in You as much as You believe in us and fashion our lives accordingly.

SDG
This entry was posted in Christianity, Covenant, Death and Dying, Discernment, Faith, Following God, God's Love for Us, Isaiah, Nature, Obedience, Peace, reconciliation, Redemption, religion, The Earthly Realm, The Nature of God, The Spiritual Realm, Trusting God and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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