Isaiah is read a great deal during the Advent season. We hear of suffering servants, of branches coming up out of stumps, of pathways home from exile. But Isaiah 40.12-20 never makes the cut to be read in worship:
12 Who has measured the waters in the hollow 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 a balance?
13 Who has directed the spirit of the Lord,
or as his counselor has instructed him?
14 Whom did he consult for his enlightenment,
and who taught him the path of justice?
Who taught him knowledge,
and showed him the way of understanding?
15 Even the nations are like a drop from a bucket,
and are accounted as dust on the scales;
see, he takes up the isles like fine dust.
16 Lebanon would not provide fuel enough,
nor are its animals enough for a burnt-offering.
17 All the nations are as nothing before him;
they are accounted by him as less than nothing and emptiness.
Nations may be counted as “nothing and emptiness” before God, and yet God chooses to come to us in Jesus Christ Even the nothingness, even our smallness, does not make us unimportant or expendable to God. In Jesus, God descends into our nothingness in order to make something out of us again, just as God at the first created everything out of nothing.