The nations around ancient Israel had physical representations, idols, of their gods. Often the ancient prophets of Yahweh rebuked Israel for wanting to imitate their neighbors. They made idols fashioned after cattle or humans to represent Yahweh, equating God with wood, stone, or a precious metal.
One of these rebukes is found in Isaiah 40. “Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens? Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket, or weighed the mountains on his scales and the hills in a balance? To whom, then, will you compare God? What image will you compare him to? 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. ‘To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?’ says the Holy One. Lift your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one, and calls them each by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing” (Isaiah 40:12, 18, 22, 25,26).
We read in Isaiah’s words “the inexpressible wonder of God’s person!” Yahweh is “like no one or nothing else.”1 God is beyond our imagination and our full comprehension.
King Solomon was under no illusions concerning Yahweh as he built the Temple. Yahweh, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, is nothing like the false gods whose dead statues of wood and stone were housed in pagan temples. When the Temple in Jerusalem was completed it was dedicated by Solomon. “Then Solomon stood before the altar of the LORD in front of the whole assembly of Israel, spread out his hands toward heaven and said: ‘O LORD, God of Israel, there is no God like you in heaven above or on earth below–you who keep your covenant of love with your servants who continue wholeheartedly in your way. But will God really dwell on earth? The heavens, even the highest heaven, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built” (1 Kings 8:22-23, 27).
Disciples of Jesus Christ read Isaiah’s words and those of Solomon. In response, with faith in and emphatic praise of Yahweh, the God of the Bible, the Power of all Creation, disciples of Christ cry out, “Amen!”
Yet… Matthew in his Gospel wrote of Mary, a virgin, conceiving a child through the Holy Spirit. Of this he wrote, “All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: ‘The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel’—which means, ‘God with us’” (Matthew 1:22-23).
1 Jim McGuiggan, Jesus, Hero of Thy Soul (West Monroe, LA: Howard Publishing, 1998), 192-3.