'To Whom Will You Compare Me?'
At the heart of Christianity lies a problem… how do you describe the Trinity? Of what can you say, ‘O, the Trinity is like this’? An egg? A three-leafed clover? Water in its solid, liquid and gas phases? All fall woefully short. There simply is nothing else like the Triune God.
And yet, we’re invited to compare Him to others, but not so we can find an adequate comparison, but to realise there is none, to be left without words.
Take Psalm 89. If CS Lewis argued that if we could see the kind of glorified person our neighbour will be in eternity we would be tempted to fall down and worship them, mistaking them for the divine. That was certainly the experience of Bible saints encountering angels. Yet not even angels come close to being comparable to God, the psalmist says. ‘Who in the skies can be compared to the LORD? Who among the heavenly beings is like the LORD, a God greatly to be feared in the council of the holy ones, and awesome above all who are around him?’ (v6-7) So, in a council chamber of the most awesome, holy, heavenly beings, God is incomparably more awesome and fearsome. Who can be compared to him? No one.
And the psalmist’s point is that that is a reason for praise. We may not have the words to adequately describe him, but we should still give our awe and wonder voice. Verse 5 says, ‘Let the heavens praise your wonders, O LORD, your faithfulness in the assembly of the holy ones!’ And he tells us why: v6, ‘For…’ And what follows are the verses above. For… no one, not even the most awesome beings in creation, compare to him.
But it’s not just the psalmist who invites us to make that comparison, so does Isaiah the prophet: ‘To whom then will you liken God, or what likeness compare with him?’ (Is 40:18). And you can hear the incredulity as he voices, if not the words, then certainly the practices of the people: ‘An idol!’ (v19). But this is the God who sits above the heavens, stretching them out, to whom earth’s inhabitants are like grasshoppers and who has the power to bring princes and the powerful to nothing (v21-23). And yet, you compare him to an idol of gold, silver or wood? (v19-20).
Then God himself asks the same question: “To whom will you liken me and make me equal, and compare me, that we may be alike?” (Is 46:5). Like Isaiah, he too proceeds to describe the folly of taking silver and gold, hiring a goldsmith, and making an idol - an idol to worship, an idol as a God-substitute, an idol you have to pick up and carry! What kind of comparison is that? As God says, “I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me” (46:9).
And that points us to why we should compare God to idols and angels. It's not just to praise him, but to trust him. Nothing you might put your hope or trust in can compare with him. Nothing in all creation, and nothing you can create, comes close to him. Wealth, reputation, career success, human teachers, family and friends, ultimately they all fall short in comparison to him. They might be good, they might even be great, they might even be awesome, but the one we should worship and trust is God.
And there is only One who adequately represents that incomparable God: his Son - ‘He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature’ (Heb 1:3). It's him we should trust.