Lebanon is not sufficient to burn, nor the beast sufficient for a burnt offering. Isaiah 40:16 KJV
Even Lebanon is not enough to burn, Nor its beasts enough for a burnt offering. Isaiah 40:16 NASB
There are few portions of Scripture, outside the Psalms, which can rival Isaiah 40 in its majestic presentation of the greatness and glory of God. He is the God Who needs no counselors (v 13), has no competitors, and allows no comparison (v 18).
The infinitude of His power and the grandeur of His creation reveal only a part of the wonder of His person. The broad sweep of the starry heavens, the vastness of the universe, the sovereignty of His ways, and the immensity of His power, all combine to leave us breathless as we contemplate how great and glorious our God is.
As an expression of His greatness, we are told that if all the cedar trees of Lebanon were felled and prepared as wood for sacrifices, and if all the beasts of the field were collected and prepared for the altars, that even this incredibly large offering would not do justice to the worth of His person.
It is vital to grasp what Isaiah is saying. In the Hebrew letter, we are taught that all the animal sacrifices of a past age did not satisfy God. They could not meet the demands of His holy throne. As well, all the sacrifices of a past age could not bring pleasure to His heart. Each sacrifice brought to the altar in that dispensation was a confession, an acknowledgement by the offerer of a personal deficiency; so, none ever brought Him pleasure in His heart. Thus, the Old Testament sacrifices did not satisfy His holiness or His heart. This is fundamental to the epistle of Hebrews.
But Isaiah is saying something different. It is not now a matter of God’s heart or holiness. God is so great that all the sacrifices men could ever offer would not render Him the homage due to Him. Such is His worth, that no sacrifice ever fully did justice to His greatness. Sacrifice is, first of all, an act of worship. There was never a victim laid upon an altar, however costly the animal, which did justice to the character of God.
You may never have thought of the work of Christ in this manner before, but just as His offering at Calvary satisfied God’s holiness and heart, it was a sacrifice which corresponded to the worth of God and did homage to His person.
Isaiah is not dealing with the matter of our sins and guilt, but with the issue of the glory and sovereignty of God. The trees of Lebanon and the beasts of the field are all the work of His hands. They only express a small, infinitesimally small, portion of His worth. For a sacrifice to be “worthy” of Him, it must be of infinite value, offered without obligation with spontaneity, and reflective of the character of God.
In the offering at Calvary, for the very first time, God received an offering which was worthy of Who He is in His majesty and might.
- Along with the Lord Jesus Christ offering a sacrifice to satisfy the heart, the holiness, and render homage to God, can you think of other aspects of His sacrifice (and it need not start with the letter “H”).
- In what manner did the offering of the Lord Jesus do “justice” to the nature of God?