For those of us that like to meditate on the greatness of mankind Isaiah 40:15-17 is sobering news. “Behold, the nations are like a drop from a bucket, and are accounted as the dust on the scales; behold, he takes up the coastlands like fine dust. Lebanon would not suffice for fuel, nor are its beasts enough for a burnt offering. All the nations are as nothing before him, they are accounted by him as less than nothing and emptiness.”
This text refers to nations not individuals. Take the United States, approximately 350 million souls. In God’s eyes we are collectively “like a drop from a bucket.” That is pretty insignificant. But the text goes further. We “are accounted as dust on the scales.” Dust is irrelevant. It does not move scales up or down.
But the coup de grace is in the last verse. “All the nations” combined (not just the United States) are “less than nothing and emptiness.” It is hard to get smaller and less significant than “less than nothing and emptiness.” So much for the Olympic boast in the glory of man.
In light of these facts it behooves us to humble ourselves. It should amaze us that he lets us go on existing. “What is man that you consider him?” (Ps 8). The ESV Study Bible notes that “Astronomers now estimate…that there are more than 400 billion stars in the Milky Way galaxy, and that there are 125 billion galaxies in the universe. The total number of stars is estimated at 10 to the 22nd power, or 10 billion trillions. Moreover, the God who created all of these, the Holy One of Israel, calls them all by name and ensures that “not one is missing.”
Let us humble ourselves. Let us bow before God in worship praise. Truly, our God is an awesome God!