All Creation Obeys God – Except Man
“Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him? (Mark 4:41, ESV)”
After introducing himself and dating his work, Isaiah goes straight to his purpose for writing. God has subjected all creation to His will – except for man, except for the single element of creation who is called by the very name of God. In Mark 4:41, Jesus had just quieted a great storm, and people marveled. They had never seen anything resembling this! Even the wind and the sea obeyed Jesus.
Mark 4:41 is a testimony to how spiritually myopic man can be. It’s all about me1. As Saul Steinberg exposed on the cover of the March 29, 1976 now famed cover of the New Yorker magazine2, a man’s world view exaggerates his own interests, and trivializes interests relegated to the background such as Japan, Russia and China. But a Godly world view encompasses all creation under the submission of the God who created it.
For the correct marvel is not “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him? (Mark 4:41, ESV).” The marvel is “Who does man think he is to stand alone in creation in ‘rebellion (Isaiah 1:2, ESV)3’” against God” Sometimes people don’t see the difference between the correct question and the question the crowd actually asked. Allow me to amplify on that:
The difference goes to the respective baseline world view of each of the questions. Suppose you learned today that there was an error in your academic record, and they were requiring you to go back to third grade for two months, or else turn in your high school diploma. And as you got to the front of the class to recite your times tables, the children in the class were amazed!! Who is this man who can even do times tables and fractions in his head? The children were judging your skills against their world view - which is exactly what the crowd did in Mark 4. They elevated themselves to be the baseline, even though you did nothing out of the ordinary.
Now suppose you were mistakenly enrolled in a graduate class in quantum physics. (I'm presuming that would intimidate you, and if it doesn’t, then rename the class “Communicating Skills with the Real World.”) As you watch the other classmates run circles around you, you would ask "Who am I that stands alone in this class having no idea what a complex number is?" In this scenario, you are establishing the class as the baseline, and you can introspectively see that you have a lot of work to do before you measure up.
The crowd, by asking as they did really boasted in their own righteousness, not even the slightest bit aware that elements of heaven and earth that actually obey God were constantly all around them. The crowd should have been jealous of the wind's capacity to obey Jesus, and not set up the norm as their own righteousness.
Isaiah 1:2 identifies the heavens and the earth as the audience. The stars obey God. The sun and the planets spin and rotate according to the command of God. The beast reproduces and nurtures according to His decree. God is calling all of creation together to call witness to a very unique phenomenon. “Hey everyone! This is incredible! You have to see this for yourself! You would never otherwise believe it!”
Israel, the very people whom God has personally raised from infancy and nourished into maturity, has rebelled against God. No other created thing or being has ever done that. Even the least rational and intelligent of beasts has the sense to know where their sustenance comes from. The ox knows where food is. The donkey knows where shelter is. Oxen and donkeys are not noted for brilliance, yet they know who supplies their need. But the very people of God have no knowledge of where their blessings come from.
1 Adapted from A Purpose Driven Life, by Rick Warren.
2 Titled “View of the Word From Ninth Avenue.” It’s easily googled.
3 Poetic excerpts cannot bear the weight of technical scrutiny that teaching and other prose passages can bear. It is understood that Satan and his angels are not included in the context of this passage.