When the apostle Paul was asked to tell some people about who God really is, he talked about this very thing. In Acts 17:24–25 Paul said, “The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.” The reason that God cannot be given anything is clear—God already has it all! For this very reason, God is the one who gives to all of creation what it needs, while nothing in all of creation can give to God anything that he supposedly lacks. Another verse that helps us see this is James 1:17: “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” If everything that is good and perfect is from God (“the Father of lights”), then this means that God is the one who possesses everything that is good in the first place. You can’t give to another what you don’t first have. So, for God to give every good and perfect gift that ever is given to each and every person, he must be the one who already has all of those good things. Yes, God is God apart from us, in that he possesses within his own life the fullness of all that is good and perfect.

The prophet Isaiah also helps us see just how great God is by using some examples or illustrations that show us how big and full and wise he is, compared to us. In Isaiah 40:12, the prophet asks some questions meant to help us see God’s greatness: “Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand and marked off the heavens with a span, enclosed the dust of the earth in a measure and weighed the mountains in scales and the hills in a balance?” Think of that very first image from the verse—who do you know who can hold the waters of the world in the palm of his hand? Imagine for a moment a hand so big that it can cup the waters of the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean and all of the seas of the world in the hollow of this huge hand. What a big hand this would be!

Once when our two girls were very young, our family was on vacation along the Oregon coast. At breakfast, I read this passage from Isaiah 40 to my wife and daughters and then asked my two girls if they wanted to do an experiment down at the beach. Bethany was about seven, and Rachel was about three, and they both agreed to come along, excited to see what it was. When we got to the beach, I asked them to stay along the shoreline as I waded out into the Pacific Ocean just a bit. I asked them to watch the ocean carefully, because I was going to stoop down and scoop up water from the ocean, and I wanted them to watch to see how much the level of the ocean dipped as I scooped up water from it. They agreed, and I proceeded to scoop up water with my hands. “Did it change?” I asked them eagerly. A bit disappointed, they said, “No, Daddy, it didn’t.” I asked them to look very carefully again as I once more leaned over and scooped up a handful of water. “Did it change?” I asked again. “No, Daddy,” they again replied.

I walked up onto the shore, knelt down before my girls, and said to them, “Girls, I want you to learn something very important about the difference between how big we are and how big God is. You see, when I went out into this ocean and scooped up all of the water I could within the hollow of my two hands, you couldn’t tell that anything had changed at all. But look again at the size of this vast ocean. Imagine a hand so big that if this hand came down right now and scooped up all of the water it could hold, this ocean bed would be dry. That’s how big God is!”

Other images in Isaiah 40:12 indicate that his hand is so big that it is able to measure the full extent of the heavens, and his arm is so strong that he could hold the scales on which the mountain ranges of this world are weighed. Indeed, God is great—so great that nothing could add to his greatness. And the greatness of God—the fact that he possesses within himself everything that is good and wise and perfect—indicates to us just how much we should honor him as God and depend on him for all that we need. We should be humble before this great and mighty God, realizing that while we can give nothing to him that he doesn’t already have, he has everything that we need. Our hearts should long to praise this God and to live in dependence upon him. Yes, indeed, God deserves nothing less.