I recently saw a picture of a soldier returning from duty overseas. In the picture, the strong, tough, muscle-bound soldier is kneeling down to hug his young daughter. I was mesmerized by the contrast.

One moment, the man was engaged in battle. The next moment, he was enjoying a tender moment with a child.

Why is it that these types of contrasts catch our attention? Perhaps it is because they capture one of the greatest aspects of love: a willingness to restrain one’s power for the sake of another.

In Isaiah 66:1-2, God proclaims a similar contrast:

Thus says the Lord:

“Heaven is my throne,

and the earth is my footstool;

what is the house that you would build for me,

and what is the place of my rest?

All these things my hand has made,

and so all these things came to be,

declares the Lord.

But this is the one to whom I will look:

he who is humble and contrite in spirit

and trembles at my word.”

God makes it clear that all power and authority is His. He points out that He created all things and that earth is merely his footstool. Then, He declares His affection on the one who stands in contrast to Him: the humble, contrite, trembling man.

Although God has the power and the right to crush sinful man (Isaiah 64:8), He chooses not too. Instead, He tempers His wrath toward man and displays His marvelous grace!

What an unthinkable contrast –that a Holy God, offended by sin, would embrace sinners who humbly draw near to Him with hearts of contrition.

God displayed His love in the grandest of contrasts through the humility of Christ. Instead of coming as a conquering king slaying all who dare offend Him (which would be all of us), Christ came as a lowly baby, grew up as a carpenter, walked among us as a teacher, and laid down His life as a sacrifice.

The ultimate contrast? The King of Kings was nailed to a cross for the glory of God and the sake of those who would believe (John 3:16). Then, He rose from the grave in victory and ascended into Heaven where He prepares a place for all who place their faith in Him (John 14:2-3). But this great offer of Salvation will not last forever. On that day, when Christ returns, those who have not humbled themselves before Him and placed their faith in Him alone will not enjoy His patience any longer. Instead, the wrath of God will finally be unleashed upon those who refuse to believe (Revelation 20:15).

On the other hand, for those who are “humble and contrite in spirit and tremble at His word,” when He returns, it won’t be as a soldier returning home to His family, but instead, it will be as a King bringing His family home. –That’s a great contrast!