Biblical Foundations 33: The Glory of God 1
We have invested the last seven posts to digging into the Bible to understand more of what it means to elevate others; that is, what is the Biblical responsibility of Christians toward non-Christians? Very important question. In this post, we need to step back for a moment and ask another important question:
What is the purpose of our good deeds toward non-Christians?
Now many might say, “Duh—it’s to meet their earthly needs.
If they’re physically hungry, do what you can to help them be physically fed. End of story.”
I agree that this one of the goals of serving non-Christians; but it is the second goal. Remember, the second greatest commandment—high on the list!—is to love all of our neighbors the way we love ourselves. But that is not the most important thing we can do—the first is to love the LORD our God with all our hearts, souls, minds and strength. And even when we are, by the grace of God, loving our neighbors and elevating non-Christians, we need to do so in a way that honors the LORD first and foremost…
And so we need to step back and talk about the glory of God…
The Glory of God…what does this mean?
This is so foundational, which is appropriate since we are in the 33rd post on the Biblical foundation of this local church. The word “glory” appears 285x in Bible, and the words “glory” and “God” appear together nearly 100x—so this is not an obscure topic with one dusty mention in Scripture.
And in many ways language is inadequate, is unable to truly convey what this word “glory” really means. Try to describe a sunset—not the colors, not THAT it is beautiful, but WHY. Try to explain WHY a sunset can take your breath away and for a few minutes cause you to forget your worries…very difficult, especially when you are talking to someone who is not impressed with the sunset!
Try to explain WHY a food is delicious…very difficult to put it into words, especially when someone else tastes the same food and doesn’t like it! (Perhaps this is why the Psalmist writes, “Taste and see that the LORD is good”—we must eventually taste Him through faith to truly experience His goodness!). Such is the difficulty with explaining the glory of God. Oh but we must try! 🙂
The glory of God—the unlike-anything-else-ness of God. His set-apart-ness, similar to God’s holiness. The glory of God is His different-ness, His uniqueness—He is One and there is none like Him. Nothing close, no comparisons, no close seconds.
Psalm 86:6-9 NIV:
Hear my prayer, Lord;
listen to my cry for mercy.
7 When I am in distress, I call to you,
because you answer me.
8 Among the gods
[false gods, among all the things that people worship in this world other than the LORD]
there is none like you, Lord;
no deeds can compare with yours.
[no athletic achievement comes anywhere close to God’s power & creativity and wisdom
in designing a fruit fly, in designing even one eyelash.]
9 All the nations you have made
will come and worship before you, Lord;
they will bring glory to your name.
There are many different cool cars, for instance, many different cars that for various reasons people like to drive, look at, admire, etc. But there is only one Grand Canyon on earth. There are other aspects of nature that are beautiful, don’t get me wrong. But the sheet vastness, the beauty, how it stretches on and on for miles farther than the natural eye can see, the unique formations of the colors and shapes, like a giant rock-snowflake that can be seen from space, for those who have seen the Grand Canyon, there is a glory to it that is unlike anything else on earth. You don’t so much write about it or describe it in words as much as you quietly just stand and look at it, enjoy it, gaze on it, and you tell others, “Dude, you just gotta go see it. Go see it.” Glory.
The glory of God—the heaviness of God. Solidness, unshakeable-ness, the weight of God.
- The third house in “The Three Little Pigs”—made of brick, could not be blown down no matter how hard the wolf tried. This was a sort of “glory” for the third house—it was heavy, solid, protective, unconquerable. Multiply this by infinity and you get a clearer picture of the glory of God. His heaviness, His solidness, no matter how big the wolf, not matter how fierce the winds.
Thus the Psalmist says, “The Lord has established his throne in heaven, and his kingdom rules over all” (Psalm 103:19). Glory.
Solidness. Immovable. Unconquerable. God, His character and His rule, His right to be King over everything and everyone, not a hired consultant to give you tips on life; the Holy King Who alone is worthy to be utterly in charge of and in control of every aspect of our lives because it isn’t OUR life…it’s His.
He is unimpeachable, He cannot be voted out of office, there is no coup that can get rid of Him, He has no term limits. No boundaries to His reign. He is glorious. Heavy.
Thus, because of His glory in this sense, the LORD describes Himself as our “strong tower, our refuge, the righteous run into God Himself and are safe” (Proverbs 18:10). When the tornadoes of life come, and they will come, we are only truly safe when we run into the LORD Himself…
Psalm 62:1-2 NIV:
Truly my soul finds rest in God;
my salvation comes from him.
[True rest from God comes not from the stuff He gives us but from the salvation He gives us through His Son. There is a soul-rest that we need that no amount of physical sleep, no length of exotic tropical vacation can provide. By faith alone in Christ alone through grace alone, have you handed your wretched sinfulness to Jesus? Have you GONE LOW, received His death on the Cross as the payment for your ghastly sinfulness, so He can raise you up? Have you stepped down so He can be your KING? That is the only way to truly rest. Everything else is simply an exhausting chasing of our own tails…]
2 Truly he is my rock and my salvation;
he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.
It is because of His GLORY—His solidness—that we can do this…never be shaken.
The glory of God—the majesty of God, the combination of His attributes, the take-your-breath-away-ness of God, the totality of God that should bring us to our knees and leave us speechless.
Psalm 36:5-6 NIV:
Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens,
your faithfulness to the skies.
6 Your righteousness is like the highest mountains,
your justice like the great deep.
The best the Psalm-writer can do is compare the glory of God to the biggest and most amazing aspects of nature: the highest heavens, the skies that go on and on, the tallest/biggest most majestic mountains, the surging waves & power of the ocean deep.
The glory of God—His righteousness, His right-ness, the fact that He is right in everything He says and does, not just the parts of the Bible that we like/agree with but the parts that we ignore and try to change to seem more acceptable—in ALL of this God is RIGHT, and His right-ness is like the powerful and majestic Rocky Mountains, immovable, breathtaking, imposing, DANGEROUS, even, to our pride and so-called “independence” and self-reliance & worldy “wisdom.” In age that says we can’t have absolute truth, can’t no anything to be unequivocally true, where we each decide what is right by our own opinions, part of the glory of God is that He says that He alone is right, always and forever True, that what He says is the way things are, whether our experiences or opinions agree or not.
The glory of God—His justice, His fairness, His promise to settle all situations once and for all, His unique ability to eternally JUDGE, to separate the sheep from the goats and send the sheep to eternal life with Him and the goats to eternal separation from Him and suffering—this justice of God is part of His glory, like the powerful waves of the oceans which can snap in two, like a twig, 300,000 ton steel ships. The awe-inspiring, breath-taking, don’t-mess-with justice of God, His glory.
- We see a tiny bit of this in celebrities. People have fainted in the presence of celebrities like Frank Sinatra, Elvis, the Beatles, and I’m sure it happens today as well. There is a sense of, “Oh my goodness it’s HIM, it’s HER—THERE SHE IS RIGHT THERE!” We can’t think straight, we can’t even breathe at times, we sometimes can’t even talk—all we can do is stare. I’m not saying this is a good thing for us to do in the presence of a celebrity—the Bible would call it idolatrous, would call it worship. But it gives us an illustration of what glory is—this feeling or atmosphere that goes with some celebrities like a cloud is in a way an earthly, fallen version of glory.
We should bring this before the LORD if we are like this around famous people; we should also bring before the LORD the fact that we aren’t often, if EVER, like this in the presence of God. I’m not saying that you should be physically passing out every time you think of God, every time you come to a local church to worship—there are many who chase these types of emotional feelings and I’m NOT saying that we should chase them.
BUT…we need to ask the LORD for help if we are never moved by the presence of God, the glory of God, Who God is, what God has done and does, if we are never left speechless by the LORD where we just stop everything and just drop to our knees in worship (yet it is easy for us to rise to our feet and cheer for an athlete!). If that NEVER happens, there is some spiritual unhealth that we need to bring to God in confession and prayer.
- If you have lost your appetite for and ability to taste food for a few weeks, it is a sign that something is not right in your body. If we have lost our appetite for and ability to taste and see and savor and enjoy and be amazed by the LORD, it is a sign that something isnt right in our souls.
Jeremiah 2:18-19 NIV:
Now why go to Egypt
to drink water from the Nile?
And why go to Assyria
to drink water from the Euphrates?
[Why do you go to sin, to other things, to false gods,
to get quenched & refreshed? You have ME!]
19 Your wickedness will punish you;
your backsliding will rebuke you.
Consider then and realize
how evil and bitter it is for you
when you forsake the Lord your God
and have no awe of me,”
declares the Lord, the Lord Almighty.
Over time, when we aren’t in awe of and amazed by the glory of the LORD,
we will eventually drift towards whatever does give us those feelings.
We must ask the LORD to take our breath away with His power and might and awesomeness, to help us tremble before Him, to help us fear Him in the sense of awestruck respect, in the same way that if we were in a courtroom, 99.9% wouldn’t dare do anything rude/wrong/illegal/disrespectful—the “glory” in a sense of the judge and the law & the bailiffs keep us from acting foolishly; we respect the earthly glory of the courtroom & judge.
And yet we dishonor the LORD’s presence and glory daily though He is always with us! We can’t learn much from the LORD until He teaches us to deeply respect Him like this; thus the LORD says that the fear of the Lord is the BEGINNING of wisdom, not the PhD of wisdom but the Kindergarten lesson.
Habakkuk 2:20 NIV: The Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth be silent before him.
Loved ones, we are to be the LORD’s paparazzi, we are to be the TMZ of Jesus—following Him everywhere, reporting on every detail of Who He is and what He does to anyone who will listen. Tweeting, talking, Facebooking, thinking, imitating, obeying, worshipping, confessing to, adoring, thanking, sacrificing for, cross-carrying after the LORD. YouTube says to “Broadcast yourself.” Christians are to broadcast the LORD—the Father, Son and Holy Spirit so that His fame spreads; by doing this we are “glorifying” Him.
Why do I bring this up, what does this have to do with the foundation of this local church, with the last seven weeks of digging into the Bible to understand what it means to elevate others, to sacrificially serve non-Christians?
Loved ones, this is to be the primary reason that we serve non-Christians—to glorify God, to spread His glory, to spread and make known His fame around the earth.
Psalm 34:3: Glorify the Lord with me; let us exalt his name together.
Habakkuk 2:14: For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.
[As the oceans are saturated in wetness, so we are to partner with God to spread the knowledge of His glory throughout the entire planet, to saturate the globe in His grace, Truth, beauty, power, wisdom, magnificence. This is why Isaiah 62 says that God’s people, as we grow/mature, will be called “oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of His splendor”–as we grow by HIs grace He will display His glory through us!!! Humbling! Amazing!!!]
1 Corinthians 10:31: So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
This is why loving the LORD with all our hearts, minds, souls and strength is the first and greatest commandment—we are to glorify Him, to spread His fame, to shine the spotlight of our little lives on Him, to constantly point everyone to God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, even as we serve non-Christians to meet their earthly needs.
The second commandment is to love all our neighbors as we love ourselves. Just ask Olympic athletes if there is a big difference between winning a gold and winning a silver. Thus, the primary goal of our good deeds toward non-Christians is not to benefit non-Christians. Benefiting them is our SECOND reason/goal for serving them, but it is not the first. Spreading the glory of God is the first.
Matthew 5:16 NIV: Let your light shine so that others may praise/glorify your Father in heaven.
2 Corinthians 9:8-13 NIV:
8 And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.
9 As it is written:
“They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor;
their righteousness endures forever.” [Psalm 112:9]
10 Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness.
[Too many people use verses like this above to say that if we are faithful and obedient to God He will bless us with millions of dollars and everything our hearts desire–mansions, bonuses, cars, whatever we want on earth. Nonsense, loved ones, nonsense! They teach people to cry out to God for more stuff because we’ve been so good! The Bible and the Holy Spirit teach us to cry out to God for holiness because we’ve been so bad…]
11 You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.
[God is glorified, He gets the credit!]
12 This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. [more glory for Him!] 13 Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else.
So what’s the big deal? Why should we ask God to help us remember and focus on glorifying Him FIRST as we serve and love non-Christians?
Because it is possible, as we serve others, to completely forget about glorifying God and to do good deeds in a way that DOESN’T honor/glorify Him…more on this next post…