Mar 26 2015
In 1715 Louis XIV of France died. He called himself ‘the Great.’ He was famous for saying ‘I am the state.’ He had the most magnificent courts in all Europe and his funeral was spectacular. His body was laid in a gold coffin, and by his orders the cathedral was dimly lit except for one bright candle placed over the coffin so everyone’s attention would be drawn to where he lay. As thousands of people waited in hushed silence, Bishop Massilon began to speak, and as he did so he slowly reached over to the candle snuffing it out, and said ‘Only God is great.’
God‘s glory is quite different from man’s. Man has to work hard for the little glory he can muster, but God’s glory is intrinsic, it’s who he is, he can’t help being glorious, and it has been this way for all eternity.
♦ Now, let’s just state from the start that the greatest thing any man or woman can do is display God’s glory in the way he or she lives. Jesus was the best at doing this. Before he went to the cross he said to the Father, “I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.” This post is about God’s glory and our need to glorify him.
The Westminster Confession says “The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.” There are two parts: ‘Glorify God’ and ‘enjoy him forever.’ These two things match one of the Vineyard’s most important values – ‘intimate worship.’ Glorifying God is about worship and enjoying God is about close relationship (intimacy). The rest of this post is divided into those two things.
The Hebrew word for glory is ‘Kabod.’ It means ‘weight’ as in ‘worth.’ Let me illustrate.
We have a guy in our congregation called Ken who sources our music equipment. Before buying a piece of equipment Ken likes to feel its weight. There are a lot of fake copies of big brands in Kenya and Ken says the original stuff is usually heavier than the fake because it is made of better materials. For Ken weight means quality, or true worth. For the Hebrew people it was the same. So when we talk of the glory of God we are talking about the weight, quality or worthiness of God.
So let’s ask the big question; what is God worth? That’s a mind blowing question. In fact it is not even a question we should ask because finite sinners should not even pretend to evaluate infinite holiness. But let’s just say this; God’s love is greater than everyone else’s love combined, God’s knowledge is greater than everyone else’s knowledge combined, and God’s power is greater than everyone else’s power combined. Do I need to continue? No, I’m sure you get the point. So when God’s glory or worthiness arrives in a room, we had better watch out; a quantity we do not understand is present.
Many people struggle with the idea that God wants us to glorify and worship him as if God would ask it in a pride full way like a man. It’s only when we understand who God is and who we are in comparison that we see it’s not that way. So let’s go to that text where God first begins to reveal himself to Moses; the account of the Burning Bush in Exodus 3:4-15.
While Moses is looking after sheep he sees a bush that is on fire but not burning up, so he goes to take a closer look. Then God speaks from within the bush and tells Moses he is the God of Abraham and he is sending him to deliver the Israelites from Egypt. But being raised Egyptian Moses knows the Israelites will wonder if he is coming in the name of an Egyptian god. So he says, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?”
Instead of giving his name immediately God says “I am who I am.” And he tells Moses to tell them “I am has sent me to you.” This is interesting. Before God reveals his name he wants Moses to understand his being. He wants Moses to understand that he is absolute reality; that all reality comes from him and that in comparison to him everything else is just shadows. In a very real sense God is saying to Moses and every other human being, ‘I AM and you’re not!’ This is the first thing to know about God. There’s nothing more foundational to your life, your marriage, your future or the worlds future, then the fact that GOD IS.
When God does eventually give his name he says to Moses to tell the Israelites, “The LORD (Yahweh) the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you. This is my name forever, the name you shall call me from generation to generation.”
‘Yahweh’ is a name built on the term ‘I AM,’ so God gives Moses a name that will always remind Israel (and the rest of the world) that he is ultimate reality and there is none besides him. The name Yahweh tells us that he had no beginning, will have no end, is independent of all things, is perfect and unchanging and the standard of what is right and good. In short, God is worthy of all our interest, all our attention, all our admiration, all our enjoyment, and all our praise.
Many sceptics like to suggest that God is dependant on man because he needs us to glorify him. But this is untrue. God does not need us to glorify him; he has already been receiving glory for all eternity. The Bible tells us that the Son glorifies the Father and the Father glorifies the Son, and the Spirit glorifies the Father and the Son. This was happening long before God created anything. So when God calls us to glorify him, he is just allowing us to join in a celebration that has been going on for all eternity.
This brings us to the second half of the Westminster Confession.
Enjoying God Forever
It’s no coincidence that people of every culture find a desire within them to worship. This is global evidence that we are all designed to join in God’s eternal glory party. And if we are designed for it, then we will be most fulfilled doing it. The pastor and writer John Piper said, “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.” Isn’t it great to know that when God calls us to glorify him, he calls us to do what we will enjoy? Worship is not a duty; it’s a pleasure.
The other day I saw a photo of a Muslim street protest on the internet. Numerous Muslims were holding up posters with different messages. One poster said ‘Jesus is the slave of Allah.’ That statement is so far from the truth that I couldn’t help having a little chuckle. But it’s worth noting that this is one of the big differences between Christianity and Islam. In Islam God is a master and his worshipers are slaves. But a slave does not have a close relationship with his master; he does not enjoy his master’s presence. I have never heard a Muslim say “I just love the presence of Allah” or “I feel so close to Allah.” But Christians say it all the time; they enjoy God’s presence, and often feel very close to him.
The difference is in the teaching of Jesus. He taught us that in him we are all sons and daughters of the living God. He is the one who said we are to address God as our Father. And children are not like slaves, they enjoy their father’s presence. So Christians do not worship or pray or glorify God as a duty, they do it as a matter of enjoyment.
In Christianity the glory party starts with Christians being amazed at the grace God extends to all through the cross. When new believers see it for the first time they go ‘wow’ and it launches them into worship. As they worship they get close to God and he reveals another aspect of himself to them, and they go ‘wow’ again and worship again. It’s what I call the ‘Wow Cycle.’ Heaven is rocking. It’s in an on-going Wow Cycle. Every time God reveals something of his infinite self; those in heaven go ‘wow’ and fall down in worship. And on Sundays we are called to enter the Wow Cycle! Isn’t that awesome?
“The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.”
Feel free to comment and share this message.
You will make us happy if you click LIKE in our Facebook fan box on the right above (below on mobile). Thanks.