Meditating on the Judgements of God: 1.10 The Glory of God?
Ex 15:11 Who among the gods is like you, O LORD? Who is like you– majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders?
The more I meditate on this subject the more I have to back away from looking at the judgments themselves and focus on the One who brings them. There is so much about Him that impinges on this subject. But now we come to an area of mystery and I have to confess from the outset that I shy away from writing this meditation because it is an area of mystery and I don’t know what I’m talking about! All right, I understand a little but not much about the subject of ‘the glory of the Lord’. Why is this a vital subject when considering the judgments of God? That will become clear when we progress through this mediation.
Let’s start from the little I do know. Three primary things, one flowing on from the other. First, the glory of the Lord refers to, as the dictionary says, “great honour and admiration won by doing something important or valuable; fame; renown, the condition of highest achievement, splendour, etc., radiant beauty or splendour; magnificence.” So, first of all, if God had never spoken or moved or acted He would still have this glory because, as we’ve noted in an earlier study, He is perfect and He is perfect in His being. For reasons that defy us, whenever the prophets had a vision of Him, all they could see was this glory manifest as brilliant light. This is what distinguishes Him and sets Him apart from all else.
As a secondary element to this first thing, we might also note in passing, the Scripture indicates that this ‘glory’ is so ‘other’ that if any man encounter this glory his life goes. We don’t know why. Perhaps this incredible light is an expression of power, the power that creates and sustains all else and therefore when any other energy comes into contact with it, it is returned to its original source and the vessel or shell (body) ceases to express it any longer. It is a mystery. All we know is that the Lord warned us that, “no one may see me and live.” (Ex 33:20)
But, second, He is also perfect in His thoughts, words and actions and so whenever He speaks or does anything that can be comprehended by us, if we are able to see it with unbiased and objective eyes, then we would have to acknowledge that it fits that earlier part of the dictionary definition and is worthy of “great honour and admiration won by doing something important or valuable; renown for the highest achievement.” Sadly we do not see with those unbiased and objective eyes, but the truth is that He IS worthy of this fame, this glory being given to Him.
The psalmist attest to this: “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands,” (Psa 19:1), and “Ascribe to the LORD, O mighty ones, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength. Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; worship the LORD in the splendour of his holiness,” (Psa 29:1,2) and “Sing the glory of his name; make his praise glorious! Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds! So great is your power that your enemies cringe before you. All the earth bows down to you,” (Psa 66:1-4) and “Declare his glory among the nations, his marvellous deeds among all peoples.” (Psa 96:3) That will do for the moment, there are plenty of others. The point that the psalmist is making is that the things God does OUGHT to bring Him glory (worship-filled fame) in the eyes of the onlooking world.
And that takes us on to the third, and in some ways most important of these three things as far as they touch on the subject of judgement: God WANTS His glory to be seen by all the earth. Seeing His glory OUGHT to be one of the primary motivating factors that bring us to Him in a worshipful relationship with Him.
Our failure to see His glory, because of our Sin, is indeed one of the things that causes God to act, as we’ll soon see, in bringing disciplinary judgement: “what may be known about God is plain to them, because …. since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him.” (Rom 1:18-21)
The message that comes through the Old Testament and then the New Testament again and again, is that God wants us to know about Him and then know Him personally. The Old Testament is full of the phrase, “so that they will know” and the knowing is knowing that He is God. Knowing that He is God, that He exists and desires to have a relationship with us based on His love, is one of His primary goals that is revealed in the Old Testament. As we will later go on to consider individual judgments, we will see again and again that the Lord’s intent is that the judgment will not only correct a wrong situation, but it will also teach the surrounding onlookers something of the glory of the Lord. A few verses will suffice as we close to make this point:
“ I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you. (Gen 12:2,3) This is reiterated a number of times more with Abram, then with Isaac and even through Jacob.
Then following the Exodus, “The nations will hear and tremble; anguish will grip the people of Philistia. The chiefs of Edom will be terrified, the leaders of Moab will be seized with trembling, the people of Canaan will melt away; terror and dread will fall upon them. (Ex 15:14-16) and then, “See, I have taught you decrees and laws as the LORD my God commanded me, so that you may follow them in the land you are entering to take possession of it. Observe them carefully, for this will show your wisdom and understanding to the nations, who will hear about all these decrees and say, “Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.” (Deut 4:5,6) See also Deut 28:8-10, Josh 4:23,24, 1 Chron 16:8,24, Psa 57:9 , 1 Kings 4:29-34, 1 Kings 8:41-43, Isa 11:10, Isa 42:6 and lots, lots more verses. God wants the world to see and know the wonder of who He is, and His love for His world, and thus turn to Him and enter into a loving relationship with Him. This is vital to remember throughout these studies, the glory of the Lord.