Praise God’s Glory (part 2)
Scripture Reading: Exodus 33:18 – 34:9
Sermon Title: Praise God’s Glory (part 2)
Sermon Text: Ephesians 1:3-14
MAIN IDEA: God works our salvation in Christ for the praise of His glory
God’s glory defined
God’s glory proclaimed
“Scripture quotations are taken from the NASB."
I provide this manuscript as a courtesy. I do not follow the document word for word during the message. I also do not write the document with the intent of publication; there may be grammatical errors throughout. Unfortunately, there is not always time to proofread. I choose to use my available time for studying, finding ways to explain the truths of Scripture while keeping a balance of time for visiting and discipleship of people in the church. Thanks for understanding.
Introduction: God’s Will is For His Glory To Be Praised
Three times in the opening paragraph of Paul’s letter to the Ephesian we see God’s expectation to His work of salvation is that we praise His glory.
5He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, 6to the praise of the glory of His grace
11also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, 12to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory.
14who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.
God has many goals in all that He does. But none of those goals is more ultimate than exalting His glory. God’s overwhelming passion is to exalt, magnify, display, protect, and vindicate His glory. Every thought, word, and action of God is aimed at His glory. To God, His glory is of infinite value. God opposes all enemies of His glory or those who think too little of it. It is clearly the uppermost reality in His affections. He loves his glory infinitely.
The most significant act in human history, the death, burial, and resurrection of God’s beloved Son, took place so that we will praise God’s glory. The Westminster Confession states “The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” Therefore, it behooves us to know what praising God’s glory is all about. Each of us needs to know two things:
1) Know how to define and recognize God’s glory when it appears
2) Know how to praise God’s glory
In knowing these two things, we will rightly respond to God’s gift of salvation, and we will be pleasing to God. God’s glory is important to God and must be important to us.
Our Salvation and God’s Glory
Last week, we realized we do not always see glory. There are aspects of Jesus’ life we may not consider as being glorious. In hindsight, we may look at them and think they are glorious, but as they occurred, we may have walked past and not recognized His glory. For example, being homeless or crucified among thieves is not glorious. We, like most people of His day, would turn our head and avert our eyes from certain aspects of Jesus’ life.
Considering this, if we were to ask God, as Moses asked God, to show us His glory, there is a possibility that God might say, “I did show you my glory, it is just that you did not recognize it when I showed it to you.” The reason is we live in a world in which the glory of God is veiled; “the god of this world has blinds the minds” of people and does everything in his power to hide the glory of God. Sometimes, we don’t see God’s glory because we are influenced by the world.
Glory came and stood in the midst of mankind, and even His closest disciples did not see His glory. What makes us think we are any different than they? We should be very concerned that God’s glory may be displayed right before us every day, and it is possible we walk past. God’s glory might hit us on the head, and we may complain or get angry. It is possible we sometimes curse, and not praise, God’s glory.
Does God’s glory appear in ways we may not recognize? How do we praise God’s glory beyond singing songs and talking about it to others? Are there aspects of God’s glory we don’t understand and therefore we don’t praise?
To answer these questions, we are taking a short excursion from the text in Ephesians to lay a foundation. The goal is that we may be able to explain with clarity what is God’s glory and how it may be praised. We will be able to go to Wal-Mart, home, Fenway Park and fishing and we will do so to the praise of God’s glory.
To do that, we must first understand the answer to the question, “what is God’s glory?”. The first point of our outline is:
Before we get too far, I desire to talk about a side note.
SIDE NOTE #1: Is it right for God to seek His glory? Is self-exaltation prideful?
As Christians, it sounds odd to glorify ourselves. We are taught not to stand in front of people and say, “look at me, enjoy me, see how great I am.”
Scriptures teach pride and self-exaltation are wrong. 1 Corinthians says, “love does not brag and is not arrogant, and love does not seek its own.” Is God sinful in His self-centeredness? There are two reasons why God’s displaying His glory and insisting we recognize His glory is not sinful.
1) When we lift ourselves up as being glorious, we take people’s eyes away from that which is more glorious. We offer a lesser glory and distract from the glory of God. In essence, we rob others of God.
2) God is loving in making us aware of those things which are in our best interest. If we are hungry, the most loving thing God may do is give us food and the most unloving thing is to hold back food. God is loving because He makes us aware He is available. For God to hide His glory would be to hide Himself from us.
Therefore, the most loving act God may do is display His glory and to command us to enjoy His glory. It is perfectly right and good for God to stand in the center of an 80,000 seat stadium and say, “Behold! Look at Me! I meet your every need. I am glorious.”
God’s Glory Defined
Let’s begin understanding God’s glory by understanding the meaning of the Hebrew and Greek words used for glory in the Old and New Testament.
The Hebrew word for glory, kabod, talks of something being weighty. Sometimes the word is translated literally to describe heavy objects. The rock is kabod. The word is also used, as it is used for God’s glory, to mean something is heavy in honor. For example, “his opinion carries a lot of weight.” In use with regards to God’s glory, it means if we are to put one God’s attribute on a scale, such as love, with our attribute of love, God’s love would have more weight. It is of more glory. God’s weight is heavier than all other weights because God is glorious.
The New Testament uses the word doxa to express glory. In classical Greek writings, the word doxa means opinion, expectation, and praise. It is used in the context of expressing a "high opinion". Not high because the one giving the opinion is noble, but because the object being spoke about is noble.
Glory is not added to someone or something, but instead, glory is recognized as being inherently existing. We may not give God glory, but we recognize God has glory. When the Bible says, “give God the glory” what it means is we are to “recognize the truth that God is glorious; therefore, tip our scale of opinion correctly.”
The glory of an object is the feature or characteristic which makes the object superior or valuable. The glory is the weight the object carries when compared to other objects. God is very concerned about His glory because to give anything a weightier opinion, or to think more highly of anything other than God is wrong.
- When we compare God’s ability to be faithful compared to our ability to be faithful, God gets the glory.
- When we compare our ability to save with God’s ability to save, God gets the glory.
- When we compare anything in the Universe with God, God always gets the glory.
Once we understand the glory of God, we understand the heinous nature of sin. Any and all who oppose God’s glory or think too little of it deserve His judgment. All sin is an affront to the glory of God. Sin nature says God is not judge of good and evil; I am the judge of good and evil.
The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die! God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God” (Genesis 3:4-5). In other words, the serpent said, “God is not truthful, God is a liar. His word carries little weight. God does not have the power to kill you. God’s power has little weight. God is not glorious and set apart from Creation, eat the fruit, and you can be like God and share in His glory. He is not glorious.”
It is upon this basis mankind falls short and sins. Sinful man sees God’s glory but refuses to acknowledge God’s glory. Let’s read Romans 1:18-23
18For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth (watch how Paul goes on to say the truth which is suppressed is the truth of God’s glory) in unrighteousness, 19because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. 20For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. 21For even though they knew God, they did not honor (doxazo/glorify) Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.
The very basis of our need for salvation is because we have done just the opposite of praising God’s glory. As sinners, we exchanged the glory of God for that which is defiled, fading, and corrupted.
To vindicate His glory, God sent Christ to give us a new nature. In Christ, our eyes are opened, and we see and enjoy the truth. God reveals to us the magnificence of His glory so we may turn our praise from that which is corrupt and temporary to find satisfaction in His eternal, perfect self.
God is directing and bringing Creation to arrive at the time described in Habakkuk which says:
For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. (Habakkuk 2:14)
To God be the glory. God stands in His glory; there is no other person or object which equals or excels in glory. As God stands on the scale and is weighed, in every conceivable way, God outweighs everything. Because God is weighty, He is glorious.
Ascribe to the LORD, O heavenly beings, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength. Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness. The voice of the LORD is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the LORD, over many waters. (Psalm 29:1-3)
To answer the question, “what is God’s glory?” we may say:
God’s glory is that every aspect of His person, including His character, abilities, and His nature, is infinitely superior to all that is seen and unseen.
Why God is Glorious
Now, let’s define why God is glorious. There are infinite reasons why God is glorious; however, Scripture guides us by pointing out specific aspects of God’s person which are very glorious. The Bible opens our eyes so we see God’s glory and our human condition. For example:
- The Bible reveals we are sinners, and as we see our sin, we see the glory of God’s holiness. God’s holiness carries much weight and value.
- We are mortal beings who decay and perish. Other objects in the universe also fade away and are not everlasting. God’s eternal nature carries much weight. Scripture opens our eyes to see that, unlike us, God is glorious because He has no beginning and no end.
- We struggle against enemies and forces more powerful than us. As we see how powerless we are to protect ourselves from principalities and powers, or storms and earthquakes, we give glory to God for being the Almighty God of heaven and earth.
There are attributes of God which we may possess. These are referred to as communicable attributes. They may be communicated from Him, and we may possess them. For example, we are called to be faithful. God is faithful, and we may be faithful. God is loving, and we may also be loving.
God is glorious because He stands alone concerning the purity and quality of His communicable attributes. God is most faithful, and God is most loving. If we are to choose who deserves the glory of being most faithful or most loving, we will choose God. He is weighty in His faithfulness and His love. We may be faithful and loving, but God is set apart in possessing the highest standard achievable. God is the measure of faithfulness, and He is the measure of love.
God is glorious in His faithfulness and love (and with every attribute of His which we may possess).
When it comes to attributes of God which He alone possesses, we see God as being most glorious. These are what theologians refer to incommunicable attributes. These are attributes no other being or object in the universe possesses. We demonstrate an understanding of God’s glory when we talk specifically about those attributes which are His alone.
God is glorious because He alone is the Creator.
God is glorious because He alone is God.
God is glorious because only He is eternal, Savior, omnipresent, all-knowing, all-powerful, provident over Creation, infinite, and the Judge of good and evil.
Let’s put this all together. If someone was to ask us, “what is God’s glory,” or “why is God glorious,” we might answer in this way:
“God’s glory is that every aspect of His person, including His character, abilities, and His nature, is infinitely superior to all that is seen and unseen. The reason God is glorious because there is only one God. There is none like Him. God is the Creator of the universe. All things were created through Him and for Him. God sustains and maintains every being of His creation by His riches and infinite abundance. He sovereignly guides and directs every molecule in existence. God is glorious because He is eternal with no beginning and no end; He always exists. God is the essence and measurement of what is good. He is the Supreme Judge who determines right and wrong; good and evil and He unleashes His wrath upon the ungodly. His judgment is perfect because He knows all things; He alone is wise. There are none as powerful as God for He is gloriously the Almighty having authority over every principality and power. His will and His purposes are never defeated. God does whatever He pleases. Because God is good, He uses His power to save those whom He desires to save. There is none like Him. God is glorious.
God’s Glory Proclaimed
The passage in Exodus stands above all the other passages in declaring the glory of God. For this passage speaks of attributes of God’s glory which God desires to be impressed upon our mind and give us the greatest of assurance and the greatest of joy. Of all the mentions of God’s glory, this passage reigns supreme.
I am convinced if I were to be limited to only one passage of Scripture of Scripture upon which to base my life and ministry, this passage is the one I would choose.
The context of the passage is very important in helping us to understand the beauty of what is taking place. Only a month or so has passed since the God’s people were miraculously led by God from captivity in Egypt. Moses met with God on Mount Sinai and received the tablets of the Covenant. Moses returned to the people and found they forsook God and were worshipping a golden calf. In his anger Moses broke the tablets of the Covenant. In this passage, we find God meeting with Moses on Mount Sinai once again, and Moses pleads with God to forgive the people. God pledges His forgiveness and says He will guide the people through the wilderness. Moses said to God that His guidance was not enough. Unless God goes with them, Moses would rather not go at all. God agrees to have His presence accompany the Israelites in their journey.
Upon hearing God promise to be with them, Moses becomes bold and asks God one more thing. Moses asks God to show Moses His glory.
10 Proclaimed Characteristics of God’s Glory
Exodus 33:18 – 34:9
18Then Moses said, “I pray You, show me Your glory!” 19And He said, “I Myself will make all My goodness pass before you, and will proclaim the name of the LORD before you;
God is glorious because God is good. God declares His glory is all of His goodness. His goodness includes God’s name, Yahweh.
God’s glory is good. There is no evil in God, only goodness. Those who say God is evil blaspheme God’s glory. Also, God’s name represents everything about Him. To take God’s name in vain or to use God’s name as a curse word, is to associate God with evil.
and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show compassion on whom I will show compassion.”
God’s is glorious because He is sovereign over salvation. It is God’s glory to choose those who He will bestow grace and mercy. No man may ever claim God must save them. Only God has the right to choose who He will save. Those who belittle or downplay God’s sovereignty in salvation directly insult God’s glory. The Apostle Paul uses this verse in Exodus to pen chapter 9 of Romans and show it is God’s glory to choose those who will be saved. Men do not choose God; God chooses men.
20But He said, “You cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live!” 21Then the LORD said, “Behold, there is a place by Me, and you shall stand there on the rock; 22and it will come about, while My glory is passing by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock and cover you with My hand until I have passed by. 23“Then I will take My hand away and you shall see My back, but My face shall not be seen.”
1Now the LORD said to Moses, “Cut out for yourself two stone tablets like the former ones, and I will write on the tablets the words that were on the former tablets which you shattered. 2“So be ready by morning, and come up in the morning to Mount Sinai, and present yourself there to Me on the top of the mountain. 3“No man is to come up with you, nor let any man be seen anywhere on the mountain; even the flocks and the herds may not graze in front of that mountain.”
God is glorious because His radiance is beautiful. There is a magnificence to God’s glory that is hidden from man. God hid Moses in the cleft of the rock and God commanded all of the Israelites, including their animals, to hide themselves from the fullness of His glory. God’s glory is so radiantly beautiful that when Moses came down off the mountain, his face shown and the Israelites asked Moses to put a veil over his face because the radiance of God’s glory shown so brightly, they could not look upon his face.
4So he cut out two stone tablets like the former ones, and Moses rose up early in the morning and went up to Mount Sinai, as the LORD had commanded him, and he took two stone tablets in his hand. 5The LORD descended in the cloud and stood there with him as he called upon the name of the LORD. 6Then the LORD passed by in front of him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD God,
God is glorious because He is self-existent God. God declared His name, The Jehovah, the Jehovah Almighty. The name Jehovah means self-existent or eternal. God declared Himself as the eternal, self-existing God. There is none before Him. He existed before all things ever existed. God exists in eternity past, and He is the Almighty, which brings all things into existence by the power of His might and the glory of His wisdom.
compassionate and gracious,
God is glorious because He is compassionate and gracious. God is not a God, who does not care about His people. God is sympathetic and kind. God is benevolent and willing to be gracious by showing favor to His people. God already showed His grace to the Israelites by agreeing to show them favor by accompanying them and being in the middle of their encampment in the wilderness even though they worshiped the golden calf.
slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness
God is glorious because He is slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness. The word in the Hebrew for slow to anger is long-suffering. God does not strike out and punish His people at the slightest infraction, even though He is right in doing so. His character is that of tenderness and consideration for others.
God is glorious because He is abounding in truth. God is not a liar. Every thought and every word God speaks is truth. We may trust God not to be deceptive. Everything about Him is actual and reality. He is completely legitimate, genuine, and honest. We may put our faith in His promises.
7who keeps lovingkindness for thousands,
God is glorious because He keeps lovingkindness. God keeps His mercy. He does not change His mind and decide He will no longer be merciful. We can be sure His lovingkindness is not short-lived, but will endure.
who forgives iniquity, transgression, and sin;
God is glorious because He forgives iniquity, transgression, and sin. God expresses three ways He forgives. God forgives our iniquity which is our moral evil. God forgives our transgressions which are our acts of rebellion against His sovereign authority. And God forgives our sin which are specific offenses we make against His law. In every way we offend God, God forgives. He is willing to extend to us His goodness even though we are creature with a nature in opposition to His nature.
yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, visiting the iniquity of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations.”
God is glorious because He is the judge who punishes evil. We may have great confidence in knowing God is the judge. God determines what is good and bad and He will by no means clear the guilty. There may be evil in this world today, but we may know that when we abide in God’s eternal Kingdom there will be no evil present. We will live in compete goodness and peace.
8Moses made haste to bow low toward the earth and worship. 9He said, “If now I have found favor in Your sight, O Lord, I pray, let the Lord go along in our midst, even though the people are so obstinate, and pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us as Your own possession.”
Moses’ response to God’s glory is the response God expects from His children. We are to make haste and worship the Lord Almighty. We should beg God to take us as His possession. We want nothing more than to be in His presence. Our response to His glory is to cry out to God, “by my Owner, possess me, call me Your child, even though I am obstinate, pardon my iniquity and my sin. I cannot imagine life without you.”
MAIN IDEA: God works our salvation in Christ for the praise of His glory
God’s glory is inexhaustible. Thanks be to God He saves us and opens our eyes to see His glory so we may find complete satisfaction in all He is and in all He has to offer His Saints.
To God be the glory.
 John Piper, Desiring God, pg 43 (paraphrased for cultural/linguistic purposes)
 Source Homan Bible Dictionary