THE HEAVENS DECLARE THE GLORY OF GOD
Introduction: Let me begin with some words from the famous American colonial missionary to the Indians, David Brainerd, who died at the age of twenty-nine. His diary reveals a young man intensely committed to God. Brainerd once said to Jonathan Edwards: I do not go to heaven to be advanced but to give honor to God. It is no matter where I shall be stationed in heaven, whether I have a high seat or a low seat there. My heaven is to please God and glorify Him, and give all to Him, and to be wholly devoted to His glory."
The greatest musician of the 1700 AD Johann Sebastian Bach said, "All music should have no other end and aim than the glory of God and the soul's refreshment; where this is not remembered there is no real music but only a devilish hub-bub." At the beginning of every authentic manuscript one will find the letters “J.J.” This stands for Jesu Java (Jesus help me). At the end of each original manuscript you will find the letters “S.D.G.” This stands for Soli Deo Gloria (to the glory of God).
Brainerd and Bach remind us of our ultimate purpose in life and in the life to come is not to live for ourselves but to live to glorify the one and only God, the father of us all who is worthy of all glory and power. Our mission statement at Hope Church reminds us every week of this very fact: “Glorifying God by becoming devoted followers of Jesus.” Do we really know and understand the depth and the scope of our mission statement?
When people see or hear our mission statement they may think what a lofty statement. It may sound great but it would do nothing if it remains on the Church board outside or on the bulletin. But it can make all the difference when we understand what it means to glorify God, and what it takes to become a devoted follower of Jesus.
Before we look at what is to glorify God we need to understand what is the glory of God and how is it manifested in the world, and why we should give glory back to God in all that we do. Let’s begin our Journey. Psalm 19:1-6
I. WHAT IS GOD’S GLORY?
It is very difficult to define what the glory of God really is. It is like defining the word Beauty. We say something or someone is beautiful because we see them. We can point. But if we try to explain beauty in words it would be very difficult. Similarly, when it comes to explaining the glory of God. In the Biblical history people after seeing the powerful manifestation of God’s glory, fell short of words in explaining it. All they could come up with two words.
The Hebrew word Kabowd means, weight, honor esteem, glory, abundance and wealth. The Greek word, doxa from where we get the word doxology, means: appearance, reputation, glory, recognition belonging to a person, honor and renown. It also means, magnificence, splendor, grandeur, majesty, and greatness often attributed to God.
John Piper attempts to explain this difficult concept, “The glory of God is the infinite beauty and greatness of God’s manifold perfections. The infinite beauty and I am focusing on the manifestation of his character and his worth and his attributes, all of his perfections and greatness are beautiful as they are seen, and there are many of them.”
In essence the glory of God is, all that comprise of who God was, is and is to come, and what he did, is doing and all that he will be doing during his final revelation. Let’s see how God’s glory is manifested in the nature, in mankind and in His Son Jesus Christ our Lord.
When we look at the star light sky in the night or clear bright blue sky in the day, what comes to our mind? When we look at the luscious green valleys, or colorful flowers, beautifully snow caped majestic white mountains, who do you think created this beautiful world?
How absurd it is for anyone to think that all these wonderful wonders came into existence by chance or due to a BIG bang in the cosmos? Or may be a better way to respond is to say what a splendid world we are living in, who is the architect and the sustainer of this wonderful world, how do I get to know Him? Well we, see the handiwork of God, in all that he has created.
II. THE NATURE SHOUTS GOD’S GLORY
“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun. It is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, like a champion rejoicing to run his course. It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other; nothing is deprived of its warmth.” Psalm 19:1-6
The heavens are telling the glory of God and the skies are speaking of the work of his hands. What does that mean? It means God is shouting at us. He shouts with clouds. He shouts with blue expanse. He shouts with gold on the horizons. He shouts with galaxies and stars. The Psalmist is saying, in this passage, “Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.” The heavens are shouting that God is glorious. God is shouting at us through all that he has made saying I am glorious. Are we opening our eyes and see this marvelous creation of God? Are we opening our ears to hear God’s voice shouting through his creation?
III. THE PEOPLE DECLARE GOD’S GLORY
Not only God is the master architect who designed this wonderful earth for us to call our home, but he also sustains it by his powerful hand. Among all his handworks, he created man, and endowed him with his glory, so that they will declare and reveal his glory on the earth.
The Psalmist was amazed at the wonder of man was created, “When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? You have made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor.” Psalm 8:35
That was how God created man, so that man can reflect and represent God’s glory on the earth. But man sinned against God and had fallen short of God’s glory God got involved again to display his power and glory to man through his wondrous works so that man will glorify Him.
“O give thanks to the Lord, call on his name, make known his deeds among the peoples. Sing to him, sing praises to him, tell of all his wonderful works. Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice. Seek the Lord and his strength, seek his presence continually. Remember the wonderful works he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he uttered, O offspring of his servant Israel, children of Jacob, his chosen ones.” I Chron 16:8-13
Let’s recount some of God’s wonderful works: Sending unbearable plagues on Egyptians to let them see the power of God. Parting of the red sea so that his people could walk on a dry ground. Bringing water from the rock and feeding 600,000 people for 40 years with food from heaven, breaking down the walls of Jericho, conquering the land of Canaan to mention a few.
The Israelites witnessed these awesome acts of God, so one would think that they would be grateful, right? Yet they failed to recognize and give God the glory. This Psalm one way was a rebuke and a call to repentance. Elsewhere the Psalmist laments, He saved them from the hand of the foe; from the hand of the enemy he redeemed them. The waters covered their adversaries; not one of them survived. Then they believed his promises and sang his praise. But they soon forgot what he had done and did not wait for his plan to unfold…. They exchanged their glorious God for an image of a bull, which eats grass.” Psalm 106:10-2-
III ARE WE DECLARING GOD’S GLORY?
So far, we talked about, what the glory of God is like, how the nature declared God’s glory, and how His people who were redeemed and set free from bondage, quickly turned away and exchanged God’s glory to an image of a bull, which eats grass. What is going through your mind as you hear this message? Are you declaring God’s glory as you were meant to?
Living in a postmodern world it is very hard for us to recognize the work of God in our lives let alone to pause and give him the glory and praise. Weather we admit or not we all are being jaded, tired, bored, and lacking enthusiasm when it comes to worshipping the true and living God. What can we attribute this modern-day malady that seem to be affecting all of us?
Pete Scazerro in Emotionally Healthy Spirituality says, “the global culture like a beast threatens to swallow us these days. The core values of the twenty first century tend to scream at us for attention for example computers, billboards, televisions, DVDs, I pods, music, schools, newspapers, movies, magazines and so on.” We falsely believe the notion that happiness is found in having things, the more things we have the more we will be happy. We work hard, sacrifice relationships in order to acquire things but in the end, we are more dissatisfied than before.
How can we say no to the pressures this culture is putting on us? It can only happen when we can regain what was the original purpose that God created us for. Let, me reiterate what I said, earlier, our ultimate purpose in life and in the life to come is not to live for ourselves but to live to glorify God. That’s why St. Augustine cried out, “Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord and our heart is restless until we find rest in thee.” I want to challenge you with these questions. What is truly valuable to you? Who are you living for? Are your restless? Have you discovered the purpose for which God has created you? Are you willing to keep God at the center of your life, and worship him in spirit and truth, giving him all the glory? Amen