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Pastor Scott L. Harris
Grace Bible Church, NY
April 2, 2016
The Glory and Majesty of God, Part 3
It appears my two part series on the glory and majesty of God will be at least four sermons, perhaps five. (See: The Glory and Majesty of God, Part 1 & The Glory and Majesty of God, Part 2) It has been on my mind for quite sometime to address the underlying issues that result in people either not worshiping God or worshiping Him in ways that are irreverent. These are problems that have been increasing in our nation for many decades as society has turned away from God and to the musings of men to find meaning and purpose in their existence. At the same time, worship within the church has been losing its focus on God as doubts have risen about the veracity of the Scriptures, and principles of marketing have changed practices within the church to be more attractive to people. The purpose of worship in far too many churches, including ones claiming to be evangelical, has changed from gathering together to give praise, honor and glory to God while increasing in understanding of Him through careful study of His word, to providing religious experiences that people enjoy and messages that enable people to feel good about themselves. The God who reveals Himself in the Scriptures is exchanged for caricatures of God drawn from people’s desires, and the fear of man replaces the fear of God.
Causes of Failure: Ignorance & Rebellion
These things have two primary underlying causes: ignorance and rebellion. Most people, including those who attend church, have not taken the time to carefully study and consider who God is, what He is like and what He has done. Such ignorance leads to false assumptions about God and therefore wrong attitudes and practices in the worship of Him. My labor in preaching and teaching the Bible is done in the effort to alleviate such ignorance. I desire to explain what God has revealed about Himself and point to what He has done while also challenging you to study these things for yourself so that you will come to your own convictions. I don’t want your faith to be based on what I have said. I want your beliefs to be solidly built on what God has said. I can only point you to the narrow path that leads to the kingdom of heaven and eternal life (Matthew 7:13-14), but you must walk that path by your own faith. We all begin in ignorance, but God expects us to learn, grow and mature. Continued ignorance is dangerous. Willful ignorance, such as described in Romans 1:18-21 and 2 Peter 3:4, is damning because it is rebellion.
Rebellion is the second primary cause of failure to worship God or to worship Him properly. Rebellion can be passive, active or defiant, but any of these modes result in separation from God and condemnation to eternal hell. Passive rebellion is the refusal to put the effort in to gain the knowledge needed that will remove ignorance. You believe and do what everyone else does with little or no thought about whether it is true or right before God. This would fit the vast majority of people following false religions. They practice that religion because it is part of their national or ethnic heritage and they refuse to consider that they may be wrong. It is easier to “go with the flow” and “fit in with the crowd” than risk rejection by others for pursing truth. They will not read the Bible for themselves and they do not want your literature. They believe what they believe and do not want to be confused by the facts. Those same elements can also be easily found in people that say they want to worship the true God, but they want to do so according to their own way. They will not carefully study what God has actually said about the subject, but remain willfully ignorant with claims they are “Spirit led.” Their actions demonstrate that it is not the Holy Spirit that is leading them. These are examples of passive rebellion
A good example of active rebellion can be found in many who claim to be agnostic. Agnostic is a compound word that comes from the Greek word gnw:siV / gnosis with the prefix of negation, “a / a,” so it means “without knowledge.” The truth is that there is no such person for Romans 1:19-20 declares, “because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. 20 For 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.” There are humble agnostics whose claim is based on their confusion caused by the constant denial of creation by those in positions of assumed authority – educators, scientists, philosophers, judges, entertainers, and yes, even religious leaders. However, those who are actually humble will diligently pursue truth because they desire to have the ignorance removed. However, most often the claim to be agnostic is a simple way to be passively rebellious since it is in the sense of “I don’t know and I don’t want to know.” They may be legitimately confused, but their contentment in that confusion puts them in grave danger because the evidence of creation all around them has already removed their excuse.
There are many others who profess to be agnostics that are not confused. They have examined the evidence, but they did not like what they found out and have rejected it. Agnosticism becomes an excuse with multiple lines of defense.
The first is an emphasis about the areas of knowledge in which they are somewhat ignorant, but instead of learning about those areas, they use it as an excuse why they cannot decide whether God exists or not. This includes such excuses as not knowing science well enough to decide whether creation or evolution is true. Or not having studied philosophy enough, specifically the area of epistemology, to know how to determine what is true. Or not having studied history or literature enough to know if Jesus actually lived and whether the writings of the prophets and apostles can be trusted. These excuses are a false protection. Paul did tell the Athenians on Mars Hill in Acts 17:30 that God had overlooked the times of ignorance, but Paul continued on to say, “God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, 31 because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.” To remain an agnostic is very dangerous and ultimately results in eternal condemnation.
The next line of defense is requiring levels of confidence not demanded in any other area of life. You do not have absolute assurance that when you get in your car in the morning that you will arrive at your destination at or even close to the time planned. Traffic can be backed up. Roads can be closed. You may have a mechanical breakdown. You could be involved in an accident. You could even be killed. Yet, such agnostics get in their car and drive all the time. They eat things that could possibly be contaminated and go places they might pick up a communicable disease. Obviously there are different levels of confidence needed to take various actions. If you are going to go sky diving, you are wise to have a high level of confidence that you know what you are doing and that your parachute will open. However, if all the plane’s engines are on fire and it is plummeting downward, your confidence level does not need to be as high to put on the parachute and jump out. The agnostic fails to recognize that his ship of human wisdom is leaking water and sinking. He can see other people wearing them, but claiming to lack confidence life preservers exist, he refuses to get one and put it on, besides, it would make the activities of the cruise less enjoyable.
Related to this is another line of defense. Some agnostics claim that no one, including you, can know. They insist their false standard apply to everyone. That is an arrogant statement that reaches into the realm of mind games. Just because they choose to be foolish to justify their claim does not mean you have to abandon your knowledge and logic to join them in it.
Then there are those that are defiantly rebellious. The militant atheist is an example of this. There is something logically strange about people who diligently fight against a being they deny even exists. They not only work hard to prove their claim there is not a God, an illogical claim since that would require omniscience, but they want to force that belief upon other people, or at least ban the expression of beliefs contrary to their own. This was seen in the communist nations of the 20th Century which murdered millions and made miserable the lives of countless others in their quest to get rid of God. It is seen in our own time in the increasing hostility in secular nations toward Christianity because it is contrary to the political correctness of the elite. The real reason for the claim of atheism is not because of careful research that examines all the evidence and comes to a logical conclusion, but because the sinful soul rejects the demands of the Creator God. As Psalm 14:1 states it bluntly, The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.’” Atheism is simply an excuse to justify their defiant rebellion.
God, the Creator
As I have pointed out in the last two sermons, the beginning point for understanding the glory and majesty of God is the fact that He is the Creator. You are not the result of a chain of entropy defying random chemical reactions. If fact, the chemical structure of your body is directed by the information in your DNA and RNA. Random chemical reactions would result in disease and death because they produce molecules that are mirror images – both right and left handed. In life forms, the amino-acids are all left-handed and the carbohydrates are all right-handed. Inclusion of the mirror image of either would stop the life processes and kill it. You are not made from star dust either as the late Carl Sagan used to claim. Stars were formed on Day 4 while the earth was formed on Day 1, and dry land appeared on Day 3 from which God made man from its dust on Day 6.
To deny God is your Creator and that He did it just as He said in Genesis 1 will force a denial of most of the rest of the Bible since most of it was written by people who believe it including Jesus. To affirm that God is Creator is to also affirm the obligation man has to worship Him. And in terms of glory and majesty, what achievement could be more notable than creating the heavens and the earth and all that is in them out of nothing in just six days? What could have been more beautiful and dignified than a world in which there was not any curse of sin? Even after the world became cursed after Adam’s sin, Creation is still impressive in terms of beauty, scale and dignity.
God’s Glory and Majesty in Creation
Last week I pointed out that God Himself points to His works in Creation as evidence of His own glory and majesty before which humans must humbly bow. God’s answer to Job’s laments are recorded in Job 38-41. He simply pointed out various aspects of His creation without giving any explanation of why Job was suffering. Apparently the information in Job 1 & 2 was given to Job at a later time. Whether you like it or not, God is the potter and we are clay which He can use in any way for any purpose He desires (Isaiah 45:9; Romans 9:21). Job did not understand and felt hedged in by God (Job 3:23; 13:15; 19:8), yet he knew enough of God’s character to still trust Him even if slain (Job 13:15) and that His redeemer lived and he would see God (Job 19:25-26).
Some of the things God pointed out included: actions taken on the first and third days of creation. The dawning of each day (38:12), the springs and recesses of the deep (38:16), the gates of death, and the “expanse of the earth.” Job 38:31-33 continues on as God points out various constellations of stars. These move precisely as God has designed so that they fulfill their purpose given in Genesis 1:14 as signs for seasons, days and years. Job 38:22-30, 34-38 record God citing various aspects of weather such as snow, hail, clouds, rain and lightning, none of which man can control. Certainly tornadoes and hurricanes fit the description of majestic being impressive in scale and power. In Job 38:39 – 39:30 God describes various animals that Job would have known about or even seen for himself including the lion, the raven, mountain goats and deer, the wild donkey, the wild ox, the ostrich, the horse, and the hawk (39:26-30). Each of these animals have certain characteristics which demonstrate God’s care of them and Job’s limitations. Job responds to these things saying, “Behold, I am insignificant; what can I reply to You? I lay my hand on my mouth. 5 “Once I have spoken, and I will not answer; Even twice, and I will add nothing more” (Job 40:4-5).
But God was not finished. He also pointed out two animals that confuse modern man because they have apparently become extinct since Job’s day. Those who suggest they were animals commonly seen today ignore the descriptions given because they have succumbed to evolution’s lie that these creatures did not exist at the same time as man. What God describes here exposes that lie.
The behemoth described in chapter 40 is not a hippopotamus which does not “bend his tail like a cedar” (Job 40:17). The description is of some sort of sauropod. Sightings of the smaller, but similarly described Mokele-Mbembe in the Congo basin has been reported as recently as 1983. The Leviathan of Job 41 is neither a whale nor a crocodile neither of which has incredibly strong and impenetrable scaled armored skin with “underparts like sharp potsherd,” and both of which can be killed by the weapons described. The description is of some terrifying semi-aquatic dinosaur. More remarkable are the statements about smoke, flames and fire coming from its mouth and nostrils. Leviathan is evidence that there is truth in the ancient tales of fire breathing dragons. What would be your response if you saw either of these creatures? Perhaps it would be like Job, “I know that You can do all things, And that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted . . .” “I have declared that which I did not understand, Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know . . .” “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear; But now my eye sees You; 6 Therefore I retract, And I repent in dust and ashes.” Job 42:2-6
Aspects of creation are commonly referenced as evidence of the glory and majesty of God and especially in the Psalms. Here are a few examples:
Psalm 8:1, 9 “O LORD, our Lord, How majestic (rd1a9 Adar) is Your name in all the earth, Who have displayed Your splendor (dWho hod) above the heavens!” The Psalm specifically points out the heavens, the moon and the stars are reasons for man to recognize his insignificance. The Psalm continues on to talk about God’s rule over the animals on land, the birds in the air and the fish in the sea.
Psalm 19 – “The heavens are telling of the glory (db4k9 kābēd) of God; And their expanse is declaring the work of His hand.” This Psalm even reveals the voiceless speech of the heavens which were not known until radio-telescopes were invented and we were able to listen to the music of the stars.
In Psalm 29 David calls on people to “Ascribe to the Lord the glory (db4k9 kābēd) due His name; Worship the Lord in holy array.” The reason David gives is the voice of the Lord which rules over all creation.
Psalm 104:1 – O LORD my God, You are very great; You are clothed with splendor (dWho hod) and majesty (rd2h2 hādār). The Psalm goes on to refer to light, darkness, the heaven, the sun and moon, clouds, wind, lightning, thunder, the foundations of the earth, the seas, the flood, providing food and water for various animals, and concluding with praise to God for all these things and a warning to the wicked.
Psalm 148 is a call for all creation to praise the Lord because He created everything in them – living things on the earth, the angels in heaven, the physical features of the earth both geologic and meteorologic (elements of weather), and the hosts of heaven – sun, moon and stars. “Let them praise the name of the LORD, For His name alone is exalted; His glory (dWho hod) is above earth and heaven vs. 13.
God’s Majesty and Glory in His Attributes
Creation clearly declares the glory and attributes of God so that people are without excuse in knowing that there is a Creator God who is to be worshiped by His creatures. But God demonstrates His glory and majesty in other ways that call people to properly worship Him. Many of the Psalms carry such a theme. For example, Psalm 111 calls on people to worship God because of His faithfulness and justice.
1 Praise the LORD! I will give thanks to the LORD with all my heart, In the company of the upright and in the assembly. 2 Great are the works of the LORD; They are studied by all who delight in them. 3 Splendid and majestic is His work, And His righteousness endures forever. 4 He has made His wonders to be remembered; The LORD is gracious and compassionate. 5 He has given food to those who fear Him; He will remember His covenant forever. 6 He has made known to His people the power of His works, In giving them the heritage of the nations. 7 The works of His hands are truth and justice; All His precepts are sure. 8 They are upheld forever and ever; They are performed in truth and uprightness. 9 He has sent redemption to His people; He has ordained His covenant forever; Holy and awesome is His name. 10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; A good understanding have all those who do His commandments; His praise endures forever.
One of the more significant passages that shows this pattern is Exodus 33:17-34:9. The context here is what happens soon after the rebellion of the people with the golden calf recorded in Exodus 32. After Moses had been on Mount Sinai for a long time receiving instructions from the Lord, the people concluded that Moses must have died and decided to make an idol to represent the god which brought them up from the land of Egypt. This was irreverence in worship that had escalated to outright rebellion because they decided to worship god according to their own design instead of according to God’s instructions. I fear that what occurs in many churches today is of similar nature since so many insist on worship that is according to their own desires and design instead of paying careful attention to God’s word. Moses interceded with the Lord a couple of times that He not utterly destroy them. In mercy, God only smote those who had sinned by their participation in the idolatry.
The LORD then tells Moses to get ready to resume the journey from Mt. Sinai toward the promised land, but that an angel instead of the LORD would lead them lest He destroy them on the way. Moses implored the LORD to continue to lead them Himself. They remained in place while waiting for the LORD’s answer. The closeness of the relationship between Moses and God is seen in Moses making these intercessions and God manifesting Himself in a pillar of cloud at the entrance of the tent of meeting when He was talking with Moses. Exodus 33:12-16 records that in one of these meetings Moses makes two pleas with God. The first is that if he had found favor in the LORD’s sight, the Lord would show him His ways, and the second was that the LORD’s presence would go with them. The LORD affirms He would do these things for Moses had found favor in His sight. Verse 18 then record that Moses said, “I pray You, show me Your glory!” God responded, “I Myself will make all My goodness pass before you, and will proclaim the name of the LORD before you; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show compassion on whom I will show compassion.” 20 But He said, “You cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live!” 21 Then the LORD said, “Behold, there is a place by Me, and you shall stand there on the rock; 22 and 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.”
Exodus 34:1-4 are the instructions the LORD gives Moses in preparation for meeting Him again on Mt. Sinai. Verse 5 then records,
The LORD descended in the cloud and stood there with him as he called upon the name of the LORD. 6 Then the LORD passed by in front of him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; 7 who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; 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.” 8 Moses made haste to bow low toward the earth and worship.
Not even Moses could withstand the fullness of the splendor of God, so the LORD hid him in the cleft of the rock and covered him with His hand as that glory passed by. Moses only saw the back of the LORD, and even that caused Moses’ face to shine (Exodus 34:29). What the LORD proclaimed as part of His glory were some of His attributes and in particular those aspects of His character that were being displayed and applied to the nation of Israel at that very time.
He began with declaring His name and identification. The term LORD is specific and is the name that God gave to Moses in Exodus 3:14 saying, “I am who I am”; and He said, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘i am has sent me to you.’ “ This term is hwhy YHWH from the Hebrew verb hy2h2 hāyâ “to be” which in the first person singular is “I am.” It refers to God’s self-existence and is the specific personal name God uses for Himself in His covenant relationship to the nation of Israel. Following Jewish practice in not wanting to even accidentally use the name of God in vain (Exodus 20:7), the term Lord (Hebrew – Adoni) is substituted when spoken. The better English translations indicate this difference by using small caps LORD to distinguish it from the normal term lord (adoni). God begins His declaration of His glory by proclaiming His personal covenant name with Israel. He is hwhy YHWH, the LORD.
Second, He proclaims that He is the LORD God. This combines His covenant name with the general term for God, la6 El, which is used throughout Genesis 1 as the designation for the One who created everything. The LORD God identifies Him as the One who created them.
Third, the LORD lists out particular aspects of His character that Moses had seen displayed in God’s dealings with Israel. Moses knew of His compassion and grace from his first encounter with God at the burning bush when The LORD said, “I have surely seen the affliction of My people who are in Egypt, and have given heed to their cry because of their taskmasters, for I am aware of their sufferings. 8 “So I have come down to deliver them from the power of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and spacious land, to a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanite and the Hittite and the Amorite and the Perizzite and the Hivite and the Jebusite” (Exodus 3:7-8).
Moses agreed with God that the people were obstinate (Exodus 32:9, 34:9), yet He had seen the LORD’s longsuffering patience with them over and over again. They gave God many reasons to be angry with them. From the beginning they were hesitant to believe God would deliver them from slavery while in Egypt. Their complaining began at the Red Sea when they were afraid of the Egyptian army (Exodus 14), and their grumbling continued only a few days later at Marah because the water there was bitter. God showed them lovingkindness and truth by providing for them then and throughout their travels to Sinai even though they grumbled instead of asking (Exodus 15-18). God would keep His promises to them. Moses had just seen God forgive their iniquity, transgression and sin with the incident of the golden calf (Exodus 32). At the same time, Moses also saw the LORD punish for there were consequences for sin.
Moses’ response to these declarations of God’s glory was to make “haste to bow low toward the earth and worship.” Reverent worship is the response of those who gain an understanding of the identity and characteristics of the LORD God.
What is your response to the characteristics of God you have already seen displayed in His dealings in your life? Do you recognize His compassion and grace toward you? Have you seen how slow He has been to become angry with you despite your rebellion against Him? Are you not thankful for His lovingkindness and His faithfulness to His promises despite your unfaithfulness toward Him? Are you not grateful for His forgiveness of your iniquity, transgressions and sin brought to you by His grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ? Are you not sobered by God’s punishment of those who remain rebellious and refuse to repent?
Next week I will expand on God’s glory and majesty as displayed in attributes pointed out by other Scriptures.
Sermon Notes – 4/2/2017
The Glory and Majesty of God, Part 3 – Selected Scriptures
Worship in too many churches has been losing its focus on ___________ and become man centered
Ignorance – a Primary Cause of Failure in Worship
Ignorance leads to _________assumptions about God and therefore wrong attitudes and practices in worship
Beliefs must be built on what _________ has said so that you can walk the narrow path by faith
Rebellion – a Primary Cause of Failure in Worship
Passive rebellion is the refusal to put the effort in to _____the knowledge needed that will remove ignorance
People are passive because it is _________to agree with the majority – and standing for truth risks rejection
Agnostics are actively rebellious and are ______________ excuse – Romans 1:18-20
A humble agnostic may be legitimately confused, but will diligently ____________to remove the ignorance
Agnostics who have examined the evidence but ____________it develop multiple lines of defense
Claiming to ____enough knowledge to decide if God exists is a false protection and risks eternal damnation
Demanding extreme levels of __________________is inconsistent and does not recognize the danger
Claiming no one can know is arrogant __________________- don’t join them in it
Militant atheists are defiantly rebellious – and logically ________in fighting what they believe does not exist
Atheism is an _______________claim since it would require omniscience
Atheism is simply a foolish _____________to justify their defiant rebellion (Psalm 14:1)
God, the Creator
Recognizing God is the Creator is the beginning point of true and reverent ____________of Him
You are neither the result of ____________ chemical reactions or evolved star dust
To deny that God did things the way He has said forces a denial of the __________of most of the Scriptures
God’s Glory and Majesty in Creation
Job did not understand the reasons _________ he suffered, but he still knew God enough to trust Him
God pointed out various aspects of Creation (Job 38-41) which ____________Job
Psalm 8 – the heavens, moon and stars are ___________ for man to recognize his insignificance
Psalm 19- the heavens tell the glory of God with _____________that cannot be heard
Psalm 29 – the LORD’s ___________over creation is a reason to call people to worship Him
Psalm 104 – the LORD’s greatness, splendor and majesty are _________in the various aspects of the Creation
Psalm 148 – A call for all created things, living and non-living, to ____________the LORD
God’s Majesty and Glory in His Attributes
Psalm 111 calls on people to ____________ God because of His faithfulness and justice
Exodus 32 – the ______________ worship by Israel of the golden calf
Moses intercedes and God only ___________ some of them
From the pillar of cloud, God speaks to Moses face to _________ & Moses requests to know God’s ways
Exodus 33:18-23 – God protects Moses in the ___________ of a rock while His glory passes by
Exodus 34:5-8 – God proclaims some of His _________recently demonstrated to Moses as part of His glory
God’s personal, covenant _____is hwhy YHWH, the great “I am,” the self existent one – translated the LORD
He is the LORD God, the One that ______________ them.
The LORD is _________________ and gracious – Exodus 3:7-8
The people were obstinate, but the Lord had __________________ patience with them (Exodus 14-18)
The LORD was __________ keeping His promise to redeem them from slavery (Exodus 3-11)
The LORD __________ their iniquity, transgression and sin in the incident of the golden calf – Exodus 32
The LORD ____________ with consequences for sin
Moses’ response was to make “haste to bow low toward the earth and _____________.”
Reverent ________is the response of those who understand the identity and characteristics of the LORD God
Parents, you are responsible to apply God’s Word to your children’s lives. Here is some help. Young Children – draw a picture about something you hear during the sermon. Explain your picture)s( to your parents at lunch. Older Children – Do one or more of the following: 1) Count how many times the LORD is mentioned. 2) Discuss with your parents how creation glorifies God and His declarations to Moses in Exodus 34:5-8.
THINK ABOUT IT!
Questions to consider in discussing the sermon with others. How have you seen professing Christians show irreverence toward God in worship? Why does ignorance lead to failure to properly worship God? What is passive rebellion to the worship of God? Give examples. What is active rebellion to the worship of God? Give examples. What is defiant rebellion to the worship of God? Give examples. What defenses do agnostics use to justify their claim to not know? Why are such defenses poor excuses? Why is atheism illogical? Why is belief that God is the Creator essential to true and proper worship of Him? Why does a denial that God created things as He said result in eventual denial of most of the rest of the Scriptures? How did God manifest His glory and majesty to Job (38-41)? What was Job’s response? Did dinosaurs exist at the same time as man? Explain. How do each of the following Psalms use creation as evidence of the glory and majesty of God: Psalm 8, 19, 29, 104, 148. What is the basis for the call to worship the LORD in Psalm 111? What happened in Exodus 32? Why didn’t God destroy the people? In Exodus 33, why was God going to send an angel instead of leading Israel himself? How did Moses respond to this? How did God talk to Moses? What was God’s response to Moses’ request to know His ways and to remain present with the people? Why couldn’t God show Moses His face? How did God protect Moses from His glory? What is the relationship to God’s declaration of aspects of His character related to His glory? Trace in Exodus how God manifested each of the attributes listed in Exodus 34:6-7. How have you seen these same attributes of God manifested in your own life? What is your response to them?
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