In His Image
2 Corinthians 5:17
Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature;
the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. NASB
God delights in Himself
Why has God chosen to use a creation of this planet earth, including people and angels, and a massive rebellion of both, govern it with a mighty Providence and glorious judgment in the ages of history through the rise and fall of kingdoms and powers and authorities, having worked an amazing redemption from that rebellion through His own incarnation into human flesh resulting in His own crucifixion, burial and resurrection, and through this central act to play out the great saga of salvation from sin and from death? Why does the God of all people bring everyone in judgment before His throne to give an accounting for their own life before Him, and judge each one as individual creatures He has made, according to His holy Law? The whole of redemptive history from creation to the eternal state exists to manifest His own glory and excellency as God!
But why is it so important to God to manifest His own glory? This is a profound consideration indeed. The short answer is He delights in the display of His own glory and excellency as God because He is the paragon of all that is good, the highest expression of beauty and virtue in His own nature as God. But how can we explain this. The answer can be seen in the word “glory” itself. It can mean praise or honor or even fame….and with God it certainly has that sense about it because His is the highest and most worthy praise and honor and fame. But it is more than that. The glory of God is His outshining magnificence, His radiant splendor, His effulgent brilliance and resplendence! It is seen in His nature as Light! And His glory is much like light in that is shines out, it moves out from the center, much like the sun. The sun cannot help but shine forth because of its very nature. So it is with God, His nature is “glorious,” that is it shines outward from center in brilliance and radiant splendor! Like the magnificence of jewels, refracting light in beauty and resplendence, so is God’s nature, with all the facets of His attributes, each one beaming the brightness of glory! This is seen for example with the Shekinah glory of God which was present at the Tabernacle and Temple. When God’s presence was among the people, there was an outshining of glory from His being which could be seen and felt so strongly that it would keep men from performing their duties!
Exodus 40:34-36 – 34 Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. 35 And Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud had settled on it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. NASB
2 Chronicles 5:11-14 – 11 And when the priests came forth from the holy place (for all the priests who were present had sanctified themselves, without regard to divisions), 12 and all the Levitical singers, Asaph, Heman, Jeduthun, and their sons and kinsmen, clothed in fine linen, with cymbals, harps, and lyres, standing east of the altar, and with them one hundred and twenty priests blowing trumpets 13 in unison when the trumpeters and the singers were to make themselves heard with one voice to praise and to glorify the Lord, and when they lifted up their voice accompanied by trumpets and cymbals and instruments of music, and when they praised the Lord saying,"He indeed is good for His lovingkindness is everlasting," then the house, the house of the Lord, was filled with a cloud, 14 so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled the house of God. NASB
But God’s glory is more than this. It is more than just the outshining radiance of His beauty, honor and fame. The reason His glory shines out is because of His entire nature as God. His nature is the sum total of all His attributes which all exist in His perfection and excellency as God which we call His Goodness! He is the paragon of all that is good or virtuous. He is in His very nature virtue, or Goodness. There is no attribute of God which is not “good,” they are all together summed up in the idea of Goodness. His love and mercy are good, His justice and wrath are good, His power and knowledge are good, and His self-existence and immutability are good, His immanence, transcendence and infinitude are good as is His eternality and personality! All of His attributes come together in His Goodness! And because this Goodness exists in its highest form in God, it must shine outward like bright Light, it must manifest, it must radiate in splendor with brilliance and brightness because it is in itself “Glorious” or full of Glory! This then is to say that God’s Glory is related to His Goodness in its very nature, or that God’s glory radiates outward because His Goodness is of such magnificent quality that it is glorious by nature, or outshining and radiant because of its overflowing Goodness! This can be seen in many places in Scripture where God’s Goodness is related to His moral perfection, or His commandments, and these are seen as glorious or even seen in manifestations of His glory.
Exodus 33:18-34:9 – 18 Then Moses said, "I pray Thee, show me Thy glory!" 19 And He said, "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." 34 Now 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……. 5 And 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 And Moses made haste to bow low toward the earth and worship. 9 And he said, "If now I have found favor in Thy sight, O Lord, I pray, let the Lord go along in our midst, even though the people are so obstinate; and do Thou pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us as Thine own possession." NASB
See here where Moses asked God to show him His glory and God responded first by protecting Moses from the intensity of His full unveiled glory by placing him in the cleft of the rock. Moses brought the two stone tablets as God intended to repeat His commandments during the encounter. Then as God’s passes by, He recounts in a spoken “word” the glory of His person or nature saying, “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.” But consider what it is that God reveals AS His own glory. It is a list of some of His attributes, the virtues of His own moral perfection. See here what the nature of God and His glory are intrinsically. They are the perfection and excellency of His nature, the attributes that make up the divine being. Therefore we should not think of the glory of God as separate from the moral perfection of ALL of His attributes or the beauty of His holiness [otherly character], or any other aspect of His nature. They are all intrinsically tied together. All of His attributes are equally glorious and good! For a detailed study of this encounter and the meaning of this specific “Word” from God see the appendix “The Gracious Name of God.”
So when we consider what God delights in, we need to understand that there is nothing more profound, or beautiful, our pleasant than God’s own glory and Goodness. Therefore He delights in His own glory above all other things, which are all created things and only reflect His glory partially, or veiled images of God’s own original Goodness. There are actually numerous biblical texts which explicitly state that God seeks His own glory. In fact, there are so many, it would be exhausting just to list them all much less examine them. But here are a few…..
Isaiah 48:9-11 – "For the sake of My name I delay My wrath, And for My praise I restrain it for you, In order not to cut you off. 10 "Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction. 11 "For My own sake, for My own sake, I will act; For how can My name be profaned? And My glory I will not give to another. NASB
Isaiah 43:7 – Everyone who is called by My name, And whom I have created for My glory, Whom I have formed, even whom I have made. " NASB
Jeremiah 13:11 – 11'For as the waistband clings to the waist of a man, so I made the whole household of Israel and the whole household of Judah cling to Me,' declares the LORD,' that they might be for Me a people, for renown, for praise, and for glory; but they did not listen. NASB
Psalm 106:7-8 – Our fathers in Egypt did not understand Thy wonders; They did not remember Thine abundant kindnesses, But rebelled by the sea, at the Red Sea. 8 Nevertheless He saved them for the sake of His name, That He might make His power known. NASB
John 7:18-19 – 18 "He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory; but He who is seeking the glory of the One who sent Him, He is true, and there is no unrighteousness in Him. NASB
Matthew 5:16 – 16 "Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. NASB
John 12:27-29 – 27 "Now My soul has become troubled; and what shall I say, 'Father, save Me from this hour'? But for this purpose I came to this hour. 28 "Father, glorify Thy name." There came therefore a voice out of heaven: "I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again." NASB
John 17:24 – 24 "Father, I desire that they also, whom Thou hast given Me, be with Me where I am, in order that they may behold My glory, which Thou hast given Me; for Thou didst love Me before the foundation of the world. NASB
Romans 9:17 – 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, "For this very purpose I raised you up, to demonstrate My power in you, and that My name might be proclaimed throughout the whole earth." NASB
1 Peter 4:11 – 11 Whoever speaks, let him speak, as it were, the utterances of God; whoever serves, let him do so as by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. NASB
Learn then, the Bible plainly declares that chief among the purposes of God is the pursuit of His own glory and the fame of His great name!
And God is the only being for who it is right and proper to delight in Himself, because He Himself is the paragon of virtue and goodness. All other beings derive their goodness from the Creator and are in their best display, only vague reflections of the source of all virtue which is God. Therefore it is improper, even sinful and blasphemous for creatures to delight in themselves above the Creator, who is far more, yes infinitely more delightful than the creature. This is what God calls idolatry and it violates the first commandment of God’s standard for worship, the Ten Commandments. This is the same reason why the second commandment forbids the creating of images or idols to represent God, because He cannot be represented by any created things for He is infinitely higher and more beautiful and profound than anything created or that the creature can conceive.
Exodus 20:2-6 – 2 "I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. 3 "You shall have no other gods before Me. 4 "You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. 5 You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, 6 but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments. NASB
Grudem comments…. “Someone might object that it is wrong for God to seek glory for himself in creating man. Certainly it is wrong for human beings to seek glory for themselves, as we see in the dramatic example of the death of Herod Agrippa I. When he proudly accepted the shout of the crowd, "The voice of a god, and not of man!" (Acts 12:22), "immediately an angel of the Lord smote him, because he did not give God the glory; and he was eaten by worms and died" (Acts 12:23). Herod died because he robbed God of glory, glory that God deserved and he did not….But when God takes glory to himself, from whom is he robbing glory? Is there anyone who deserves glory more than he does? Certainly not! He is the Creator, he made all things, and he deserves all glory. He is worthy of receiving glory. Man may not seek glory for himself, but in this case what is wrong for man is right for God, because he is the Creator. It is right not wrong, that he be glorified—in fact, if he did not receive glory from all creatures in the universe, that would be horribly wrong!” (from Systematic Theology, Copyright © 1994 by Wayne Grudem) Therefore, God delights in His own glory and has made the creation as a means of displaying His Goodness in all of its various attributes.
Now we have laid some ground work to understand God’s purpose in salvation, which serves the higher purpose of the display of His own glory and excellency as God. In salvation, God displays and manifests His own glory.
Ephesians 3:8-11 – 8 To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ, 9 and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God, who created all things; 10 in order that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places. 11 This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, NASB
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