Thus says God, the LORD, who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and what comes from it, who gives breath to the people on it and spirit to those who walk in it: 6 “I am the Lord; I have called you in righteousness; I will take you by the hand and keep you; I will give you as a covenant for the people, a light for the nations, 7 to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness. 8 I am the Lord; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols.” (Isaiah 42:5–8)
As much as the Lord loves you, you are not the center of his universe, the prize of his creation. John Piper writes, “God governs the world with glory precisely that He might be admired, marveled at, exalted, and praised. The climax of His happiness is the delight He takes in the echoes of his excellence in the praises of the saints” (Desiring God, 45).
God is the highest, most important, most valuable reality anywhere at anytime. When he created the world, as he chose and watched over Israel, when he sent his Son, and as he redeems men and women from every tongue, tribe, and nation, he aims to be known as God, enjoyed as God, worshipped as God.
Isaiah says God is the one, “who created the heavens… who spread out of the earth… who gives breath” (Isaiah 42:5). We are reminded God is working in all kinds of ways, “I have called…I will take…I will give” (42:6). These verses climax with God declaring, “I am the Lord; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols” (42:8). Everything I do for you, God says, I do to establish and spread my own all-powerful, all-satisfying, all-loving, always righteous glory.
The Mistake of a Man-Centered God
Because we were born with a selfish, sinful nature, and because our culture constantly screams that I am the most important person in my world, we struggle to embrace a God-centered God. If we are honest, the way we believe often suggests God is only good news for us if he cares more about us than himself. While that perspective on God’s love for us might be comforting and even inspiring, it simply isn’t a good picture of the God of the Bible. And ironically it robs the very love it aims to protect.
God’s greatest love for us is expressed by inviting us to see and share in his glory. We will know no greater joy than this. The stunning depth and commitment of God’s love for sinners is wrapped up in the depth of his commitment to make his glory known and loved everywhere around the world. He made us to broadcast his glory. He patiently endured our sin in order to display his glory. He commissioned a Savior, his own precious Son, in order to show his glory. It’s precisely his zeal for his glory that hates our sin, cancels our sin, cleanses us from sin, and makes us his own. He redeemed us in love — shocking, dramatic, merciful love — but he redeemed us to remake us into the images we were meant to be, images of him.
The Glory of God’s Creativity
If with new eyes we’re able to move ourselves out of the supreme place in our own hearts, and see God high and lifted up above everyone and everything else, we’ll begin to witness how glorious he really is in the world around us. Everything he created was imagined in his sovereign, creative mind and handcrafted to declare and celebrate his greatness.
“I am the Lord; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols” (Isaiah 42:8).
His glory is in the ever-shifting, ever-floating shapes of the clouds. His glory sounds from those same clouds when they turn dark and thunder loudly from above. In each stormy evening, God fires those cannons with lightening to remind us he is God. His glory shines in the brightness of the moon and the sparkle of hundreds of stars on a clear night. And if we could see beyond our sky — as we can now with telescopes — we would see his glory even among the distant stars, planets, and galaxies.
And when we see him there — far older, far bigger, far more powerful than we think of him most days — how do we respond? We sing, “I’m so unworthy, but still you love me. Forever my heart will sing of how great you are.” We understand the love of God, when we see how small and unworthy we are. We feel God’s love most deeply, when we see that it makes much more of God than of us. His love saves and reshapes our hearts to sing about him, and not ourselves.
And so, feeling ever-loved, but ever-second to the lover of our souls, we sing again and again to him, “All glory, honor, power is yours.” Amen.