Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: Because you are more turbulent than the nations that are all around you, and have not walked in my statutes or obeyed my rules, and have not even acted according to the rules of the nations that are all around you, therefore thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I, even I, am against you. And I will execute judgments in your midst in the sight of the nations. And because of all your abominations I will do with you what I have never yet done, and the like of which I will never do again.Therefore fathers shall eat their sons in your midst, and sons shall eat their fathers. And I will execute judgments on you, and any of you who survive I will scatter to all the winds. Therefore, as I live, declares the Lord GOD, surely, because you have defiled my sanctuary with all your detestable things and with all your abominations, therefore I will withdraw. My eye will not spare, and I will have no pity. A third part of you shall die of pestilence and be consumed with famine in your midst; a third part shall fall by the sword all around you; and a third part I will scatter to all the winds and will unsheathe the sword after them.
“Thus shall my anger spend itself, and I will vent my fury upon them and satisfy myself. And they shall know that I am the LORD—that I have spoken in my jealousy—when I spend my fury upon them (Eze 5:7–13).
A very hard truth for all people, Christians and non-Christians, is that God does every thing He does for His own glory. When God acts in the world He does so for His own name sake, pleasure, plans and purposes. It really is about God’s glory. It matters not that when God acts upon His creatures whether it be for judgment or blessing. He does so that we know He is the Lord. The Creator demands glory and recognition from His created subjects.
Of course this is all strange to the ears of modern man. We are accustomed to thinking, being taught and hearing that it is all about us. That message comes explicitly or implicitly but surely it is the common sentiment of man. The popular idea is that sinners (if some are even willing to admit that much) are so lovable or valuable that God must have acted upon them to show them mercy and love through Christ. The idea that “I’m someone worth dying for” is popular.
However, much it is espoused, it is grossly wrong. God needs nothing outside of Himself. The triunity of the Godhead is self-sustaining and self- sufficient. He needs nothing and no one. He is perfectly satisfied in Himself. One may then ask why did He create man? A simple question that has a simple but often rejected answer. He did so out of His will and for His own glory (Eph. 1:3-13, Ro. 9:14-29). Now, I suppose one can try to get “really deep” and ask why God created the angels. Same answer. Out of His own will and for His own praise and glory. They are ever testifying to the greatness of God. You can change the question all you wish but the answer will always be the same. God acts for His own glory and that we may know He is the Lord. Here some pour soul will say that is narcissism. Sorry, only created sinful beings are narcissistic; since God is not like man He is without sin and evil. Actually to make the blessing and mercy of God, in the salvation of man, to be about our worth and value is a form of narcissism.
Whatever God does in creation is so that we may know that He is the Lord. That we may fear, honor, glorify, love, revere, worship, obey, submit and proclaim His glory. Even in acts of judgement. As I have been reading Ezekiel there is one phrase that stands out over and over again. It is, “And they shall know that I am the LORD.” When God acts it is that we may know He is the Lord is there is no other. Time and again the Lord sends Ezekiel to warn and pronounce impending calamities upon idolatrous Israel and the pagan nations that persecuted them. The message is often sever and graphic, judgment that ends with the phrase “And you shall know that I am the LORD.” Observe: Wherever you dwell, the cities shall be waste and the high places ruined, so that your altars will be waste and ruined, your idols broken and destroyed, your incense altars cut down, and your works wiped out. And the slain shall fall in your midst, and you shall know that I am the LORD (Eze 6:5–7).
We can attempt to blunt the force of this proclamation from the Lord by saying that He “allowed” this calamity. But that is not what the Lord says in the texts. God is the one acting and not allowing. Of course He may use secondary means like people, nations and nature but He is still the one bringing such events about so that we may know He is the Lord. Our God is a consuming fire. His special revelation (the Bible) about Himself is very clear on this point, “Now the end is upon you, and I will send my anger upon you; I will judge you according to your ways, and I will punish you for all your abominations. And my eye will not spare you, nor will I have pity, but I will punish you for your ways, while your abominations are in your midst. Then you will know that I am the LORD (Eze 7:2–4). As you read that text ask yourself these questions. Who is acting? Who’s is on the receiving end of the action(s) and what is the purpose of the action(s)?
How about the mercy and grace of God? Why does He act merciful and gracious? Let’s be more specific. Who is the cross primarily about?The cross is about God. It is about the glory of God. Still more specifically about the glory of God in the salvation of His people- those whom He set His love and affections on before He ever created them. It is put this way in Romans 3:21-26:
But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
When we look to the cross of Christ of course we should see the love of God towards sinners. But it must not just be that. For only thinking the cross of Christ in terms of God’s love for sinners has led to much of the narcissism, in Christianity, that is rampant. We must see the glory of God there. We must meditate on the fact that it pleased the Father crush the Son (Is. 53: 10-12). If I can put it in a biblical phrase it would be what the Lord declared- that we would know He is the Lord. Both forensically and experientially. When we look to the cross we see, as Luther, put it “where wrath and mercy meet.” It is where God is glorified.
Perhaps we should ask ourselves what the Lord Christ thought of His own death and resurrection? Here we are not left to theological speculation. For we find in the Lord’s high priestly prayer His own thoughts on the subject:
When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.
“I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you. For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them (Jn 17:1–10)
I usually don’t quote this much Scripture because if readers have little patience for anything, sadly, it is reading large quotes of God’s Word. However, on this topic I find it necessary. Please note how many times the word glory and it’s related words (glorified, glorify e.t.c.) are found in this short passage. I have counted six times in the span of 10 verses that the glory of God is mentioned. In the Christ the Son, the Father and the glory of Christ in the elect. The Lord was emphasizing a point here. The glory of God. Also note the basis for all the talk of glory. Christ starts His prayer by saying “Father, he Hour has come.” Which is clearly a reference to His cross. The Lord well understood His death to be about God. The glory of God. It is so that all may know He is the LORD. Some to their eternal perdition and others to their eternal joy in Christ.
Finally, if one cannot think of the cross of Christ in terms of God’s glory, then chances are that individual has some narcissistic leanings. We must always remember that God always acts so that we may know He is the LORD.
Soli Deo Gloria!
For His Glory,