READING THE BIBLE (3): As the Revelation of God’s Majesty

Isaiah in the Temple (Isaiah 6)

 

Isaiah in the Temple (Isaiah 6)

In this series of posts we’re exploring the different ways the Bible confronts the reader and the appropriate response to each.

#3 – THE BIBLE AS REVELATION OF GOD’S MAJESTY

Christians often take the mind-blowing fact of God’s self-revelation for granted. Our faith stands or falls on the foundational belief that God has stooped to reveal himself to his creatures through the limited mode of human language and speech. The Scriptures are the very Word of the God who spoke and the entire cosmos came into being.

How can this stunning belief not continuously leave us with jaws dropped and hearts gripped? And the more we read what God has revealed in Holy Scripture, the more we realize that God does not desire to be hidden from his creatures. His majesty and glory are intended to be beheld by those who are “pure in heart.” His divine attributes are on display in lofty psalms of praise, vivid theophanies that shake the earth and strike people dead, poetic descriptions of God’s creative handiwork, God’s mighty power and mercy revealed in his salvation acts on behalf of his people.

When the reader encounters the Holy God at Sinai, coming down in thick cloud accompanied by fire and thunder, the reader should be struck with holy, paralyzing fear and awe. Likewise, when we read of Isaiah’s encounter with God in the temple (Isaiah 6) the appropriate response is to, like Isaiah himself, stand speechless and overwhelmed by our own sin in the presence of such a holy God. When Scripture paints a picture of God’s train filling the temple, high and lifted up, we ought to join the Angels in crying, “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory” (Isaiah 6:3).

Psalms 8 and 19 remind us of the splendor of God’s creative genius evident in the things he has made. These passages of exaltation invite us to declare with the psalmist: “ O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens” (Ps 8) and “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands” (Ps 19).

When faced with such powerfully vivid passages of God’s self-revelation, the appropriate response is to stand in awe and worship God.

In the opening words of Paul’s letters to the Colossians and Ephesians, he gets so caught up in the wonder of God’s saving plan, that is grammar gets sloppy, he starts on one concept and moves to another, pouring adjective upon adjective trying to capture God’s mystery now revealed in human words.  Paul is not articulating a well thought out theological position; he is lost in poetic rapture as he worships the LORD with his trembling pen.  The appropriate response to the following run-on sentence is not theological nit-picking and debate, but worship and awe!

 3 “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. 4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace 8 that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, 9 he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 10 to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.

11 In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, 12 in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. 13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory” (Ephesians 1:3-14).

QUESTIONS: Do we read Scripture primarily with ourselves in mind? Or, do we let the Scriptures draw our attention away from ourselves to behold the God of whom they so often speak? Has your reading of Scripture ever drawn you into worship, prayer and adoration? Why do you think the church has traditionally used music to draw people into worship? How can we let the public reading of Scripture be a conduit for heart-felt worship?

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