Tuesday, April 21, 2015

God is great!

Today's post is all about considering the scriptures that refer to the One and only Living God by the title: "The Great God" or by references that speak of God as being "great". Why is God so great? By exploring the scope of scripture we will uncover key passages that refer to God as great and see why the God of the Bible is so great.

1. God is the Great Savior
The first time we see reference to God and the term "great" in the same verse is in Exodus 14:30-31 "Thus the Lord saved Israel that day from the hand of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore. 31 When Israel saw the great power which the Lord had used against the Egyptians, the people feared the Lord, and they believed in the Lord and in His servant Moses." When Israel saw their enemies defeated, they saw in one event not only an end to their slavery, but also God defeat what Pharoah represented: the array of gods and goddesses worshipped by the Egyptians, the wealth and power of that nation and four centuries of tyranny wiped away in one night! When we come to the New Testament, Jesus is deemed the Great God and Savior in Titus 2:13 "looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus." Indeed God is great! God is the Great Savior! 

2. God is great because He is God
Sometimes the distinction is made between praise and worship, in that "praising God" has to do with what He does, whereas "worshipping God" deals moreso with the kind of God He is. Although pressing such a distinction can go to far, it nevertheless helps us in being reminded of the fact that God's greatness in Who He is in His being defines His greatness, followed by what He does. Deuteronomy 10:17 states: "For the Lord your God is God of gods, and Lord of lords, a great God, a mighty, and a terrible, which regardeth not persons, nor taketh reward." (KJV) God is the "Great God" because He literally is the Only God in a class by Himself by virtue of His majestic being (God of gods), His majestic authority (Lord of lords) and that is mighty and to be feared (translated here in the KJV by the term "terrible"). God is depicted in Deuteronomy 10:17 as a God that is just and fair in his dealings with people (literally in the Hebrew "not preferring one person over another" or the KJV "regardeth not persons") and One who is not moved by bribes. God is clearly not like human beings in the sense He is not molded by circumstances nor capable of having His hand forced to bend to anyone's will. God is God. Numbers 23:19 “God is not a man, that He should lie,Nor a son of man, that He should repent; Has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good? God is great because He is, well, God." Malachi 3:6  “For I, the Lord, do not change; therefore you, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed." Hebrews 13:8 states similarly -  "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever." The God of the Bible is great. He is great because He is the Great Savior and because He is God. 

3. God is great, worthy of worship.
What made the temple in the Old Testament so great? What makes our time at church and with one another so great? Ezra gives the answer in Ezra 5:8 "Be it known unto the king, that we went into the province of Judea, to the house of the great God, which is builded with great stones, and timber is laid in the walls, and this work goeth fast on, and prospereth in their hands." Nehemiah 8:6 records later on - And Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God. And all the people answered, Amen, Amen, with lifting up their hands: and they bowed their heads, and worshipped the Lord with their faces to the ground." God is Great, worthy of worship.

Worship and praise are the spill over of fervent love for God for all He is and what He has done. At first when we read Psalm 95:3, we may be tempted to think the Psalmist is contrasting God as the greatest among many - "For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods." However as you read on into the Psalm, Yahweh is affirmed as having formed every square inch of creation, which by default makes all other would "god" nothing more than non-existent, non-living idols of men's imaginations. Consider Psalm 95:4-6  "In his hand are the deep places of the earth: the strength of the hills is his also. 5 The sea is his, and he made it: and his hands formed the dry land. 6 O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the Lord our maker." Proverbs affirms this role of the Great God as the Creator having the right to render judgment in Proverbs 26:10 "The great God that formed all things both rewardeth the fool, and rewardeth transgressors." 

God is great, worthy of worship. In our worship of God in His greatness, we affirm He alone is worthy, since He alone created the world, knows everything present and also knows the end from the beginning. Daniel 2:35 says about this Great God "Forasmuch as thou sawest that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it brake in pieces the iron, the brass, the clay, the silver, and the gold; the great God hath made known to the king what shall come to pass hereafter: and the dream is certain, and the interpretation thereof sure." Consider Daniel 4:35 “All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, but He does according to His will in the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of earth; And no one can ward off His hand. Or say to Him, ‘What have You done?’  

Any God that can do all these things and Be powerful enough, knowledgable enough and present enough in the past, present and future is more than worthy of our worship. God is Great. God is the Great Savior, great because He is God and worthy of worship. It would seem at this point we have reached the summit of this mountain of truth concerning the fact that "God is great". However what is the purpose of climbing any mountain? To see glories and wonders that can never be viewed on the ground. Only one more thought can complete today's study concerning why God is so great, namely...

4. God is greatly revealed in Jesus Christ
When we come to the New Testament, the Oneness, Greatness and Uniqueness of God in His being is still affirmed. Such a teaching of the Bible pertaining to God as being the only Great God is what we call "mono-theism". But now in the New Testament we find a second and equally important truth, namely the incarnation of Jesus Christ. Passages such as John 1:1 and Colossians 1:16 tell us that God in His Oneness of Being is also plural in His identity. The Old Testament hints at God's plurality of identity (i.e Genesis 1:26 "let us make man in our image and likeness") and the New Testament defines this plurality of identity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Matthew 28:19; 2 Corinthians 13:14). This identity is not merely three names or modes or "masks" that God wears, but they are Three-Personalities and thus Three-Persons sharing in the One, undivided, eternal Divine nature. 

By affirming God as One God and Jesus the Son as God revealed in human flesh, the groundwork is laid for affirming the Trinity. Two New Testament scriptures use this title "Great God" to identify the Lord Jesus Christ. The first is one we looked at near the beginning of this post,  Titus 2:13 "Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ." Hebrews 1:3 affirms the greatness of the Son that is stated in Titus 2:13 - "And He is the radiance of His glory and the exactrepresentation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high." The second New Testament verse we'll consider features the last time we find "great" and "God" in the same verse, namely Revelation 19:17, wherein we see these words spoken by an angel in the context of Jesus' second coming - "And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God." When we take everything we learned from the Old Testament usage of this title "Great God" and apply it to Jesus Christ, we now see the full and complete picture as to why the Great God of the Bible is so great. 

By this point our minds and hearts ought to be stretched beyond their limits and conclude that the only proper response is not analysis, but worship. God is great! This one key thought is what I want us all to focus upon today. Why is God great? He is the Great Savior, He is God, He is worthy of worship and God is revealed in the Person of Jesus Christ. God is great!

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