How Big Is Your God?

Psalm 76

“Many men and women today are living, often with inner dissatisfaction, without any faith in God at all. This is not because they are particularly wicked or selfish or, as the old-fashioned would say, “godless,” but because they have not found with their adult minds a God big enough to “account for” life, big enough to “fit in with” the new scientific age, big enough to command their highest admiration and respect, and consequently their willing co-operation.” J B Phillips, Your God Is Too Small, 1961

Whether Phillips is right or not, many who claim belief in God had worked diligently to whittle him down to size. A size they can get their heads around, the kind of being they can relate to on a personal level. Their kind of god can’t do miracles, can’t know all things, can’t bring stubborn sinners to faith so long as they resist him. He couldn’t create all things out of nothing, had to rely on evolutionary scientific processes for help. Some variation on that theme is the god the overwhelming majority of people hear about in church. Is it any wonder church involvement is declining?

If you believe God in his word the Bible says what he means, means what he says, you find much different God on its pages. One who makes himself known through his works of Creation and through his works in the Church. One who both is and continually does what makes us go “wow!” One who is big enough and glorious enough and God enough to be worthy of our praise.

A. God is known v.1-3

what did it signify when God said: “I will take you to myself for a people, and I will be your God.” (Ex. 6:7)

declaration not empty of meaning; God didn’t just “allow” all the bad stuff to happen to Pharaoh – “Then the Lord said to Moses, “Now you will see what I will do to Pharaoh, for compelled by my strong hand he will release them, and by my strong hand he will drive them out of his land.”” Ex. 6:1

also Ex. 7:4“But Pharaoh will not heed you, so that I may lay My hand on Egypt and bring My armies and My people, the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great judgments.”

had a reputation for acting on behalf of his people in ways even heathen recognized – see Josh. 2:8-11

God not content to simply declare residence, then keep a low profile – see 2 Chron. 7:12-16 then 2 Chr. 7:1-3

showed in visible tangible ways he was present with his people – glory filling the Temple; Mount Carmel (1 Kin. 18:38-39); Sennacherib’s defeat (2 Kin. 19:35-37); Nebuchadnezzar humbled (Dan. 4:29-34)

continues in NT – God identifying with his people: “why are you persecuting me? I am Jesus whom you are persecuting!” (Acts 9:4-5)

God makes clearly known his overwhelming superiority over his foes

doesn’t squeak by for the win in overtime; soundly defeats and disarms his enemies – shatters their weapons, completely neutralizes the threat – removes ability to do harm

Sennacherib’s defeat unprecedented, not matched since militarily (exceptions: Hiroshima, Nagasaki)

God wages on our behalf in spiritual realm as well as physical; he is as superior over spiritual enemies, we just don’t perceive the battles – see Dan. 10:13, 20

God’s victories seen in physical realm inspire/increase confidence he can prevail in spiritual warfare

serves several purposes when God makes himself known in these ways

encourages his people: they aren’t forgotten, abandoned, dependent only on own resources

shows Christ’s commitment to the church – working in and through her, defending her, acting on her behalf/in her best interests

assures the righteous that justice will eventually prevail – perfect justice must wait for hereafter, but… previews now give confidence that God pays attention, is committed to justice and righteousness

is warning to his enemies: God is a serious threat, repentance now means being spared much worse later

God intends to be known – purposefully has done and continues to do what will reveal his existence and attributes

is manifested in his word, his creation; further revealed in his works of providence

equips his church and individual believers to comprehend his word, recognize him more fully in his works

B. God is glorious v.4-9

resplendent – brilliant, dazzlingly or gloriously bright

a glory that when “rubbed off” on Moses made the Hebrew children afraid! so overwhelmed the disciples on Mount of Transfiguration they couldn’t think straight

nothing can compare; goes beyond our ability to even imagine, much less comprehend

majestic – quality or state which inspires awe or reverence

are a select few people – walk into a room, instant hush, a ripple through entire crowd, they have a “presence”; same with God except many orders of magnitude greater

when God appears in his majesty, doesn’t have to say or do anything, just be; simply his presence is overpowering

Rev. 1:13-17 [I saw] in the midst of the seven lampstands One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band.His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire;His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters;He had in His right hand seven stars, out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength.And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, “Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last.”

overwhelming

stouthearted, mighty men – men of valor, warriors, trained to face whatever the enemy threw at them without flinching; supposed to use “shock and awe” tactics, not be intimidated by them

all without exception paralyzed by God’s overwhelming majesty and power – unable to move, helpless, as dead men

authoritative

when God speaks to command, no argument, no negotiation – immediate response; is true whether creature or “nature” is one being commanded

“So the men marveled, saying, “Who can this be, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?” (Matt. 8:26)

God will be obeyed – that should comfort his people, God’s enemies and theirs cannot act outside boundaries God sets

see Job 1:12; 2:6 – this far and no farther; these limits and not beyond

to be feared

“fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge / wisdom” (Prov. 1:7; 9:10) – not that kind of fear spoken of here (same word, different principle because of context)

God above all others is to be feared when he is angry – yes, God does display anger toward his enemies, enemies of his people, those who perpetrate injustice, blaspheme against him; will not tolerate wrongdoing indefinitely

Heb. 10:30-31For we know Him who said, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. And again, “The LORD will judge His people.”It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

the sovereign

God doesn’t negotiate, doesn’t discuss; isn’t open to suggestions, for sure not persuaded by excuses

time will come when God pronounces his judgment – will be no rebuttal, only silence; acknowledgement of God’s sovereign rule over his creation will be universal

all will acknowledge – some will do so gladly, the rest grudgingly, but none will dispute his authority

judge

has two “functions” – to condemn and to vindicate – condemn the wicked, vindicate the righteous

all will recognize that his very judgments are righteous – the wicked deserve their condemnation, the righteous their commendation

God is glorious in all his being, all his ways and doings without exception

C. God is worthy of praise v.10-12

don’t really have a frame of reference, but… imagine for moment what world would be like if evil people were successful in their evildoing – if all they meant for evil really turned out that way

thank God even evil of evildoers directed against God and his people will bring praise to him

it’s one thing to make a good thing turn out well; quite another to make evil serve good purpose

God has power to do just that, does it regularly, and for purpose:

his glory and his people’s good – “that in all things he (Christ) may have the preeminence” (Col. 1:18); “God works all things for good….” (Rom. 8:28)

God in all his doings deserves to be worshiped and served by all mankind

no other being is worthy of worship as God is – when he says “no other gods ahead of me”, he’s not being self-centered, egotistical; no other being deserves that place if God is truly God as Bible reveals him to be

if God truly is that worthy, he deserves more than words – make vows and pay them

God is absolute sovereign over all things

both king and subjects of earthly kingdoms must recognize superior authority

Isa 45:5 “I am the Lord, and there is no other; There is no God besides me.” Isa. 45:6 “I am the Lord, and there is no other.” Isa. 45:18 “I am the Lord, and there is no other.” Isa. 48:11 “I will not give my glory to another.”

Christians especially should acknowledge God as sovereign – give the president his due and don’t forget God

Since God is that great and glorious and majestic and awesome and worthy of our worship and praise, he deserves all we can give him, the best we can give him. We also can expect he will do great and glorious and wonderful things, for his glory and our good. More than that, we can ask him to do those sorts of things. We’re quick to ask for smaller things, stuff only God can do but still small stuff. Let’s ask him to do bigger things, the sort that will require all who observe to acknowledge God did them. Then we must respond correctly – thanksgiving and praise, then ask our amazing heavenly Father to do more awesome things to bring glory to God.

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