God’s Glory

In a well known Sermon from the greatest American Theologian and perhaps the greatest mind ever produced by America, Jonathan Edwards, addressed this is a classic Sermon entitled, “Dissertation on the End for which God Created the World.” In a sermon that could not be preached today in most Churches because of how involved its argumentation is Edwards wrote,

“All that is ever spoken of in the Scripture as an ultimate end of God’s works, is included in that one phrase, “the glory of God;” which is the name by which the ultimate end of God’s works is most commonly called in Scripture; and seems most aptly to signify the thing.”

Jonathan Edwards
The End For Which God Created the World

And so right from the state we offer that God does all He does for His own Glory. Edwards was not alone in this thinking. Calvin himself offered,

“God preordained, for his own glory and the display of His attributes of mercy and justice, a part of the human race, without any merit of their own, to eternal salvation, and another part, in just punishment of their sin, to eternal damnation.”

We see that Edwards is consistent with Calvin. Calvin held that the Salvation of man had as its chief end “God’s Glory.” Edwards merely expanded that thought to insist that not only man’s salvation but all that God did has as its end God’s glory.

For Calvin this whole world, moved by God’s providence, was a “theater of God’s Glory.”

If we are going to pursue the idea that God does all He for His own Glory we should have a operating idea of what we mean by the word “Glory.”

We might offer that God’s Glory includes the quality of His activities, His attributes, and perfections. We would talk about the Revelation of Jesus Christ who, Scripture says was the “outshining of God’s glory.”

The OT word for “glory” comes from the Hebrew Word for weightiness, or heaviness. What that is communicating is the idea of substance and import. We see an example of the use of the word “glory” in this direction when we read of Joseph’s revelation of himself to his brothers. He tells them,

“So you shall tell my father of all my glory in Egypt, and of all that you have seen; and you shall hurry and bring my father down here.”

Joseph desired that his weightiness as seen in his position, status, and wealth to be conveyed to his Father.

In the NT the idea of “glory” points to much the same idea. It is that which is true about a man that is praiseworthy.

Matthew 6:2, “Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.”

“Glory” here is what effects praise from men because of the quality and character of the action.

So when the Bible speaks of the glory of God it is speaking of that which is praiseworthy about Him … it is speaking of His worthiness, honor, and exalted Character. When “glory” is used of God it is His supreme Majesty that is in view.

When we suggest then that God does all He does for His own Glory we are suggesting that God’s primary motivation for all His doing His is Glory … is His own Majesty … is His own Supremacy … is His own Exaltedness … is Himself.

We might ask here what other motivation could God find for doing all His doing except Himself? If God were to pursue anything else as His primary motivation, besides Himself, God would at that point be making that other lesser thing, whatever it was that was motivating Him, to be something higher than Himself. That something else would become God to God.

Example — If God’s motivation was Human happiness and as such God was motivated in all He does by human happiness than the chief end of God would be to glorify Human happiness, and if the chief end of God would be to glory human happiness then human happiness would be God’s god. But God’s motivation does not terminate on human happiness, but God’s chief end is Himself.

For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen. (Romans 11:36)

For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. (Colossians 1:16)

Now this does not mean that Human happiness and God’s glory are in Contradiction. Clearly the overflow of God’s glory is the happiness of God’s people.

The understanding that God does all that He does for His own Glory has made a difference in the way Theologies have been crafted as many have noted in Church History. Some Theologies have been crafted so as to find their center terminating on man’s rescue and so on justification. As noble as that theme is if we terminate God’s motivation on man’s justification as if that is God’s chief end, then we end up with a theology that is anthropocentric. Reformed Theology saw a different center…. a different end that God was pursuing even in Justification so that Justification was not a ultimate end but only a proximate end of God pursuing His glory.

Here Robert Letham offers some words that hits upon what I am aiming at here,

“Perhaps most striking is the difference in emphasis on justification between Luther and Lutheranism on the hand and Reformed theology on the other. For the former, justification is central to the whole of theology. It is the doctrine by which the church stands or falls. It functions as a kind of critical methodological tool by which any aspect of theology, or theology as a whole is to be judged….However, there is hardly an instance in Reformed theology placing justification in the center. Not that Reformed theology opposed justification by faith alone, or salvation by pure grace. On the contrary, they saw salvation in its entirety as a display of the sovereign and free mercy of God. The explanation lay in the fact that, for Reformed theology, everything took place to advance the glory of God. Thus the chief purpose of theology and of the whole of life was not the rescue of humanity but the glory of God. The focus was theocentric rather than soteriological. Even in the Heidelberg Catechism (1563), where soteriological concerns are more prominent (one of its authors, Zacharias Ursinus [1533-1587] was formerly a Lutheran) the famous first question ‘What is your only comfort in life and death?’ is answered w/ reference to the action of the Trinity, beginning, ‘I am not my own but belong… to my faithful savior Jesus Christ.

Following from this was an attempt by Reformed theology to grasp the unity of creation and redemption. The whole of life was seen in the embrace of God’s revelatory purpose. With the covenant at its heart, the whole of life was to display God’s glory….

Robert Letham
The Work of Christ — pg. 189-190

God’s people understood the idea that God did all He did for His own glory. The appeal in their prayers throughout Scripture demonstrates that they understood that they were to pin their hopes upon the Character of God as being the motivation for God to answer their requests,

Here we are going to spend some time looking at that idea.

That God’s glory was the basis upon which God’s people prayed is seen everywhere throughout Scripture

That God does all He does for His own Glory was understood by God’s people in the Scripture and was the foundation upon which they made their appeals to God.

(Appeal to God’s Glory)

Exodus 32:12 — (Context — Moses comes down from the Mountain and finds the children of Israel in the midst of
Idolatry and God threatens to wipe them out.)

Listen for the foundation upon which their Appeal to God is made for not destroying Israel

12 Wherefore should the Egyptians speak, and say, For mischief did he bring them out, to slay them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth? Turn from thy fierce wrath, and repent of this evil against thy people.

Numbers 14:13-19 (Context — God is threatening to destroy Israel because of their complaint about the prospective
of their being crushed by the inhabitants of the Promised Land.)

Listen for the foundation upon which their Appeal to God is made for not destroying Israel

13 And Moses said unto the Lord, Then the Egyptians shall hear it, (for thou broughtest up this people in thy might from among them;)

14 And they will tell it to the inhabitants of this land: for they have heard that thou Lord art among this people, that thou Lord art seen face to face, and that thy cloud standeth over them, and that thou goest before them, by day time in a pillar of a cloud, and in a pillar of fire by night.

15 Now if thou shalt kill all this people as one man, then the nations which have heard the fame of thee will speak, saying,

16 Because the Lord was not able to bring this people into the land which he sware unto them, therefore he hath slain them in the wilderness.

17 And now, I beseech thee, let the power of my lord be great, according as thou hast spoken, saying,

18 The Lord is longsuffering, and of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression, and by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation.

19 Pardon, I beseech thee, the iniquity of this people according unto the greatness of thy mercy, and as thou hast forgiven this people, from Egypt even until now.

Joshua 7:9 (Context — Israel has been defeated at Ai over Achan’s disobedience. God threatens to destroy Israel. Joshua intercedes in prayer)

Listen for the foundation upon which their Appeal to God is made for not destroying Israel

9 For the Canaanites and all the inhabitants of the land shall hear of it, and shall environ us round, and cut off our name from the earth: and what wilt thou do unto thy great name?

II Samuel 7:26 (Context — God has given David permission to build a house for God to reside in)

Listen to David’s chief desire for this proposed house,

And let thy name be magnified for ever …

I Kings 8:43, 8:60 — (Context — Solomon dedicates the Temple)

Hear Solomon’s chief desire in the establishment of the Temple that God’s glory might be known

“that all people of the earth may know thy name, to fear thee …”

“That all the people of the earth may know that the Lord is God, and that there is none else.”

Parallel account — II Chronicles 6:32-33 — (Context — Request that prayer might be heard @ the Temple

“… in order that all peoples of the earth may know your name and fear you.”

I Kings 18:36-37 (Context — Contest on Mt. Carmel — That God might be vindicated over Baal)

Hear the appeal to God’s Glory in that God might be known

“let it be known this day that thou art God in Israel… that this people may know that thou art the Lord God…”

II Kings 19:19 — (Context — Threats of destruction to King Hezekiah by the Servants of the Assyrian King)

Hear the appeal for deliverance on the basis of God’s reputation … (His glory) being known.

19 Now therefore, O Lord our God, I beseech thee, save thou us out of his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that thou art the Lord God, even thou only.

Parallel account

Isaiah 37:20 — (Context –Hezekiah’s prayer for deliverance from Sennacherib, King of Assyria)

Now therefore, O Lord our God, save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that thou art the Lord …

Jeremiah 14:7, 21 — (Context — Relief from famine)

Jeremiah’s prayer — Pinned upon God’s Glory

“do thou it for thy name’s sake”
“Do not abhor us, for thy name’s sake, do not disgrace the throne of thy glory: remember …

A theme we find in the Psalms on the lips of David

Psa. 25:11 — Context — for the pardon of guilt

“For thy name’s sake”

Psa. 31:4 — Context — request for leading and guidance

“For thy name’s sake”

Ps. 79:9 — Context — For help and deliverance

“For the glory of thy name … for your name’s sake”

Ps. 109:21 — Context — Deliverance

“For your name’s sake”

Daniel 9:16-19 — Context — Prayer for God to have mercy on the Exiles of Israel and to restore them

“… For your own sake … because of your great mercy … for your own sake … because your city and your people are called by your name.”

I Chronicles 17:19, 21, 24 — Context — Prayer that God would do as he had promised to David

“… and your name will be established and magnified forever.”

II Chronicles 4:11 — Context — King Asa’s prayer going into battle against Zerah the Ethiopian

“…Let not man prevail against you…”

II Chronicles 20:9 — Context — King Jehoshaphat’s prayer for deliverance from enemies Moab & Ammon

“….your name is in your house…”

Now what is the implication of this?

One sure implication of this is that we cannot center ourselves upon God and His glory without Knowing God and His character. If we pin our hope in our prayer life upon God and His glory and then have wrong understandings of God then we are bound to go amiss. We will inevitably have zeal without knowledge.

As such, if we are to live in keeping with God’s glory we have to know the mind of God and the only where we can find the mind of God is in Holy Writ.

Author: jetbrane

I am a Pastor of a small Church in Mid-Michigan who delights in my family, my congregation and my calling. I am postmillennial in my eschatology. Paedo-Calvinist Covenantal in my Christianity Reformed in my Soteriology Presuppositional in my apologetics Familialist in my family theology Agrarian in my regional community social order belief Christianity creates culture and so Christendom in my national social order belief Mythic-Poetic / Grammatical Historical in my Hermeneutic Pre-modern, Medieval, & Feudal before Enlightenment, modernity, & postmodern Reconstructionist / Theonomic in my Worldview One part paleo-conservative / one part micro Libertarian in my politics Systematic and Biblical theology need one another but Systematics has pride of place Some of my favorite authors, Augustine, Turretin, Calvin, Tolkien, Chesterton, Nock, Tozer, Dabney, Bavinck, Wodehouse, Rushdoony, Bahnsen, Schaeffer, C. Van Til, H. Van Til, G. H. Clark, C. Dawson, H. Berman, R. Nash, C. G. Singer, R. Kipling, G. North, J. Edwards, S. Foote, F. Hayek, O. Guiness, J. Witte, M. Rothbard, Clyde Wilson, Mencken, Lasch, Postman, Gatto, T. Boston, Thomas Brooks, Terry Brooks, C. Hodge, J. Calhoun, Llyod-Jones, T. Sowell, A. McClaren, M. Muggeridge, C. F. H. Henry, F. Swarz, M. Henry, G. Marten, P. Schaff, T. S. Elliott, K. Van Hoozer, K. Gentry, etc. My passion is to write in such a way that the Lord Christ might be pleased. It is my hope that people will be challenged to reconsider what are considered the givens of the current culture. Your biggest help to me dear reader will be to often remind me that God is Sovereign and that all that is, is because it pleases him.

2 thoughts on “God’s Glory”

  1. Thank you for all the examples you gave of people praying in Scripture. With every one I read the importance of the glory of God sunk a little deeper and I understood a little better.

  2. Grammar: I believe you are missing a ‘does’ right after “God does all He”.

    If we are going to pursue the idea that God does all He for His own Glory we should have a operating idea of what we mean by the word “Glory.”

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