Reading the Scriptures Together - Week of August 12, 2018
Reading the Scriptures Together is a weekly post that is intended to serve as an extension of our Sunday Sermons. This reading plan is a compliment to the sermon, Psalm 57: Seeking God’s Glory in the Darkness.
Overview of This Week’s Reading: Considering the Glory of God
In Psalm 57 there is a refrain that David includes twice, a call for God to be lifted up and for His glory to reach the entire world:
Psalm 57:5/11 Be exalted, O God, above the heavens! Let your glory be over all the earth!
What’s clear in the Psalm is the value that David places on the glory of God. The glory of God is not easy to define, but stated simply it’s the essence of who God is in His character, beauty, majesty and greatness. To know the glory of God is to have an understanding of His character, beauty, majesty and greatness, and to spread the glory of God is to help others see and know those things.
For David there is nothing as important as the spread, manifestation and exaltation of the glory of God. Even though he’s is in a very rough position, and asking God to rescue him, the heart of David’s prayer is for the glory of God to be over all the world.
But, of course, David’s emphasis on the glory of God and his desire to see it spread is not unique. In fact this is one of the primary themes that runs throughout the entire Bible – God’s glory is fundamental to every aspect of God’s plan. In every part of Scripture, throughout the entire story of the Bible, from creation to eternity the glory of God is central.
God loves His glory and everything He does is a means of proclaiming His glory. God uses creation to proclaim His glory. God’s glory is shown in the way He deals with people, both in His judgment and in His salvation. We are called to have lives that reflect God’s glory and we should long to see God’s glory revealed in all things and in all places.
This week’s reading plan is intended to remind us of the magnificence of the glory of God and the centrality of His glory in His plan for all things.
Monday: Psalm 57
As David writes Psalm 57 he is a rough place; he’s in a cave, hiding from King Saul who wants him dead. In the Psalm David prays with confidence that God will rescue him (vv. 1-4) and even praises God for the deliverance he is sure God will provide (vv. 6-10). But the underlying theme in the Psalm and David’s primary aim is shown in the refrain that is in both verses 5 and 11 - Be exalted, O God, above the heavens! Let your glory be over all the earth!
As David hides in a dark cave being hunted by his enemies he desires to be delivered, but he prays that his deliverance will lead to the manifestation of the glory of God. While there is a lot we can learn from this Psalm about trusting God, I think the most significant truth that’s being communicated is that as we go through difficulties and seasons suffering there is one thing that we should desire more than anything else: The glory and the praise of God. After all, this is God’s primary desire and goal in all things and we should desire what God desires.
Tuesday: Exodus 33 - Moses and the Glory of God
While the theme of God’s glory runs throughout all of Scripture, there are only a couple of places where people are described as coming into the presence of God and His glory, one such instance is that Moses when he asks to see God’s glory.
As the account goes, Moses boldly asks God to show him His glory (33:18). God makes it clear that no man can see Him and live (33:20), but He offers a plan by which Moses can get a glimpse of His glory. God tells Moses where to stand and explains that He will pass by and allow Moses to see His backside. Near the end of chapter 34 we read that when Moses rejoined the rest of the people of Israel he had to wear a veil over his face because his encounter with the glory of God had literally left his face glowing brightly.
This story is an indication of how great and majestic our God is. He is so magnificent that we cannot see Him face-to-face and live, and to even see a glimpse of Him will leave us changed. These truths should create awe in us of who our God is and also leave us humbled as we realize that this is the same God who came and died in order to save us. Who are we that this God of great glory would have any thought of us, and yet He does.
Wednesday: Isaiah 6 - Isaiah and the Glory of God
Isaiah is another example of a person who got glimpse of the glory of God. Isaiah 6 is the story of Isaiah’s call by God to be a prophet. We are told that this experience takes place in the year King Uzziah died, which was a significant event in the history of Israel, Uzziah had been King for 52 years. It was during this year that Isaiah had a vision that changed his life and provides us with this great description of the holiness and glory of God. Isaiah describes seeing the Lord, seated high on His throne. His magnificence is shown in part by the fact that the robe that he wore came down and filled the temple. Then the text provides a description of the Seraphim that are proclaiming the holiness of God and declaring that earth is full of His glory. After describing the scene Isaiah speaks of his reaction to what he saw: He is completely humbled and sees his own frailty and sinfulness. The rest of the chapter describes God’s calling of Isaiah to serve as a prophet.
The story of Isaiah’s vision should help us consider the vastness and the magnitude of the glory of God. To truly see the glory of God, even in part, should leave us feeling hopelessly small. At the same time it should give us comfort and hope to know that our God is so much larger and greater than anything else we can know or see.
Thursday: John 17 – Jesus and the Glory of God
On the night before Jesus was crucified, after the last supper and before His betrayal, Jesus took time to pray. Jesus knew what was coming; He knew the cross was imminent, so He prayed. It’s incredible to hear what was most important to Jesus during this crucial time in His life and in history.
While this prayer includes several different themes one that rises to the top is His passion and desire for the glory of God. Jesus tells the Father that the goal of His ministry has been the glory of God and now He prays that His work on the cross and the salvation that He would accomplish would further display God’s glory (vv. 1-5). Later in the prayer He says that He has given His followers an example of the glory of God and now we should display that glory to the world through our unity in Him (vs. 22-23). In addition, He asks the Father to bring those who believe to where He will be in eternity so that we can see His glory (vs. 24). What’s clear in this prayer is that Jesus believes in the centrality of the glory of God. It formed the basis for everything He was and everything He hoped to accomplish.
Friday: Ephesians 1 – Our Salvation and the Glory of God
There are few places in the Scriptures that speak so fully of the nature of our salvation and the incredible grace that we have been shown through Christ as in Ephesians 1. Here we learn that from before time began God chose us (vs. 4) and planned the means by which He would adopt us (vs. 5), redeem us (vs. 7), forgive us (vs. 7) and establish our inheritance that is sealed by the Spirit until we obtain it (vv. 11-14).
As Paul tells us about our great salvation one thing is repeated over and over again: That our salvation is inseparably linked with the glory of God. We are told that the grace by which we are saved is ‘glorious grace’ (vs. 6) and we are saved that we might live ‘to the praise of His glory’ (vs. 12). Our promised inheritance is also said to be ‘to the praise of His glory’ (vs. 14) and is called a ‘glorious inheritance’ (vs. 18). Every aspect of our salvation is made possible by the ‘Father of Glory’ (vs. 17) who gives us the knowledge of Christ.
God loves His glory and our salvation is one of the most magnificent means by which He reveals and proclaims His glory to the world. As those who have received this grace we should strive to live in a way that honors and displays His glory.
Saturday: Psalm 63
Read Psalm 63 in preparation for our service on Sunday. As you read ask yourself these questions: What does this Psalm teach us about God? What does this Psalm teach us about ourselves? Also, take time to write down questions that you have about the Psalm, then come on Sunday and listen for answers to those questions.
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