There is none like thee among the gods, O Lord, nor are there any works like thine. All the nations thou hast made shall come and bow down before thee, O Lord, and shall glorify thy name. For thou art great and doest wondrous things, thou alone art God.
The text has three verses 8, 9, and 10. Verse 10 says, “For you are great and do wondrous things, you alone are God.” Notice it is given as a reason (“For you are great . . . “). When you say, “I bought a bagel, for I was hungry,” you mean that your hunger was the reason you bought the bagel. So when David says, “For you are great and do wondrous things,” he means that God’s greatness is the reason for verse 9—that “all the nations will come and bow down before him and glorify him.” And his greatness is the reason for verse 8 too—that there is none like him among the gods, nor any works like his. In other words, God’s greatness makes him stronger than all the gods of the universe and God’s greatness makes him stronger than all the nations of the world. He rules the gods and he rules the nations, FOR (because) he is great and does wondrous things; he alone is God. God over all gods and God over all nations.
The Greatness of God Is Central to All Life
One of the things that your pastor, Brent, and I have in common is the overwhelming persuasion that God is great. God is very great, and his greatness is unsearchable. But not only that. Every pastor and every Christian would agree with that—that God is great. What Brent and I believe is that this is central to all of life. This is relevant to everything we think and feel and do. The unparalleled, incomparable, unequalled, unrivaled greatness of God is utterly important in the ministry—in building a church and caring for people and spreading the gospel. We believe that, even when people don’t know it, what they need most and are most starved for is a vision of an awesomely great God, and fellowship with an infinitely great God.
The Greatness of God Is Utterly Relevant
It is utterly relevant for everything in life.
- If we saw the greatness of God, we would not be so greedy and covetous.
- If we saw the greatness of God, our eyes wouldn’t stray after lustful images and thoughts.
- If we saw the greatness of God, we wouldn’t get angry at our children so easily.
- If we saw the greatness of God, we wouldn’t pout and get hurt so easily in our marriages.
- If we saw the greatness of God, we wouldn’t worry about our looks so much.
- If we saw the greatness of God, we wouldn’t spend time watching mindless and sordid and defiling television programs.
- If we saw the greatness of God, we wouldn’t get so discouraged with the evil and godlessness of our culture.
- If we saw the greatness of God, we wouldn’t give in to our appetites and overeat in boredom and depression.
And there are a hundred other unforeseen good effects that would come into our lives if we could keep the greatness of God in the front of our minds and be gripped by his awesome reality. In other words, just like the Bible says in 2 Corinthians 3:18, if we saw the greatness of God—the glory of God—we would be changed from one degree of glory to the next.
Have You Seen the Greatness of God?
What the Seward neighborhood needs more than anything else from Immanuel Baptist Church is to see the glory of God. And don’t think that your smallness is an obstacle to that. A telescope is a very small instrument, but it helps people see stupendous realities in the sky. God loves to magnify his greatness by shining through vessels of clay. “My power is made perfect in weakness,” Jesus said. The issue is not smallness. The issue is: have you seen the greatness of God? Have you been taken captive as it were by the glory of his power and knowledge and love, in such a way that all human power and all human knowledge and all human love lose the power of their attraction? That’s the issue of your impact in this neighborhood and on the mission field. Have you seen the greatness of God?
So let me point to the two ways that God’s greatness is shown in this text and illustrate it from what God is doing, and is willing to do right here.
The One Who Sat There
Scripture Reading — Revelation 4:2-6a
The one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and ruby. — Revelation 4:3
In John’s vision of heaven we soon see that the focal point is the one who sits on the throne. Here Revelation brings us into the awesome presence of the Lord God Almighty.
This is not the first time the Bible tells of someone standing before the Lord Almighty (see Isaiah 6:1-8; Ezekiel 1; Daniel 10). But since the time of Jesus’ ascension to heaven (Acts 1:9-11), this is the first sustained and detailed description of “the one who sat on the throne.” Even so, we are not given a full description of the Lord.
This revelation is not for satisfying our curiosity. The Lord God opens heaven’s door and has us stand in his presence so that faith in him may spring to life, grow in conviction, and be sustained in hope.
In our world of mixed emotions and situations—joy and sorrow, doubt and conviction, success and failure, health and sickness—God wants us to see that our world is centered in him.
The gospel of Mark tells us that Jesus’ ministry began with the words “The kingdom of God has come near” (Mark 1:15). And here in Revelation we see that Jesus’ mission continues as he is seated on the throne.
Hallelujah! Our God reigns!
Surrounding the Throne
Scripture Reading — Revelation 4:4-8
We meet interesting and intriguing characters close to the Lord God and encircling his throne. We might wonder, “Do these elders and creatures help us understand what living in heaven will be like?” It turns out they do more than that; they also show us how to live in God’s kingdom today.
The twenty-four elders, seated on thrones around God’s throne, have long been understood to represent God’s people. Twelve of them represent the people of God in the Old Testament: the twelve tribes of Israel. The other twelve elders represent the church formed under the shepherding care of Jesus’ twelve apostles. The presence of the elders shows that God has given his people a special place in his kingdom; we will rule and reign with God.
Along with the twenty-four elders, we also meet “four living creatures.” They too encircle God and his throne. The living creatures represent “everything that has breath” (Psalm 150:6; see Genesis 2:7) in God’s whole creation. Wild animals, domesticated animals, human beings, and all other creatures have a place of honor and service in God’s throne room.
God’s redemptive care covers his entire creation. As the people who will one day rule and reign with God, God calls us to exercise dominion by loving and caring for all he has made.
The Coming Glory
Scripture Reading — Haggai 2:1-9
We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. — John 1:14
After about 70 years in captivity, a remnant of God’s exiled people in Babylon returned to the land of Judah. Persia had taken over Babylon, and now Zerubbabel, a descendant of King David (Matthew 1:13), was appointed governor to rebuild the temple of God in Jerusalem.
When the temple’s foundation was laid, many of the people shouted with joy, but the older ones wept. Why? Because they had seen the former temple in its glory (Ezra 3). What could compare to that? God encouraged Zerubbabel to be strong and to keep working. One day God would shake up the world again, and the glory of the Lord’s temple would outshine even the old temple that had been destroyed.
How could that be? The Bible gives us two answers. First, Jesus, the Son of God, became one of us to reveal the glory of God’s grace and truth (John 1:14). He whose very body is the temple of God (John 2:21) came to give us eternal life.
Second, when Jesus returns, with “the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God,” there will be no temple, “because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple” (Revelation 21:2, 22). And all whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life will live there (21:27). Trust in Jesus, the Lamb of God, as your Savior, and you too will see the glory of the Lord!