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Sep 06, 2020

The Glory of God

Passage: Psalms

Preacher: Steve Lombardo

Series: Summer Playlist

Detail:

We’re going to be in Psalm 24 this morning, talking about the glory of God. I’ve been excited about preaching through the Psalms this summer. We’ve touched on a variety of topics, but one person asked me, “Why aren’t we talking about some of the current issues of the day? Why aren’t we talking about the riots in Kenosha? Why aren’t we talking about our black brothers and sisters and their plight? Why aren’t we talking about law enforcement and how hard things are for them now? Why aren’t we talking about COVID 19? Why aren’t we preaching a sermon on the presidential election coming up?”

On and on this list could go, and yes, we do talk about those topics—when they intersect with the Scriptures we’re preaching through. We’re unashamedly preaching God’s Word and when we come to points that intersect with our culture and the days in which we’re living, we speak to these things. But the things we’re facing today, serious though they are, are still passing things. They wax and wane with the changes in society. Someone told me everything could change after the November election. I don’t know if that’s true. We definitely have issues we need to continue to wrestle with, but I think we need to rejoice in the big-time truths of Scripture that are unchanging across all cultures and all centuries.

We’re going to be talking about one of those truths today, which is the glory of God. Psalm 24 is telling us that the glory of God is an amazing thing we get to be a part of. By “we,” I’m speaking of Christians, men and women whom God has chosen as His. He’s saved us and has set His Spirit on us in order that He can use us for His glory throughout the nations.

So today, brothers and sisters, we’re not going to rejoice in our ethnicity. We’re not going to take pride in our intellect. We’re not going to rejoice in our athleticism, our good looks, the social class we’re in or the blessings we have. Today we’re going to rejoice that God has chosen us and has named us to be His sons and daughters. May this truth stir up affection in your heart for God as you rejoice in Him and as you participate in His glory.

Perhaps you were saved at a Bible camp where you were convicted of your sin, so at a campfire you raised your hand, asking Jesus to come into your heart. Perhaps you were at a Billy Graham crusade when you walked the aisle down to the front and prayed the sinner’s prayer. Maybe you’ve responded more recently at a baptism class, where you realized you wanted to follow Christ and be baptized as His follower.

If this is true of you, then from your perspective it seems as if you chose Jesus, that you decided to turn to Him. But Scripture tells us that God is actually the One Who chose you. He chose you, and He has named you. So reflect on that today and let it stir up affection in your heart that results in praise. Your salvation wasn’t of your doing, but God’s. You were chosen by Him before the foundation of the world.

When God saves us, He calls us...

When God saves us, He calls us by many different things. Let’s look at three of them that just popped into my mind as I was reflecting on the goodness of God and on the glory of God in which we have been chosen to participate.

A new creation

First, God calls us a new creation in 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NKJV): “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”  You are new in Christ. When He saves you, He grabs you, changes you and makes you a new person. It’s an awesome thing.

His witnesses

Not only does He call you a new creation, He calls you His witnesses. Jesus tells us this in Acts 1:8: “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit had come upon you, and you will be my witnesses...” We are a new creation and we are His witnesses.

Salt and light

Jesus would also say in Matthew 6 that we’re salt and light. What does salt do? Salt preserves things. We don’t preserve our own meat in the Lombardo household, but if you were to salt up the pork or other meat, it would keep a much longer time. Salt is a preservative.

Not only is salt a preservative, it’s also a seasoning. It makes things taste better. In the same way, we who are followers of Christ have been called by God to be salt in this world. We need to preserve the good in society and make society better. This speaks volumes when we deal with the things that are happening in our society. As God’s people, the church is to be salt to make things better and to preserve the good.

We’re also called to be light. Light dispels the darkness. It reveals the truth. God names us light and salt. When God chooses to save us, He also turns us into these things without it being our choice. It’s not because of our hard work. We’re a new creation because He says we are. He calls us salt and light. He calls us His witnesses. We are these things. Of course,’ we’re not perfectly these things yet, but we’re growing. And this is what I want us to rejoice in this morning. However, it can be hard to see how God is changing us in these ways. Why? I think it’s because we live in an achievement-based society. We believe that in order to be accepted by God, we need to work really hard. We need to be doing certain things and doing them well in order to grow and ultimately to make God pleased with us. If we’re not careful, we can think of our relationship with God as performance-based.

Think of John 1:12: “To all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” Believing in Jesus and receiving Him into our lives gets turned  into doing. “To as many people who do the will of God, who work really hard at it, then we can hope to one day maybe be His children.” No, God saves us because He chooses us. He declares us to be His.

We are a new creation, we’re His witnesses and we’re salt and light. We need to step up and be who God has called us and created us to be. That’s the message I want to begin with this morning, because our culture continually bombards us with the idea that our approval is based on our performance. Many of us get on social media, maybe you did last night before you went to bed, and you’re scrolling through it. You probably saw that this type of thinking is pervasive.

Maybe you men see other guys who are strong, communicating that it’s wrong to show any weakness. You have to come in first place—and if you’re not first, you’re last. Some of you ladies may be looking at other people and seeing that they’re doing fantastic things. They have 17 kids that are all home schooled, and they’re all doing a great job. This lady must also work out because she has six-pack abs. She’s also posting pictures of their glorious vacations. Somehow, they’re out to eat at Culver’s or nice restaurants all the time. You don’t know how they stay in such great shape.

You see these things and start comparing yourself, thinking, “This is what I must do. I must do, do, do...,” but it’s never enough and it’s never good enough. This thinking can come into our minds as we think about our relationship with God. When we desire to grow, it’s not just because of what we do or how hard we work at it. It’s actually how we see God that changes our affections so we end up becoming more like Jesus Christ. We see the glory of God, we participate in His glory, then He changes us from glory to glory. I think 2 Corinthians 3:18 is key as we think about this. “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”

Paul is saying that as we see the glory of the Lord Jesus, we begin to be transformed from one glory to another. We become more like the One Whom we see, the glory we are witnessing. That’s why we study the Scriptures. It’s not because we have to do that in order to be accepted by God. Rather, we study them so we can see His glory more—and that’s how we’re changed. Our affections are changed, and we then move to greater glory.

This is what David is talking about in Psalm 24: beholding the glory of God so that ultimately we will be changed by it. If you look at the Psalm, you’ll see the word Selah at the end of verses six and ten. It literally means to stop, think and reflect on what has just been said or what has just been sung. That’s what I want us to do today. I want us to think about the glory of God, the thing that unites all of us. He has chosen us and saved us for His glory. I want us to reflect on that, remembering how important His glory is. As we welcome the King of glory into our lives, He will change us and use us for our good and His glory.

Let’s read Psalm 24 together:

1 The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof,
    the world and those who dwell therein,
for he has founded it upon the seas
    and established it upon the rivers.

Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord?
    And who shall stand in his holy place?
He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
    who does not lift up his soul to what is false
    and does not swear deceitfully.
He will receive blessing from the Lord
    and righteousness from the God of his salvation.
Such is the generation of those who seek him,
    who seek the face of the God of Jacob. Selah.

Lift up your heads, O gates!
    And be lifted up, O ancient doors,
    that the King of glory may come in.
Who is this King of glory?
    The Lord, strong and mighty,
    the Lord, mighty in battle!
Lift up your heads, O gates!
    And lift them up, O ancient doors,
    that the King of glory may come in.
10 Who is this King of glory?
    The Lord of hosts,
    he is the King of glory! Selah.

God was called the King of glory. What is the glory of God? This is a huge topic throughout the pages of Scripture. Before we look at the specific verses, I want to take a minute to look at what the Scriptures have to say about the glory of God. The glory of God is the magnificence, worth, loveliness and grandeur of God’s many perfections. These are displayed in His creative and redemptive ways throughout history. Sometimes the glory of God refers to His personal presence. It’s the shekinah glory we read about in Scripture. It’s when God is in one particular place. Of course, He’s everywhere all the time and His glory is everywhere all the time, but sometimes there was a manifested personal presence in a certain place. For example, when the nation of Israel was being led out of Egypt, God went with them and His presence was seen in a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night (Exodus 13:17-22). And when God met with Moses on Mt. Sinai and He allowed Moses to see His back, where He had just been, that was God’s manifested presence in a specific space (Exodus 19). Then God’s presence also dwelled in a particular way in the Holy of Holies in the tabernacle (Exodus 40:34-38).

So you can talk about the glory of God in two ways. You can speak of where God is represented in a particular space or you can speak of His glory which is manifested through the universe through His beauty and worth and through the grandeur of all His perfections as they’re on display. In Hebrew, the term for glory is kabow, which means weightiness. It suggests the value and worth, the heaviness of God. The Greek term for glory is doxa, which refers to praise and fame. You’ve probably sung the doxology, “Praise God from Whom all blessings flow…”  That’s a song that gives glory to God for Who He is and what He has done.

In the Bible, glory is sometimes an adjective, sometimes it’s a noun and sometimes it’s a verb. God is glorious—that’s the adjective. God reveals His glory—that’s a noun. That God is to be glorified is the verb form. But the glory of God is then the foundation of all things. It’s the foundation of your salvation. It’s the foundation of your life. It’s the foundation for the meaning of the universe. Let me give you a couple examples. The first example is the salvation of God’s people Israel from Egypt and the second example is our own salvation.

Why did God save the nation of Israel? Why did He lead them out of captivity and to the Promised Land? He did it for many reasons, as we read throughout the pages of the Bible. He did it because He loved the people. He did it because He loved Moses. He did it because He had a covenant with the people that He had made with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He did it because He’s faithful to His promise to them. He did it to reveal His power. He did it to reveal His power over the nation of Egypt and to reveal His power to Pharaoh. He did it for a variety of reasons, but the underlying foundation was to show His glory. He did it for His name’s sake. He did it to reveal His power to the nations. He did it to reveal Who He was as the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. It was for His glory.

Why does God save us? Why did God choose us? He chose us because He loves us (John 3:16). He chose us because He has love and mercy for us—He’s rich in it (Ephesians 2:4). He did it because it’s for our good. In the high priestly prayer, Jesus prayed that God’s glory would be revealed for our good (John 17). He does it for a variety of reasons, but the ultimate foundation for why we are saved is for the glory of God. He reveals Himself to us and saves us so we can know His worth and value and beauty.

The glory of God is the answer to the question so many people ask: “What is the meaning of life?” It’s the glory of God. It’s beauty. It’s loveliness. It’s all good things. It’s the nature of God Himself and the King of this glory is the Lord Jesus Christ, God revealed in the flesh.

We see the glory of God in...

In the first four verses of Psalm 24, David tells us that we see the glory of God in several places.

Creation – the universe

First, in verses one and two, David says God’s glory is revealed in creation. “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein, for he has founded it upon the seas and established it upon the rivers.”  The earth is the Lord’s and He founded the world on the seas and rivers. The universe displays the glory of God. We see this in both the massive parts of the universe and down to its smallest components. You can watch videos that start with the earth, then the camera pulls back and you see the moon and the planets. Then you see the solar system, then the galaxies, then the universe. It makes you realize how incredibly small we are. But all of this declares the glory of God. The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness of it.

Also, going to the other route, you realize that looking at the smaller things is just as impressive as looking at the large things. When we look at things at the subatomic level, it’s also incredible. If you could shrink yourself down to the size of an ant, you would begin to understand how massive that world is as well. It takes a billion atoms to go across the width of a AAA battery. If an average atom were blown up to be big as our earth, the small nucleus in the center would be about 700 feet in diameter. There’s a massive world underneath us that we can’t see. All of creation is the Lord’s.

He’s founded the world upon the seas, established it on the rivers. In the Near East, water was seen as chaotic and evil, a place without order. Yet God made it and it operates according to the might of His will. This is the glory of God.

Creation – people

So we see God’s glory in the earth and then in the second part of verse one, we also read, “…and those who dwell therein…”   The glory of God is seen in people. We see a lot of messed up people today; just watch the news. I honestly can’t really watch much news now; I get too worked up with everything and get upset at people.

We see a lot of people today who display what I lovingly call “sinful stupidity.” It’s on display in our world. I’m not exempt from this, by the way. But if we look carefully, we can see that there’s a spark of the glory of God in people all over the world—whether people acknowledge Him or not. Some would say people are ultimately good. I don’t say that. People are ultimately not good. At their foundation, people are sinful and have a rebellious heart against God. But I would say there’s still the spark of the glory of God in every human being. Why? Because we are created in the image of God. As image bearers, we still can display God’s glory.

There are people today who love their neighbor, who give their lives in service to others. There are people who adopt children who don’t have a family. There are people who bring foster kids into their home to show them love. There are plenty of people like that who don’t know Jesus, yet they still display a spark of the glory of God in their lives.

My neighbor, who’s not a declared Christian, is a great friend of mine. He called me the other day and said, “Hey, your garage door is open.” I’ve got a good neighbor who’s looking out for us. He’s watching our house and I love that. That’s a spark of the glory of God, someone who cares for other people.

We see the glory of God in people, but how much more should the glory of God be visible in us? You and I, who know Jesus Christ and who have experienced His forgiveness, who believe in the resurrection of the dead, who are going to share in the glory of God which is yet to come, how much more should we display the glory of God as we love other people—even in this season of COVID, deteriorating race relations and forces outside our country who want to destroy us? God calls us to display His glory by ministering His love to other people.

God’s holiness

So we see the glory of God in creation, in people, then in verses three and four, we see His glory in God Himself through His holiness. “Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord? And who shall stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully.”

Who can be with God? Who can share in His glory? Who can have His beauty and worth and grandeur? In all the universe, who can be with God? The answer is those who have clean hands and a pure heart. But we might ask, “Who has that?” The answer is no one. On our own, none of us have these. We have sin in our hearts. Our hands are dirty. We read in Jeremiah 17:9, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?”

We have imputed sin, original sin, a sin nature. David would say, “I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me” (Psalm 51:5). It’s the plight of all humanity because we are born into the line of Adam. We have his sin nature. You might think, “That’s not fair. I didn’t choose that.” Okay, maybe not, but you chose the next two forms of sin.

First, we commit sins of commission. Not only were we born with a sin nature, but we also commit sins by our own choice. We choose to do the things we know are wrong. Have you sinned yet this morning? Will you sin this afternoon? Tonight? All of us choose sins of commission.

The other type of sins are that of omission. The reason why we don’t have clean hands or a pure heart, the reason why we can’t ascend to the holy hill of God, is because there are things we know we should do, but we say, “No, I’m not going to do that.” In the book of James we read that if we know we should do something, but we don’t do it, that’s a sin (James 4:17). I could give you many illustrations from my own life of things I’ve known I should do, but because of embarrassment, laziness or lack of desire to love someone else, I have refused to do these things. And that’s sin.  

David asks, “Who can ascend?” We know the rest of the story which is a beautiful thing. We read in the Scriptures that there isn’t anyone who is sinless (Romans 3:10). No one is perfect, for all have sinned (Romans 3:23). We all fall short of the glory of God. But Isaiah 53:6 says, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”

The King of glory has taken our sin. He is the One Who allows us to ascend to His holy hill. He is the One Who cleans our hands and purifies our hearts. He is the One from Whom we receive blessings and the righteousness of God. We read in 2 Corinthians 5:21 where God “made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” That reflects Psalm 24:5-6, which says, “He will receive...righteousness from the God of his salvation. Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek the face of the God of Jacob.”

The next word in verse six is “Selah.” We need to stop and think about what we’ve just read. Here’s this incredible glory of God and the only ones who can share in this glory, the only ones who can discover the meaning of life, the only ones who can rejoice in the foundation of everything in this universe are those who can ascend to the holy hill of God and share in His glory. And this comes through the Lord Jesus Christ. This comes by His sacrifice on our behalf and His resurrection from the grave. He gives us new life as we now are associated with the Messiah. Jesus is the Anointed One of God and when we’re with Him, we’re forgiven by His sacrifice. Now we’re forgiven and we can ascend to His holy hill and share in His glory. We can see His glory in creation and in other people, but that glory can also be where we live. It’s a beautiful thing and it’s what unites us as God’s people.

Our response to God’s glory is to invite Him into our lives.

We read in verse seven, “Lift up your heads, O gates! And be lifted up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in.”  The heads of the city gates of the ancient world need to be opened to let people in. David repeats this in verse nine: “Lift up your heads, O gates! And lift them up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in.”  Why open the gates? Because the King is coming. The King of glory is coming into the city. Throw open the gates. Raise them up high. Why? Because God Himself is coming in.

Now this is not just the ark of the covenant where God’s glory resided. This is more than that. The right response to the glory of God is that we would believe in the plan of salvation that He has revealed to us. We receive salvation through Jesus Christ, so our response must be to invite the King of glory into our lives. He’s the One Who has made salvation possible. So lift up your heads, O you gates. Throw open the doors, so the King might come in. He’s the King Who is mighty in battle.

How many of you have battles in your life? You need to hear that the glory of God will help you in that. God Himself will come to you and sit on the throne of your life to give you victory in those battles. He’s the Lord of hosts, the Lord of angels whom He assigns to protect and help us. We can’t imagine the glory of God, but we can throw open the gates so His glory can come in. This is the King of glory. This is what we rejoice in today.

Remember, when you see this King and see His glory, may Psalm 24 stir affection in your heart toward Him, because He’s chosen you. He’s forgiven and saved you. You get to participate in that awesome glory of God. This truth changes the way you live.

 


Village Bible Church  |  847 North State Route 47, Sugar Grove, IL 60554  |  (630) 466-7198  |  www.villagebible.org/sugar-grove

All Scriptures quoted directly from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.

Note: This transcription has been provided by Sermon Transcribers (www.sermontranscribers.com).