Jim Wilson is the retired director of Community Christian Ministries in Moscow, Idaho. He will be posting regularly, so check back in soon!

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Who Is Like You, O Lord?

In the Bible, God, in His holiness, declared the sinfulness of men: “The LORD saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time” (Gen. 6:5).

I can understand how God can speak about man’s state, because God’s judgment is absolutely right. However, whether I can speak about God’s holiness is another thing. Even though I am redeemed and looking for the completion of that redemption, I do not yet see him as he really is. “But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2b). Until that time, we know Him as He has revealed Himself in the Scriptures.

The Song of Moses

Moses and the Israelites sang about God’s holiness after Israel passed through the sea and the Egyptians were drowned: “Who among the gods is like you, O LORD? Who is like you—majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders?” (Ex. 15:11).

In this song, God is described in transcendent terms, not physical terms. Holiness and glory are not descriptive in a limited way like the words tall or blue or common or sophisticated. When we add majestic and awesome to these words, we begin to understand Moses’ rhetorical question, “Who is like you?” The obvious answer is that there is no one like Him; nor is He like anything or anyone, anywhere in or out of the universe.

A Song of David

David composed and sung this song when he brought the ark of God to the new tent in Jerusalem. It was sung to the accompaniment of an orchestra. We do not have the music, but we still have the words—inspired words: “Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and joy in his dwelling place. Ascribe to the LORD, O families of nations, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength, ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name. Bring an offering and come before him; worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness. Tremble before him, all the earth! The world is firmly established; it cannot be moved” (1 Chr. 16:27-30).

Splendor, majesty, strength, and joy. These words are not describing God, but things in His presence, as if He is beyond these words and this is what is required just to be near Him.

The Splendor of His Holiness

Great events bring about great songs. 2 Chronicles 20 records the armies of three nations marching against Judah. Judah’s king, Jehoshaphat, led the people in prayer. “All the men of Judah, with their wives and children and little ones, stood there before the LORD” (2 Chr. 20:13).

The Spirit of the Lord answered through a prophet with a specific and wonderful promise of deliverance. Then “Jehoshaphat bowed with his face to the ground, and all the people of Judah and Jerusalem fell down in worship before the LORD” (2 Chr. 20:18).

The next morning, Judah’s army set out toward their enemies with men appointed: “After consulting the people, Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the LORD and to praise him for the splendor of his holiness” (2 Chr. 20:21).

Psalms 29 and 96 also speak of the splendor of His holiness. Here is a portion of Psalm 96: “Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and glory are in his sanctuary. Ascribe to the LORD, O families of nations, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength. Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; bring an offering and come into his courts. Worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness; tremble before Him, all the earth.” (Psalm 96:6-9)

Songs in His Presence

In Isaiah’s vision of the Lord on His throne, the seraphs were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of His glory” (Isa. 6:3).

In John’s revelation of the throne eight centuries later, the winged creatures were saying, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come” (Rev. 4:8).

I would like to end with another song that was sung by a sea of glass and fire. It was accompanied with harps by those who had overcome the beast and his image and the number of his name.

The Song of the Lamb

“Great and marvelous are your deeds, Lord God Almighty. Just and true are your ways, King of the ages. Who will not fear you, O Lord, and bring glory to your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship before you, for your righteous acts have been revealed” (Rev. 15:3-4).

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