Making God Look Better Than He Is – a futile endeavor

Solomon built a temple for the worship of God, a place all Israel could gather together in the name of the Lord. When he finished building the massive temple – stone, and cedar, and gold paneled walls and doors – he instructed the priests to place the ark of the covenant in the innermost room, the most holy place. There were multitudes of musicians and singers singing praises, while priests sacrificed countless sheep and oxen, and all the leaders of Israel joined in the day of dedication by gathering in the temple courtyards alongside the Israelites who were there in even greater number.

Solomon’s Temple (Wikipedia)

As the ark came to rest in the innermost – the most holy – place of the temple:

Then a cloud filled the Lord’s temple. The priests were unable to carry out their duties on account of the cloud because the Lord’s glory filled God’s temple. (2 Chronicles 5:13-14.)

Where did this cloud come from? It was the symbol of God’s presence originally given to the Israelites as they set out from Egypt to travel to the land God promised them.

The Lord went in front of them during the day in a column of cloud to guide them and at night in a column of lightning to give them light. This way they could travel during the day and at night. The column of cloud during the day and the column of lightning at night never left its place in front of the people. (Exodus 13:21-22.)

As the Israelites dedicated the temple of the Lord that day, they saw this symbol of God’s presence once again. Yet it is more than a symbol.

The priests were unable to carry out their duties on account of the cloud because the Lord’s glory filled God’s temple.(2 Chronicles 5:14.)

The priests could not carry out their duties. What duties? Praising God and offering sacrifices of thanksgiving, among others, duties they carried out in the temple. But they couldn’t, because God’s glory filled the temple. There was no room left for the priests to do their work.

Glorifying God

You might hear someone talk about glorifying God. That’s a good thing, if what you mean is you want to speak in ways that tell of how glorious God is, and act in ways that reflect his glory in the way you love and care for and serve the people God has put in your life.

It doesn’t mean anyone has the ability to make God more glory, though. God is glorious, magnificent, wonderful, and excellent beyond measure. God doesn’t need people to increase his glory. He certainly didn’t need the temple priests on that day of dedication to bring him more glory.

God brought his own glory, and it is infinite. God’s glory is overwhelming, and in the presence of his glory you see that he is all sufficient. Let this be a comfort to you. He is the one who is perfect already, and he wants you to join in his perfection, not for you to contribute a measure of your own. Besides, you don’t have any perfection apart from that which is in Jesus.

The cloud which symbolized God’s presence is no longer needed because you have God the Holy Spirit in you now. Jesus is in you because the Holy Spirit is in you. The glory of God is in you because the Holy Spirit is in you. God has filled you just as he filled the temple.

God will use you to his glory, because he has brought you into his glorious presence even now.

And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:6.)

This is reality. You are seated with Jesus right now in the heavenly realms as you live and breathe and walk and serve here on earth.

All to God’s glory.

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6 Responses to Making God Look Better Than He Is – a futile endeavor

  1. Jeannie Prinsen says:

    This is helpful to me, Tim. I have trouble really understanding “glory.” As a concept it feels so cliched: “I want to glorify God in all I say and do”; “We give You all the glory”; “Glorify God and enjoy Him forever”; etc. I’m sure there is some real meaning behind those phrases but … I’m not always sure what it is. Sometimes in a similar vein people will say “I want to live my life so people see Jesus and not me” … but I’m not sure what they mean when they say that. I suppose I should just ask them! Maybe we’d both learn something. But I do like the idea that God does not need us to add to his glory or give him more glory.

    • Tim says:

      I find it an amorphous concept. Perhaps the original readers knew perfectly well what is meant, but it’s not always clear to me just what constitutes glory in the spiritual sense. Whatever it is, God’s glory is infinite.

  2. Love this. I think humbly bowing in quiet attests to being overwhelmed by his glory a thousand times more than ominous cathedrals, great orchestras and choirs, and self-important tapestry-clad priests. I think quietness before God reflects his glory much more. But, then, I’m in the minority. People who want to show off get really mad at me.

  3. Anu Riley says:

    I hope more people get a chance to read this. There is an INCREDIBLE lack of understanding when it comes to the Lord’s glory.

    Sometimes it is treated as though it’s something we must strive for (bringing Him glory by doing more good, or at least less evil). Sometimes it’s used as a tool for fear and manipulation (if you divorce your abuser, you are tainting God’s glory).

    Sometimes it’s treated as a tool to glorify ourselves, not Him (if we have a bigger church, or bring in more tithes, all that attention will bring Him more glory). We think that if we have louder or more boisterous worship, have more ministries or publicly tout more amazing, astounding testimonies—we are “calling attention” to how great He is.

    The testimonies are particularly damaging. This is often how wolves in sheep’s clothing, who have preyed on the people, can solidify the ability to keep exploiting the innocent. They claim to have been extremely evil, but now they are extremely sorry—and so God has supposedly done a miracle that everyone should hear about—so we can “glorify God.”

    Meanwhile those that were victimized are often left shivering in the cold, while the predator is embraced with welcoming, widespread warmth. They dare not speak up about their rightful desire for justice, or speak out about the pain they are in—-out of the fear that they are not “glorifying” God with everyone else.

    I’ve picked up on the overwhelming (and understandable) desire to have to “defend” the Lord when He is smeared or portrayed in a way that we find to be offensive.

    In fact, we become very protective of His name and supposedly of His glory—but in the midst of that so-called righteous rage—we don’t stop to consider that we might NOT giving His name and glory the honor He fully deserves.

    There are times to absolutely speak up, but other times it is better to let Him speak for Himself. Sometimes it’s better to listen to the cries of those who feel God has forsaken them, rather than lecture and guilt them until they come around and “give Him glory.”

    We are NOT God’s “public relations” team. Our goal is NOT to “promote” or “sell” Him to others—and then tell ourselves that we are “bringing Him glory.” Giving Him the attention He deserves is one thing, but trying to package Him as a palatable “product” is nothing short of evil.

    We only need look to the spheres of politics and entertainment to see how people are treated more as commodities—-publicly touted and portrayed as profitable images, not necessarily as real persons. They are “sold” to the public in order to gain power, or make money. But it all comes down to greed. That insatiable, never ending hunger that the Bible claims goes from bad to worse.

    My salvation story certainly involved believers who believed in His glory, and told me so. But all their talking and testifying did NOT “convince” me to become born again. The Lord spoke to me in a personal, private and very powerful way—-one on one. He let others speak for Him, of course, but only to a certain point. He spoke for Himself by speaking directly to me, apart from anyone else.

    Why? No, not because those believers didn’t try hard enough. Or weren’t “glorifying” Him enough. Because no one knows how to represent Himself better—than Himself. The best Person to tell me who He was (and is)—is Himself. The One who OWNS that glory from beginning to end.

    This was my favorite part: “Let this be a comfort to you. He is the one who is perfect already, and he wants you to join in his perfection, not for you to contribute a measure of your own.”

    When we try to “add” to His glory, we are not doing Him any favors. And we don’t “own” a piece of His glory, as if He is a corporation that we have stocks in. It is all His. I think you should create a meme of this, and I bet your readers will love it. And relate to it very well!

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