Welcome to the first post of the Approach the Throne series! I mentioned in the introductory article that this study would have two parts: who God is and who we are. We’ll be starting with who God is, and I’ll post several articles on that topic before moving on to who we are.
(Click here to view this image on the Full of Eyes website. Many thanks to them for their visual exegesis ministry and for providing these image resources.)
This first post is about the greatness of God, and when I began reflecting on this topic, all I could think was, “I’m going to need a bigger blog.” How can we, as mere creatures, hope to know the greatness of our infinite and awesome God? Even Elihu in the book of Job (the only one God did not rebuke for his statements) said of the Lord, “‘Behold, God is great, and we know Him not; the number of His years is unsearchable” (Job 36:26, ESV).
On our own, we cannot hope to know God. But nevertheless, we can know God because He has made Himself known to us. Before His crucifixion, Jesus prayed to the Father and said, “‘O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them'” (John 17:25-26).
With Jesus’s promise in mind, that He has made Himself known and will continue to make Himself known, let’s start by considering the greatness of God as shown through His activity and His victory. In the next posts we’ll look at it from some additional angles.
Anyone who comes before the throne of God cannot help but be confronted with the greatness of the King of kings. In one of Daniel’s visions, he said, “‘As I looked, thrones were placed, and the Ancient of Days took His seat; His clothing was white as snow, and the hair of His head like pure wool; His throne was fiery flames; its wheels were burning fire. A stream of fire issued and came out from before Him; a thousand thousands served Him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him'” (Daniel 7:9-10).
“The Ancient of Days.” In recent years I’ve grown to love that name for God; it reminds me of His bigness, that He is so much greater than the personal problems I lift up to Him every day. My friends, God has always existed, so there is nothing He has not seen before and nothing He has not been sovereign over. Do you see how sufficient He is for your every desire and need?
I’ve already mentioned the book of Job, and whenever I’ve lost sight of God’s greatness, the last few chapters of Job are one of my favorite places to go. When the Lord rebukes Job in chapters 38-41, He gives a fantastic, beautiful, and stunning revelation of just how involved He is in the creation and sustaining of all that exists. The universe He has designed works so well that we often take its workings for granted (or at least, I do) and we forget that the Ancient of Days has “‘commanded the morning…and caused the dawn to know its place, that it might take hold of the skirts of the earth, and the wicked be shaken out of it'” (Job 38:12-13).
Another obvious manifestation of God’s greatness is His work on the cross. The devil must have thought he’d won that day, “for [Jesus] was crucified in weakness” (2 Corinthians 13:4), but through this weakness the impossible was made possible: sinners could be reconciled to the holy God who made them. I’ve sometimes pondered the way humans tend to worship false gods or even other people because they see some kind of strength in them. And I wonder, “but can your god save you from sin?” It’s an easy thing to save someone from physical harm, perform great deeds in battle, or make a rousing speech behind a podium, but can those “gods” save a person from a single one of his sins? No. Victory over sin and death belongs to our God alone.
And this brings us to God’s greatness shown through His victory. There are uncountable examples I could give of this (including the cross as I already mentioned), for God never loses and is always victorious, but I’ll share one of my favorites:
“When the Philistines captured the ark of God, they brought it from Ebenezer to Ashod. Then the Philistines took the ark of God and brought it into the house of Dagon [their god] and set it up beside Dagon. And when the people of Ashod rose early the next day, behold, Dagon had fallen face downward on the ground before the ark of the Lord. So they took Dagon and put him back in his place. But when they rose early on the next morning, behold, Dagon had fallen face downward on the ground before the ark of the Lord, and the head of Dagon and both his hands were lying cut off on the threshold. Only the trunk of Dagon was left to him” (1 Samuel 5:1-4).
My friends, if a god has to be set back in place by its worshipers after God has cast it down, it shouldn’t be put back in place! Sometimes, there are things in our lives that we love that topple over. Not realizing they have become idols to us, we try to put them back up in the same space where only God belongs. We think that our idols and God can occupy the same space without a problem, and this is why God topples them: so that we can see there is only one God who is truly great and worthy of our worship. God and idols cannot coexist; only one will truly have our hearts, and God (in His great love) will continue to break down our idols until we see the truth.
This passage from 1 Samuel is one of my favorite Old Testament accounts because it illustrates so perfectly the greatness of God over all other things we might try to worship. Even when it looked like God had been defeated (His ark had been captured after all), He showed Himself infinitely great and eternally victorious! Blessed be the name of the Lord!
I want to end by asking…what about God’s activity and victory in your life? It can be easy to remember that God made the world, saved us from sin, and did all those other “big things,” but it can be so much harder to remember the personal ways He has shown Himself great in our lives. Knowing about the greatness of God does us no good if we don’t let Him show us that His greatness is not only infinite, but applicable to us personally.
Believe me that I am preaching to myself this morning. I am a worrier and a control freak by nature, and it is so insultingly easy for me to acknowledge God’s great deeds only to shut the door in His face when He wants to deal with one of my issues. But God is good and patient with me, and I am slowly learning. His greatness never wavers with my unbelief, and He is faithful to perfect my feeble trust in Him.
My prayer is that you will see God in His greatness today. He wants to share Himself with you, so let Him. He loves you so much.
I look forward to continuing this study with you, and I hope you found this first article valuable. God bless you, my friends.