A children’s catechism book that I was using to teach my children, expected them to first answer the questions ‘who made them and why God made them?’. The answer to the first question is obvious, ‘it is God’. But the second answer is not that obvious for many, even seasoned Christians. And the book answers the second question saying, ‘To glorify Him and enjoy him’. And I would totally agree that God’s Ultimate Purpose in creating everything is to display ‘His Own Glory’ so that his creation will also ‘glorify Him’.
Psalm 19:1 says, “The heavens declare the glory of God and the sky above proclaims his handiwork”. The beautiful and majestic skies proclaim the glory of God. They are calling out to us, to do the same. And that is why the worship that rises from Heaven is: “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created” (Rev. 4:11).
The elders in Heaven are saying that it is impossible to not glorify God having seen the majesty and beauty of His creation. If the creation is so majestic and beautiful, how glorious would God be?
What is the Glory of God?
God’s glory is nothing but ‘the various ways in which God shows his perfection or excellence’. For e.g. God is excellent or glorious with regard to ‘Holiness’. He is the epitome of ‘Holiness’. He is the standard of ‘Holiness’ for the whole creation. Neither can that standard be improved, nor does God tolerate any lowering of that perfect standard (1 Pet. 1:15-16). And just as God’s glory is seen in His Holiness, in the same way He is glorious or excellent ‘in Justice, in Power, in Love, in Wisdom, etc.’ In every aspect of His character he is perfect or excellent or glorious.
Man has rebelled against this purpose
Other than the creation itself, if there is anything else that talks about the ‘Glory of God’ and calls us ‘to glorify God’, then it is the Bible. One of the most prolific authors in the Bible, the apostle Paul, is deeply passionate about the Glory of God. He says in 1 Cor. 10:31, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God”.
In his seminal work in the book of Romans he says that the knowledge of God is embedded in God’s creation (Rom. 1:19-20). But man has been found guilty of rejecting this glorious God and chasing after the created things of God (v. 21-23). He says that the whole of humanity is guilty of this grave sin: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God… for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:11, 23).
And it is this ‘sin of unbelief’ or ‘rejecting the glorious God in exchange for other things or people’, which is the fountain or origin of all other forms of moral depravity. With this cosmic rebellion, it seems God’s original purpose has remained unmet.
God will fulfill his purpose despite Man’s rebellion
But God’s purposes can never be thwarted by mere men. In fact, even in man’s rebellion and the deserved punishment that follows, God still shows his glory. In Rom. 6:23 Paul writes that the whole of humanity has been condemned by God to eternal death. Even in this act of retribution, God shows himself to be glorious in the virtues of ‘Holiness and Justice’. He does not tolerate any sin because he is utterly ‘Holy’ and therefore he is also perfectly ‘Just’, in punishing every man for his sin. If humanity has sinned against Him, then he is perfectly justified in sending every man/ woman to eternal punishment. We dare not think that we deserve his mercy and grace because we have messed with a ‘Holy and Just God’.
But the display of God’s glory with regard to his dealings with sinful human beings is not complete in his ‘Holiness and Justice’. Rather on the other end of this righteous wrath of God is His ‘Mercy and Grace’. In the book of Exodus, Moses tells God, “Please show me your Glory’ (Ex. 33:18). But it is unfathomable for a sinful and limited man to see God in all his glory and yet live (v. 20). So God does pass before Moses and gave him a limited glimpse of himself (v. 21). But in the process God proclaimed to Moses His Name ‘The Lord’, as though His name is a reflection of the full range of His glory (Ex. 34:6a). And in this self revelation of himself, God says: “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and fourth generation” (Ex. 34:6b, 7)
Clearly, God introduces two extremes of his nature. On the one hand a holy and just God who ‘does not clear the guilty’ but on the other hand ‘a merciful and gracious God’. As a ‘Holy and Just God’ he has decided to pour out his wrath on mankind by sending them to eternal death. But in his sovereignty, he has shown the ‘riches of his glory’ by being merciful and gracious to many of them (Rom. 9:22-23).
Fulfilled in Jesus Christ
So the other end of His glory, his mercy and grace, came to us when he took on human form in Jesus Christ. Rom. 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord”. For all those who would believe in Jesus, the ultimate manifestation of God’s glory, to them he would give forgiveness of sins and eternal life. It is through the life of Jesus that God has shown the full range of his glory. And that is why Jesus towards the very end of his life and ministry here on earth says that by completing his work here on earth, he has glorified God (Jn. 17:4). His last words before giving up his spirit on the Cross was, “It is finished” (Jn. 19:30). Many people tell me that when Jesus was on the Cross ‘he was thinking about saving us’. I would say, ‘Yes, Jesus did think about saving us on the Cross but the greatest thought on his mind was to display the Glory of God’. That was the ultimate purpose of his incarnation and death on a cross. God has accomplished his ultimate purpose of showing His glory on the Cross of Jesus Christ. No man has ever sabotaged that purpose and no man ever will!