Exalting the glory of God in the skies and the Scripture
Does God get more glory because of the immeasurable expanse of the heavens, or the microscopic detail of his design?
“The heavens declare the glory of God and the sky proclaims his handiwork.” Ps 19:1
“The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.” Ps 19:7
Perhaps like no other Old Testament writer, King David would have been acquainted with the glory of God through the night sky. As a shepherd, he would have lived in the open pastures with the flock, and would have slept under the stars, beholding the majesty of God in the heavens. Night after night, the heavens would have become a familiar friend. As he looked up at the night sky, he would have identified familiar constellations that even the book of Job describes (Job 38:31-33) – Ursa Major known as the Big Dipper, Pleiades, and Orion. These early days of tending the flock would be an instrumental time in David’s life which deepened his relationship with God, solidified his faith, and broadened his view of God’s power. That night sky, unobstructed by city lights, pollution, or humidity, would have glowed with a thousand tiny lights sparkling from millions of miles away, and would lead David to worship God because of the display of his power visible with the naked eye.
David could have never imagined the beauty of the picture at the top of this post. The picture might not seem like much to the casual observer, but it contains a composite image that looks at a tiny portion of the night sky about the size of the moon. Even in this small space, that picture holds 10,000 galaxies that have been identified by the Hubble Telescope. The final image, known as the Hubble Ultra Deep Field (http://hubblesite.org/image/3380), is a collection of 800 smaller images that took more than 400 orbits around the earth to compile. Every major point of light is a galaxy – like the Whirlpool Galaxy or the Horsehead Nebula – while others are designated with just a letter and a number because of the sheer magnitude of the galaxies involved.
As we zoom into this picture even more, distinct galaxies come into focus, each galaxy containing 100 billion stars with each star having its own unique properties and appearances. It is mind boggling to think that a sky with a few points of light actually contains innumerable galaxies and stars that act as a banner to herald the glory of God in the universe.
In a similar way, the Scripture provides a precise, clear, and descriptive picture of the glory of our God. Whether we enjoy his beauty from the panorama of Scripture (looking at the Minor Prophets book by book, or studying a chapter from Ezra), or whether we zoom in for a closer look (studying it word by word from Romans, or verse by verse from John), we are seeking to discover the glory of God so that we can marvel at his greatness.
We understand that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Heb. 13:8), so that the portrait of God that we see in the Old and New Testament is consistent. Paul puts it this way,
“And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham saying, ‘In you all the nations shall be blessed.’ So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.” (Gal 3:8-9)
That sums it up - the gospel is everywhere you look in the Bible! And the glorious portrait of God shows up on every page. It was inspired by God (2 Tim 3:16), guided by the Holy Spirit (2 Pt 1:21), and is profitable in its ENTIRETY for doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness (2 Tim 3:17).
This means that we need to experience as much of the breadth and depth of Scripture as we can. We need to explore the wonder of God in the panorama and in the fine granularity. We need to see the composite picture of the Bible in its detail and its comprehensiveness. That’s a daunting challenge, but we take comfort in the thought that the glory of God shows up wherever we look in the Bible. So, if we miss a truth in one passage, we’ll see it in another. His glory marks every page!
So, what is the right approach to teaching the Scripture? How can we uphold the glory of God most effectively? What is our mandate when it comes to selecting a sermon series or a passage to study? The testimony of Scripture is that we must strive to know the truth of God from every page – both in its breadth and in its depth. To see his glory through the expansive panorama of history from Genesis to Revelation, and to see him in the particulars of words, verses, and chapters. That’s why we’ve chosen a broader 14-week study in Ezra coupled with a more detailed 16-week study of Romans 8. May God’s glory shine through every passage as we discover more of him throughout the Scripture.