Day 13: May 16, 2017: The Greatness of God
Deuteronomy 10:17-19: For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who is not partial and who takes no bribe. He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing. Love the sojourner, therefore, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt.
Our God is the supreme and only God. The Israelites knew of many “gods” – the “gods” of Egypt and the “gods” of Canaan. Yet for them there was only one God and the point of the creation stories in Genesis, the narratives of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in their experiences with God, and God’s mighty displays of power over Egypt in the plagues and at the Red Sea was that they would know for certain that Yahweh alone was God and that in comparison to him all the “gods” of the nations were nothing.
The greatness, might, and supremacy of God has been further revealed to us through the life, death, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus revealed God’s power through the signs and wonders he performed. God demonstrated his mighty power by raising Christ from the dead and exalting him to the position of supreme authority at his right hand (Eph. 1:19-23). Further, the NT teaches that Jesus the Son was the agent of the Father’s creation of the universe. The apostle Paul wrote:
1 Corinthians 8:5-6: For although there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth – as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords” – yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.
Our God is great and mighty, and he is also righteous. He is not “partial,” that is, He is not the kind of God who plays favorites. His election of Israel to be his people was not because he “liked” them better than all other nations. Rather his purpose was to bless all other nations through Israel (Gen. 12:3, Ex. 19:1-8). Further, God “takes no bribe,” that is, He is not the kind of God who is swayed to do the will of his worshippers by gifts and offerings. His character cannot be corrupted by riches. The gods of the nations, made in the image of humans, can be so corrupted, but not the one God who created and rules all things. Psalm 145:17: “The Lord is righteous in all his ways and kind in all his works.”
Just as Jesus further reveals God’s power and supremacy, so he also makes known in more abundant ways God’s righteousness. God’s righteousness is seen in Christ because through Christ God fulfilled his promises to Israel and the world (2 Cor. 1:20). More incredibly still, Jesus Christ communicates God’s righteousness to us. That is, by trusting in and following the crucified and risen Christ we come to share and grow in God’s own righteousness. 2 Corinthians 5:21: “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
Our God is great. Our God is righteous. Our God is also just and compassionate. He “executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing.” So the biblical teaching of God’s greatness and power cannot be understood to mean that he is aloof from the world’s problems and uncaring about the weakest and most vulnerable people. Instead, as often as the Bible emphasizes God’s greatness over all creation it also emphasizes his nearness to those who suffer (Ps. 9, Ps. 34:15-18, Is. 57:14-15, Ex. 24:33-37).
The compassion and justice of God is also magnified in and through Jesus. Throughout his ministry Jesus freely gave the mercy of God’s kingdom to all who were broken and hurting (Mt. 9:35-36). In fact, Jesus considered these works of compassion and justice to be the evidence which authenticated him as the promised Messiah. “And Jesus answered them, ‘Go and tell John what you hear and see; the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them’” (Mt. 11:4-5).
Further, just as God instructed the Israelites to love and care for “sojourners” (Dt. 10:19; “sojourners” were foreigners living in Israel), so Jesus taught us as his disciples to care for people in need just as he did (Mt. 25:31-46).
Take time now to praise our great, righteous, just, and compassionate God. This prayer can help you get started: “Lord of heaven and earth, I praise you because you are God of gods and Lord of lords. You alone are God. I praise you because you are righteous – your character does not change, you are faithful to your word, and you love all people of all nations. Lord, I also praise you for your justice and compassion. You love and help the weak and needy. Thank you that through Jesus you have revealed all of your attributes even more wonderfully to us. Help me to live my life for your glory and to share in your compassion. In the name of Jesus, Amen.”