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The Goal of Our Existence - Isaiah 43:14-28

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Copyright June 12, 2022 by Rev. Bruce Goettsche
In our study of Isaiah we have been continuously reminded that God wants us to trust Him. He wants us to trust Him because He is trustworthy. He wants His people to honor Him and bring Him honor and glory.
Today I am going to spend most of my time reflecting on one verse in Isaiah 43:14-28. God describes the work He is about to do in Israel and then says in Isaiah 43:12,
I have made Israel for myself,
and they will someday honor me before the whole world.
We are going to ask the question, what does it look like to honor God and live for His glory?
This is not a new concept. Back in 43:7 we read, “Bring all who claim me as their God, for I have made them for my glory.”
Back a little further in Isaiah 42:8 we read,
“I am the Lord; that is my name!
I will not give my glory to anyone else,
nor share my praise with carved idols.
The New Testament talks about our purpose in glorifying God in Eph 1.14, Acts 21:20, Romans 15:9, 1 Cor 6.20, and 1 Peter 2:12.
The Westminster Shorter Catechism (which is a theological teaching tool made up of questions and answers used to instruct those new to the faith) begins with this question: “What is the chief end of man?” The answer is: “To Glorify God and enjoy Him forever.”
The idea is God’s purpose in making us is for us to honor Him and glorify His name. In other words, God made us so we would see what a great God He is. I want to give you four ways we can glorify God in our lives.
God is Glorified When We Live for His Praise Rather than our Comfort
In Romans 14, the Apostle Paul wrote,
7 For we don’t live for ourselves or die for ourselves. 8 If we live, it’s to honor the Lord. And if we die, it’s to honor the Lord. So whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. (Romans 14:8)
This is a tough concept. We naturally default to living in a way that brings US the most satisfaction and pleasure. If we are honored, we feel things are good. If we are suffering, we feel things are bad. But, if we are living to glorify the Lord, then it may just be the opposite that will be true.
If through our suffering, God’s sufficiency is revealed; if He is praised because of our suffering or even our death; if a disease leads us to praise and honor Him more deeply, then what others might call bad, is actually, good! Living for His glory means we evaluate every circumstance not by our pleasure or enjoyment but by the honor it brings to the Lord.
Think about the way this radically transforms our thinking! Peter wrote,
12 Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. 13 Instead, be very glad—for these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world. (1 Peter 4:12-13)
As Jesus was facing the prospect of His own suffering and death He said,
27 “Now my soul is deeply troubled. Should I pray, ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But this is the very reason I came! 28 Father, bring glory to your name.” (John 12:27,28)
This should be our prayer: “Father, bring glory to your name.”
We glorify God when we testify to others of his greatness.
The Psalms are filled with invitations to “magnify His name among the nations.” When we “brag on God” we glorify His name. That sounds strange, doesn’t it?
Right after the birth of a baby you want to tell everyone. You want them to see the hundreds of pictures you have of the baby in the same position! You are completely taken with this little person and you want others to share in the wonder. What if we treated God that way.
Let’s make a few distinctions here. First, this is not the same as bragging about our church. Talking about how great a particular church is, is not glorifying God, it is glorifying an organization or a group. You might even say it is magnifying yourself because you are smart enough to be going to such a great church! The best church is not the one with the best advertising campaign. The best church is the One people are drawn to because they see Jesus in the church and encounter the greatness of God (as opposed to the worship team, or rock-star Pastoral team).
To glorify God means to testify to His attributes or character. In other words, we tell others about God as sovereign (or Ruler) over all things. We point to Him as the one who guides history and is perfect in purity, holiness, and wisdom. As I said earlier, it is in essence to brag about how great God is.
We glorify Him when we recount all His deeds in history and in our life. We talk about the events recorded in the Bible and the things we have witnessed firsthand. We must be careful however that we are not doing this to promote ourselves but to underscore His greatness. Sometimes our testimonies about how messed up we used to be, is actually bragging about how really great a sinner you used to be! You often get the feeling they wish they could go back to those days!
To recount His grace in our life requires a humility that comes from an awareness of the depth and destruction of OUR sin contrasted with HIS staggering grace.
We Glorify God when we live in the way he’s called is to live
In Isaiah 42:6 we read, “I, the Lord, have called you to demonstrate my righteousness.” In other words, God has called us to show others what it means to live the right way. Rather than be swept up in fads, or movements, the Lord calls us to be steady and walk with Him in obedience.
Everybody is “spiritual” today. Someone has said, “In our world it’s cool to search for God, but uncool to find him.”[1] In other words, everyone is fine with a theoretical God; the problem is when we say there is a real God and He has called us to live as He designed us to live. This means there is a standard by which our lives are measured and that is seen as arrogant today. It is as if people are saying, “Who does this God of yours think He is?” People may respond with, “Why are you pushing your religion on me?” (Which is not what you are doing at all.)
God calls us to live righteously to show the world His character by the things we do. He wants us to see that He is right in the way He calls us to live. This will lead us to glorify Him. We glorify God when we don’t just hear what He is saying . . . it is when we LISTEN to what He is saying. We can hear and do nothing. Listening results in a response.
In 1 John 5:3 John tells us that the commands of God “are not burdensome.” Let’s be honest, that is not the same as saying they are easy! It is not easy to swim in the stream of God’s ways when the strong current of the world is fighting against us. However, the only real hope for the world is to learn about the grace of God and begin to live it out in our lives.
God gave us the commands He gave us because, first, it is the best way to live. Every electronic gadget out there works best when you use it the way it was designed to be used. When we live guided by our whims and desires we are generally living according to the perverted ways of the world. This may be easier (because everyone is doing it and it means we don’t have to develop any discipline) but it is not better.
When we live the way God has commanded us to live, we find
· greater joy in our living,
· greater peace in times of difficulty
· we have better relationships with others
· we receive greater respect from the people around us
· we will know the joy of God’s “Well Done!”
· our life will bring honor to the Lord.
Our calling is to show the world what it looks like to follow Jesus; to discover true life by following Him. In fact, only the Bible has the answers to the social and moral issues of our day. The Bible is better able to deal with these things than Critical Race Theory, Black Lives Matter, Gender Dysphoria, Abusive behaviors, Acts of Violence, and various other kinds of racism and division. The Bible tells us that God is “no respecter of persons.” God sees people and views everyone as valuable in their own right. Christianity is not the villain in the area of social justice! What are not hate mongors! Christianity, rightly lived out, is the only answer to these serious issues.
If we follow the Word of God and the pattern Jesus set for us; if we glorify God by living the righteous life He calls us to live; then we will respond to all people the way Jesus did: with loving compassion and grace.
We glorify God when we worship him acceptably with reverence
We have tended to equate worship with a performance that takes place on a platform. In other words, we make worship about rituals or practices. Some think of worship as the time of singing in a church service. True worship, however, is about the heart. It is an attitude rather than a particular practice.
We worship God when we hold him up in our minds and before others. We worship when we give Him respect. We acknowledge that He is superior to us. He is wiser than we are, more powerful than we are, and He has authority over us. Worship is about putting God in His rightful place and responding to God in the proper way.
True worship is not about our enjoyment or enrichment, it is about His honor and glory. Worship is to be God-directed rather than self-directed. In other words, it is about what pleases Him rather than what pleases us. We see this at the end of Isaiah 43 starting in verse 22.
23 You have not brought me sheep or goats for burnt offerings.
You have not honored me with sacrifices,
though I have not burdened and wearied you
with requests for grain offerings and frankincense.
24 You have not brought me fragrant calamus
or pleased me with the fat from sacrifices.
Instead, you have burdened me with your sins
and wearied me with your faults.
The people were bringing burnt offerings and other sacrifices. They were obeying the regulations about proper sacrifices . . . the problem was that they weren’t bringing those sacrifices to honor Him. They were just going through the motions. In a sense they were doing these things to get God off of their case!
This is a common problem. It is easy to “do” worship and never actually worship. You can sing all the songs. You can sing them because you like the song or just because it is time to sing. However, I suspect we have all sung songs and could never have explained to someone what the song was actually about! We might be hard-pressed to even remember the name of the song because we were on “automatic pilot” (or “automatic worship”).
We have bowed our heads in prayer only to drift off in our imagination to other things. We aren’t actually talking with the Lord; we only are pretending to talk with the Lord! In the same way we have at times stayed awake through a sermon (a challenge for some), but if I asked you to give me just one point from the sermon many of you would avoid me on Sunday mornings after our worship time.
Do you remember the story of the Pharisee and the Tax-Collector who both went into the temple for worship? The Pharisee went in and Jesus said,
The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed this prayer: ‘I thank you, God, that I am not like other people—cheaters, sinners, adulterers. I’m certainly not like that tax collector! 12 I fast twice a week, and I give you a tenth of my income.’
13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance and dared not even lift his eyes to heaven as he prayed. Instead, he beat his chest in sorrow, saying, ‘O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.’ 14 I tell you, this sinner, not the Pharisee, returned home justified before God. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” (Luke 18:10-14)
The difference between these two men is the Pharisee gave the impression that he was very godly, but in truth, he wasn’t talking to God at all . . . He was trumpeting his position before others. He was giving his resume! The Tax-Collector humbled himself before God and sought the Lord’s cleansing and healing. The Pharisee didn’t think he needed either of these things!
The question when it comes to worship is this: Who or what is in the spotlight? Is it us? The church? Or is it the greatness, power, and mercy of the Lord? Are we celebrating Him or someone or something else?
If you remember way back to Isaiah 1 there was an indictment of the empty worship of Israel at the very beginning of the book. If we want to glorify God in worship, we would be wise to ask ourselves some questions,
1. What do you look forward to most in a time of personal or corporate worship? Why?
2. What element, if it was removed from worship, would you be most upset about? Why?
3. What criteria leads you to say, “Worship was great today!” Or the opposite: “Worship was terrible today!” Is that criteria about your enjoyment or your encounter with God?
4. Where is your focus during a time of corporate worship? Is it on the people around you? On your comfort? On your enjoyment? On the clock? Or are you lifted to the very throne of God and captivated by His presence?
From time to time you might hear people confess that they do not know what their purpose is in life. If they are a believer, you can now counsel them with certainty: their purpose is to glorify (or brag on) the LORD!
If we take these texts to heart several things will be true in our lives:
1. We will spend less time asking, “Why did this happen to me?” and more time asking, “How can I glorify God in this circumstance?” We will stop seeing life as revolving around us and start to see it revolving around Him.
2. We will be unending in our evangelism. We may not always share the entire message of the gospel with people, but we will be forever pointing to the Lord as the answer to the questions and challenges others face. We will point to Him before we point to a particular political position or ethical discussion. We should want to talk about Him even more than we are eager to brag about our children. That is when you will know you are starting to embrace your calling.
3. We will evaluate each day by how well we represented the Lord in the way we lived our lives. Did we do what He told us to do? Did we show grace to others? Did we dwell in humility as one who has been snatched from the fires of judgment? Was our life filled with gratitude for what He has done for us and for the guidance He has given us? Did people see and honor the Lord because of our lives?
4. And finally, worship will no longer be confined to the sanctuary, it will take place repeatedly throughout the day. It may be with other people, or it may be in a quiet moment all by yourself. Our worship time together will not be seen as songs we sing, prayers we pray, or the truth we are learning. Our worship time together will be a gathering of God’s people desiring to think God’s thoughts and live with God’s heart. We will encourage each other to be faithful to the One who snatched us from the fire of judgment to make us a part of His family. It will be about Him rather than about us.
Yes, God desires that we bring glory and honor to His name. This is not our obligation. It is our privilege.
[1] Raymond C. Ortlund Jr. and R. Kent Hughes, Isaiah: God Saves Sinners, Preaching the Word (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2005), 283.
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