An Exalted View of God by Tony Cooke

An Exalted View of God
Tony Cooke

Exalted View of GodIn Psalm 50, God addressed those we might call pseudo-believers. He said they were reciting His decrees and pretending to obey His covenant (verse 16, NLT), but He addressed their compromise and worldliness, saying, “You thought that I was altogether like you; but I will rebuke you, and set them in order before your eyes” (verse 21, NKJV).

That phrase—You thought that I was altogether like you—has captured my attention over the years, and it raises some vital questions. How do we perceive God? Do we see God for who He really is, or do we fabricate a “god” that is compatible with the “comfort zone” of our flesh?       

We do ourselves a great disservice if we fail to see God’s greatness, majesty, and awesomeness. God, who wants to elevate our vision of Himself, said, “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts, says the LORD. And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9, NLT).

A.W. Tozer said, "So necessary to the Church is a lofty concept of God that when that concept in any measure declines, the Church with her worship and moral standards declines along with it. The first step down for any church is taken when it surrenders its high opinion of God."

I remember a popular song in the mid ‘70s called, “Jesus is Just Alright With Me.” One of the vocalists said that no one in the band was religious or anti-religious. He said, “We weren’t anything. We were just musicians out playing a gig. We didn’t think about that kind of stuff very often.” Believers need to know that Jesus is not “just alright,” He’s the Savior of the World, Redeemer, Healer, and Lord! Believers should shun any glib attitude that makes Jesus anything less than, “…holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and… higher than the heaven” (Hebrews 7:26, NKJV).

I recently heard a country song about having a beer with Jesus. While the person was seemingly respectful, it made me think about how superficial and shallow perspectives can be when it comes to seeing a Holy and Majestic God. When Isaiah saw the Lord, he didn’t consider ordering up a couple of tall ones (as the song says). Instead, he was awestruck and overcome with the holy presence of God when he encountered His glory and awesomeness.

Isaiah 6:1-8 (NLT)
1 …I saw the Lord. He was sitting on a lofty throne, and the train of his robe filled the Temple. 2 Attending him were mighty seraphim, each having six wings. With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew. 3 They were calling out to each other, “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of Heaven’s Armies! The whole earth is filled with his glory!” 4 Their voices shook the Temple to its foundations, and the entire building was filled with smoke. 5 Then I said, “It’s all over! I am doomed, for I am a sinful man. I have filthy lips, and I live among a people with filthy lips. Yet I have seen the King, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies.” 6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal he had taken from the altar with a pair of tongs. 7 He touched my lips with it and said, “See, this coal has touched your lips. Now your guilt is removed, and your sins are forgiven.” 8 Then I heard the Lord asking, “Whom should I send as a messenger to this people? Who will go for us?” I said, “Here I am. Send me.”

Having been cleansed by the coal from the altar, Isaiah went on to convey messages from a God of holiness to the people of Israel. For example:

Isaiah 57:15 (NLT)
15 The high and lofty one who lives in eternity, the Holy One, says this: “I live in the high and holy place with those whose spirits are contrite and humble. I restore the crushed spirit of the humble and revive the courage of those with repentant hearts.

Consider John’s encounter with the majesty of Jesus on the Isle of Patmos.

Revelation 1:12-17 (NLT)
12 When I turned to see who was speaking to me, I saw seven gold lampstands. 13 And standing in the middle of the lampstands was someone like the Son of Man. He was wearing a long robe with a gold sash across his chest. 14 His head and his hair were white like wool, as white as snow. And his eyes were like flames of fire. 15 His feet were like polished bronze refined in a furnace, and his voice thundered like mighty ocean waves. 16 He held seven stars in his right hand, and a sharp two-edged sword came from his mouth. And his face was like the sun in all its brilliance. 17 When I saw him, I fell at his feet as if I were dead…

When Isaiah and John encountered the Lord, they were awestruck. There was no sense of flippant familiarity, no treating Him like a good ole’ boy. As John’s “revelation” continued, we have continuing glimpses of Jesus’ majesty.

Revelation 5:11-12 (NKJV)
11 Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, 12 saying with a loud voice: “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom, and strength and honor and glory and blessing!”

Yet There Remains Great Approachability

Scripture leads us progressively toward an exalted view of Christ and of God, yet in the Incarnation, we encounter both the humility and the approachability of God. We could not access God in our fallen condition, so He came to us in the Person of Jesus Christ.

“[Jesus] …made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men” (Philippians 2:7). The Living Bible says that Jesus, “…laid aside his mighty power and glory, taking the disguise of a slave and becoming like men, and he humbled himself even further, going so far as actually to die a criminal’s death on a cross.”

“But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone” (Hebrews 2:9).

“Therefore, it was necessary for him to be made in every respect like us, his brothers and sisters, so that he could be our merciful and faithful High Priest before God” (Hebrews 2:17, NLT).

In the Incarnation, God accommodated us. In His humility, Jesus said (and says) to everyone, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30). Jesus was so approachable that parents brought their children to Him to be blessed, and contrite sinners found freedom from shame and condemnation through His compassion.

Through the Incarnation (including His death, burial, and resurrection), Jesus became the Door and the Way. But before He left this earth, He prayed something very interesting. “And now, Father, glorify Me along with Yourself and restore Me to such majesty and honor in Your presence as I had with You before the world existed.” (John 17:5, AMP).

It is right and good when we see the humility and approachability that Jesus exhibited in His earthly life, but it’s even greater when we follow Him into His glorification and exaltation. Perhaps that is why Paul said, “At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now!” (2 Corinthians 5:16, NLT).

Jesus met us where we were, so He could take us where He is. John 17:21,23 (NKJV) says, “And the glory which You gave Me I have given them… Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me…”

He came to redeem the sinner, not to condone the sin. Hebrews 2:10 (NLT) says, “God… chose to bring many children into glory. And it was only right that he should make Jesus, through his suffering, a perfect leader, fit to bring them into their salvation.” Did you notice that? God has chosen to bring us into glory!

If the God you serve allows you to rationalize carnality, make light of disobedience, and feel comfortable in sin, you are serving a god of your own making; not the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Don’t fabricate a god that your flesh is comfortable with. Let’s get—through the enablement of the Holy Spirit and through the Word—an exalted view of God. That simply means to see Him as He really is. Then, we’ll do what Psalm 34:3 has declared through the ages: “Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together.”