Blessed For His Namesake – The Value of True Worship
An article from SVM Spring 2013
During the inauguration of the U.S. President Barak Obama in early 2013, I listened to the benediction. Repeatedly, the speaker called upon God to bless the nation. Asking God to bless a nation and acknowledging His ability to bring about civic peace and tolerance appears, at least on the surface, to be a reasonable prayer request. The question to ask is it reasonable to God? Will He act on this kind of request for our sakes? Would He act on behalf of a God fearing nation or non-God fearing nation for their sake?
The impression I got from the benediction reflects the presentation of Jesus Christ in many areas of Christianity. There is an expectation that God’s great goodness exists for us as Healer and Provider and that His longsuffering and patience is interpreted as acceptance, and therefore acceptance of worldly ideologies, moral, and ethical standards should be blessed. These same selfish expectations of God are even common with God’s people, and seem reasonable, but result in divisions (James 4:1-5).
Indeed, we do want to be blessed by God, and God does wish to bless us abundantly. It would make for good sense to understand what motivates God in the first place to bless individuals and nations. This understanding comes from knowing what His passions are which motivate Him to act.
God’s Passion for His Glory
In Genesis 1:1 we learn God created the heavens and the earth. This scripture does not tell us why. It takes scripture, the awesomeness of His creation, and experiential awareness with His Spirit to have a greater capacity to know why.
For all we can understand from the Word of God and God’s creation, both the seen and unseen, He created all that there is for His glory. For this author, the glory for God is the enhancement of His life and that His beautiful attributes be made known, and both increasing forever. It is implied by a prayer of Jesus Christ that eternal life is defined by the growing knowledge of His person (John 17:3). Both the enhancement of His life and the knowledge of Him will increase for all eternity for His good pleasure.
The Kingdom of God, the growth of His family and all that exist serve for His glory. There are fine presentations in Church literature of humankind’s awesome destiny to become part of God’s Family and enter the Kingdom of God, but both are not the purpose of man. These and all other promises exist to serve the purpose that He is glorified, and through these He is pleased. If we learn to know He is always passionate for His glory, we too can connect and serve with greater capacity. This is the essence of true worship.
What is True Worship?
True Worship is born out of tapping into God’s inner passion, and no one individual can do this unless He first makes that available to him or her.
“But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him” (John 4:23).
By implication of this verse, it appears true worshippers are not easy to come by if the Father is actively seeking individuals to worship Him even for Him in this fallen world that is self-serving and self-preserving. Our passion for His glory comes about when God takes residence in us by His Holy Spirit, and He reveals Himself (John 14:21).
So passionate is God about His glory that every solitary individual worshipper is of extreme value to Him. The scriptures reveal His excitement when we know that the heavenly hosts also express joy for the sinner that repents (Luke 15:7). Elsewhere we are told of the believer’s value by the fact the very hairs on our head are numbered (Luke 12:7). He sent His Son in the capacity He did for the purpose of redeeming mankind to become true worshippers.
We must never underestimate how significant it is to know and become intimately aware of His passion as it will have a profound effect on our lives. Because He is passionate for His own glory, He is by natural consequence passionate for the worshippers themselves.
The Creation of Humankind
We know God created humankind in His Own image, and we know what He asked them to do first:
“So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him, male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them” (Genesis 2:27-28).
To be in His image is to not only in appearance, but also to reflect His beauty. Creation in His image and filling the earth with mankind is first in the creation narrative before we learn where He placed Adam and His instructions to tend the garden eastward in Eden.
God blessed them because being fruitful and multiplying would fill the earth with His image; that is to make His glory known. Moreover, it is intended that we would share in the purpose, and we enjoy this blessing, for our God is an inclusive God. His blessings serve to further His glory, and that is something we must understand as we explore in this article. The point is made again for Israel through the prophet Isaiah:
“Everyone who is called by My name, whom I have created for My glory; I have formed him, yes, I have made him” (Isaiah 43:7).
Sin is a failure to reflect the glory of God. God’s great passion for His glory, and the extent to which He has gone for His glory to increase, also reveals how serious sin can be. Christians must be extremely sensitive to this fact. For Christians to try and find meaning and purpose outside of being who we are in Christ, is robbing God of His glory, and this He will not accept.
The Purpose of Israel
King David understood the Lord’s purpose for Israel “And who is like Your people, like Israel, the one nation on the earth whom God went to redeem for Himself as a people, to make for Himself a name—and to do for Yourself great and awesome deeds for Your land—before Your people who You redeemed for Yourself from Egypt, the nations, and their gods?” (2 Samuel 7:23)
When Israel was disobedient the Lord would use pestilence and other nations to punish them. He did not utterly forsake them, not for their sake, but for the sake of His own name.
“For My name’s sake I will defer My anger, and for My praise I will restrain it from you, so that I do not cut you off. Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction. For My own sake, for My own sake, I will do it; For how should My name be profaned? And I will not give My glory to another” (Isaiah 48:9-11).
If His reasons to act were for the sake of Israel, He would belittle His glory. When we learn of our own salvation today, we see how the Lord has not changed. No flesh will glory in His sight or boast of salvation by good works, as salvation reveals His great riches and kindness toward us (Ephesians (2:4-9).
Prayers of the Saints
We see from the prayers and admonitions of the saints in the Bible that the glory, honor, and reputation of God were first and foremost in their thoughts.
We may look to God for blessings, but we should first look to the blessedness of God before we have expectations of our own. This creates the right frame of mind that aligns us with our greater purpose which is worship. When we do this, we will understand what a true blessing really is! Peter, when writing to the exiles of the dispersion, did not first address their needs, but turned their thoughts heavenward:
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” (1 Peter 1:3-5).
For Peter the first and foremost clear statement to communicate is that because God is blessed, we are blessed. There is a lesson here for us today, instead of looking at our circumstances, allowing them to dominate our ability to worship Him, use them to glorify His Name.
Job is an example of the same mindset. Amidst an extreme loss of family and fortune, he did not allow the change in circumstance to alter his worship:
“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21).
We live for His blessedness, not our own. We are blessed because He Himself is blessed.
Moses, considered a very humble man, was able to connect with God’s passion because of his humility.
Then the Lord said to Moses: “How long will these peoples reject Me? And how long will they not believe Me, with all the signs which I have performed among them? I will strike them with the pestilence and disinherit them, and I will make of you a nation greater and mightier than they” (Numbers 14:11-12).
That is quite an offering that the Lord made to Moses, to make a nation of him that is greater and mightier than they. I dare say today, there are those who would be first in line to take God up on such an offer to enhance and vindicate their ministry. But, Moses’ concern was not for himself:
And Moses said to the Lord: “Then the Egyptians will hear it, for by Your Might You brought these people up from among them, and they will tell it to the inhabitants of this land. They have heard that You, Lord, are among these people; that You, Lord are seen face to face and Your cloud stands above them, and You go before them in a pillar of fire by night. Now if you kill these people as one man, then the nations which have heard of Your fame will speak, saying, ‘Because the Lord was not able to bring this people to the land which He swore to give them, therefore He killed them in the wilderness,’” (Numbers 14:13-16).
Moses’ appeal was on the grounds of the Lord’s reputation, and it was on those grounds the Lord pardoned them and Israel was saved. The Lord however was not going to relent that His glory be known despite His disappointment:
“But truly, as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord”— (v 21).
The beloved prophet Daniel understood what it took to get the Lord to act on behalf of himself and his fellow brethren. Study carefully his appeal:
“Now therefore, our God, hear the prayer of Your servant, and his supplications, and for the Lord’s sake cause Your face to shine on Your sanctuary, which is desolate. O my God, incline Your ear and hear; open Your eyes and see our desolations, and the city which is called by Your name; for we do not present our supplications before You because of our righteous deeds, but because of Your great mercies. O Lord, hear! O Lord forgive! O Lord, listen and act! Do not delay for Your own sake, my God, for Your city and Your people are called by Your name” (Daniel 9:17-19).
Daniel’s only hope in the Lord, besides His mercy, was for the Lord’s love of His Own name. There was no other ground where he could base his appeal.
King David, after the prophet Nathan had come to him regarding his sin with Bathsheba, wrote the 51st Psalm. As much as he acknowledged his sin and desired cleansing, we must not overlook another element in his confession to the Lord:
“Against You, You only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Your sight—that You may be found just when You speak, and blameless when You judge.” (Psalm 51:4).
Though he desired forgiveness and cleansing, he did not forget the Lord’s reputation, which is of extreme value and importance. We should consider this in our prayers of repentance. We need to interpret the Christian life properly, and understand what a true blessing it is to know God above all other blessings.
“Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise You. Thus I will bless You while I live; I will lift up my hands in Your name. My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness, and my mouth shall praise You with joyful lips” (Psalm 63:3-5).
There is a reason that David was considered a man after the Lord’s own heart. He felt the passion of the Lord’s will that He is glorified, and for David, life’s greatest satisfaction came from that. Therein we have the blessedness that we truly should seek. Though our circumstances may change, it is a blessedness that circumstances can never touch.
The Coming of the Messiah
Jesus Christ was sent for the purpose of glorifying the Father, and He is glorified by bringing salvation to mankind. The opening words of Paul to the Ephesians reveals that Jesus Christ was always integral in the beginning when God purposed in Himself to be glorified in eternity past.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.” (Ephesians 1:3).
The blessedness of God is first pronounced, and because of this we are blessed in the heavenly in Christ. This is a repeated theme. All of this to the praise of His glory and to the pleasure of His will. A careful study of the first Chapter of Ephesians shows how grace and glory go together (Ephesians 1:5, 6, 9, 12, 14).
In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace which He made abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His Good pleasure which He purposed in Himself …” (Ephesians 1:7-9).
Before He can be for us, He must first be for Himself. If God values anything of lesser worth above Himself, then He would belittle His own glory by committing idolatry; it would be idolatry for Him to act on the value of anything less. Because there is no one greater than He, He purposed only in Himself to be glorified and creation came to be. Imagine if we can have the passion and the commitment and the joy of the Father. The scripture reveals the joy of the angels.
“When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy” (Job 38:7).
And the joy of the Son:
“Looking unto Jesus … who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2).
We are invited to share in the passion and the joy. Amazing!
Salvation must be understood in the right context. We often have the idea that God saves sinners because He pities them and saves them for their sake. The real motivation behind salvation was expressed by Jesus Christ in His own testimony regarding His purpose here on earth:
“I have glorified You on earth. I have finished the work which You have given me to do” (John 17:4).
“Now My soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour. Father, glorify Your name” (John 12:27, 28).
God’s love for us is embedded in His passion for His own glory. Love is one of His greatest attributes, and it is perfectly expressed through Jesus Christ. He loves us for Christ’s sake, not ours, therefore we know that He will always love us and will always be committed to His glory.
It is God’s good pleasure to give us the inheritance of the Kingdom (Luke 12:32), which includes all things that pertain to life, which is purposed to His glory. God will always be motivated to act on behalf of His glory, and there can be no salvation unless this is true.
When our Lord gave us the model prayer, it showed us to ask Him for being enabled to worship Him in spirit and in truth. We are encouraged to make our requests known to Him (Philippians 4:6), for again, His mercies will bring opportunity to glorify His name.
“By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples” (John 15:8).
Bearing fruit gives God glory. Why? Because it is His work through the Holy Spirit that this happens, and these spiritual fruits proclaim His attributes. You make God known to the rest of creation. He starts to see Himself as a father would see himself in his own child. This pleases Him.
This fundamental truth should affect all areas of our lives.
“Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31).
Indeed, as there are many prayers calling on God for a blessing, on behalf of a nation and on behalf of individuals. The Word of God makes clear that a nation or individual who connects and rejoices in the Creator’s glory would have His own blessedness made known to them. Knowing the blessedness of God is what it means to be truly blessed, which is being richly blessed in the heavenly places. We should want to enjoy God more than any other earthly blessing that is commonly requested.
If we look to earthly blessing for reassurance of approval by Him, or to find personal comfort, we need to re- evaluate our worship. If we worship in unfavorable circumstances and during trial, with focus on praising God for who He is, then He will know we are for Him and His glory. A true worshipper we would be.
God created the Universe and gave it meaning and purpose, as well as great promise. It reflects His brilliance, passion, vision and glory. Creation must reflect His glory, both the seen and unseen. Christ came so that mankind can again be restored to reflect His glory. Christ’s message was “follow Me,” let us do this so that we can share in the blessedness intended from the beginning.