October 14, 2015

Pride vs. humility and giving God glory

Ezekiel 28:1–29:21, Revelation 13:11–14:13, Job 36:24–33

When told that God made the trees and the birds, my small granddaughter was fine with that, but when I told her that God made her, she put her hands on her hips and said, “No, He didn’t!” Even at her age, she illustrated how sinful human pride exalts itself in defiance of God.

The nations surrounding Israel and even Israel herself were guilty of pride. God said to the prince of Tyre: “Your heart is proud, and you have said, ‘I am a god, I sit in the seat of the gods, in the heart of the seas,’ yet you are but a man, and no god, though you make your heart like the heart of a god’ . . . .” (Ezekiel 28:2,)

Their pride was based on their wealth; therefore, the Lord said: “I will bring foreigners upon you, the most ruthless of the nations; and they shall draw their swords against the beauty of your wisdom and defile your splendor. They shall thrust you down into the pit, and you shall die the death of the slain in the heart of the seas. Will you still say, ‘I am a god,’ in the presence of those who kill you, though you are but a man, and no god, in the hands of those who slay you? You shall die the death of the uncircumcised by the hand of foreigners; for I have spoken, declares the Lord God.” (Ezekiel 28:6–10)

His utterances were like this against Egypt also: “Behold, I am against you, Pharaoh king of Egypt, the great dragon that lies in the midst of his streams, that says, ‘My Nile is my own; I made it for myself.’ I will put hooks in your jaws, and make the fish of your streams stick to your scales; and I will draw you up out of the midst of your streams, with all the fish of your streams that stick to your scales. And I will cast you out into the wilderness, you and all the fish of your streams; you shall fall on the open field, and not be brought together or gathered. To the beasts of the earth and to the birds of the heavens I give you as food. Then all the inhabitants of Egypt shall know that I am the Lord.” (Ezekiel 29:3–6)

The Bible says pride goes before a fall, meaning pride will bring down the proud. Not only does God say it, but I know that is true from bitter experience.

While most of what Job’s friends said to him were accusatory and unfair, Elihu was right when he talked about the majesty of God. He illustrated by describing a simple thunderstorm:

“Behold, God is great . . . . For he draws up the drops of water; they distill his mist in rain, which the skies pour down and drop on mankind abundantly. Can anyone understand the spreading of the clouds, the thunderings of his pavilion? Behold, he scatters his lightning about him and covers the roots of the sea . . . . He covers his hands with the lightning and commands it to strike the mark. Its crashing declares his presence . . . .” (Job 36:26–33)

As I read this, I thought of those who say they can worship in the wilderness. Of course that is true. A proud person might say it to excuse the humility required to worship with God’s people, but a humble person is humbled even more by God’s astonishing creativity.

In the last book of the Bible, the final judgment is described. John saw it in another vision where an angel delivered God’s message: “Then I saw another angel flying directly overhead, with an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who dwell on earth, to every nation and tribe and language and people. And he said with a loud voice, ‘Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come, and worship him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water.’” (Revelation 14:6–7)

There is more to this vision, but this part stands out in contrast to the pride that brings us down. It says to “give God glory” and “worship Him who made heaven and earth.” Giving myself glory is easy; giving God glory is in sharp contrast because I cannot do it without His grace, nor is it possible when there is any trace of pride in my heart.

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