Give Him Glory (Isaiah 24:14-16a)
Passage: Isaiah 24:14–24:16a
To:God, From: You
I. Your Christmas List
Who’s on your Christmas list this year?
Around my house, I'm definitely the one who is the most Scrooge-ish when it comes to buying presents. I'd rather the Christmas list be a little smaller, while my wife would like it to be a little longer.
But let me ask you this about the names on your Christmas list: “Is God on the list? Is God at the top of the list?”
Now I know how some people will react to that suggestion. They'll say, “Give God a gift? God doesn't need our gifts. God doesn't need anything.” And if someone said that, they would be one hundred percent correct. God does not need anything from us. He doesn't need us. So isn't it silly to suggest that we give God something this Christmas?
Absolutely not! Our giving to God has nothing to do with some Christmas obligation or some longing in God that only we can satisfy. No. The simple fact is that God should always be at the top of our list, of any list, because He commands us to give to Him. To give to God is not to give him a gift in the way we think about giving gifts. To give to God is to give Him his due. But…His command should be our joy!
We need to take our cue from the wise men who came to see Jesus, the newborn king:
...And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. 11 And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. (Matthew 2:9b-11)
Christmas is a celebration of the birth of Jesus. So why wouldn’t our giving be focused on the one whose birthday we’re celebrating? Sometimes, at Christmas, we’re like boys and girls who are invited to a birthday party and we bring gifts for everyone except the boy whose birthday it is.
Like the wise men, we need to come ready to give to God.
But as we come to Jesus, what treasures will we open? What gifts will we offer Him? What is our gold, or our frankincense or myrrh? Turn with me to Isaiah chapter 24. Let's look together at verses 15 and 16a (first half).
II. The Passage: “…Give Glory…” (24:14-16a)
Listen to what the prophet declares here about giving to God:
14 They lift up their voices, they sing for joy; over the majesty of the Lord (to YHWH) they shout from the west. Therefore in the east give glory to the Lord; in the coastlands of the sea, give glory to the name of the Lord (YHWH), the God of Israel. 16 From the ends of the earth we hear songs of praise, of glory to the Righteous One.
Did you hear what the prophet said about giving to God? Do you see what we are to give Him? Verse 15...we are called to give Him glory. Glory! The greatest gift we could give this Christmas, the most important gift, the very gift we should be giving all year long, every day, every hour, every minute, is glory to God.
Is glory on your Christmas list this year?
Let's think about this passage a little more carefully in order to better understand what it means to give glory to God.
A. No Matter the Circumstances (24:14, 15a)
Look with me at the first word of verse 15. It's the word “therefore”. Now, I know many of you know the little saying that is so helpful when it comes to correctly interpreting the Bible. “When you see a 'therefore' you should ask what's it 'there for'”.
A “therefore” always points us back doesn't it, to what came before. That takes us first to verse 14. And what see in verse 14 helps us partially understand why there is a “therefore” in verse 15. Those in the east are called to give glory to Yahweh, the God of Israel, because those in the west have already started the song. Their song leaves us without excuse in terms of what we should do. We should raise our voices and give glory to God.
But verse 14 only drives us to think about the larger context here. And when we look at the first thirteen verses of chapter 24, we find a pretty bleak picture being painted. We find here a description of God's judgment against the nations of the ancient world. The book of Isaiah touches on two ancient superpowers: Assyria and Babylon. The former represents the current threat and the latter the threat to come.
But here God describes how He will carry out His judgment upon both of these empires and all the nations of the ancient Near East. But how does this description of judgment lead us into verses about singing and giving God glory? Well look at verse 14 again.
Through God's perfect justice and His righteous judgments we are given an incredible picture of God's majesty. (Verse 14) They lift up their voices, they sing for joy; over the majesty of the Lord...
So what we learn here is that no matter the circumstances, even in the worst of times, we are called to give glory to God. The 17th century commentator Matthew Henry puts it this way:
When the mirth of carnal worldlings [carnal people] ceases, the joy of the saints is as lively as ever, because the covenant of grace, the fountain of their comforts, and the foundation of their hopes, never fails. Those who rejoice in the Lord can rejoice in tribulation, and by faith may triumph when all about them are in tears. They encourage their fellow–sufferers to do likewise, even those who are in the furnace of affliction. Or, in the valleys, low, dark, miry places. In every fire, even the hottest, in every place, even the remotest, let us keep up our good thoughts of God. If none of these trials move us, then we glorify the Lord in the fires. (Matthew Henry)
B. From East to West (2:15b, 16a)
But notice the scope of this glory that is being given to God. It is from, literally, “the sea”, all the way over to, literally, “the realm of light”. Or we could say, from the land of Israel's perspective, from where the sun sets to where the sun rises; from west to east.
Even in the worst of times, even when the world seems to be in chaos, God will always have people, men and women, boys and girls, all over the world, who will be giving Him glory because they know the “Righteous One” (v. 16) is on the throne. His righteous plan is being worked out. His righteous purpose will be accomplished.
Doesn't that encourage you? Doesn't it encourage you to know that there are people all over the world who are giving glory to God, even in the worst of circumstances? And when the brother in the underground Chinese church gives glory to God, and when the poverty stricken sister in India give glory to God, and when the persecuted brother in Afghanistan give glory to God, how much more should we?
They lift up their voices, they sing for joy; over the majesty of the Lord (to YHWH) they shout from the west. Therefore [here] in the east give glory to the Lord...
C. Giving Glory?
But what does it mean to give God glory? That's an important question, isn't it? Remember what happened to King Herod in Acts 12. When he went and sat in front of the people, they wanted to kiss up to the king, so as he started to speak, they started shout, “The voice of a god, and not of a man!”. But we read this in the very next verse:
Immediately an angel of the Lord struck him down, because he did not give God the glory, and he was eaten by worms and breathed his last. (Acts 12:23)
What does it mean to give glory to God? I can't go down to Walmart and buy glory, and then wrap it up with a bow, can I? You can't order glory online and have it sent to heaven.
No, to give glory to God simply means this: to declare in our all...that God deserves it all...because He is all in all. (2x) Giving glory to God means directing the attention to Him, because He alone is worthy. Giving glory to God means honoring God as God.
How important is it to give glory to God? Why should God be at the top of our Christmas list, at the top of any of our lists?
I was talking to a brother last week and he was saying that he believed very few people in this church could answer a central question that was formulated centuries ago by God's people. The question is this: “What is the chief end of man?” Have you heard that question before? Do you understand that question? It's asking, “What is the number one reason man exists?” Do you know the answer? Here is the answer:
“What is the chief end of man? Man's chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever.”
Did you hear that? The number one reason you and I exist is to give glory to God AND enjoy him forever. To give glory to God is not just something we do as Christians. It is THE thing!
Man's chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever.
Isn't that wonderful. That's the first question from what's called the Westminster Catechism. Don't let that word scare you. A catechism is simply a summary of Biblical teaching used to instruct people in the faith.
And that catechism reminds of a crucial truth: we were made to give...we were made to give glory to God.
Listen to how the Apostle Paul describes our biggest problem as human beings in Romans 1:21: For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him... The NIV puts it this way, For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him... (NIV)
The very heart of sin is that we do not give glory to God. Like Herod, we want glory for ourselves. Without God's grace, all of us are spiritual Scrooges. All of us are tempted to say “Bah, hambug!” to God and horde glory for ourselves. Without grace, whether subtly or explicitly, we want to declare in our all...that we deserve it all...because we are all in all.
But in the end, when Jesus comes to replace the imperfect with the perfect, when He comes to replace what it tainted with what is pure, it will be about giving glory to God...
…that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:10, 11)
That right there tells us a lot about the importance of giving glory to God. The one thing that God will one day get from every human being, whether they love him or not, is glory.
III. Ways to Give Glory to God
So what does God word tell us about how we can declare in our all...that God deserves it all...because He is all in all? How do we practically give God glory?
1. Give Glory to God through Song
Well one example is clear from our main passage in verse 16. The prophet declares:
From the ends of the earth we hear songs of praise, of glory to the Righteous One.
One way that we can give glory to God is something we’ve doing here this morning. We’ve been singing. We can give glory to God through song! This point is confirmed all over the Bible. Psalm 66 says this:
Shout for joy to God, all the earth; 2 sing the glory of his name… (Psalm 66:1, 2a)
When you sing, do you sing to give glory to God? Or do you sing simply because singing is fun, or because you like the sound of your own voice?
What are you thinking about when you sing? Of God and His glory? Do the songs we sing bring glory to God?
The lyrics of a song matter, don’t they? We want all our songs at Way of Grace to declare to all that deserves it all, because he is all in all!
2. Give Glory to God through Praise
But what we also see in these verses about singing, and in so many verses about God’s glory is that at the heart of it, we give glory to God through our praise.
Listen to the entire introduction of Psalm 66: Shout for joy to God, all the earth; 2 sing the glory of his name; give to him glorious praise! 3 Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds! (Psalm 66:1-3)
Later on in Isaiah we read of this command: Sing to the Lord a new song, his praise from the end of the earth, you who go down to the sea, and all that fills it, the coastlands and their inhabitants. 11 Let the desert and its cities lift up their voice, the villages that Kedar inhabits; let the habitants of Sela sing for joy, let them shout from the top of the mountains. 12 Let them give glory to the Lord, and declare his praise in the coastlands. (Is 42)
Do you see in that last line how giving glory to God and declaring His praise go hand in hand. What are we called to give to God? Psalm 135:1…Praise the Lord! Praise the name of the Lord, give praise, O servants of the Lord…
We live in a day and age where people post praises and forward praises because of a dancing cat or child vocalist on YouTube. “This is wonderful! Can you believe this! You’ve got see this! This is so great!”
But are we even more excited to declare the praises of God? Are we saying, whether in public or in private, “You are wonderful! I can’t believe how good you are! You’ve got to know Him! He is so great!”
Again, God’s word confirms that this is why we exist: But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. (I Peter 2:9)
3. Give Glory to God through Thanks
We also give God glory through our thanks. When we offer up thanks to God, we are declaring that He deserves it all. Scripture calls us to:
Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! (Psalm 100:4)
Oh give thanks to the Lord; call upon his name; make known his deeds among the peoples!
2 Sing to him, sing praises to him; tell of all his wondrous works! 3 Glory in his holy name;
let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice! (Psalm 105:1-3)
4. Give Glory to God through Confession
There’s another way we can give glory to God according to Scripture. Listen to Joshua 7:
Then Joshua said to Achan, “My son, give glory to the Lord God of Israel and give praise to him. And tell me now what you have done; do not hide it from me.” (Josh 7:19)
You might remember that Achan was the man who took spoil from Jericho after it’s defeat, even though God told them not to take anything. So when Joshua calls Achan to give glory to God, he wants him to do so through his confession.
When we confess our sin to God, we give Him glory because we are admitting that He was right and we are wrong, that He is good and we are not, that His law is perfect and our wisdom is foolish, that obedience to Him matters more than getting our own way.
5. Give Glory to God through All We Do
Finally, how do we practically give glory to God? Listen to what Paul says in I Corinthians 10:
So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. [or we might say, “do all in order to give glory to God”] (I Corinthians 10:31)
We need to give glory to through all we do. And we can give glory to God in whatever we do by doing what we do with humility, faith, gratefulness, and with a desire for others to know that Jesus Christ is our motivation.
IV. This Christmas
This Christmas, will God be at the top of your list? Is it your desire that God receive all the glory this Christmas?
As you buy gifts this Christmas, give glory to God by thanking Him for Jesus Christ, the greatest gift ever given; give thanks to God that Jesus, and only Jesus, can enable us to give glory to God through the gift of a new heart.
With your children this Christmas, give glory to God by constantly pointing them past the festivities and the decorations and the presents to the One from whom we receive every good and perfect gift.
In your communications with friends and family, with humility, give glory to God by being absolutely explicit that all you have, all your blessings, come from the hand of God because of Jesus Christ. Don’t just write or tell people about what’s happened in your life, but why it’s happened.
At that Christmas party you attend, give glory to God by looking for ways to encourage others, by doing what is right, by being willing to name the name of Jesus Christ.
As you look at Christmas lights, give glory to God by praising Him for His power, by the sheer fact that people all of over the world, whether they know it or not, are acknowledging the birth of Jesus Christ, the One who changed history, the “light of the world” who wants to change us.
As you travel this month, give glory to God by acknowledging that your life is in His hands, and the He, and only He can protect you and give you the strength you need.
As you receive gifts this season, give glory to God by acknowledging before Him that, apart from His grace in Jesus, you deserve nothing but the consequences your sins deserve. Thank Him for his provision, not only for the gifts, but for people in your life who would give you gifts.
As you navigate through the busyness of the season, as you spend more time with family, give glory to God by being like Jesus in practicing patience, forebearance, forgiveness, and grace.
And as we seek to give to God this Christmas, and throughout the year, we can be encouraged by what Jesus told us in Matthew 5:16…
In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. (Mat 5:16)
It should be our desire that as we give glory to God in all we do, that God would use this to change others, so that they too would give Him glory. What a wonderful Christmas gift that would be, wouldn’t it? To touch a life for the glory of God.
Let’s pray that God would work in our hearts this morning to that end: for His glory and the good of those around us. Let’s pray.