Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Who Has Dominion in the Heart of the Believer?

"I am the Lord; that is My name;
My glory I give to no other,
nor My praise to carved idols."
- Isaiah 42:8

And repeated in Is. 48:11,
"For My own sake, for My own sake, I do it;
for how should My name be profaned?
My glory I will not give to another."

Surely what God says twice deserves our close attention. He has not, does not, and will not share His glory with another. The obvious intention of that is to forbid the worship of any mere creature, including angels or so-called "saints," much less actual pagan deities. Yet, that sells God's glory short.

In the Preamble to the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:2), God proclaims, "I am the Lord your God," leading to the First Commandment (verse 3), "You shall have no other gods before Me." In the Covenant, God claims an exclusive authority, the very glory that He says through Isaiah cannot be shared. That necessarily includes over the sovereignty we claim over ourselves. In fact, that is the very sin of Adam, his claim to decide for himself the right to the Tree of Knowledge, irregardless of the stricture placed on him by God. As Satan phrases it, in Genesis 3:5, "You will be like God." Or in Jeremiah 2:31, where the wicked say, "We are free, we will come no more to You [i.e., God]."

But God refuses to honor Adam's Declaration of Independence. Israel demanded a king from the Prophet Samuel (I Samuel 8), but God took their demand as an affront to Himself, telling Samuel (I Samuel 8:7), "They have rejected Me from being king over them." This is an affront He does not tolerate, though He did indeed give Israel a king. Through the Prophet Ezekiel (Ez. 20:33), He proclaims, "As I live, declares the Lord God, surely with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm and with wrath poured out I will be king over you."

Peter Bulkeley eloquently associates this faithful rulership of God with the Covenant of Grace. He says, "Thus the Lord will be God over his people, a God above them, as a Prince is over his people, an husband over his wife, a father over his children, a master over his servants, or a shepheard over his flock, to rule and order them according to his own minde. And this is no small benefit and blessing of the Covenant. For look at it as for the good of a people to be under the government of a gracious King, the good of the wife to be under the government of a prudent husband, the good of a child to be under the government of a godly father, and for the good of the flock to be under the guidance of a skillfull shepheard: So it is for the good of the people of God, that he will be pleased to be a God over them, and that he will not leave them to the rebellious lusts of their own hearts."

I think that this is the same lesson that David commends in the Twenty-Third Psalm (Ps. 23:1-4):
"The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for His name's sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff,
they comfort me."

While our benefit is certainly not required to justify God's rule over us, what a blessing that we receive that, as well!

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