In the passage we read today from Exodus, we learn that “the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. 35 And Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud settled on it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.
What is the pre-eminent passion in God’s heart? What is God’s greatest pleasure? In what does God take supreme delight? I suggest that the pre-eminent passion in God’s heart is his own glory. God is at the center of his own affections. The supreme love of God’s life is God. God is pre-eminently committed to the fame of his name. God is himself the end for which God created the world.
Better, still, God’s immediate goal in all he does is his own glory. God relentlessly and unceasingly creates, rules, orders, directs, speaks, judges, saves, destroys and delivers in order to make known who he is and to secure from the whole of the universe the praise, honor and glory of which he and he alone is ultimately and infinitely worthy.
The question I most often hear in response to this is that if God loves himself pre-eminently, how can he love me at all? How can we say that God is for usand that he desires our happiness if he is primarily for himself and his own glory? I want to argue that it is precisely because God loves himself that he loves you. Here’s how.
I assume you will agree that your greatest good consists of enjoying the most excellent Being in the universe. That Being, of course, is God. Therefore, the most loving and kind thing that God can do for you is to devote all his energy and effort to elicit from your heart praise of himself. Why? Because praise is the consummation of enjoyment. All enjoyment tends towards praise and adoration as its appointed end. In this way, God’s seeking his own glory and God’s seeking your good converge.
Listen again. Your greatest good is in the enjoyment of God. God’s greatest glory is in being enjoyed. So, for God to seek his glory in your worship of him is the most loving thing he can do for you. Only by seeking his glory pre-eminently can God seek your good passionately.
For God to work for your enjoyment of him (that’s his love for you) and for his glory in being enjoyed (that’s his love for himself) are not properly distinct.
So, God comes to you in his Word and says: “Here I am in all my glory: incomparable, infinite, immeasurable, unsurpassed. See me! Be satisfied with me! Enjoy me! Celebrate who I am! Experience the height and depth and width and breadth of savoring and relishing me!”
Does that sound like God pursuing his own glory? Yes.
But it also sounds like God loving you and me perfectly and passionately. The only way it is not real love is if there is something for us better than God:something more beautiful than God that he can show us, something more pleasing and satisfying than God with which he can fill our hearts, something more glorious and majestic than God with which we can occupy ourselves for eternity. But there is no such thing! Anywhere! Ever!