Robert M. Spicer

Introduction

Why are you here on this planet at this time? Knowing the answer to that question is always important, but knowing it during a time of uncertainty and upheaval, such as we are facing during this coronavirus pandemic, is crucial. It is important at all times because without a purpose or goal for our lives we wander aimlessly through life. In times of major upheaval like we are facing right now it is crucial that we have the right purpose for our lives and that we keep that purpose in mind constantly. It is easy at a time like this to lose our bearings, wondering what is happening or what we should do or what the outcome will be. If we choose a wrong purpose we will end up disappointed and disillusioned. Suppose your purpose is determined by your vocation. You are a teacher, a plumber, a nurse, an attorney, an IT worker or whatever. If you lose your job or retire, have you lost your purpose in life? Suppose your purpose is determined by relationships. You are a wife and/or mother, husband and/or father, son or daughter, friend or neighbor. If the connection involved in those relationships changes by the passing of years or by circumstances beyond your control like alienation, distance or death, what will happen to your purpose for living? Suppose your purpose is determined by accomplishments. You are striving for success, wealth, status, approval of others or pleasure. If you fail to measure up, has your life no meaning? If you reach those goals will you still have a reason for your existence? Having the right purpose for our lives is always important. We must know what that is and keep it firmly in mind and clearly in view.

One of the most famous attempts to address the question of why we are here was the answer given to the first question of the Westminster Shorter Catechism written in London in the 1600’s. The question was, “What is the chief end of man?” The answer was, “The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” In this blog I plan to concentrate on the first half of that purpose statement, “to glorify God.” In this paper I hope: 1. to explain what it means to glorify God, 2. to show that the Bible teaches that glorifying God is the chief end of man, 3. to give examples of ways in  which Scripture says we can accomplish that purpose, and 4. to show why glorifying God is so very important.

Before I begin, I should note that this study is the second half of the one begun with my previous blog, “Behold Your God,” which was posted several months ago. In that blog, I examined the use of “the glory of God” in the sense of glory that God possesses as a part of His essence, a reference to the manifestation of His attributes. In this blog I plan to examine the topic of “the glory of God” in the sense of glory that is given to Him by others. What does “glory” denote in that sense? In other words, what does it mean “to give glory to God” or “to glorify God”? (They are synonymous phrases.) Obviously, no one can add anything to God’s essence or attributes. What people can do is respond to Him appropriately in light of His manifested attributes. They can draw attention to those attributes, help others to understand what they say about God, and respond to Him accordingly. That response might include adoration or praise or honor or fear being given to Him. It might also include obeying Him or confessing sins. One way or another those actions are what the Bible means by giving Him glory (honor, praise etc.) so that others will see His glory (His manifested attributes). As we go through this paper I will frequently take note of the various nuances the phrases “glorify God” and “give God glory” have in each passage to give an understanding of the full range of meanings those expressions can have. As in the previous blog, although I am convinced that the concept of glorifying God is found in multitudes of verses in Scripture, I have limited my survey to those passages where the actual terms are found in the original languages of the Bible.

The glory of God is indeed the chief end of man because of what the Bible says about that act. There is no statement in the Bible declaring that the glory of God is the chief end of man. If it is so important, why would that clear declaration not be made, not once but many times? I think the reason is that God wants us to use our minds, to think. He does this on more than one occasion. For example, the word “trinity” is never found in Scripture. Neither is the word “triune” and yet the orthodox church affirms that God is one in essence but three in persons. We do that because the Bible distinguishes between the persons. When Jesus was baptized, the Father said, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.”  (Matthew 3:17) The Father was distinguished from the Son. The evening before He was crucified Jesus told His disciples that He would soon be going to the Father who had sent Him but He would send the Helper who would convict the world of sin, righteousness and judgment. (John 16:5 ff.) He was referring of course to the Holy Spirit. Jesus is distinguished from the Father and the Holy Spirit. Yet we believe God is one in essence because of passages like Deuteronomy 6:4 which, tells us that the Lord is One. In other words the Bible teaches that there are three persons but one essence of God. The Bible teaches the triunity of God indirectly. We are to know what the Bible says, and we are to think about what it says.  

Similarly, when John the Baptist, sitting in prison, heard the evaluation various people were making of the ministry of Jesus (that He was a prophet), he sent his disciples to Jesus to ask Him if He was the One who should come (the Messiah) or if they should wait for another. In response, Jesus did not say, “Yes, I am the Messiah.” Instead, He said, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”” (Luke 7:22–23, ESV) Jesus knew that John knew what the Old Testament prophesied, that when the Messiah came he would do the very things Jesus had been doing. (Isaiah 35:5-6 & 61:1-2) Jesus expected John to put two and two together and get four. He affirmed his messiahship, but He did so indirectly. Likewise, the Bible teaches that the chief end of man is to glorify God, but it does so indirectly. We will begin to see how it does so by examining what the Bible says about the importance God places upon glorifying Himself.

Chapter 1.    It is important to God that He is glorified

God created people for His glory

As I said above, nowhere in Scripture do we find the statement that the chief end of man is to glorify God. However, we do find something close to that in a verse in Isaiah. In Isaiah 43:1-4, the Lord expresses His love for Israel. Then, in verses 5-7, He promises to regather them from the nations into which they will have been dispersed. “I will say to the north, Give up, and to the south, Do not withhold; bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the end of the earth, everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.”” (Isaiah 43:6–7, ESV) God had created the nation of Israel for His glory. Although this text speaks specifically of the nation of Israel, as we will see in the next sections of this chapter, the implication is that God has created everyone for His glory, but the way they will glorify Him will differ depending upon their relationship with Him.

 God commands people to glorify Himself.

The next piece of evidence that we will consider, that indicates that it is important to God that He is glorified, is the fact that He commands people to glorify Him. After David looked at the adversity that God had brought upon him, and then experienced deliverance, he exhorted his people with these words: “You who fear the Lord, praise him! All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him, and stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel!” (Psalm 22:23, ESV) Although David was the human instrument who spoke these words, ultimately God was inspiring David to write them. God was commanding (the verb is imperative) the people to glorify Himself. Since “glorify him” is parallel with “praise him” and “stand in awe of him,” I believe these ideas explain more specifically what was meant by “glorify him” in this verse.

Isaiah also records a command to give God glory. After portraying the future judgment of God upon the whole world, the righteous everywhere (east and west) are commanded to give glory to God: “Therefore in the east give glory to the Lord; in the coastlands of the sea, give glory to the name of the Lord, the God of Israel. From the ends of the earth we hear songs of praise, of glory to the Righteous One.” (Isaiah 24:15-16a, ESV)  What is the response that those who love the Lord are called to have? They all are to glorify the Lord. In response to the command issued in verse 15, verse 16a records people giving glory to God by singing songs of praise to Him. The form of glory being given to God here is that of praise.

Jeremiah utters a similar call to the nation of Israel in his day. “Give glory to the Lord your God before he brings darkness, before your feet stumble on the twilight mountains, and while you look for light he turns it into gloom and makes it deep darkness.” (Jeremiah 13:16, ESV) This verse comes near the beginning of a song in which Jeremiah is pleading with his people to turn back to the Lord lest they end up in exile. They were exhorted to give glory to God, to give Him the honor that was due Him as their God in order to avoid judgment. The meaning of glory here is not praise. Jeremiah is calling his people to turn from their sinful behavior and honor and obey the Lord. The whole book is replete with examples of the way Israel was dishonoring God by their disobedience. They were being exhorted to repent and live lives of obedience which would honor the Lord. The glory they were being called to give was in the form of responding to God in the light of His character and commands. This is consistent with the meaning of “glory” we saw in the previous blog. In that paper “glory” referred to the manifestation of God’s attributes or character. The glory that Jeremiah was commanding them to give to God was a response to the glory that was a manifestation of His character (covered in my previous blog); that is they were to glorify God by living lives that reflected His attributes.

The New Testament also contains commands to glorify God. As Paul concludes a warning to the Corinthians not to use their bodies for immoral purposes, he writes, “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” (1 Corinthians 6:19–20, ESV) Then, later on in the same epistle, at the end of a section instructing the Corinthians about the matter of Christian liberty, he concludes: “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31, ESV) In this passage the meaning of glorifying God is the same as in the previous passage in Jeremiah. People were being called to glorify/honor God by obeying Him, by responding to Him in the light of His character.

In prophecies of the last days we read what an angel declares to everyone living on the earth:  “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 14:7, ESV) Since “give him glory” seems to be parallel with “worship him” I take it that the meaning here is primarily that the people are being called to worship/praise the Lord, the Creator of all, because He is finally executing judgment on the earth which is described in verses 8-11.

He commands heavenly beings to glorify Himself.

God’s commands that He be glorified are not limited to those directed to human beings. Psalm 29 is an example in which heavenly beings are called to glorify God. “Ascribe to the Lord, O heavenly beings, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength. Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness.” (Psalm 29:1–2, ESV) The body of the Psalm extols the mighty power of God over nature. It does so in two ways, first by naming some of the elements in nature over which He exercises His power, and second, by stating that the instrument by which He exercises His power is simply His voice. He just speaks and the waters (29:3), the mountains (29:6), lightning (29:7), and the wilderness (29:8) all obey His bidding. The heavenly beings are called to glorify the LORD because of His mighty power demonstrated by His deeds. In this case the form of glory they are to give to God is that of praise/worship as they ascribe glory (give credit) to Him.

God is (rightly) jealous of His glory being given to others and He imposed severe penalties on those who did not give Him the glory He deserved.

Two indications of the value God places upon His being glorified are the facts that He is jealous for His glory and that He imposed serious consequences when people have refused to give Him the glory He deserves. Nadab and Abihu offered strange fire on the altar and were immediately executed by God for doing so. “Then Moses said to Aaron, “This is what the Lord has said: ‘Among those who are near me I will be sanctified, and before all the people I will be glorified.’ ” And Aaron held his peace.” (Leviticus 10:3, ESV) Nadab and Abihu dishonored God by not sanctifying Him by following the directions He had given for the offering of incense. He is holy. He is the mighty creator God of the universe. When He speaks He is to be obeyed. By their disobedience they did not glorify Him by treating Him according to who He is. They were executed as a consequence.

Apparently that lesson was not learned by all of the priests because years later a similar kind of attitude was found in the sons of Eli the priest. So the Lord sent a prophet to Eli saying: “Therefore the Lord, the God of Israel, declares: ‘I promised that your house and the house of your father should go in and out before me forever,’ but now the Lord declares: ‘Far be it from me, for those who honor (Hebrew glorify) me I will honor, and those who despise me shall be lightly esteemed. Behold, the days are coming when I will cut off your strength and the strength of your father’s house, so that there will not be an old man in your house. Then in distress you will look with envious eye on all the prosperity that shall be bestowed on Israel, and there shall not be an old man in your house forever. The only one of you whom I shall not cut off from my altar shall be spared to weep his eyes out to grieve his heart, and all the descendants of your house shall die by the sword of men. And this that shall come upon your two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, shall be the sign to you: both of them shall die on the same day.” (1 Samuel 2:30–34, ESV) The severity of this sentence of judgment shows how very important it is to God that He is glorified, obeyed, and treated with respect and reverence, especially by the religious leaders of the day.

The second indication of how very important it is to God that He receives the glory which He deserves can be seen in the fact that He is jealous of His glory. Isaiah 42 provides an instance of this. In Isaiah 42:1-4 the LORD describes His commissioning of His Servant and a description of the Servant’s victorious work. In verses 5-7, the LORD reminds His listeners of His mighty work in Creation and then prophesies what He is going to do with His Servant (the Messiah). Among other things, He is going to give Him as a covenant for the people and a light for the nations. Furthermore, He will enable Him to open eyes of the blind and set free captives. Then in verse 8, He says: “I am the Lord; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols.” (Isaiah 42:8, ESV) In the next verse He says: “Behold, the former things have come to pass, and new things I now declare; before they spring forth I tell you of them.”” (Isaiah 42:9, ESV) The point is that giving this prophecy and fulfilling it will provide evidence that He is alive and omniscient and sovereign. Because that is true He will not share His glory/praise/honor with lifeless images. With that in mind, in verses 10-11, the LORD calls people throughout the world to praise Himself. Then in verse 12, speaking through Isaiah the LORD gives this command to all people:  “Let them give glory to the Lord, and declare his praise in the coastlands.” (Isaiah 42:12, ESV) “Glory” is synonymous with responding to the LORD appropriately in light of who He is and what He has done. That would mean praising and worshipping God by giving Him the credit He deserves. God’s unwillingness to give His glory to another is partly because He alone is worthy of it.  Another reason is to provide evidence and motivation to declare to those everywhere that the Lord alone is God.

Isaiah provides another example of God’s jealousy for His glory. In Isaiah 48:1-8 the Lord recounted the sins of Israel. Then, in 48:9-11 we read why God had not exterminated the nation because of her moral treachery, “For my name’s sake I defer my anger; for the sake of my praise I restrain it for you, that I may not cut you off. Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tried you in the furnace of affliction. 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.” (Isaiah 48:9–11, ESV) “Glory” is synonymous here with both praise, honor and recognition of who God is. Obviously, in this case God desires to receive glory for His own sake, but the remainder of the chapter is composed of God’s plea to His people to repent of their sin and return to Him which I believe to be the ultimate goal of the passage.  Notice the following verses. ““Listen to me, O Jacob, and Israel, whom I called! I am he; I am the first, and I am the last.” (Isaiah 48:12, ESV) ““Assemble, all of you, and listen!” (Isaiah 48:14, ESV) “Oh that you had paid attention to my commandments! Then your peace would have been like a river, and your righteousness like the waves of the sea.” (Isaiah 48:18, ESV) When God refuses to give the glory He deserves to another in this passage, the ultimate purpose is to call His people to return to Him.  It was for their benefit.

In the last book of the Old Testament, Malachi, the problem of not honoring/glorifying God was still seen among the religious leaders of the nation of Israel. Through Malachi, the Lord said to priests in the nation, ““A son honors [Hebrew glorifies] his father, and a servant his master. If then I am a father, where is my honor [Hebrew glory]? And if I am a master, where is my fear? says the Lord of hosts to you, O priests, who despise my name.” (Malachi 1:6, ESV) “Honor” is a good translation for the Hebrew word behind it. “Fear,” being parallel with “honor,” is also a good interpretation for the Hebrew word behind it because of what is involved in the idea of glory/honor in this verse. The Lord was indeed a father to the nation and He deserved to be treated as such. He was indeed their master/lord and He deserved to be treated as such. Both honor and fear are included in giving God glory here. A few verses further on in the text, the Lord tells the people what He has and will do to punish them unless they amend their ways. “If you will not listen, if you will not take it to heart to give honor [Hebrew glory] to my name, says the Lord of hosts, then I will send the curse upon you and I will curse your blessings. Indeed, I have already cursed them, because you do not lay it to heart.” (Malachi 2:2, ESV) God was very angry that his people, especially the priests, did not glorify Him, give Him the honor that was due to Him. If they did not repent the consequences would be serious.

The most graphic New Testament example of God’s being jealous of His glory occurred in the life of an individual who gave God’s glory to another. That individual was King Herod. “On an appointed day Herod put on his royal robes, took his seat upon the throne, and delivered an oration to them. And the people were shouting, “The voice of a god, and not of a man!” 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 12:21–23, ESV) Herod did not give God the glory when he accepted for himself the praise that his was the voice of a god and not a man. He should have immediately denied that praise and given the praise to God.

Perhaps the most powerful demonstration of the jealousy of God for His glory is the example recorded in Romans chapter 1. It tells us what He has done with mankind as a whole when they have given His glory to others. Verses 20-23 describe the way in which mankind has given God’s glory to others. “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.” (Romans 1:20–23, NIV84) Then, verses 24-27 reveal God’s response to their giving His glory to others. “Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen. Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.” (Romans 1:24–27, NIV84) Because mankind had given to other beings the glory, praise, credit for all that He had created, God withdrew His hand of restraint upon evil and allowed the human race to pursue their depraved desires, diving deeper and deeper into sin.

The persons of the Trinity glorify one another.                   

The fact that the three persons of the Trinity give glory to one another confirms how important to God it is that He be glorified.  Isaiah portrays the Servant of the LORD explaining God’s estimation of Him with these words, “And now the Lord says, he who formed me from the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob back to him; and that Israel might be gathered to him— for I am honored [Hebrew “glorified”] in the eyes of the Lord, and my God has become my strength….” (Isaiah 49:5, ESV) “Honored” is a good translation because that is the idea of the Hebrew word, glorified, in this context. The Messiah (Christ) said He was glorified, honored by the LORD.

Jesus was given glory by the Father. “The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified his servant Jesus, whom you delivered over and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release him.” (Acts 3:13, ESV) Human beings dishonored Jesus, but God honored and glorified Him.

During His earthly ministry Jesus spoke several times about being glorified by the Father and in some cases of Him glorifying the Father. In a debate with various religious leaders who did not believe in Him, Jesus asserted that the glory that He had was given to Him from the Father. “Jesus answered, “If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say, ‘He is our God.’” (John 8:54, ESV) After His Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem, when a number of Greeks who had come to Jerusalem to worship asked to see Jesus, He began again to speak of His coming death. As a part of that brief discourse He said, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.” (John 12:23, ESV) As He thought about it, He added: ““Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.”” (John 12:27–28, ESV) At the Last Supper, after Judas left we read: “When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him. If God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself, and glorify him at once.” (John 13:31–32, ESV) Then, a short time later, as He begins His high priestly prayer, we read: “When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you,” (John 17:1, ESV) When these words were spoken, Jesus must be referring to His coming death, resurrection and ascension.  I believe that the meaning of “glorify” in these verses has the meaning of honoring by means of revealing the character of the one being glorified. In verse 1, Jesus was asking the Father to honor Him in His death by revealing His (Jesus’) nature and character so that by doing so Jesus would honor the Father by revealing His (the Father’s) character as well. In this mutual glorification we see the holiness, justice, and love of the Father displayed as in no other place. In the mutual glorification in verses 4-5, we see that Jesus glorified the Father by honoring Him by the obedience He demonstrated throughout His ministry.  We also see Jesus’ request that (after His ascension) the Father would glorify the Son by manifesting His attributes in the splendor in which they had been shown before Creation. “I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.” (John 17:4–5, ESV) In all of these cases the glorification in view must be a combination of honor and revealing the attributes of these two persons of the Trinity. Jesus was honoring His Father in what He did throughout His ministry and especially in His death. Furthermore, simultaneously, the Father was honoring Jesus and revealing His attributes as well. God’s holiness, justice, grace, love and mercy were abundantly revealed in all of Jesus’ ministry but uniquely in His death, burial and resurrection.

The writer of Hebrews tells us that Jesus deserved the honor the Father gave Him. “For Jesus has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses—as much more glory as the builder of a house has more honor than the house itself.” (Hebrews 3:3, ESV) Then, in the following verses he elaborates on the glory to which he referred: “but Christ is faithful over God’s house as a son. And we are his house, if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope.” (Hebrews 3:6–7a, ESV) Christ is worthy of the glory/honor of being God’s Son over God’s house which is the church. He deserves the credit of being called God’s Son because that is what He is. The same writer explicitly tells us who gave Him that honor.  “So also Christ did not glorify Himself so as to become a high priest, but He who said to Him, “You are My Son, Today I have begotten You”.” (Hebrews 5:5, NASB95)

The Apostle Peter also testified to the source of the glory Jesus received. Referring to Jesus he wrote, “who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.” (1 Peter 1:21, ESV) John, the writer of Hebrews, and Peter all agree that Jesus was given glory by the Father. In all these cases the basic idea of these passages is that the Father honored/glorified Jesus.

Finally, Jesus was glorified by the Holy Spirit as well as by the Father. In the last discourse Jesus gave to His disciples, speaking of the Holy Spirit, He said, “When the Spirit of truth comes … He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you.” (John 16:13–14, ESV) Although honor must be involved in the glorifying mentioned here, it is not all that is involved. The last phrase of verse 14 explains some of what would be involved in the Spirit’s glorifying of Jesus. The Spirit would take truth about Jesus and explain it to the Apostles. Honor is certainly involved here, but it is honor of a particular kind. It is honor that revealed the character and work of Jesus so that the Apostles, and we too, could understand more clearly what a wonderful Savior we have.

A time will come when the Lord will be glorified by everyone and everything.

In the future, Scripture tells us that various groups will glorify the Lord. For example, Isaiah prophesies a day when those who are unlikely to do so will glorify the Lord. After recounting acts of judgment performed by the Lord (verse 2), Isaiah draws this conclusion: “Therefore strong peoples will glorify you; cities of ruthless nations will fear you.” (Isaiah 25:3, ESV) Since the two phrases are parallel I take it that “strong peoples” (and “cities of ruthless nations”) refers to people who had been enemies. “Glorify” is parallel with “fear” which could either mean “revere” or “be afraid of.” In light of the facts that the previous verse described acts of devastating judgment, and the fact that this verse begins with “therefore” and speaks of “strong peoples” and “ruthless nations,” I believe the idea is real fear. That being the case, “glorify” must mean something like that. They would glorify Him in the sense that they would fear Him by acknowledging His sovereignty and justice and power.

In a passage in which Paul describes the final judgment of those who have opposed the Lord, he says that, “They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed.” (2 Thessalonians 1:9–10, ESV) On that day, Jesus will be glorified “in his saints.”  I take that to mean that He will be praised/honored for the salvation that He has accomplished in them. Paul does not say who will do the glorifying but since the next phrase refers to “all who have believed,” I would think they are the ones who do the glorifying.

About half way through the record of the judgments to be poured out in the Revelation we read, “And at that hour there was a great earthquake, and a tenth of the city fell. Seven thousand people were killed in the earthquake, and the rest were terrified and gave glory to the God of heaven.” (Revelation 11:13, ESV) The text does not say whether the form of the glory they gave was. Because of the placement of this verse in Revelation, with many more judgements to come on a rebellious earth, I think that the glory to God they gave did not include repentance. Rather, they were simply acknowledging His power which was being demonstrated in the earthquake.

One day not only humans, some of whom were righteous and others unrighteous, will glorify God but even the wild animals will glorify Him. ““The beasts of the field will glorify Me, The jackals and the ostriches, Because I have given waters in the wilderness And rivers in the desert, To give drink to My chosen people.” (Isaiah 43:20, NASB95) How they will do so we are not told, but the fact that they will glorify Him bears testimony to the universality of the glorification that He will receive one day.

One day everyone and everything will glorify the Lord. Interestingly, David wrote a Psalm in which he was moved to prophesy a day when all the nations will glorify God.  “All the nations you have made shall come and worship before you, O Lord, and shall glorify your name.” (Psalm 86:9, ESV) Earlier in that Psalm David had lamented the fact that he was needy and afflicted. As He pleaded with God for help he remembered God’s character (vss. 5, 8, 10) and used that a basis for his prayer for deliverance (vss. 2-4 & 6-7). Part of his recollection of God’s character included the knowledge that the Lord alone was God (vs. 10).  For that reason he knew that in the future all the nations that He has made will one day glorify Him (vs. 9). No purpose for glorifying God is given in the context of this passage. That is not the reason why it is mentioned here. It is mentioned because all of the nations glorifying God will be a characteristic of the time when the Lord reigns supreme, when the world will be as it should be. That awareness of God’s sovereignty strengthened David‘s trust in God for his immediate needs. With that in mind, David asked God to enable him to be obedient. He then promised to glorify God’s name because of His deliverance.  “I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, and I will glorify your name forever.” (Psalm 86:12, ESV) In both of these cases in Psalm 86 the fact that God is glorified is not a means to an end but rather an end in itself. It is a description of a time when the Messiah reigns and when things are as they ought to be. That will be a wonderful time for all of God’s creation.

The New Testament also contains prophecies of that day. At the conclusion of the great kenosis passage outlining the humiliation of Jesus, Paul recorded the exaltation of Jesus: “Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:9–11, ESV) John speaks of this time in the Revelation: “Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship you, for your righteous acts have been revealed.”” (Revelation 15:4, ESV)

The passages we have examined above show that God places great importance upon His being glorified. Those passages make clear that glorifying God is the ultimate reason for creation’s existence. From that, it is certainly reasonable to draw the inference that glorifying God is the main reason for our own existence. If God created people for His glory, commands people to glorify Him, commands heavenly beings to glorify Him, is jealous of His glory being given to anyone else, imposes severe penalties on those who do not give Him the glory He is due, glorifies other persons of the Godhead, and has determined that in the eschaton everyone and everything will glorify Him, does it not make sense that the chief end of man (and everything else) is to glorify Him? We do not need an explicit statement that the chief end of man is to glorify God in order to come to that conclusion.

Why would God have designed His creation in such a way that glorifying Him is the main purpose for our existence? I can think of at least four reasons. First, He simply deserves it. It is just the right thing to do to give honor to the One to whom everything and everyone owes their existence. Second, it provides us with a purpose for our lives that can never be taken away from us. If glorifying God is the primary reason for our existence, nothing and no one can take away that purpose. No matter what happens, our lives have a purpose, the highest of all purposes, which will have significance throughout all of eternity. Third, it provides us with a purpose that will always motivate us to do good for others and ourselves. We are “hard wired” to worship something. It may be status, wealth, education, other people, or ourselves. As we saw in Romans 1, giving our hearts’ supreme devotion to anything or anyone other than God will be disastrous. Both Biblical and secular histories are replete with examples of what happens when people give their devotion to people or things other than the Lord. In every case the result is sad to say the least. Only God can fulfill that role in a way that brings good to people. Fourth, it provides us with a powerful method of evangelism. We live in a cynical, largely unbelieving world. How will they come to believe that God exists? How will they learn what He is like? If glorifying God means drawing attention to His attributes and helping people to understand that He exists and what He is like, then they need this more than anything else.