Chapter 34: Our God-Centered God - Radical

Chapter 34: Our God-Centered God

God saves his people because God loves his glory. In this message on Ezekiel, David Platt reminds us that we have been saved only by the sovereign grace of our God. As Christians, we now live only for the supreme glory of our God.

  1. The Reality of Ezekiel
  2. The Reason For Our Lives

If you have a Bible, and I hope you do, let me invite you to open with me to Ezekiel 36. Why does God love us? Why does God love you? The reality is, there is nothing in you or me that would cause Him to love us. In fact, everything in you and me screams out for Him to destroy us. So, why does He love us? Some people die and go into eternity under His wrath. So, why not you or me? It would be just and holy and right for God to do that in our lives.

I’m getting ahead of myself. Why does God love the people of the Old Testament? His people constantly defied Him and defamed Him and disregarded Him at every turn turned from Him. So, why did He love them? We see God, in a sense, disposing of other pagan peoples. The people of Israel, especially as we’ve been looking at it this summer, are hardly different than anyone around them. So, why does God save them from total destruction, even in the destroying of the city of Jerusalem. He takes them into exile, then He’s going to bring them back. That’s what the book of Ezekiel is about.

The Reality of Ezekiel…

So, why does God love them? The answer is here in Ezekiel 36. It’s all over this book but epitomized here. Look at verse 16 with me. Here, God, through the prophet Ezekiel, is recounting what His people have done in their rebellion against Him, and He says in verse 16,

The word of the LORD came to me: “Son of man, when the house of Israel lived in their own land, they defiled it by their ways and their deeds. Their ways before me were like the uncleanness of a woman in her menstrual impurity. So I poured out my wrath upon them for the blood that they had shed in the land, for the idols with which they had defiled it. I scattered them among the nations, and they were dispersed through their countries. In accordance with their ways and their deeds I judged them.”

So, God says He judged them, and what He had done is He had taken them into exile. He had scattered them. However, what He’s about to do is promise, through the prophet Ezekiel, to bring them back. So, the question is, “Why is He going to bring them back and restore them?” Listen to verse 20. Listen to the motive of God, “[But] when they came to the nations, wherever they came, they profaned my holy name, in that people said of them, ‘These are the people of the LORD, and yet they had to go out of his land.’ But I had concern for my holy name, which the house of Israel had profaned among the nations to which they came.”

Do you see what’s happening here? God says, “When my people were scattered into these pagan lands, what do you think those pagan nations thought of that people’s God?” Do you think that they thought, “Well, that God is strong and glorious and mighty.” No, the name of the Lord was being profaned among the nations as a result of the people. So, what God said is, “I’m going to act ultimately out of concern for my own name.”

Listen, it’s clear as can be in verses 22 and 23, “Say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord GOD…” This is God speaking to His people. He says,

It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations to which you came. And I will vindicate the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, and which you have profaned among them. [And] the nations will know that I am the LORD, declares the Lord GOD, when through you I vindicate my holiness before their eyes.

Are you listening to this? Let this soak in. The only reason God is saving them from destruction is because God is concerned about His name. This is the reality we see in Ezekiel. Let it burn into our hearts and minds. God saves His people. Why? Because God loves His glory. Period. God saves His people, He says, not for their sake, but for His sake. He saves his people because He loves His glory. In bringing them back from exile and what we’re going to read in just a moment, happens in these next verses.

He says, “I want it to be clear.” You get down to verse 32, and listen to it. He repeats, “It is not for your sake that I will act, declares the Lord GOD; let that be known to you.” This is not the way we think about God, is it? We don’t think about God as one who is more zealous for Himself than He is for His own people. We don’t think about God like that because we picture self-centeredness and desire for your own glory as negative characteristics. It is a negative characteristic for any one of us to be self-centered, to desire our own glory, to delight in our own glory, but that is not a negative characteristic in God. That is what it means to be God.

Who else would we have Him glory in if not Himself? Who else would He want and delight to exalt? You or me? No, for at any moment that He exalts someone or something else, He is no longer the supreme God who is worthy of all exaltation. By His very nature, God glories in Himself, and He acts for Himself, for His name’s sake. This is all over the book of Ezekiel. You read through this book, and nearly 70 times you see the words, “They will know,” or “You will know,” or, “The nations will know that I am the Lord.” He is showing His glory on every single page. He is doing every single thing He is doing for His name’s sake.

So, I have wrestled with the question, “How do we even begin to take this book, and in the short time we have together, encapsulate it?” I mean, this book is just plain weird at times. I mean, Ezekiel is saying things and doing things, whether it’s basically lying motionless on his side for months and years at a time. At one point, his tongue is basically glued to the roof of his mouth so he cannot speak, but then when he speaks, he speaks about these visions that are impossible to comprehend, or images that are frightening to communicate.

So, how do we begin to take this picture that we see in this book and encapsulate it? What I want to do is I want to show you three key visions in the book of Ezekiel, all of them revolving around the glory of God. One in the very beginning, one soon after that, and then one in the end. I want you to see the glory of God on display.

Now, be cautioned: there are times where you’re going to think, “Brother, thank you for the Old Testament Ezekiel lesson, but what does this have to do with our lives in the 21st century?” If that is the case, hang with me, because there is one glaring truth that I want us to see in God’s Word, that I believe God wants us to see in His Word. However, it’s going to take some diving into the valley to get to this mountain-top truth that affects everything in our lives.

So, go with me to Ezekiel 1, and I want you to see the first picture, which is the glory of God revealed. Here’s the background while you’re turning there. Basically, what happens in 597 BC, is the king of Judah and about a few thousand others, including Ezekiel, are taken from Judah into exile. So, this whole book is written while Ezekiel is in exile.

Now, Jerusalem and the temple have not yet been destroyed. That didn’t happen for another ten years. So, for the first part of this book, Ezekiel is prophesying among exiles about the destruction of Jerusalem. Then, close to the middle of the book, the temple and city of Jerusalem are destroyed, and then the last part of the book is Ezekiel prophesying to exiles after the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple.

So, all of this is before, in Ezekiel 1, while Ezekiel is in exile. This is what happens: “In the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, on the fifth day of the month, as I was among the exiles by the Chebar canal, the heavens were opened, and I saw visions of God.” Now, we don’t have time to look at every single detail here. Go down with me to verse 15. What you’ve got that we just skipped over were all kinds of images of the glory of God and four different living creatures.

Then, he says in verse 15:

[Now] as I looked at the living creatures, I saw a wheel on the earth beside the living creatures, one for each of the four of them. As for the appearance of the wheels and their construction: their appearance was like the gleaming of beryl. And the four had the same likeness, their appearance and construction being as it were a wheel within a wheel.

When they went, they went in any of their four directions without turning as they went. And their rims were tall and awesome, and the rims of all four were full of eyes all around. And when the living creatures went, the wheels went beside them; and when the living creatures rose from the earth, the wheels rose. Wherever the spirit wanted to go, they went, and the wheels rose along with them, for the spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels. When those went, these went; and when those stood, these stood; and when those rose from the earth, the wheels rose along with them, for the spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels.

Are you following here? There have been artists who have tried to draw this vision in Ezekiel 1 to no avail. If there is anything we learn from Ezekiel 1, it is the reality that God is unusual. In the most holy sense, He is strange. He is different. He is other. He is impossible to express in words. You see over and over again in this chapter, Ezekiel uses words like “as if” or “in the likeness of.” It’s like he’s grasping, “How do I begin to describe this? Well, let’s talk about wheels within wheels with the eyes and creatures of this face and this face.” I mean, it’s this whole picture.

So, I want to put some practical handles on some of the things. I mean, it’s all that we could discuss, and biblical scholars have discussed from this chapter, some practical handles on what Ezekiel is saying about God and what Ezekiel sees in God. He sees that God is omnipresent. This is huge and foundational for Ezekiel and the people in exile.

Remember, Ezekiel is a man who grew up in the land that God had given to His people, where He had promised to dwell among His people in this temple. So, they had seen the glory of God attached to a certain locale, to a certain place. So, here they are in exile, taken away from that place, and Ezekiel glimpses the glory of the Lord, and from the very beginning, even in this picture of wheels that are moving everywhere, it’s like a mobile chariot, like a mobile sanctuary. It represents the very reality that God’s glory is, indeed, not confined to one place. God and His glory is present everywhere. Even in the darkness of exile, God is there.

He’s present everywhere, and not just omnipresent, He is omniscient. He is all-knowing. In verse 18, which we read just a moment ago, it said, “The rims of all four wheels were full of eyes all around.” So, just picture wheels with eyes everywhere, and the picture is that for God to be all-knowing means that He is all-seeing. There is nothing that God does not see and perceive and know. To think that the God that we worship sees every single detail in all of creation and knows every single detail in each of our lives better than we know them ourselves. He’s all-knowing. He sees everything.

He is omnipotent. His chariot, it moves, it says, “wherever it wants, whenever it wants, in whatever direction it wants.” You read verses 22 through 25, and you see that this vision of power just evokes, yes, some confusion, but ultimately awe and wonder. So, here is the omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent God, who at the same time is faithful. You get down to verse 28. Listen to this verse. This is at the end of this vision, “Like the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud on the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness all around.” In their vision of the glory of God, we see a picture of God’s covenant with Noah, this rainbow in the sky. This is a picture of His faithfulness to His creation, and here’s the big difference: Noah saw the rainbow after the storm. Ezekiel is looking at the rainbow in the midst of the storm. In the darkness of exile, there is brightness. God is faithful.

God is merciful. Verse 1 says that all of this vision is because the Lord opened up the heavens to reveal Himself. This is not Ezekiel opening up the heavens to go to God. This is God opening up the heavens to reveal Himself to His people. He is faithful and merciful, and He is personal. You look where the whole thing ends. Ezekiel says, “Such was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD, and when I saw it, I fell on my face, and I heard the voice of one speaking.”

Ezekiel Reminds Us that God is Omnipresent, Omniscient, and Omnipotent

Oh, to think of it. This omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent God delights, not just in displaying the glory of His presence to our eyes, but in intimately relating to us through His words, that this God stoops to speak to a man. Just let it soak in, even as we sit here this morning. The reason why this is so primary in our worship gatherings is because this is the moment where we come aside to hear from God as His people. God speaks to us through His Word. To you, right where you’re sitting, this omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent God is faithfully and mercifully speaking to His people.

So, this is the vision of the glory of God revealed. Now, turn to Ezekiel 8 and see the glory of God removed. In Ezekiel 8, God gives Ezekiel another vision of His glory in the temple in Jerusalem. However, this time, the glory of God is on it’s way out. Listen to Ezekiel 8:1:

In the sixth year, in the sixth month, on the fifth day of the month, as I sat in my house, with the elders of Judah sitting before me, the hand of the Lord GOD fell upon me there. [Then] I looked, and behold, a form that had the appearance of a man. Below what appeared to be his waist was fire, and above his waist was something like the appearance of brightness, like gleaming metal. He put out the form of a hand and took me by a lock of my head, and the Spirit lifted me up between earth and heaven and brought me in visions of God to Jerusalem, to the entrance of the gateway of the inner courts that faces north, where was the seat of the image of jealously, which provokes to jealousy. And behold, the glory of the God of Israel was there, like the vision that I saw in the valley.

What happens in the next few chapters, all the way to Ezekiel 11, is Ezekiel gets a tour of the temple, and what he sees in Ezekiel 9:3 is the glory of the God of Israel goes up from the cherub, the mercy seat, core of the temple and begins to travel in this vision and goes to the threshold in Ezekiel 9. In Ezekiel 10, we see the wheels within wheels. They’re back. It’s, basically, step-by-step, and what is happening in this vision is Ezekiel is seeing pictures of idolatry all throughout the temple.

This language of the spirit of jealously, this reality is ringing true. God will not share His glory with another, and they had filled the temple with idols. So, there’s this tour to show all of this, and the glory of the Lord is making it’s way out of the temple. You get to Ezekiel 11:22. Listen to what happens, “[Then] the cherubim lifted up their wings, with the wheels beside them, and the glory of the God of Israel was over them.”

Listen to verse 23, “And the glory of the LORD went up from the midst of the city and stood on the mountain that is on the east side of the city.” The glory of the Lord leaves the temple and leaves the city over to what we know is the Mount of Olives overlooking the city. What has happened here is the glory of the Lord has just been removed from among His people. Why? Because they had exchanged the splendor of the true God for the senselessness of false gods. They had filled this place of worship, the temple, with idols everywhere and cultic practices, and they were bowing down and worshiping the sun, Ezekiel 8 and 9 talk about.

They exchanged the glory and the splendor of the one true God for the senselessness of false gods, and in the process, they had exchanged the protecting presence of God for the punishing presence of God. Here’s what I mean by that. We have already seen that God is omnipresent, right? He is everywhere. So, did God leave? Did His presence leave Jerusalem? No, He is everywhere.

Remember? Is God present in hell? If not, then He is not omnipresent. So, hell is not the absence of God. Hell is the absence of the protective presence of God guarding us from the payment of our sin. Hell is the full demonstration of the holy wrath of God, in all of its fullness. So, the picture we have here in Jerusalem is not God totally gone, but His glory and His protective presence that we have seen all throughout the Old Testament is removed. Instead, His punishing presence is about to be made very clear in the form of Babylonians coming and ravaging the city and devastating the temple, destroying it and sending everyone else into exile.

God does not share His glory with another. So, His glory was removed. Now, that sets the stage for the destruction of Jerusalem to come in the book of Ezekiel. Go with me to Ezekiel 34. After the destruction of Jerusalem, then Ezekiel’s prophecies change, and we begin to see a greater note of hope. Because now, the judgment has been poured out, and God is going to restore His glory.

So, what happens in Ezekiel 34 is we begin to take a path toward the glory of God being restored, and we see an image and a vision of the glory of God restored. It’s going to happen in Ezekiel 43, but I want us to work our way there in the same way Ezekiel did. How is God going to restore His glory among His people? Start in Ezekiel 34 with the leaders, “The word of the LORD came to me,” Ezekiel said. Ezekiel 34:1:

“Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy, and say to them, even to the shepherds [these leaders of my people], Thus says the Lord GOD: Ah, shepherds of Israel who have been feeding yourselves! Should not shepherds feed the sheep? You eat the fat, you clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fat ones, but you do not feed the sheep. The weak you have not strengthened, the sick you have not healed, the injured you have not bound up, the strayed you have not brought back, the lost you have not sought, and with force and harshness you have ruled them. So they were scattered, because there was no shepherd, and they became food for all the wild beasts. My sheep were scattered; they wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill. My sheep were scattered over all the face of the earth, with none to search or seek for them.”

So, God is saying, “These leaders that I’d appointed over my people, these shepherds, they have let the sheep scatter and have not cared for them or fed them.” So, God says in verse 11:

[For] thus says the Lord GOD: “Behold, I, I myself will then search out for my sheep and will seek them out. As a shepherd seeks out his flock when he is among his sheep that have been scattered, so will I seek out my sheep, and I will rescue them from all places where they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness. And I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries, and will bring them into their own land.”

How is God going to do this? How is God on high going to shepherd people on earth? You get down to verse 23, and God says, “I will set up over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he shall feed them: he shall feed them and be their shepherd. And I, the LORD, will be their God, and my servant David shall be prince among them. I am the LORD; I have spoken.”

So, how is God going to restore His glory among His people? Well, first He’s going to anoint a new king. This isn’t the reappearance of David from the dead that is being talked about here. This is the kingly line of David. God is going to raise up someone in the line of David, a new king, who will rule His people. He will be the servant of God. The text says, “My servant David.” He will be the servant of God, and He will be the shepherd of men. “This king, the shepherd king, will love them, care for them, lead them, feed them, and guide my sheep.”

So, God is going to restore His glory by anointing a new king. Second, by inaugurating a new covenant. The very next verse, verse 25, says, “I will make with them a covenant of peace and banish wild beasts from the land, so that they may dwell securely in the wilderness and sleep in the woods.”

Ezekiel Talks About a New Covenant of Peace with God

So, we begin to hear new language of a new covenant, a covenant of peace. I wish we had time to look at how the old covenants that we’ve talked about are all over the book of Ezekiel. You go to Ezekiel 37:24, and you see that it uses language that’s talking about a new covenant, a covenant of peace, and that refers to all these old covenants. Verse 24, “My servant David shall be king over them, and they shall have one shepherd…” This is a reference to the Davidic covenant in 2 Samuel 7. “They shall walk in my rules and be careful to obey my statutes.” This is a reference to the Mosaic covenant in Exodus 24. “They shall dwell in the land that I gave to my servant Jacob, where your fathers lived.” This is a reference to the Abrahamic covenant. God came to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, his grandson, in the land that he would bring them to.

Get to verse 26, and [God] says, “I will make a covenant of peace with them. It shall be an everlasting covenant with them.” So, the picture is in the old covenant, we have perpetual promises that have been building and building and building; promises to, as we’ve already seen, even Adam and Noah, but then to Abraham and Moses and David, and now Ezekiel says they will culminate in a new covenant: a covenant of peace. This is permanent peace between God and man.

You get to the end of this chapter. We were just reading in Ezekiel 37, this covenant of peace, and God says, “I will set my sanctuary in their midst forevermore. My dwelling place shall be with them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people. [Then] the nations will know that I am the LORD who sanctifies Israel, when my sanctuary is in their midst forevermore.”

God is dwelling with His sinful people in peace. How is this possible? Keep going. Ezekiel says He will form a new people. This is a new king, with a new covenant over a new people. Now, come back with me to Ezekiel 36:24, and remember, this is where we left off earlier. In verses 22 and 23 is where God said, “I’m going to do this not for your sake, but for my sake.” Well, what are you going to do, God? Listen to verse 24. He says, “I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries and bring you to your own land. I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you.”

Pause there. This is a new people who are forgiven of their sin; cleansed of their sin. “Sprinkle clean water on them and cleanse them from impurity and immorality and idolatry.” God will purify a people for His praise. Then, you get to verse 26, “And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. [And] I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.” This is a people, not only forgiven of their sin, but filled with His Spirit. This is a promise.

This echoes some of the language we saw in Jeremiah in the new covenant, but God is saying He’s going to put His very Spirit inside of us, a Spirit who will transform their wants. A heart of stone will become a heart of flesh. This is a heart that was once cold and unresponsive to God, unyielding to God. Every Christian knows that there was a point where our hearts were stone, unresponsive to God, unyielding to God, and God, in His grace, awakened our hearts and gave us a new one, a heart of flesh, a heart that desired God. A heart that was responsive to God.

We didn’t manufacture that. God put this inside of us. It’s all over this language, “I will do this. I will sprinkle clean water. I will give you a new heart. I will put this within you.” God is doing this, changing our wants, and He will enable their wills. “The Spirit inside of them will enable them to walk with me and obey my statutes.” This is the result of the Spirit of God inside this people. They will be able to obey God. It’s not that the people didn’t have the law before. They had the law all throughout this, but they were unable to obey it, and because of the Spirit of God dwelling in His people, they will be able to obey. Their wants will be transformed, and their wills enabled.

“Then,” God says, “I will bring them to a new place.” Verse 28, “You shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers, and you shall be my people, and I will be your God.” Now, the rest of the book fleshes that out. There’s so much we could discuss in the rest of this book. For years, we could discuss the rest of this book, and there is a lot of discussion and debate.

What I want to do, though, is bring this down to its irreducible minimum, so to speak. In other words, what is abundantly clear? What is abundantly clear for the people who heard this in that day, and what is abundantly clear for us as the people of God today, based on what He said to them in that day, because in the rest of this book, basically Ezekiel 38 and 39, we see destruction of the enemies of the people of God. In Ezekiel 40, Ezekiel begins to get a glimpse, a vision of a temple.

Go with me to Ezekiel 43 real quick. We see the culmination of this third vision that we talked about. We’ve seen it in Ezekiel 1. We’ve seen it in Ezekiel 8 through 11. Now, look with me at Ezekiel 43:1. Ezekiel says:

[Then] he led me to the gate, the gate facing east. And behold, the glory of the God of Israel was coming from the east. And the sound of his coming was like the sound of many waters, and the earth shone with his glory. And the vision I saw was just like the vision that I had seen when he came to destroy the city, and just like the vision that I had seen by the Chebar canal. And I fell on my face. As the glory of the LORD entered the temple by the gate facing east, the Spirit lifted me up and brought me into the inner court; and behold, the glory of the LORD filled the temple.

So, what does all this mean? What is the hope that Ezekiel is giving for them? Put yourselves in the shoes of exiles in Babylon, hearing the words as you read them through here in Ezekiel. They would be looking forward to the city of Jerusalem. They would be looking forward, to use the exact language of Ezekiel 37:28, to coming back to the land of their fathers and to dwelling there once again.

God was going to bring them back there. He was going to bring them back to the city of Jerusalem, and there, in that city, they would rebuild the temple. Now, it’s not the exact temple that we see Ezekiel envisioning here in Ezekiel 40 through 48. It wasn’t intended to be, but as we read in the coming weeks, we’re going to see the book of Ezra, and the people of God returning to Jerusalem and rebuilding the temple.

So, they will be established back in the land with a rebuilt temple, but obviously, there is something deeper going on here. This is a new king and new covenant and a new people in a new place. What happens is, we keep reading in the history of Israel, past Ezra, and past Nehemiah, and past the last book of the Old Testament, and we get to the first book in the New Testament, and we see the Davidic line from the very beginning being traced to a man named Jesus. In John’s introduction of Jesus, he says, “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” This literally means, “tabernacled” or “made a sanctuary” among us. John goes on and says, “and we beheld the glory of God.”

The glory of God is in the flesh. The presence of God, literally, with us, and God in His glory, through a Shepherd King named Jesus, lived among us and loved and healed and cared for us, and sat down one evening with His followers and began to talk with them about a new covenant. He took a piece of bread, and He broke it, and He said, “This is my body that I’m going to give for you.” He took a cup, and He said, “This is the cup of a new covenant that I’m going to seal with my blood.”

Later that evening, we did, with the presence of God, what the Old Testament people of Israel had done with the presence of God. We denied and defied Him, disregarded and defamed Him. We mocked and beat and scourged and spit upon and murdered the very presence of God, Son of God in the flesh, and yet, when He took the payment of the sin that we had poured upon Him, when this divine shepherd laid down His life for the very sheep who murdered Him, at that moment, this rebuilt temple, containing a curtain that separated man from God, was ripped in two, and a covenant of peace was born where man can be reconciled to God. How? Through the blood of Christ. Through God in the flesh giving His life in our place for our sin and reconciling us to God, so that all who trust in Christ can be cleansed of sin, forgiven of sin, filled with the Spirit of God, and enabled to walk with Him and enjoy Him forever.

So, for us, when we read this, we are not looking forward to the city of Jerusalem as much as we are looking back to the cross of Jesus, to the day when Christ, our Shepherd King, inaugurated a new covenant and formed a new people for His glory.

You say, “Well, what about the place? Where is the presence of God now?” In Christ, brothers and sisters, we have become the temple. Paul says, “Do you not know your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. The very glory of the presence of God dwells in you.” We have peace with God, walking with God, and enjoyment with God.

The Reason For Our Lives…

Why? Why would God do this in your life and in my life when He would be just as holy and just as right and just as good for us to be destroyed and damned forever? This is where we come to the fundamental truth that changes everything. The reason for our lives is twofold: one, we have been saved only by the sovereign grace of our God. Why you and why me? The answer is not found in you or me. The answer is found only in Him. By His sheer sovereign grace, we have been saved and not destroyed.

“Okay, well, if there was nothing in me, then what is the purpose of my salvation? Why did He do this?” To quote from Ezekiel, “It is not for our sake. It is for His name’s sake that He has done this.” God has, in sovereign grace, saved you because He loves His glory. “Are you saying, Dave, that God has an ulterior motive in saving me?” No, I’m not saying that. God is saying that. He saves us out of concern, not ultimately for us, but out of concern for His name, which means we’ve been saved only by the sovereign grace of God, and we now live only for the supreme glory of God. That is the purpose of our lives.

He will glorify Himself in all kinds of different ways. It may be that you live a long life of good health here in our city, all for the glory of God. Or, it may be that you move to another part of the world, all for the glory of God to plant a church there. Or, it may mean cancer, or disease, or infertility, or barrenness, or hurt, or pain, or suffering, all for God’s glory. It may mean the tragic loss of your spouse, or your mom, or your dad, or your child, all for God’s glory. Our lives are His to spend for His glory, not just a willing, but a glad embracing of whatever that means. It is not always easy, but a joyful embracing even of suffering because your life is not about your having it easy, or the way you want. Your life is about whatever brings Him the most glory.

Take it all. If that is the way that you will receive the most glory, then do it, and that changes perspective on everything. You say, “Well, that’s almost a bit depressing.” No, it is not because the glorious God, who has saved you, is faithful in the middle of the storm, and He’s merciful in the middle of the storm, and He is leading you on a path that will one day lead to a new city, where you will see His face, and you will behold His glory, and you will enjoy His presence forevermore. We serve and live and worship a God who is absolutely God-centered.

David Platt serves as a pastor in metro Washington, D.C. He is the founder and chairman of Radical. He is the author of several books, including Radical, Radical Together, Follow Me, Counter Culture, and Something Needs to Change.

LESS THAN 1% OF ALL MONEY GIVEN TO MISSIONS GOES TO UNREACHED PEOPLE AND PLACES.

That means that the people with the most urgent spiritual and physical needs on the planet are receiving the least amount of support. Together we can change that!