Founded in Majesty
Whenever I hear the word “Majesty” a song from my childhood immediately comes to mind. Thirty years later, I can still hear the passion and authority with which that congregation sang. “Majesty, worship His majesty!” It was, at that time, so much a part of the weekly worship service that perhaps only the pianist and organist had any clue where in the hymnal it was found. The rest of us had it memorized. Each week, Pastor Norm would lead us in declaring God’s majesty in song as part of our worship service.
But what does that word mean? How is God majestic? How do we practically experience his majesty?
One of the ways we can begin to understand God’s majesty is to look at the miracles He has done in this world. This summer, we specifically looked at the parting of the Red Sea when the Israelites were fleeing the Egyptian army. It is a story which comes at the culmination of a series of miracles they have witnessed. They have seen the various plagues be visited upon the land and lived through the Passover, saved quite literally by the blood of a lamb marking their doors as a place where God’s children dwelled. After generations of living as slaves to the Egyptians, they suddenly find themselves free and told to return to the land of their ancestors.
It doesn’t take long for Pharaoh to regret his decision to let them go and send his army out after them. It isn’t long before the Israelites find themselves caught between the Red Sea and Pharaoh’s army. They would have been facing an impossibly decision: Resist, fight, and surely die; Surrender and go willingly back into slavery; or abandon their animals and all earthy belongings in the hopes they could swim an unknown distance to the other side. (Scholars believe the distance would have been between 4 and 5 miles using the most likely crossing spot but no specific distance is recorded in scripture.)
But then something incredible happened. The sea parted. The soldiers are held back by a wall of fire. And tens of thousands, perhaps up to 2.4 million people, walked safely across with their animals and possessions. Have you ever stopped for a moment and really considered what that must have been like to see and experience. Just the wall of fire holding back the army ALONE would have been pretty awe-inspiring. Let alone to see a path way through the water open up for you to walk across.
One of the things I greatly appreciate about the old Catholic churches and cathedrals is their power to still inspire this sort of awe and wonder. Several years ago I was lucky enough to visit Rome and Vatican City. To walk into St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City is to experience being completely overwhelmed by an experience of the majesty of the message of Jesus. It was designed to make a statement: The God worshipped here is a BIG God. And it does that very well. The size of the building, the artwork, the statues, the altar: every detail is designed to overwhelm those who visit with images of God’s work in this world. Modern churches, especially in the United States, rarely have this same effect.
To be “Founded in Majesty” is to have a deep appreciation for just how big our God is. It is to stand in wonder and awe of his great love, power, grace, and mercy on a regular basis.
So why is this important? Why should we care about the majesty, the “BIG-ness” of God? Because we need a BIG God.
If we can answer all the questions we have about the universe and life, good and evil then what is the purpose of God? I’ve recently been drawn back to the book of Job as I consider this very question. Job finds himself unknowingly tested in his faith. He loses all of the many blessings he had received from God and is left with nothing but his life, his unsupportive and taunting friends, and a wife who blames him for all of their misfortune. His children are taken from him, his livestock, his servants, and even his health. Through it all, he never curses God as he is advised to do, but he does reach a point where he cries out, demanding that God answer him and explain himself.
Starting in Job 38, God finally speaks. What he says are not words of comfort or an explanation, but a long series of questions which remind Job of just how limited his perspective really is when it comes to the universe, creation, and eternity. “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Have you ever given orders to the morning, or shown the dawn its place? Where does darkness reside?” Question after question is asked of Job. In Job 42, Job finally responds, “Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know….My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you.”
I want to encourage you that when you find yourself believing that God isn’t powerful enough to speak into your life, into the situation which is causing you pain and sorrow, to read through Job. Especially chapters 38-41. Consider how you might answer the questions God posed to Job. Job’s response is one filled with wisdom. It is one which acknowledges that this fallen world is temporary. It is a response which shows us that Job understands, perhaps for the first time, just how majestic God really is.
1. Our theme verse for Mondays this summer was Exodus 15:11. Click the video below to learn the song and actions our summer staff used to help campers memorize this verse.
2. When have you had to stop and just stand in awe and wonder at something? How can that experience help you understand what it means to stand in awe and wonder of God?
3. What is happening in your life in this season which simply seems overwhelming? Is it a relationship you wish you could fix? An illness you wish you could heal? A desire to hit rewind and prevent something from happening?