Dr. Ray E. Heiple, Jr.
It is Right for Us to Praise Him
Praise the LORD! For it is good to sing praises to our God; for it is pleasant, and a song of praise is fitting.
This week we look again at Question 110 of the Larger Catechism, which asks, “What are the reasons annexed to the Second Commandment, the more to enforce it?” The last section of the answer reads, “The reasons annexed to the Second Commandment, the more to enforce it, contained in these words, ‘For I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; and showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments;’ are, besides God's sovereignty over us, and propriety in us, his fervent zeal for his own worship, and his revengeful indignation against all false worship as being a spiritual whoredom; accounting the breakers of this commandment such as hate him, and threatening to punish them unto divers generations; and esteeming the observers of it such as love him and keep his commandments, and promising mercy to them unto many generations.” Last time we saw how God’s sovereignty over us and propriety (ownership) in us behooves us to keep His commandments. Today we consider the motivations to obedience we should receive from God’s fervent zeal and revengeful indignation.
How should we understand God’s fervent zeal for his own worship? Surely if a human being or an angel had any kind of zeal that other beings should worship him, it would be a monstrously heinous disposition of megalomania and unbridled hubris. Unjust is another word that would aptly describe it. It would be palpably unjust for a created rational being to seek to receive worship from another created rational being. Why is that the case? Because both beings are creatures! Both beings receive all that they are and all that they have or will ever have ultimately from their Creator. Therefore, even if one greatly excels another in power and wisdom and authority, both equally owe everything to their Creator. The Creator alone then should be given that highest praise, that most reverent fear, and that most ardent devotion that is worship. And this is the reason why God has a fervent zeal for His own worship. Not because He is in any way seeking our worship for His own personal self-aggrandizement or exaltation – perish the thought! – but because it is right that the rational creature worships Him and Him alone. It is right for us to do so.
And so, God’s fervent zeal for his own worship is an instance of His fervent zeal for what is right. God is good. God’s creation mirrors and flawlessly reflects His own goodness. His creation of rational creatures must then be illustrative of His goodness. And the highest and greatest good of the rational creature is the privilege and honor of worshiping God. When we praise and honor God we engage in the pinnacle of our created purpose. Praising and worshiping God is the greatest and most noble and dignified thing a rational being can do. Thus, God’s fervent zeal for His own worship is not merely an aspect of His desire for what is right, but it also is an expression of His love for His creation. God fervently desires His own worship because He fervently desires the highest and greatest good for His people whom He has chosen for Himself! This love of His people and desire for their greatest good is also the reason for God’s “revengeful indignation against all false worship as being a spiritual whoredom.”
God created us and redeemed us for the purpose of our highest and greatest good, which we attain to when we worship Him. Thus, when we worship idols or in any way offer to God false worship it is spiritual whoredom. We were created and redeemed by God to be His faithful bride and these works of creation and redemption are for our greatest good, which is worshiping Him. Moreover, Jesus paid a great price for us to be able to enjoy this greatest of all possible creaturely privileges. So, when we, professing to be His by way of redemption, worship something less then Him, it is committing spiritual adultery against Him. And this commandment tells us that God will take vengeance on those who so prostitute His covenanted grace as to profess to be His redeemed worshippers but to in fact worship another – For they have played the whore against Him, mocking Him. Know for certain that God will fully vindicate His own honor: because He loves what is right and because He loves His creatures. May God’s fervent zeal and His revengeful indignation motivate you to worship Him alone!