Dr. Doug Posey
Prior to the incident in the garden, the epic battle began. Satan committed the sin of pride and was thrust down. You don’t mess with God’s glory. This beautiful and powerful angel declared, “I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High” (Isa. 14:15), and the fight for the throne was on.
Since the devil had lost his position in heaven, he thought he could convince humankind to usurp the place that rightfully belonged to God. His plot was to convince Adam and Eve they should go ahead and disobey God’s command not to eat the forbidden fruit since, “God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Gen. 3:5). The allure to ascend to the heights of the Divine proved to be a temptation too strong for the first humans to resist. The benefits must have seemed worth the risk of disobedience. Of course, they weren’t because you don’t mess with God’s glory. Believing the lie, they bit and humanity has been biting ever since.
The Bible is the story of this epic battle. We know God wins. Humanity is redeemed, but it is both frustratingly hard and entertaining to watch the stupidity of the predicaments produced as a result of our subsequent sins. If you know Christ, life is a battle for which you must be prepared, clothed in the full armor of God. We are not immune to the temptation to dethrone God from time-to-time, just to see how it feels to sit where only He belongs. It never works. You don’t mess with God’s glory.
I think one of the differences we have to realize is the difference between working with God and not being God. We have a great privilege and high calling to work with God in accomplishing His work on earth. In doing so, there may be times when we gain great attention and do lofty things for Him. People may even think we are special, show us lots of attention and adulation in the process. However, we have to be careful to divert the accolades to their rightful Owner. It’s not about us. Our work is ultimately about Him. If we accept the glory we, in effect, dethrone Him.
It reminds me of a story my doctoral professor, J. Kent Edwards, wrote about in his book, Deep Preaching. It was an account he had related from a best-selling book, Into Thin Air by John Krakauer about an ill-fated expedition to the summit of Mount Everest in 1996. One person on the expedition from Japan was named Yasuko Namba. She was a 46-year-old FedEx employee who had conquered all the summits of the seven largest summits on earth. One more left; the tallest on earth—Everest.
She made it. In fact, she was the oldest person to ever get to the top. Japan cheered as she stood quite literally on top of the world. But, on the way down, the expedition encountered a fierce blizzard. Yasuko had expended her energy on the upward climb and was unable to endure the harsh weather. Exhausted, she froze to death. The problem was that she had the wrong goal. The best climbers know that the goal is to return back down where they started. They don’t live at the top.
Yasuko had one goal in mind: conquer the peak of Everest. Author Krakauer, also on the expedition, wrote,
Yasuko was totally focused on the top. It was almost as if she was in a trance. She pushed extremely hard, jostling her way past everyone to the front of the line. She wanted to get to the top of Everest.
When we are privileged to join God in His work, bask in His glory and garner cheers of the people, we must remember our place. We must live in light of returning where we belong. We must prepare to descend. If we try to “ascend the heights” only to take God’s place on His throne, our “dethroning” will be a harsh process and in some cases, deadly. We’ve seen some learn it the hard way. Like Satan, they commit the sin of pride and are thrust down. Our lives should be about directing attention to Him, even if it briefly comes our way. We must never seek to take that which belongs alone to Him, His glory. The highest summits of life, even if we reach them, should be about Him, not us.
“The Lord is high above all nations; His glory is above the heavens. Who is like the Lord our God, Who is enthroned on high…?”
─PSALM 113:4-5 NASB