"Ascribe greatness unto our God." Deuteronomy 32:3
Great indeed is the Lord, yes, "His greatness is unsearchable" (Psalm 145:3). "All the nations of the world are nothing in comparison with him. They are but a drop in the bucket, dust on the scales. He picks up the islands as though they had no weight at all!" "The nations of the world are as nothing to him. In his eyes they are less than nothing—mere emptiness and froth!" (Isaiah 40:15, 17). "The foundations of heaven tremble at his rebuke. He divides the sea with His power, and by His understanding He smites through the proud. These are some of the minor things he does, merely a whisper of his power. Who can understand the thunder of his power?" (Job 26:11, 12, 14).
Listen to His own challenge: "To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?" says the Holy One. Lift your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one, and calls them each by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing" (Isaiah 40:25, 26). Hear again His own affirmation, "I am the Lord, and there is none else, there is no God beside Me!" (Isaiah 45:5). "His wisdom is profound, his power is vast. Who has resisted him and come out unscathed? Without warning, he moves the mountains, overturning them in his anger. He shakes the earth from its place, and its foundations tremble! His great works are too marvelous to understand. He performs miracles without number"" (Job 9:4, 5, 10).
"God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever. Amen" (1 Timothy 6:15, 16). Because God is so excellent and exalted, His requirement is "ascribe greatness unto Him." He requires that His majesty be recognized, His authority owned, His wisdom sought, His glory be made our supreme aim and endeavor. Our homage, our allegiance, our submission --are His due. His claims upon us are paramount. He made us--and can destroy us. We are entirely at His disposal, to be dealt with as He pleases. And none can resist Him.
"Ascribe greatness unto our God." He is the One who "does according to His will in the army of Heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth" (Dan. 4:35). He is the One by whom "kings reign and princes decree justice" (Proverbs 8:15). He alone can do us good, supply our needs, preserve our lives. He is the One before whom all must yet appear and give account of their stewardship.
"Ascribe greatness unto our God": those words were addressed unto a nation: it is an exhortation which is not confined to the regenerate, but applies to all men at large. Let us point out some of the principal ways by which a nation ascribes greatness unto God--not only in words--but in a practical manner.
By owning His WORD.It is in the Holy Scriptures, that the character of the Lord God is most fully revealed and wherein His perfections are set forth. All the wisdom, morality, righteousness and benevolence which are to be found among men--have issued from that Sacred Fount. If greatness is to be ascribed unto God--then His Holy Word must be given the first place in the counsels of government, in the home and in the schools. Our children must be made acquainted with His ineffable holiness, His mighty works, His acts of judgment upon sin, that they may be warned against offending Him. Those who honor His Word--He honors. When an African chief inquired of Queen Victoria the secret of Britain's greatness, she pointed to the Bible lying on her table.
By owning His HOLINESS.This is the principal jewel in the crown of His perfections. God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all. He is ineffably pure, without spot or blemish. His wisdom is a holy wisdom, His power is a holy power, His love is a holy love. He is "of purer eyes than to behold evil--and can not look on iniquity" (Hab. 1:13). "The Lord is righteous in all His ways--and holy in all His works" (Psalm 145:17). Therefore is He "angry with the wicked every day" (Psalm 7:11), and therefore sin must be put away from us--if we are to enjoy His blessing, "your sins have withheld good things from you"( Jer. 5:25). If we as a nation would ascribe greatness unto our God--we must humble ourselves before Him, confess our sins, and reform our ways.
By acknowledging His JUDGMENTS.Because God is holy--He refuses to wink at sin; yet because He is merciful--forgiveness is granted to those who repent and confess their sins. But where a people instead of forsaking their wickedness continue sinning with a high hand and brazen forehead, then the Lord pours out His indignation upon them. He will not be mocked with impunity, but gives proof of His displeasure. Plagues are sent, peace is taken away, all the miseries of war are experienced. Nevertheless He will stay His hand--if His rod is acknowledged. Even when Pharaoh said, "I have sinned against the Lord . . . entreat the Lord your God that He may take away from me this death" (Exo. 10:16, 17), the plague was stayed. If we would ascribe greatness unto our God, we must acknowledge, "I know O Lord, that Your judgments are right, and You in faithfulness have afflicted me" (Psalm 119:75).
By seeking His GUIDANCE.The first recorded failure of Israel in the wilderness was, "they soon forgot what He had done--and did not wait for His counsel" (Psalm 106:13). The finest equipped army, the ablest leadership, the most thoroughly prepared plan of campaign are not sufficient to ensure success. Unless wisdom is given from above--all human schemes and efforts are likely to come to nothing. Joshua was imposed upon by the Gibeonites, because he "did not ask counsel from the mouth of the Lord" (9:14). Greatness is ascribed unto the Lord God when our leaders confess their insufficiency, and seek help from above. David was an experienced and successful warrior--but observe how again and again he "enquired of the Lord" (1 Samuel 23:2, 4; 30:8; 2 Samuel 2:1; 5:19, 23).
By relying on His POWER.It is not sufficient to seek Divine guidance, there must also be dependence upon His power. "No king is saved by the size of his army; no warrior escapes by his great strength" (Psalm 33:16). "The horse is made ready for the day of battle--but victory rests with the Lord" (Proverbs 21:31). "Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help, who rely on horses, who trust in the multitude of their chariots and in the great strength of their horsemen, but do not look to the Holy One of Israel, or seek help from the Holy One" (Isaiah 31:1). In the heyday of success Napoleon said, "God is on the side of those with the biggest battalions," but he learned otherwise before the end of his career. We ascribe greatness unto our God when we trust in the might which He supplies.
By recognizing His PROVIDENCES.Events do not happen by chance: the history of a nation, like the life of an individual, is ordered by the Lord. He is the One who sets up and casts down, gives and withholds. The weather is regulated by Him, the crops are determined by His good pleasure. It is nothing but atheism or infidelity--to deny God's oversight of all the affairs of earth. If, then, greatness is to be ascribed unto our God, recognition must be made of His good hand, and thanksgiving returned for all His mercies. "Yours, O Lord, is the greatness, the power, the glory, the victory, and the majesty. Everything in the heavens and on earth is yours, O Lord, and this is your kingdom. We adore you as the one who is over all things!" (1 Chron. 29:11).
In proportion as these seven things have characterized the national life of Great Britain, of her Colonies, of the United States--has greatness been ascribed unto the Lord God, and to the same degree has He honored those who honored Him. Conversely it is equally true that the measure in which these seven things have not marked our national life--as material interests, the love of pleasure, a pagan mode of life, the setting up of idols have crowded out that which was due unto Him--instead of His smile we have experienced His frown.