Bible Doxologies: Part 3
A Biblical doxology is a short segment of Scripture praising God and extolling His glory. Doxology means ‘word of glory.’ This article will present two doxologies that construct a fascinating bridge between the Old Testament and the New Testament. God connects these doxologies by a mystery He kept secret since before the creation of the world. We will understand these doxologies when viewed within the greater context of the Scriptures in which they reside.
And one called out to another and said, “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the LORD of hosts! The whole earth is full of His glory (Isaiah 6:3).
The angels who accompanied God proclaimed this doxology when Isaiah encountered Him in the Solomonic Temple in Jerusalem. Isaiah laid prostrate with his face on the floor, knowing his life was in great jeopardy. No one had seen God and survived the experience since Adam had walked with Him in the Garden of Eden prior to the fall. Now Isaiah was on the verge of becoming a crispy critter. He was acutely aware of his utter sinfulness in God’s presence. He knew He could not stand before a holy God. The more times a word is repeated in Scripture, the more it emphasizes the importance of its message. Holy, Holy, Holy means no one approximates God’s holiness. He is in a class all by Himself. His glory fills His creation. It touches wherever, whatever, and whoever God chooses. In this instance, God showered His glory upon Isaiah at the most critical juncture of his life. God sent His seraphim to touch a hot coal to Isaiah’s lips, cleansing his speech and wicked tongue. God then called Isaiah into ministry, giving Isaiah a prophetic Word for Israel that he would have to repeat the rest of his life. God instructed Isaiah to speak His truth, but the Jews would never understand it. God would providentially blind them, make them hard of hearing, and give them hearts of stone. God never explained this action to Isaiah. But the message was obviously of great importance, for God came in person to deliver it. God had previously taken time, great effort and many miracles to bring Israel into their promised land. He imparted His Law and Covenants to this people. Why would He change His game plan now? Why would God blind the only nation He had called His own? God never provided Isaiah the answers to these questions. Isaiah lived the rest of his life in great frustration (Isa 59: 9-12; 63: 16-19). Yet he followed God faithfully until his appointed death by martyrdom. God did not answer these questions for nearly a thousand years. He kept His plan secret—hidden even from the angels in heaven (1Peter 1: 10-12). Finally, God led a young man into wilderness training. This young man, Saul, had previously sat at the feet of one of the world’s most renowned Jewish Rabbis—Gamaliel. Saul received the best education in the Jewish Law a young man could ever hope for. He zealously pursued his Jewish education and sparred with the best minds of his day. He received authority from the chief priests to hunt, persecute and imprison followers of Jesus Christ (Acts 8:3; 22:5; 26: 9-12). Even the High priest provided Saul letters to hunt Christians in Damascus (Acts 9: 1-2, 14). Saul was travelling to Damascus to carry out his plans. That is when God the Son intervened dramatically in His blinding glory. Jesus Christ physically blinded Saul, but opened his eyes spiritually. God healed Saul of his physical blindness after he arrived in Damascus and received the prayers of a righteous saint, Ananias. God had performed this miracle in reverse order with Saul’s Jewish nation 750 years earlier. He allowed them to see physically, but blinded them spiritually. Saul pursued a new life following his salvation—one dedicated to serving his master, Jesus Christ. Jesus led Saul into the wilderness and personally mentored him for three years (Gal 1: 11-18). Saul graduated from theology studies with very high marks. God gave Saul a new name, Paul, which means ‘little’ in Latin. Yes, God gave the Hebrew, Saul (named after a very tall Jewish king), a Roman name meaning ‘small.’ Paul was a little man with a Roman name and a big mission. God sent him far from Israel to the gentiles of the world (Acts 22: 18, 21; 26: 15-18). He revealed many mysteries to Paul—the most important one being the Gospel of Grace. This mystery told the wonderful good news that Jesus died for the sins of mankind, and that faith in Him would guarantee God’s free gift of eternal life and an everlasting relationship with God in heaven. God also revealed the mystery of Israel’s spiritual blindness. Paul later explained that mystery in his epistle to the Romans Chapters 9-11. “God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes to see not and ears to hear not, down to this very day” (Rom. 11: 8). The mystery is summarized in Romans 11: 25-26:
For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery—so that you will not be wise in your own estimation—that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in, and so all Israel will be saved; just as it is written, ‘The Deliverer will come from Zion, He will remove ungodliness from Jacob.’ “This is My covenant with them, when I take away their sins.”
Romans chapter 11 ends with another doxology written by our Apostle Paul. This doxology ties to the Divine encounter with Isaiah 750 years earlier and the doxology proclaimed by the seraphim at that time. The revealed mystery explained God’s providential blinding of Israel. God’s intentions were now clear. He had planned all along to take His Grace gospel to the rest of the world. Jesus Christ is the cornerstone of the Grace gospel. Remember our acronym GRACE—God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense. God’s Son had to die for the sins of mankind so God could offer the Grace gospel to the world. God kept His plan secret from Satan and all angelic beings in order that Jesus could accomplish the victory at the cross and by His resurrection. If God had not blinded Israel to their Messiah, His Grace would not have gone to the gentile world. Alas, most believers of the gentile world would not have had the opportunity of salvation through God’s grace. We have come full circle after 750 years of a mystery untold. Two doxologies frame this 750-year interval. They also enclose the last half of the Old Testament and the first half of the New Testament. Seraphim proclaimed the initial word of glory about a thrice-holy God. Paul extols the riches of God’s wisdom and knowledge in the later doxology. God blinded Israel spiritually so He could later send His Son to die for the sins of mankind. The Grace Gospel would then go to the Gentile world. After 750 years, God blinded Paul physically, so He could remove Paul’s spiritual blindness. Paul then apprehended his Redeemer and Savior, Jesus Christ. God subsequently used Paul to take the Grace Gospel to the world. God used the spiritually blind Jew, Paul, as a picture of the Jewish nation. God will one day remove Israel’s spiritual blindness when the age of grace is complete and God is pouring out His wrath upon a wicked world. The Jews, likewise, will receive their Redeemer and Savior, Jesus Christ (Zech. 12: 10).
Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who became His counselor? Or who has first given to Him that it might be paid back to him again? For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen (Rom 11: 33-36).
The Apostle Paul proclaimed this doxology after he explained the mystery God had revealed to him—namely, that God had blinded Israel to enable the Gospel of Grace to proceed to the rest of the world. God kept this awesome plan secret until He revealed it to Paul. Through God’s grace we have access to Him for eternity. God did not have to take His grace to the world. He could have dealt only with Israel. Paul ascribed glory to God, exulting Him for the depth of His wisdom and knowledge.
God deserves eternal praise for each of his wonderful attributes and omnipotent works. But some of God’s works reach out every man, woman, and child in this world. These unique works cry out for the everlasting praise of mankind. Perhaps one such work is God’s grace extended to each and every one of us. It is a work of surprise and mystery. It is a work generated by God’s loving-kindness towards humanity. It forever speaks of God’s desire to redeem mankind from the awful wickedness of sin in this world.
Man can never know God’s ways. God reveals snippets of His knowledge to portray His majesty to mankind. He manifests His glory in these small revelations. His children will one-day apprehend God in all His glory. What a day that will be!