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The Steps of Majesty

By Rev. David Blunt

This Editorial was published in the Presbyterian Standard, Issue No. 9, January-March 1998.

T HERE is something awesome about the progress of our God. We are not, of course, referring to any change in His being (the very thought is blasphemous) but to the execution of His decrees or the outworking of His purpose. Properly we should speak of God's decree in the singular, for all His works in creation and providence are but the one eternal resolve of His infinite mind to glorify Himself.


How orderly is the progress of the creation week! In a series of sovereign, effortless steps the universe is brought into being and prepared as a theatre to display the divine glory. Everything — from atom to Andromeda galaxy, amoeba to highest archangel — takes its precise form and assumes its exact place at the powerful call of God: with light made to shine from darkness the players are summoned one by one onto the stage; none misses its act or stumbles over its role. At length there follows a pregnant pause, as if the three Persons of the Godhead were consulting between themselves before announcing their final and most splendid production — and man duly makes his entrance bearing the divine image (Gen. 1:26, 27).

With what holy delight does the Lord then survey the works of His own hands! Out of nothing all things that are have come to be — simply because He willed it so: space and all that it contains, time and everything that it holds. Yet He is not in any way wearied or diminished by His extraordinary work, for His energies are inexhaustible: it is man who needs the Sabbath day to recover his strength. With gladness our first parents perform their God-given tasks, for their Creator is their companion in and through them all. Of all the bountiful fruits of Paradise only one is denied to them (Gen. 2:16, 17) but this limit upon their freedom causes no frustration: in the state of innocence liberty and duty are not opposed to one another but in perfect harmony.


How quickly though the scene changes into one of tragedy and confusion. The professed friends of God give heed to the prompting of another, contrary, voice and there is rebellion on the part of the King's subjects.

There is reason to believe that Adam's apostasy occurred very soon after his creation and it was certainly before the arrival of offspring. The forbidden fruit in itself was good and carried no warning: all that stood between our first covenant head and peril for him and the whole race was the naked word of God. But the fall on earth was preceded by a fall in heaven; Lucifer, the glorious messenger whose sinful pride lifted him up in his imagination alongside the Most High (Isa. 14:12-14) and a third of the angelic host (Rev. 12:4) were cast out of God's abode and down to the earth.


Here is the explanation for the presence of the subtle serpent in the garden of Eden. What havoc is wrought as the devil dons such a clever costume: again there was nothing evil in the creature itself, but should not Eve have been alerted as soon as a dumb beast spoke to her in her own language? The woman was willing to enter into dialogue with Satan: because she would not shut her ears to his suggestions sin opens her eyes — and Adam's too. They will henceforth know evil not only according to the instruction of conscience but in the bitterness of personal experience.

Now the work of God lies in ruins! His supreme handiwork has become a parody of the original, the image of the Maker perverted into the likeness of Apollyon the destroyer (John 8:44). The very creation is cursed for man's sake and the sinful pair are thrust out of the garden with no way of return: Paradise is at a sudden end.


Ah, this is how man sees things in his smallness and meanness. But there is such a majesty in God's providence that even this calamity is gathered into its powerful and infinitely wise embrace and made to serve holy ends, for "the wrath of man shall praise thee" (Psa. 76:10). Neither does the Almighty merely stand by, only to react after the tragedy has occurred. God never truly reacts, as though He were impacted by events occurring in time; He always acts and even in His permitting the fall we may glimpse His sovereign will. The entrance of sin opens the way for Christ to come in its train, who "was foreordained before the foundation of the world" (1 Pet. 1:20): it is the occasion for the full display of His kingly mercy and grace toward a multitude of poor sinners and of His justice upon the rest of mankind.


Intimation was given of this plan of redemption already in Genesis 3:15; in this original gospel promise, spoken in the hearing of Adam and Eve, there is a revelation of the Seed who will powerfully undo the devil's work at the cost of personal suffering. Millennia of human history will come between promise and accomplishment, filled with hellish scheming against the salvation of the church; often the darkness will threaten to extinguish the light of the promise, but all is guaranteed by the "I will" of God. Salvation is "of the Lord" (Jon. 2:9) in all its design and performance.

Jehovah is not so dependent upon the agency of men that he actually needs their aid: He refuses all contributions from the hands of those who irreverently presume to "help" the progress of redemption. Such was foolish Uzzah's thinking toward the ark (2 Sam. 6:6, 7) and such is the sin of much of evangelicalism today, which imagines Christ like a king stripped of his royal regalia, so pitifully weak that He must have the prior consent of our wills before He can begin to deliver us from our awful plight.


The greatest obstacle, if we may so speak, to the cause of God upon earth is indeed the proud heart of man. It lies today where the fall left it, spiritually numb, even dead. All the intervening centuries of learning and cultural advancement have not altered that solemn fact one whit. Yet the Bible assures us that even the king's heart is in the hand of the Lord, to be directed in its thinking and choosing as He wills (Prov. 21:1); if earthly monarchs, presidents and dictators present no hindrance to God's purposes, then how much less do ordinary mortals!

The wonderful work of God in recreating His image in our souls is of far greater magnitude even than the original creation. There was nothing then to resist the command of the Lord; the material subsequently worked upon was inanimate, passive: but here there is active, hostile opposition, for "the carnal mind is enmity against God" (Rom. 8:7). Grace can only be resisted by the natural man, but that resistance is sweetly, powerfully, overcome. We are told that the same divine power ("exceeding great...mighty power") which brought about the resurrection of our Lord from the dead and carried Him into heaven to place Him at the right hand of God is extended to each and every saint (Eph. 2:19, 20).


This truth is a great comfort to godly men and women, especially to those who live in a day of small things. Firstly, it gives assurance regarding their own persons, that He who has begun a good work in them in regeneration is well able to finish it in their final glorification at the return of Christ (Phil. 1:6). Secondly, if this is our God, then we may have confidence concerning His Cause, however low it may appear to sink. Let us take heart, and cry with the Psalmist:

"Do thou, O God, arise and plead
the cause that is thine own:
Remember how thou art reproach'd
still by the foolish one."

— Psa. 74:22.