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Series Introduction| Knowing God | The Revelatory God | Goodness of God | Holiness of God | Power of God | Omnipresent God | Exalted God | Faithfuness of God | Wisdom of God | Mercy of God | Wrath of God | Love of God | Sovereignty of God | Providence of God
Purpose: The Meaning of ‘Exalted’: The meaning of exalted is chiefly explored by seeing how different Old Testament and New Testament words are translated in some form of praise or exalted. A special section on Ephesians 2:4-7 shows how God breaks the distance barrier to bring us close.
There are several Biblical Hebrew words meaning to exalt. Daniel 4:37 reflects this, “Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise, exalt, and honor the King of heaven, for all His works are true and His ways just, and He is able to humble those who walk in pride.”
King Nebuchadnezzar, after his senses returned to him and he was properly humbled, could rightly acknowledge God’s exalted person. God is, after all, the King of heaven. He used three similar words to speak of God’s glory.
Praise emphasizes laud, that is, words that emphasize one’s greatness.
Exalt in the Hebrew has a sense of being lifted up to a high position. Thrones are often lifted up on platforms.
Honor has a sense of adorn and glorify. The Hebrew root word means lift or raise up.
As the great emperor, once his senses were restored, he had no problem giving praise to God. What a tragedy mankind has such a difficulty today. It appears our society needs to go through this ‘dumbing down’ period as King Nebuchadnezzar did!
All these meanings overlap and describe God’s glorious person with our inferior words. When man or angels see God in His glory, they are found on their knees bowing before Him.
Nebuchadnezzar obviously emphasized God’s glory by using a broader selection of words to describe what he then know to be true about the Lord. This is the advantage of poetry and song.
The Psalmist joins in the chorus, “Let them praise the name of the LORD, for His name alone is exalted; His glory is above earth and heaven” (Ps 148:13).
The two words holy and exalted have different meanings and yet retain a similarity requiring separation.
Holiness, like the Lord’s glory, demands a distance between God and man. In this case, the separation is gained through God’s dissimilarity to us.
God operates differently from us, that is, He is set apart from us by His person and ways. We do not see that distance in the Garden before man’s sin.
Exalted distinguishes itself from holiness by its height. The Lord is lofty, that is, his position and status are unapproachable.
Isaiah’s famous vision records this, “In the year of King Uzziah’s death, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted3, with the train of His robe filling the temple” (Isaiah 6:1).
While holiness speaks about the needed distance from us due to God’s character, His exalted position demands distance due to His honor and prestige.
“4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:4-7).
The full glory of God’s awesome plan is seen in Ephesians 2:4-7 where He reveals the measures He has taken through Jesus Christ to share His holiness and glory with His people. We were distanced far from God in a seemingly hopeless situation. Both God’s holiness and exalted state keep God’s people distanced from Him.
God reconciles (brings us close) us with Him through Christ (Ephesians 2:5). God’s separation from us is partly due to our character differences. He is holy; we are unholy.
He makes it possible for us to be reunited by cleansing us from our sin. This process of reunifying us with Him, despite our sin, displays God’s magnanimous grace and kindness. God overcomes the ‘sin’ distance due to our sin.
God raises us up in Christ (Ephesians 2:6) all because of His rich love toward us (Eph 2:4). He does not only make us okay, that is, so His wrath does not fall upon us, but makes us lovely and desirable. Eliminating us from our cancerous disease does not make us desirable as companions.
By raising us up, God puts us on the highest possible position. God is the exalted one. We do not deserve anything. But here, like David kindly treated Mephibosheth for Jonathan’s sake, he brings the unlikely one to share at His table (2 Samuel 9). God brings us to His royal table due to Jesus’ sake.
Ephesians 2:7 says it is to display His surpassing (think glorious) graciousness. God further exalts Himself by displaying His kindness toward us. God overcomes the distance due to our inferiority, this distance due to His lofty position in contrast to our lowly one. He lifts us from our low place into His high and honorable one.
Next => The Ways God is Exalted
Scriptures typically quoted from the New American Standard Bible unless noted:
(C) Copyright The Lockman Foundation 1988