Why Is the God of the Old Testament Worthy of Worship? His Majesty and Beauty

Post Author: Bill Pratt 

Skeptics of Christianity love to point out all the difficult passages in the Bible, especially in the Old Testament. By noting these difficult passages, skeptics explicitly or implicitly imply that Christians are foolish (or even deranged) for worshiping the God described in the Old Testament.

My problem with this implication is that the number of difficult passages are dwarfed by the number of passages that clearly describe the greatness of God. These passages come in a wide variety and they are found all over the Old Testament. The skeptic’s approach is, therefore, totally unbalanced – it does not take into consideration the totality of Scripture.

So, to the skeptics who question why I worship the God described in the Old Testament, it’s not only his wisdom, but his majesty and beauty.

The Old Testament manifestly proclaims that God is majestic and beautiful.  According to Norman Geisler in his Systematic Theology, Volume Two: God, Creation, “God’s majesty consists of unsurpassed greatness, highest eminence, unparalleled exaltation, and unmatched glory.” Geisler relates that “as applied to God, beauty is the essential attribute of goodness that produces in the beholder a sense of overwhelming pleasure and delight.”

How does the Old Testament connect God with majesty and beauty?

God Is Majestic and Beautiful

“Honor and majesty are before him; strength and joy are in his place” (1 Ch 16:27).

“Yours, O LORD, are the greatness, the power, the glory, the victory, and the majesty; for all that is in the heavens and on the earth is yours; yours is the kingdom, O LORD, and you are exalted as head above all” (1 Ch 29:11).

“After it his voice roars; he thunders with his majestic voice and he does not restrain the lightnings when his voice is heard” (Job 37:4).

“Out of the north comes golden splendor; around God is awesome majesty” (Job 37:22).

“The voice of the LORD is powerful; the voice of the LORD is full of majesty” (Ps 29:4).

“Gird your sword on your thigh, O mighty one, in your glory and majesty” (Ps 45:3).

“The LORD is king, he is robed in majesty; the LORD is robed, he is girded with strength” (Ps 93:1).

“Honor and majesty are before him; strength and beauty are in his sanctuary” (Ps 96:6).

“Bless the LORD, O my soul. O LORD my God, you are very great. You are clothed with honor and majesty” (Ps 104:1).

“On the glorious splendor of your majesty, and on your wondrous works, I will meditate” (Ps 145:5).

“They lift up their voices, they sing for joy; they shout from the west over the majesty of the LORD” (Is 24:14).

“But there the LORD in majesty will be for us a place of broad rivers and streams, where no galley with oars can go, nor stately ship can pass. For the LORD is our judge, the LORD is our ruler, the LORD is our king; he will save us” (Is 33:21–22).

“Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name. Bring an offering and come before him; worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness” (1 Chron. 16:29).

“Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the LORD and to praise him for the splendor of his holiness” (2 Chron. 20:21).

“Your eyes will see the king in his beauty and view a land that stretches afar” (Isa. 33:17).

“One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple” (Ps. 27:4).

“Worship the LORD in the beauty of his holiness! Tremble before Him, all the earth” (Ps. 96:9).

“ ‘Your fame spread among the nations on account of your beauty, because the splendor I had given you made your beauty perfect,’ declares the Sovereign Lord” (Ezek. 16:14).

“He has made everything beautiful in its time” (Eccl. 3:11).

In subsequent blog posts, I will look at yet more reasons to worship the God of the Old Testament.

  • This confirms my impression that conservatives are the real ones who pick and choose.


    P.S: I’m thankful to these Muslims to have written up this list!

  • You are just proving my point. These are the same old passages that have been taken out of context by Christian skeptics for centuries. There is absolutely nothing new at this link.

    Why don’t you deal with the hundreds of verses that clearly call out the greatness of God in the OT?

    Why is your primary source of biblical exegesis from a blatantly Christian-bashing Muslim website which makes no attempt to understand any of the passages they cite?

    Quoting from this site is the equivalent to asking Hitler what he thinks about the success of Jewish businessmen.

  • sean

    “You are just proving my point. These are the same old passages that have been taken out of context by Christian skeptics for centuries. There is absolutely nothing new at this link.”

    We’re aware there is nothing new, the old testament is really old. That doesn’t mean the problems have ever been sufficiently addressed.

    Now if you think those passages are out of context, fine. But you’re saying then that there is some context in which Exodus 21:20-12 is an okay thing? Please demonstrate some context that makes that okay. I submit to you that under no circumstance is owning another person as property an okay thing to do. Even minus those rules about beating people it’s wrong. Exidous allows me to buy your daughter as a sex slave against her will, irrespective of how well I plan on treating her. I sincerely doubt you’re going to argue against me on the point that that would be something morally impermissible.

    I’d point out that whether or not the quotation is from that site happens to be irrelevant. That site is just quoting the Bible. Would you prefer we reference those passages directly? I just did for one of them.

    I’m pretty sure she does deal with other passages of the Bible, since she’s Christian, but so what? That analogy is like if I say a child rapist isn’t someone your kids should look up to. You then turn to me and say, ‘but look at all that other great stuff this person has done, you’re just ignoring it.’ No, we are not. That other stuff is irrelevant in light of that atrocity.

  • “Why don’t you deal with the hundreds of verses that clearly call out the greatness of God in the OT?”

    Bill I agree that the authors of these passages expressed beautiful, admirable thoughts about God.

    There are three possible positions:

    a) the Bible is a book which consistently portrays us a perfect God (conservative Evangelicalism).

    b) the Bible is a book which consistently portrays us a horrible genocidal God (view of the New Atheists).

    c) the Bible contains human thoughts about God in the same way the books of C.S. Lewis contain human thoughts about God. Some are great, other should be rejected:

    By quoting all these verses, you refute view b) but you fall infinitely short of proving view a).

    So yes, there are many verses in the OT which emphasize God’s greatness but they are contradicted by countless other texts.

    To my mind, holding fast on Biblical inerrancy is what is mainly causing the millennials to leave the Church.
    This is something I cannot applaud.

    I hope you understand I have nothing against you as a person.

  • sean

    I think that most people who question why you believe in the Old Testament God understand that there are some good things, but they use a weighted system. If I do two good things and a really bad thing, well sure that’s 2 to one, but the one was really bad. The question isn’t what good things are there, but why do you weight them over the bad things? Again, I’d point to to the rampant slavery and genocide. Not good stuff. So bad, that it shoud wipe out worship and liking. Just like people who liked Jerry Sandusky before the child rape issues came out, should now not like him. The same is true of your God. Sure, Sandusky and God both did good things in their time, but these bad things should wipe out any niceness earned by their good deeds.

    That said, to anyone who thinks that the God of the old testament is incapable of doing good stuff, I’m on your side Bill. Anyone who thinks that needs to realize that that includes things like don’t murder, listed in the ten commandments.

    I’ll ask my question about fear again. Have you not heard the term “God fearing” used as a positive descriptor before? It seems to me that some consider it a valid path to worship. Do you think that, irrespective of whether or not you use that path?

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  • No, the verses that speak of God’s greatness dominate the Old Testament, and they absolutely dwarf the controversial passages.

    You are portraying the exact opposite, that the verses that speak about God’s greatness are dwarfed by the controversial passages, and that is just factually incorrect.

    Keep in mind, that in these blog posts I’ve been publishing, I am only sampling the verses that speak of God’s greatness. There are plenty more.

    And, these verses are found right smack in the middle of the OT books which contain the small number of difficult passages.

    Given this situation, I am willing to make a concentrated effort to try and understand the difficult passages instead of just tossing them aside.

  • “Fearing God,” to Christians, means to have a deep respect and reverence for who God is. It is not typically understood to mean “scared of God’s wrath.”

    Although some people may be scared of God’s wrath, I think that is not a good reason, by itself, to worship God, and I think it is a basic misunderstanding of Christian faith.

    A Christian who has put her faith and trust in Christ has become an adopted child of God and has nothing to fear from Him. That is one of the consequences of Jesus’s death and resurrection. We have been reconciled to God and we know we will spend eternity in God’s presence.

  • sean

    Sure, like a child has respect and reverence for his Father, even when it was typical for that Father to beat the child. There is fear as well.

    That said, I hear what you are saying on it not being good enough to worship on fear alone. I’m with you there.

  • rcc

    This is pretty silly. It is not a matter of simply counting up the number of positive and negative passages; there should not be any of the horrible negative passages. It only takes one time of encouraging genocide to make this god a monster.

  • rcc,
    You’re missing the point. You have to read the alleged negative passages in context with the all the other passages. You can’t isolate single passages and rip them out of context.

  • rcc

    Either explain what context makes genocide okay, or abandon that response. You are justifying evil by talking about how much good sits next to it. That is not “context”. I would be ignoring the context if the words surrounding the genocides made it clear that genocide was just an allegory for masturbation (for instance). It is not ignoring the context to say that genocidal monsters are monster even if they are usually nice.

  • If we know from Scripture that God is majestic, beautiful, wise, loving, merciful, just, etc., then when we see difficult passages in the Bible, we should pause.

    We should consider the fact that maybe we’re missing something, that maybe we’re not understanding the difficult passage in context with the rest of the Bible.

    What most skeptics do is pluck a few passages completely out of context from the Bible, and say, “Look, God is a homicidal maniac. God commits genocide!” When I see skeptics saying these things, I immediately know that they haven’t read the entire Bible. They’ve only read bits and pieces that confirm their anti-theistic worldview.

    If you want a thorough treatment of the alleged genocide passages, then go read Copan and Flannagan’s book Did God Really Command Genocide?

  • rcc

    I have read the entire Bible multiple times. You are just an apologist for evil.

  • You may have read it, but you didn’t understand it. That much is clear.