This Sunday in Luke’s Gospel we will consider Mary’s outburst of praise when she reunites with Elizabeth and marvels at what God had done. The barren woman and the young virgin, both now with child through divine intervention, rejoice together.
“My soul magnifies the Lord.” (Luke 1:46)
Some illustrations just stick with you. Years ago I read John Piper use the difference between a microscope and a telescope to explain how it is that we can magnify the Lord. We don’t magnify God like a microscope magnifies a cell, making something tiny appear big. We magnify God like a telescope magnifies the Milky Way, helping us see something that may appear small to us from where we stand, as the massive and glorious reality that it is.
Mary’s song of praise reminds us what vantage point offers the best telescopic views of God’s glory and helps our souls magnify Him, like Mary. A humble estate. She says, “He has looked on the humble estate of his servant” and goes on to say that, through the son she will bear, God will exalt those of humble estate. Like Psalm 147:6 says, “The LORD lifts up the humble; he casts the wicked to the ground.”
As I’ve been working my way slowly through Isaiah, I came to chapter 6 this week. It’s a familiar passage, God gives Isaiah this mind-blowing telescopic vision of His true glory and he is undone. And I was struck by the fact that Isaiah tells us right up front that this vision came to him “in the year that King Uzziah died.” I flipped back to 2 Chronicles 26 (thanks to the handy cross references in my Bible) and was reminded what was so significant about the year King Uzziah died.
“He did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, according to all that his father Amaziah had done. He set himself to seek God in the days of Zechariah, who instructed him in the fear of God, and as long as he sought the LORD, God made him prosper.” (2 Chronicles 26:4–5)
The Lord blessed Israel for years under his leadership with military victories and abundant provision (herds, flocks, fruitful fields and vines). Until…
“He was marvelously helped, till he was strong. But when he was strong, he grew proud, to his destruction.” (2 Chronicles 26:15-16)
He brashly waltzed into the temple to offer incense himself, no longer feeling the need to approach God humbly through the mediating priesthood the Lord had established. And he paid a price. God struck him with leprosy and he “was a leper to the day of his death, and… lived in a separate house, for he was excluded from the house of the LORD.” (26:21)
It was in that year, that Isaiah was struck speechless and brought to his knees by a vision of God’s exalted holiness in the real temple not made with human hands. He was undone. But the Lord lifts up the humble and Isaiah is told, “Your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.” (Isaiah 6:7)
Uzziah’s story is a sobering warning of the destructive power of pride and an encouragement to keep ourselves in the humble estate of Isaiah’s vision and Mary’s song of praise. God’s kingdom has always been and will always be filled with stories of how He exalts the humble and lays low the proud.
This Sunday Randall Gruendyke will be preaching Luke 1:39-56 and Kenny Clark will be leading our sung worship. Please pray for each as they prepare. And let’s ask the Lord to keep our hearts in a humble estate (or put them there in the first place!) and to use our Sunday gathering to increase the magnification of His glory for us.
See you Sunday, Grace. Come hungry!
Song Link of the Week
He Who Is Mighty by Sovereign Grace Music
He Who is mighty has done a great thing
Taken on flesh, conquered death’s sting
Shattered the darkness and lifted our shame
Holy is His name