Answering Islam - A Christian-Muslim dialog

The One Who Is Truly Worthy of All Praise and Honor Pt. 1

Sam Shamoun

In this article we are going to look to God’s Word, the Holy Bible, to see who it is that is truly worthy of praise and honor.


Yahweh Alone Is Worthy Of All Praise

The Hebrew Scriptures speak of Yahweh being the only Deity who is worthy to be praised, especially by the entire creation since it was specifically made for his pleasure and glory:

“From the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same the Lord’s name is to be praised.” Psalm 113:3

The phrase “From the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same,” means that Yahweh’s name is to be praised from the east to the west. Moving ahead:

“All nations whom thou hast made shall come and worship before thee, O Lord; and shall glorify thy name.” Psalm 86:9

“Praise ye the Lord. Praise ye the Lord from the heavens: praise him in the heights. Praise ye him, all his angels: praise ye him, all his hosts. Praise ye him, sun and moon: praise him, all ye stars of light. Praise him, ye heavens of heavens, and ye waters that be above the heavens. Let them praise the name of the Lord: for he commanded, and they were created. He hath also stablished them for ever and ever: he hath made a decree which shall not pass. Praise the Lord from the earth, ye dragons, and all deeps: fire, and hail; snow, and vapour; stormy wind fulfilling his word: mountains, and all hills; fruitful trees, and all cedars: beasts, and all cattle; creeping things, and flying fowl: kings of the earth, and all people; princes, and all judges of the earth: both young men, and maidens; old men, and children: let them praise the name of the Lord: for his name alone is excellent (nisgab); his glory is above the earth and heaven. He also exalteth the horn of his people, the praise of all his saints; even of the children of Israel, a people near unto him. Praise ye the Lord.” Psalm 148:1-14

The Hebrew word translated as “excellent,” nisgab, means to be exalted, lifted, high etc., so that God is saying here that his name alone is exalted. We shall see why this is significant when we come to Philippians 2:9-11. Again:

“The beast of the field shall honour me, the dragons and the owls: because I give waters in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert, to give drink to my people, my chosen. This people have I formed for myself;
they shall shew forth my praise
.” Isaiah 43:6-7

The LORD further proclaims that he does not give his glory to any other, or his praise to idols, since to do so would be to profane his name:

“I am the Lord: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images.” Isaiah 42:8

“For mine own sake, even for mine own sake, will I do it: for how should my name be polluted? and I will not give my glory unto another.” Isaiah 48:11

Here we have a connection between God’s name, praise and glory. We shall shortly see why this is significant.


The Lord Jesus Christ Is Worthy of All Praise

Yet when we turn to the inspired Christian Greek Scriptures we find the Lord Jesus claiming that God himself demands that everyone render to the Son the same honor which the Father is supposed to receive: 

“For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son: that all men should honour the Son, EVEN AS they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him” John 5:22-23


The Father Praises And Glorifies The Son

In fact, Christ taught that God himself honors and glorifies him in the same way that he honors and glorifies the Father!

“Then answered the Jews, and said unto him, Say we not well that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil? Jesus answered, I have not a devil; but I honour my Father, and ye do dishonour me. And I seek not mine own glory: there is one that seeketh and judgeth. Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death. Then said the Jews unto him, Now we know that thou hast a devil. Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and thou sayest, If a man keep my saying, he shall never taste of death. Art thou greater than our father Abraham, which is dead? and the prophets are dead: whom makest thou thyself? Jesus answered, If I honour myself, my honour is nothing: it is my Father that honoureth me; of whom ye say, that he is your God: yet ye have not known him; but I know him: and if I should say, I know him not, I shall be a liar like unto you: but I know him, and keep his saying. Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad. Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham? Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am. Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.” John 8:48-59

“Therefore, when he was gone out, Jesus said, Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in him. If God be glorified in him, God shall also glorify him in himself, and shall straightway glorify him.” John 13:31-32

As if that weren’t shocking enough the Lord further stated that he and the Father existed alongside each other in the same divine glory, a glory that he had with the Father even before the world came into existence!

“These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee: as thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him… And now, O Father, glorify thou me with (para) thine own self with the glory which I had with (para) thee before the world was… Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.” John 17:1-2, 5, 24

A. T. Robertson, considered by many to be the greatest NT Greek scholar of the twentieth century, had this to say concerning John 17:5:

With thine own self (παρα σεαυτωι — para seautōi). “By the side of thyself.” Jesus prays for full restoration to the pre-incarnate glory and fellowship (cf. John 1:1) enjoyed before the Incarnation (John 1:14). This is not just ideal pre-existence, but actual and conscious existence at the Father‘s side (παρα σοι — para soi with thee) “which I had” (ηι ειχον — hēi eichon imperfect active of εχω — echō I used to have, with attraction of case of ην — hēn to ηι — hēi because of δοχηι — doxēi), “before the world was” (προ του τον κοσμον ειναι — pro tou ton kosmon einai), “before the being as to the world” (cf. John 17:24). It is small wonder that those who deny or reject the deity of Jesus Christ have trouble with the Johannine authorship of this book and with the genuineness of these words. But even Harnack admits that the words here and in John 17:24 are “undoubtedly the reflection of the certainty with which Jesus himself spoke” (What Is Christianity, Engl. Tr., p. 132). But Paul, as clearly as John, believes in the actual pre-existence and deity of Jesus Christ (Philemon [sic] 2:5-11). (Robertson’s Word Pictures in the New Testament; bold emphasis ours)

This explains Jesus’ claim to have actually seen Abraham since, unlike the latter who came into being at a specific point in time, Christ eternally exists and therefore has been there even before the world was created.


All Creation Commanded To Praise The Son

And since the Son is supposed to receive the same honor that the Father does, the NT therefore proclaims that every created thing must glorify and worship Christ!

For instance, the book of Hebrews cites a reference from the Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures where all the angels of God are commanded to worship Jehovah,

“Rejoice, ye heavens, with him, and let all the angels of God worship him; rejoice ye Gentiles, with his people, and let all the sons of God strengthen themselves in him; for he will avenge the blood of his sons, and he will render vengeance, and recompense justice to his enemies, and will reward them that hate him; and the Lord shall purge the land of his people.” Deuteronomy 32:42 LXX

“Let all that worship graven images be ashamed, who boast of their idols; worship him, all ye his angels.” Psalm 96[Heb. 97]:7 LXX

In order to establish that God himself demands that all the host of heaven worship his Firstborn Son:   

“God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son? And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him.” Hebrews 1:1-6

What makes this reference from Hebrews all the more remarkable is that Jesus is said to be worshiped by all the angels in a context where he is described as the Creator and Sustainer of the entire cosmos. This is precisely the context in which Nehemiah speaks of Jehovah being worshiped by the host of heaven!

“Thou, even thou, art Lord alone; thou hast made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth, and all things that are therein, the seas, and all that is therein, and thou preservest them all; and the host of heaven worshippeth thee.” Nehemiah 9:6

Hebrews isn’t the only inspired author to take OT texts that speak of Jehovah and apply them to the Son. The Apostle Paul also alludes to an OT passage which singles out Yahweh as the only just God and Savior to whom every person must bow and confess,

“Tell ye, and bring them near; yea, let them take counsel together: who hath declared this from ancient time? who hath told it from that time? have not I the LORD? and there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside me. Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else. I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, That unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear. Surely, shall one say, in the LORD have I righteousness and strength: even to him shall men come; and all that are incensed against him shall be ashamed. In the LORD shall all the seed of Israel be justified, and shall glory.” Isaiah 45:21-25

To speak of the veneration that Christ is to receive from every creature!

“Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:9-11

Here it is at the name of Jesus that every knee and tongue in the entire created realm bows and confesses. The blessed Apostle even ascribes the part of Isaiah, which says that God’s people shall be justified and made righteous in Yahweh, to Christ justifying and sanctifying all who are united to him!

“Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, and be found IN HIM, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:” Philippians 3:8-9

“But of him are ye IN CHRIST JESUS, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:” 1 Corinthians 1:30

“For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God IN HIM.” 2 Corinthians 5:21

Finally, John in Revelation sees every created thing everywhere praising the Lord Jesus in the same exact way that God is praised:

“And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. And EVERY CREATURE which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and UNTO THE LAMB for ever and ever. And the four beasts said, Amen. And the four and twenty elders fell down and worshipped him that liveth for ever and ever.” Revelation 5:11-14

Now this not only affirms that Christ is worthy of the same honor and praise that God receives, it also proves that he is no creature since John clearly separates and distinguishes him from every created thing which exists. Therefore, Jesus is the uncreated, eternal Son of God who is on the same side of the Creator/creature divide that the Father is on!

We’re not through yet since we have more to say in the next part of our discussion.