It was just about 2,400 years ago that a philosopher by the name of Plato would write about a place that has captured the imagination since. The legends of that fabled Atlantis have been the inspiration behind movies, TV shows, and countless documentaries.
Some believe that it was a place that held secrets and hidden knowledge of the universe. Some will even claim the inhabitants had access to advanced technology— surpassing even our own!
Disney’s movie, “Atlantis,” depicts hover crafts which are powered by crystals and robotic stone giants that guard the city.
There’s some credence to the idea that the mythology around the “City of the Sea” was a product of a pre-flood civilization. It’s not hard to see how an earth-altering event like the flood could inspire stories of a great city vanishing beneath the waves. There was a time when people’s hands grew idle after they were no longer focused on their own immediate survival. History paints a picture time and again of the spiritual and physical destruction that follows when we have time to sit and scheme. Nimrod was one of the first “mighty men” mentioned in the book of Genesis, as well as a visionary nation builder (Gen. 10.8). He broke away from the nomadic life that was modeled before him and he instead— decided to build. The end result would lead to a catastrophe that is symbolic of our own, were we to reject the invitation to board the ark (Gen. 6.5, Heb. 11.7ff).
In 1830 and almost every year since, there have been those who claim that the ancient city of Atlantis has finally been found. From Africa to Europe, archeologists and self-proclaimed experts have hotly contented the whereabouts of a place that likely doesn’t exist.
It’s undoubtedly fascinating to listen to the latest Atlantean news and it’s never in short supply but it’s a tragedy that so many people give their lives chasing a city they’ll never find.
There’s another group of people on a quest to find a city far more incredible and beautiful than Atlantis, though. Unlike Plato’s writings, the city of Heaven is based entirely on the writings of God Himself.
It’s a place made up of inhabitants spanning every generation on earth (Phil. 3.20).
A place so difficult to describe, even inspired writers struggle to find the words (2 Cor. 12.2).
It wasn’t built with advanced ancient technology, but by two hands bearing the marks of the ultimate sacrifice (2 Cor. 5.1). Oh, and it’s a place literally to die for (1 Thess. 4.16-17).
Why would anyone spend the time searching for a place the pales in comparison to the city of God? We’ve got the map and we’ve got the promise, let’s not settle for anything less than.
For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. – 2 Corinthians 5.1
Set your mind on things above, not on earthly things. – Colossians 3.2
It’s been said that the there are more stars in the known universe than all of the sand on earth combined. That being said, in just one grain of sand there are more atoms than all of the stars. That’s pretty amazing. Our planet is but a speck in the grandeur of space. Countless stars, planets, galaxies, lightyears and somehow God is well aware of the happenings of people. Have you stood on the mountain tops? Have you observed the power of the oceans as the waves crash on the shore? Has your heart almost stopped after the vibrating sensation of a thunder clap resonates in your chest? The might of the Creator is everywhere in the world around us and at times it just demands to be noticed. A section of scripture that is mysterious and fascinating is found in 1 Kings 19:11-13. The Lord of hosts is about to show Himself to a depressed and exhausted Elijah, but in a way that he would never forget. “The Lord said, ‘go out on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.’ Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out to stand at the mouth of the cave. Then the voice said, ‘what are you doing here Elijah?’” In the solitude of Horeb, Elijah seeks to avoid the troubles of his world. The acoustics of the mountainous area along with the time spent in silence must have made the shattering rocks, raging fire, splitting hills, and rumbling earth all but deafening and definitely a terrifying display of divine power. Then in sharp contrast, a still whisper comes. This gentleness, no doubt, is the reason Elijah decides to cautiously emerge from his hiding place. God is teaching His worn-out servant a lesson that holds true for us today. The fact is, there is no more God, His wisdom, power, and presence in an earthquake than there is in the sweet breath of a blooming flower. The quiet ticking of a wrist watch reveals just as much intelligence and purpose as does the striking of a clock tower’s bell. One may walk out into an open field at night and stare up into the vast sky, lit up with numerous twinkling stars and declare, “I’ve found God!” But God is no more in the sky than He is in the blades of grass flattened beneath your feet. The question came to Elijah from that still voice, “What are you doing here?” To the prophet, his problems were too great and too large and his solution was to run and hide. God, in a magnificent way, is trying to remind Elijah of his place. Our place in life is not to take matters into our own hands or solve life’s many difficulties on our own. The answer is not to run away, but to walk humbly with our awesome God. He is strong enough to lift our burdens, wise enough to counsel us, patient enough to allow us to learn, and loving enough to constantly forgive.
We will be looking at the word “majesty” by request in today’s article. This series will look at words used in our English translations that aren’t used in modern communication or are otherwise unusual. Today, majesty usually shows up as an adjective for natural phenomena (a majestic sunrise/sunset, majestic scene, etc.).
As a disclaimer, Hebrew studies are not my forte. For those of you with a knowledge of Hebrew, I welcome corrections. All material concerning Hebrew usage comes from the Theological Lexicon of the Old Testament or Hebrew & Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament: Volume 5.
In the Old Testament, it is used to describe the beauty or awesomeness of nature. Leviticus 23.40 uses “splendid.” In Isaiah 53.2, and it means “physically attractive.” Being impressive or inspiring awe/wonder is how the word is used in reference to God, although descriptions of kings are also appropriate (Isaiah 35.2). Speaking of royalty, majesty is used to describe their power and accomplishments (see Daniel 4.30, 5.18 for examples). In the Old Testament, majesty can be understood as impressive, having honor, or as the effect left on an observer of a display of power or awesomeness.
In the New Testament, it means to have high respect or incredible qualities (see II Peter 1.16). In that passage, Peter says that he was a firsthand witness of the majesty of Jesus. This is incredible, considering Isaiah 53 says that His appearance wasn’t special or spectacular. The majesty Jesus had on earth was due to His nature, not His appearance. Majesty is also used in reference to having high respect because of an impressive performance or display of power (Luke 9.43). In that passage, Jesus healed a boy who had a particularly violent demon. After returning him to a normal state, witnesses were blown away at God’s majesty. It was obvious that the power necessary to correct the boy’s issues was preternatural. They observed an incredible event and understood its source to be God’s power. That power is an aspect of God’s majesty.
We are impressed with God’s majesty when we look at nature. The universe is vast and incredible! There are stars so massive they make the sun look puny. Even single-cell organisms on earth are incredibly complex. As advanced as medical science is today, we still do not understand many of the processes of the body. Count how many times some variant of the phrase, “We’re not sure how this works,” is used in clinical studies on multiple classes of medications or treatments. The complexity of our makeup is awe-inspiring! When we are impressed by nature’s power or beauty, we get a glimpse of God’s majesty.