God’s declaration in Isaiah 48:11 that He will not give His glory to another is a profound statement about who God is. At the core, it affirms God’s uniqueness, sovereignty, and supremacy over all creation. Understanding the meaning and significance of this verse requires examining it in its biblical context as well as appreciating the theological truths it reveals about God’s identity and character.
The Context of Isaiah 48:11
The book of Isaiah contains prophecies given through the prophet Isaiah concerning the kingdom of Judah and God’s plans for His people. Isaiah 48 is addressed to the “stubborn-hearted” (v. 4) people of Judah who had turned away from following the Lord. Though they claimed to worship Yahweh, in reality they did not truly know Him or live according to His ways.
Isaiah 48 contains a contrast between the idols of the nations and the one true God of Israel. Verses 1-11 emphasize that only Yahweh can foretell the future, unlike the useless idols worshipped by other nations. Because He alone knows the future, only He deserves glory and praise (v. 11).
The statement in verse 11 comes at the conclusion of this comparison between idols and God. Having demonstrated His unique ability to predict events before they happen, God declares He will not share the glory due to Him with false man-made gods or idols. This verse underscores God’s sovereignty and supremacy.
The Meaning of Giving Glory to Another
“Glory” in this context refers primarily to praise, honor, and worship. To give God’s glory to another means to misdirect the praise, honor, and worship rightly due to God toward something or someone else in God’s place. This misplaced praise fails to acknowledge God’s supreme value and worth. Since God alone perfectly displays His divine attributes and has accomplished mighty works of redemption, He alone deserves all glory, honor, and praise.
Examples of Giving Glory to Another
There are several ways we can inaccurately give glory to another instead of God:
- Worshipping idols or created things instead of the Creator (Isaiah 42:8; Romans 1:25)
- Boasting in human wisdom, strength, wealth, or accomplishments instead of God (Jeremiah 9:23-24)
- Trusting in other people or spiritual beings for salvation instead of Christ (Isaiah 42:17)
- Seeking glory from others rather than seeking to glorify God (John 5:41-44)
- Taking credit for what God has accomplished in our lives (1 Corinthians 1:31)
In all these cases, glory is misdirected from the One who alone deserves all praise to undeserving recipients. God adamantly opposes sharing His glory with counterfeits.
Why God Will Not Share His Glory
There are several important reasons why God will not share the glory due to Him with another:
1. He alone is the one true God
As the only Creator and Sustainer of the universe, God alone deserves all glory (Isaiah 42:5). No created thing is worthy of the honor and praise due to God (Romans 1:25). He will not share His glory because there are no equals or rivals to Him worthy of the same praise.
2. He is supremely valuable and beautiful
God’s glory refers to the immense weight and worth of His divine attributes, character, and actions (Exodus 33:18-19). The glory due God corresponds to His supreme value. None can add or detract from His infinite glory and excellence (Psalm 16:2).
3. He accomplishes salvation
God alone brings redemption through His Son, Jesus (Isaiah 42:8). He deserves all praise for our deliverance. No idol or human effort can earn salvation (Ephesians 2:8-9).
4. He alone authenticates truth
All truth finds its source in God (John 14:6). False teaching and man’s wisdom cannot authentically transform lives. God shares His glory with no counterfeit messages (1 Corinthians 2:1-5).
5. He formed all creation for His purposes
The entire cosmos was fashioned by God to give Him glory and display His excellence (Psalm 19:1). To redirect what was created to honor God towards any other ends fails to fulfill creation’s highest purpose.
God Displays His Glory through Redemption in Christ
Though God declares He will not share His glory with another, He amazingly chooses to publicly showcase His glory through the redemptive work of Jesus Christ:
“Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.” (John 17:24)
God’s greatest self-revelation comes through the Incarnation. Jesus displays God’s glory in human form (John 1:14). At the cross, God’s glory shines most brightly in Christ reconciling sinners to Himself and defeating sin, Satan, and death (2 Corinthians 4:4-6).
While God alone deserves all glory, amazingly He chooses to glorify Himself by redeeming unworthy sinners like us through Christ (Ephesians 1:3-6). Our praise and worship does not add anything to God’s intrinsic glory, yet He ordains for His people to proclaim His glory displayed through the gospel of Christ (1 Peter 2:9). We can enjoy the astounding privilege of participating in reflecting God’s revealed glory as redeemed sinners, all for His praise and renown.
Key Theological Truths about God’s Glory
In declaring He will not share His glory with another, God highlights vital theological truths about His identity and worth:
- God is absolutely sovereign – His will and purposes reign supreme (Psalm 115:3). He exercises supreme authority over all creation as the one and only rightful Ruler.
- God is incomparably holy – His moral perfection and purity sets Him apart from all creation (Isaiah 6:3). There is none like Him.
- God alone is worthy of worship – He alone deserves all honor, praise, allegiance, and glory from mankind and creation (Revelation 4:11). To give glory to any substitute is idolatry.
- God does all things for the purpose of His glory – His own glory in the Person of Christ is the ultimate purpose of all of God’s works throughout history (1 Corinthians 10:31).
Recognizing that God shares His glory with no one should prompt us to join the heavenly hosts in proclaiming the glory, might, and excellence of God (Revelation 5:12-13). As redeemed sinners, we have the astounding privilege of participating in the outworking of God’s purposes to exalt His own glory in Christ.