God Who Humbles Himself

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It is astonishing that the all-knowing, all-powerful, eternal creator would be willing to humble Himself on our behalf. Why? – Because He loves us. The fact that someone so great would be willing to make Himself so small on our behalf makes His greatness even greater. That He did this for us while we were sinning and rebelling against Him makes His greatness awesome beyond comprehension.

When we speak of the omnipotent, transcendent aspects of God, we are in agreement with most Orthodox rabbis. However, the Scriptures also speak of a mysteriously self-humbling part of God.

Psalm 113:5-6

Exalted to dwell, Humble to see

Poetically in Hebrew:

Hamagbihi lashevet

Hamashpili liraot

The word humble here means “to the point of humiliation.” I believe Paul (Saul) had this verse in mind when he wrote:

Philippians 2:8-9

He humbled Himself… even unto death on the cross.

Therefore, God highly exalted Him.

The cross was not only humility; it was humiliation. YHVH–God allowed Himself to be humiliated by us puny creatures in order to save us from the wrath we deserve because of our treacherous ways. Then He offers to exalt us almost to divinity, simply to the praise of His own unfathomable grace (II Peter 1:4, Ephesians 2:7).

The book of Isaiah shows a similar paradox. On the one hand, we see an exalted, glorified king.

Isaiah 6:1, 3 – I saw the Lord, sitting on a throne, high and lifted up…

The whole earth is filled with His glory.

On the other hand, we see a suffering servant, humiliated, and rejected.

Isaiah 53:3 – …despised and forsaken of men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.

Can there be any connection between the glorified king of chapter 6 and the suffering servant of chapter 53? Yes. This exalted-humiliated aspect of God was also predicted by Isaiah:

Isaiah 57:15 – I dwell in the high and holy, with him who has a contrite and humble spirit.

The exalted king of Isaiah 6 and the humiliated servant of Isaiah 53 turn out to be one and the same in Isaiah 57.

To those who see only the lofty, transcendent aspect of God, it seems disrespectful and offensive to see Him as lowly and humiliated. But it is in His lowliness that He comes close to us. In His humility we find intimacy. A God who is only exalted and transcendent is not one with whom we can experience intimacy.

God was willing to be humbled, even humiliated, for the opportunity of sharing intimacy with us. This aspect can be found only in Yeshua – God humbling Himself in order to have relationship with us.

This article originally appeared on Revive Israel, April 1, 2021, and reposted with permission.