and declare his praise in the coastlands.
The LORD goes out like a mighty man,
like a man of war he stirs up his zeal;
he cries out, he shouts aloud,
he shows himself mighty against his foes.
For a long time I have held my peace;
I have kept still and restrained myself;
now I will cry out like a woman in labor;
I will gasp and pant.
I will lay waste mountains and hills,
and dry up all their vegetation;
I will turn the rivers into islands,
and dry up the pools.
And I will lead the blind
in a way that they do not know,
in paths that they have not known
I will guide them.
I will turn the darkness before them into light,
the rough places into level ground.
These are the things I do,
and I do not forsake them.
They are turned back and utterly put to shame,
who trust in carved idols,
who say to metal images,
“You are our gods.”
(Isaiah 42:12-17 ESV)
For the child of God, a brilliant light has appeared. That light is the glory of Jesus Christ. Having been given eyes to see and ears to hear, he now basks in the light of his Lord. He has never experienced anything like this before. Earlier in chapter 42, Isaiah described Jehovah’s servant—Jesus—coming “… to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness” (42:7). And the Lord jealously guards His glory, as the prophet records: “I am the LORD; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols” (42:8).
God’s salvation is great and secure, however, the believer is still a work in progress and he can easily be distracted by “lesser lights.” There are momentary flickers all around the Christian that draw his attention away from the greater Light. These lights are the idols of his imagination and this world. At times the believer acts like the child at the shore who is caught up with the fascination of a cheap dollar store glow stick (the kind that leaks all over your hands) when all around him is a beauty that is indescribable. He is content to sit there fixated on the glow stick, ignoring everything else around him. He will have to go under his towel to get the effect of the green light and in the process, distance himself even further from the sun. In the end, the glow stick will die, and he’ll pop his head out from underneath the towel to realize the sun has gone down and his has missed out on true beauty.
There is a battle taking place in our hearts, as Paul Tripp puts it “a glory war.” The Lord will not share His glory with any other undeserving person or thing. This would be blasphemous and idolatrous. We have been called to get our heads out from under our towels and gaze at the brilliant glory of the Lord (see 2 Corinthians 3:18). In this fight, there is someone who must weekly come to the aid of every saint in this glory war and that person is the pastor. Tripp accurately describes the scenario and need as he writes:
“The stakes are high. You could argue that every worship service is little more than a glory war. The great question of the gathering is, "Will the hearts of this group of people be captured by the one true glory or by the shadow glories of the created world?" As a pastor I want to do everything I can do to be used of God to capture the hearts of those gathered by the rescuing glory of God's grace, by the insight-giving glory of God's wisdom, by the hope-giving glory of his love, by the empowering glory of his presence, by the rest-giving glory of his sovereignty, and by the saving glory of his Son. But I know this is a battle. I am speaking to people whose hearts are fickle and easily distracted. I am talking to people who are seduced by other glories. I am talking to people who live in the light of God's glory every day and yet are capable of being functionally blind to its splendor.
I am addressing the single lady who has set her heart on the affection of a certain young man she thinks will deliver to her the happiness for which she has been craving. Sitting before me is the teenager who can't think beyond the glories of Facebook, Twitter, and the Portal 2 video game. In the congregation is the middle-aged man whose heart is captured by the glory of somehow, some way recapturing his youth. The wife is wondering if she will ever experience the glory of the kind of marriage she dreamed about, the kind she knows others have. A man sits in the crowd knowing that he feeds his soul almost daily on the dark and distorted glories of pornography and has become a master at shifting spiritual gears. Some listening are more excited about a new outfit, new home, new car, new shotgun, newly sodded lawn, new restaurant, new vacation site, or that new promotion than they are about the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Some gathered on Sunday morning are distracted by grief, anger, discouragement, loneliness, envy, frustration, despair, or hopelessness, because the glories they have trusted for their meaning, purpose, and inner happiness have failed them once again. They have blown up in their faces or dripped like sand through their fingers. And even when they were wonderful to experience, they didn't in fact leave their hearts satisfied. The buzz was short and the satisfaction elusive. So they sit there empty, hurt, angry, and confused.
They come into worship in the middle of a war that they probably don't recognize. It is a war for the allegiance, the worship, of their hearts. In ways they probably don't understand, they have again and again asked creation to give them what only the Creator can provide. They have looked horizontally for what can only be found vertically. They have asked people, situations, locations, and experiences to be the one thing they will never be: their savior. They have looked to these things to give them life, security, identity, and hope. They have asked these things to heal their broken hearts. They have hoped that these things would make them better people. So a war rages, and wounded soldiers sit before you. It is a glory war: a battle for what glory will rule their hearts, and in so doing, control their choices, words, and behavior.”
(Quoted from http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tgc/2012/08/06/ambassadors-of-glory-for-a-beaten-down-church/ )