Certain names have been associated with greatness. There was Alexander the Great or The Great Gatsby. Boxer Muhammad Ali was known as “the Greatest,” and hockey legend Wayne Gretzky was “the Great One.”
We typically reserve the word great to describe a unique accomplishment or status. To call someone “great” is to say there is only one—there has never been, nor will there ever be, another like him or her.
The Hebrew people who heard Moses speak the words of Deuteronomy 10:17 had heard often of Yahweh, the God of their forefather Abraham. But by that time, they had also lived for four hundred years in Egypt, where multiple gods were worshiped.
And now God was leading them to a land where they would be surrounded by other polytheistic peoples. What made Israel’s God unique from the rest? What, if anything, caused Him to stand out from all the others?
Moses argued that God deserved the Hebrews’ full devotion because He is “the great God.” The Hebrew word for great is gadol. It means distinguished, important, large, grand, magnificent. And why is God uniquely deserving of this title? Because, Moses said, He’s mighty. He’s powerful and awesome.
There’s nothing too hard for Him. Not only this, but unlike the petty gods of the surrounding cultures, the God of Israel is just—He is fair and gracious. That’s another reason He’s great: He doesn’t play favorites or accept bribes like a crooked earthly judge.
Deuteronomy 10:14–22 attests God’s greatness. God is great, Moses said, because He owns the universe. He’s great because He graciously “set his affection” on the Hebrew people. He’s great because He cares about the helpless. He’s great because He alone does “awesome wonders.” He’s great because He blesses undeserving people.
What other god does such things? Only Yahweh, Israel’s God, the one true God, is able to hold the title of “great.”
It is blasphemous and tragic to treat anything as being greater than God. Do people give their hearts to other gods? Of course. But there is no god like “the great God” of Israel.
After the Hebrew people identified their God as “great,” Moses urged the following response from them: “Fear the LORD your God and serve him. Hold fast to him” (Deuteronomy 10:20).
Because of God’s unique position, He is worthy of reverential fear and faithful service.
Many things vie for our devotion. Where does “God the Great” stand in your life?