The glory of God.
The Bible speaks of God’s glory quite often. In fact, when Isaiah is taken into the throne room of God, he records that there were seraphim flying above him and crying out to one another:
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty;
the whole earth is full of his glory.”
The whole earth is full of God’s glory. There isn’t a single moment of our lives where we have lived in the complete absence of God’s glory. We’re also called to glorify God with our lives. But what is glory?
Glory is a bit of an abstract term. We know what it is, but it’s really hard to define. It’s kind of like beauty. We recognize beauty when we see it, but it’s really challenging to put into words what is and what isn’t beautiful.
Glory carries the idea of something that is exalted and worthy of praise. There was a popular movie back in the day about a humble Catholic friar named Ignacio who is often overlooked and oppressed in his service to the Lord. He had dreams of becoming a luchador; a professional wrestler in the Lucha Libre. He just wanted a little taste of the glory, to see what it tasted like. 🙂
* Nacho Libre Clip *
There is a glory that we receive and experience when we defeat all of our obstacles and rise up in victory. It tastes pretty good, too. However, there is no earthly glory that can even begin to compare to the glory of God!
The glory of God is so magnificent and so far beyond earthly glory that it is tangible. It can be experienced with our senses. Encounters come to mind like this one when the angels came and announced the birth of Jesus to the shepherds:
An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.
The shepherds could see and feel the glory of the Lord. In Ezekiel 10 and 43, he was taken by the Spirit into the temple of the Lord and he said that saw the glory of God coming from the east and it travelled through the east gate into the temple and then filled the whole temple. He also saw the glory of God above cherubim rise and then move to the threshold of the temple and then filled the temple with radiance.
Isaiah prophesied about John the Baptist coming to prepare the way for Jesus and said about Jesus that:
…the glory of the Lord will be revealed,
and all people will see it together.
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”
When the first earthly temple was finished and being dedicated, this is recorded:
2 Chronicles 7:1-3
1 When Solomon finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the Lord filled the temple. 2 The priests could not enter the temple of the Lord because the glory of the Lord filled it. 3 When all the Israelites saw the fire coming down and the glory of the Lord above the temple, they knelt on the pavement with their faces to the ground, and they worshiped and gave thanks to the Lord, saying,
“He is good;
his love endures forever.”
This isn’t the first time that this happened, either. Earlier, when the arc of the covenant, the very Presence of God, was carried into the temple:
2 Chronicles 5:13-14
13 The trumpeters and musicians joined in unison to give praise and thanks to the Lord. Accompanied by trumpets, cymbals and other instruments, the singers raised their voices in praise to the Lord and sang:
“He is good;
his love endures forever.”
Then the temple of the Lord was filled with the cloud, 14 and the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled the temple of God.
The many various manifestations of God’s Presence and glory is not just some new Pentecostal experience. The glory of God came in the form of a cloud many times in the scriptures. On Mt. Sinai, as a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night that lead the Israelites from slavery to God’s promises, and even at the transfiguration when Peter, James, and John got to meet Elijah and Moses as they were talking with Jesus. They were all surrounded by a cloud of God’s glory!
When the weighty Presence of God in the spiritual meets the natural, something’s going to happen. In our western culture, we quickly label someone crying in worship as someone who is having an encounter with God and it is quite acceptable.
However, when people are falling down or shouting or laughing or dancing or jumping or whatever other physical thing we might do in response to God’s glory that might make us uncomfortable, we’re not so quick to label it as a move of God.
Most of these very same expressions are socially acceptable when someone won the big game, but we’re not comfortable with it in church. Why? Doesn’t God deserve a far greater expression of praise and glory when His victorious Presence is here? Why can we drop to our knees with our hands lifted high after making the winning shot, but not to the God of all Creation?
I’ve been at some championship games where we won by a few points within the last few seconds of the game. Believe me, there was a glory that filled that place! Shouting, clapping, song, jumping, dancing, everyone was caught up in that moment! Even that kind of glory wasn’t something as clearly tangible as God’s glory is at times.
Encountering God’s glory isn’t based on our circumstances or experiences, either. We can experience the glory of God that lifts us up no matter where we are at or what we are going through. Moses was having a pretty rough time dealing with a whole lot of injustices and tremendously impossible need and some impossibly difficult and challenging people. Do you know what he demanded in response to all of these things? To see the glory of God!
12 Moses said to the Lord, “You have been telling me, ‘Lead these people,’ but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. You have said, ‘I know you by name and you have found favor with me.’ 13 If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you. Remember that this nation is your people.”
14 The Lord replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”
15 Then Moses said to him, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. 16 How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?”
17 And the Lord said to Moses, “I will do the very thing you have asked, because I am pleased with you and I know you by name.”
18 Then Moses said, “Now show me your glory.”
19 And the Lord said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the Lord, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. 20 But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.”
21 Then the Lord said, “There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock. 22 When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. 23 Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen.”
29 When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the covenant law in his hands, he was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken with the Lord. 30 When Aaron and all the Israelites saw Moses, his face was radiant, and they were afraid to come near him. ….
33 When Moses finished speaking to them, he put a veil over his face. 34 But whenever he entered the Lord’s presence to speak with him, he removed the veil until he came out. And when he came out and told the Israelites what he had been commanded, 35 they saw that his face was radiant. Then Moses would put the veil back over his face until he went in to speak with the Lord.
Here’s the really cool part about all of this! Here is where it gets personal because this is the incredible opportunity before you and I this morning!
2 Corinthians 3:4-18
4 Such confidence we have through Christ before God. 5 Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. 6 He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
7 Now if the ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letters on stone, came with glory, so that the Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of its glory, transitory though it was, 8 will not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious? 9 If the ministry that brought condemnation was glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness! 10 For what was glorious has no glory now in comparison with the surpassing glory. 11 And if what was transitory came with glory, how much greater is the glory of that which lasts!
12 Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold. 13 We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to prevent the Israelites from seeing the end of what was passing away. 14 But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away. 15 Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. 16 But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we all, who with unveiled faces reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
As the King James Version states it, we’re being changed from glory to glory!
We have hope, therefore we are very bold. What are we? VERY BOLD!
We have to stop trying to be like everyone else and by doing so veiling the glory of God! Don’t veil the glory of God, tear that veil off and let the glory shine bright for all to see!
When we join together to worship and seek after God, we should boldly demand of God to encounter the glory of God in such a way that leaves us marked radiantly by it! We want the glory cloud to move on in; even if that means that we all fall on our faces and can’t do anything else in the service.
There’s one other really awesome thing that I just had to cover today because I’ve been dying to share it!!! When God is showing Ezekiel around a future temple, he was told this about the priests:
17 When they enter the gates of the inner court they must wear linen garments; they must not have on them anything made of wool when they minister at the gates of the inner court and within it. 18 They must wear linen turbans on their heads and linen undergarments around their waists. They are not to put on anything that makes them sweat. 19 Before they go out to the outer court, to the people, they must take off the clothes they have been ministering in, leave them in the holy chambers, and dress in other clothes so that they do not transmit holiness to the people through their clothes.
All through the Old Testament there are very harsh, direct, stark warnings about the need for purification and cleansing and consecrations so that the unholy does not come in contact with what is holy as to not desecrate it. The future temple, the future of God’s priests, is so radical and bold that when what is holy comes in contact with the unholy, the unholy thing becomes consecrated! That is the power of the Holy Spirit, God’s Presence, God’s glory within us!
What immediately comes to mind for me is the aprons and handkerchiefs of Paul that released healing and delivered people from evil spirits.
You don’t just get to radiate God’s glory, you get to go around transmitting God’s holiness. You get to infect people with all of the variants of God’s goodness! It’s not because we are anything, but because God has done everything for us!