We now continue our message series, “Kingdom Come” where we learn what God’s Kingdom is like and how we bring it here on the earth.
Once, on being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The coming of the kingdom of God is not something that can be observed, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is:
in your midst – NIV
within you – KJV
within you and among you and surrounding you – AMP
The intersection of where the Kingdom of Heaven meets earth is right here at the tip of our toes.
This morning, we’re going to learn about how God’s Kingdom is a kingdom of glory!
To being, we first need to understand what glory is. Although most of us understand what glory is, it becomes a bit challenging to express and explain in words. This is especially true when it comes to the glory of the Lord because I don’t believe that we’ll fully understand and grasp His glory ever. Whenever mankind were able to get a glimpse into the throne room of heaven like Isaiah, Ezekiel, and John, the glory of God left them in awe and feeling unworthy. In fact, the elders who are seen before the throne of God respond with praise to God declaring that He is worthy of all glory.
Glory. We know that Nacho Libre wanted a taste of the glory to see what it tastes like. We know that the New England Patriots got a real good taste of glory this past February. When someone is doing their very best, we say that they are in their glory. When reminiscing about the past, we call them the glory days. In fact, Bruce Springsteen sang about them. It’s been said, “No guts, no glory.” C.S. Lewis said, “A man can no more diminish God’s glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word, ‘darkness’ on the walls of his cell.”
When Isaiah saw the Lord on His throne, he heard seraphim cry out to one another, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” (Isaiah 6:3)
God said to Moses, “as surely as I live and as surely as the glory of the Lord fills the whole earth, not one of those who saw my glory and the signs I performed in Egypt and in the wilderness but who disobeyed me and tested me ten times – not one of them will ever see the land I promised on oath to their ancestors.” (Numbers 14:21-23)
What is glory? Merriam-Webster defines glory as public praise, honor, and fame.
There’s no doubt that God’s Kingdom is one of praise, honor, and fame! God’s Kingdom is so full of the glory of God that Heaven doesn’t need the sun or moon nor is there any shadow, for the glory of God gives it light. (Revelation 21:23)
The glory of God isn’t like the glory that exists here on earth. The glory that we can receive here from mankind is very short lived and fades very quickly. As soon as another band comes into the forefront, as soon as another player has a good season, as soon as another champion rises up from another nation, as soon as another news story comes into the forefront, that glory fades away and shines on another. In contrast, the glory of God never fades or waivers, it endures forever and can never be overshadowed by the glory of anyone or anything ever!
The glory of God is also more than simply an attribute or concept, it is a very tangible object. Although I won’t take much of our time going over this in detail, take these scriptures for example!
Glory filled tabernacle, Moses unable to enter:
Glory filled temple, priests unable to minister:
Ark brought into the temple (1 Kings 8, 2 Chronicles 5)
Temple dedicated (2 Chronicles 7)
Glory filled temple:
Glory came in a cloud:
When God promised manna in response to the complaints of Israel (Exodus 16)
Moses meeting with God at Mount Sinai (Exodus 19)
Giving of the law at Mount Sinai (Exodus 24)
As Moses and Joshua met with God (Exodus 33, Deuteronomy 31)
Guiding Israel (Number 9-12)
Following Korah’s opposition to Moses (Numbers 16)
At the transfiguration (Matthew 17, Mark 9, Luke 9)
When Jesus left the disciples (Acts 1)
When Jesus returns (Matthew 24, Matthew 26, Mark 13, Mark 14, Luke 21, Revelation 1)
The glory of God is awesome and we have the privilege to be filled with it and to tangibly reveal it to those around us! This morning, to better understand this, we’re going to take a look at a real life example of a man who experienced the glory of God and carried it with him. Then, we’ll learn how it is God’s will that we be just like him. That man is Moses.
8 And whenever Moses went out to the tent, all the people rose and stood at the entrances to their tents, watching Moses until he entered the tent. 9 As Moses went into the tent, the pillar of cloud would come down and stay at the entrance, while the Lord spoke with Moses. 10 Whenever the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the entrance to the tent, they all stood and worshiped, each at the entrance to their tent. 11 The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend. Then Moses would return to the camp, but his young aide Joshua son of Nun did not leave the tent.
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.”
1 The Lord said to Moses, “Chisel out two stone tablets like the first ones, and I will write on them the words that were on the first tablets, which you broke. 2 Be ready in the morning, and then come up on Mount Sinai. Present yourself to me there on top of the mountain. 3 No one is to come with you or be seen anywhere on the mountain; not even the flocks and herds may graze in front of the mountain.”
4 So Moses chiseled out two stone tablets like the first ones and went up Mount Sinai early in the morning, as the Lord had commanded him; and he carried the two stone tablets in his hands. 5 Then the Lord came down in the cloud and stood there with him and proclaimed his name, the Lord. 6 And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, 7 maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.”
Did you catch how God describes Himself? Not the difficult-to-please God of wrath, vengeance, and punishment, but rather as “the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin.” Yet, in all these things, still just.
8 Moses bowed to the ground at once and worshiped. 9 “Lord,” he said, “if I have found favor in your eyes, then let the Lord go with us. Although this is a stiff-necked people, forgive our wickedness and our sin, and take us as your inheritance.”
10 Then the Lord said: “I am making a covenant with you. Before all your people I will do wonders never before done in any nation in all the world. The people you live among will see how awesome is the work that I, the Lord, will do for you.
The next several verses then record some of the law and commands given to Moses by God.
27 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Write down these words, for in accordance with these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel.” 28 Moses was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights without eating bread or drinking water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant – the Ten Commandments.
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. 31 But Moses called to them; so Aaron and all the leaders of the community came back to him, and he spoke to them. 32 Afterward all the Israelites came near him, and he gave them all the commands the Lord had given him on Mount Sinai.
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.
Much is revealed about the glory of God here. There are two things, however, that I feel that the Lord wanted to teach us this morning. These two things are critical for us even as Moses acknowledged that they were critical for him to do what the Lord had called him to.
Moses required the presence of God to go with him and he demanded to see the glory of God.
We can do absolutely nothing on our own. We can’t even breath on our own for it is God who gives us breath. However, there are some things that this is especially true for. Both the righteous and unrighteous live and breath and see God’s naturally revealed glory. We all have the ability to look around and see the glory of God. God said that the whole earth is full of it. Paul wrote in Romans 1 that everything that we can know about God is revealed through His creation so that everyone is without excuse when they stand before Him.
However, God has planned something far more incredible for those who have chosen to put their faith in Him to become righteous. In fact, God has planned something far better for us than He had for Moses! We’ll get to that in a little bit.
First, Moses required the Presence of God.
presence – paniym (pä·nēm’) – literally means “face” – before, face, countenance, toward, etc.
To be in the presence of God does not simply mean to be near Him or around Him. To be in the presence of God means that you are face to face with Him; He has your full attention and you have His. To be in the presence of God is to be in a relationship with Him. Moses knew that it wasn’t enough just to be near or around God, he needed God’s presence to distinguish him from the rest of the world. He knew that he needed that face to face friendship relationship to have the wisdom to know the ways of God and to lead the people of God.
I can be in the near and around the presence of a person and not be influenced or changed by them. I can be near and around the person and learn a lot about them. I can observe a person nearby and know what they do. However, I do not really know that person. I don’t know their heart and why they do what they do. I don’t have a relationship with them; they wouldn’t acknowledge knowing me. They wouldn’t help me or guide me or protect me by simply being near and around the presence of a person.
For example, at a comics convention last fall, Henry Winkler ran into me head on while I was walking out of the restroom and he was walking into the restroom. I was very near him and in his presence. I was closer to him than most people ever will be, but there is obviously no relationship and no influence in our lives from each other. If I were to call him, he would have no idea who I am.
I believe this to be one of the greatest hindrances in our prayer lives. God hears our demands and requests, but doesn’t really know us. When Moses prayed, God answered immediately because they had that close relationship. Moses knew God intimately and God knew Moses intimately.
We need to be like Moses. It isn’t enough to drive here or there to revivals and conferences where God’s presence might be. We shouldn’t be content or satisfied by being near and around the presence of God. We should require that face to face friendship with God where we know each other well and have influence with each other. It requires time, work, and sacrifice to have such a relationship, but it is worth it! We need to require the presence of God for our lives.
Moses required the presence of God and then he demanded to see His glory. God wasn’t offended by the boldness and audacity of Moses. God was moved by it to the degree that He granted the request and demands made by Moses. God showed Moses His glory and allowed him to live to tell about it. In fact, we find that these two went hand-in-hand from that moment on. When Moses would meet with God, the glory of God would literally radiate from Moses. The Israelites were so troubled by it that Moses had to wear a veil when he was around them.
As we spend time in the presence of God, His glory is sure to be reflected in our lives. Ask God to show you His glory. In this regard, I beg of you not to be like Moses! Don’t hide God’s glory or be ashamed of it, let your light shine before men that they may give praise to God. (Matthew 5:16)
The law and command given to Moses was essentially a death sentence to us all. By detailing the standards of God for living, it proved that none of us will ever measure up.
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God
It’s all about the glory of God. The letter of the law given to Moses may have brought death, but the Holy Spirit comes and gives life! God planned something better for us than what Moses, himself, was able to experience! Think about this. If the glory that accompanied the giving of the law was so awesome, imagine what the glory that accompanies the presence of the Holy Spirit within us is!
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.
The glory given to Moses faded away. As soon as he left the presence of God, it began to fade. The glory given to us, however, is an ever-increasing glory! We don’t veil our faces, we are very bold because of the hope that Jesus has given us! We have been given a greater glory that lasts forever and ever!
Moses gave the law that brought bondage, we bring salvation that brings freedom! Moses had a ministry of death, we have a ministry of life! Moses entered the tent of the meeting to be in God’s presence, the Holy Spirit entered us so that we carry His presence! The glory cloud filled the temple so that sinful man could not enter, we are filled with the Holy Spirit so that we might not sin! God has planned for us greater things! Greater things has He planned for us!
As you go, require the presence of God. Take time to be with God, listen to Him, learn His ways, sense His heart, be transformed by Him! Demand God to show you His glory. Let it shine so that the fame of God might be declared all through the earth. Cry out like Habakkuk did!
Lord, I have heard of your fame;
I stand in awe of your deeds, Lord.
Repeat them in our day,
in our time make them known;
in wrath remember mercy.