Sunday 24th November 2019
The Glory of God. We sing about. We speak about experiencing it. We do different things “All to the glory of God”.
We say we (pic of clouds) want it, that we want to bring it to His name.
But do we really understand it?
There are two words we need to know as we think about God’s glory: kavod and Shekinah. Kavod means the brightness, brilliance, magnificence, renown, importance, weight, heaviness, respect or majesty of God’s glory. Shekinah doesn’t appear in the bible, but it is a transliteration of a Hebrew word that denotes dwelling or settling of the presence of God. We’re going to look today at both, but you’re going to have to work out which one I’m talking about!
The glory of God is the key to everything. God made everything to reveal his glory. Inanimate creation is for God’s glory: Psalm 19:1-4 The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. 2 Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. 3 They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. 4 Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.
But it’s not just inanimate creation, or animal life that is for God’s glory – Isaiah 43:6-7 Return my sons from distant lands, my daughters from faraway places. I want them back, every last one who bears my name, every man, woman, and child whom I created for my glory, yes, personally formed and made each one.
And, just in case we didn’t get the point:
Colossians 1:16 Christ himself is the Creator who made everything in heaven and earth, the things we can see and the things we can’t; the spirit world with its kings and kingdoms, its rulers and authorities; all were made by Christ for his own use and glory.
In all of creation, it is only angels and humans that rebelled. Both paid a price for that rebellion: separation from God. It is only humans though who can receive grace: those angels that rebelled have been separated from God for eternity.
What does God ask of humans? That we give him his rightful place in our lives Romans 1:21 They knew God, but they did not give glory to God or thank him. Their thinking became useless. Their foolish minds were filled with darkness. In other words, people made gods out of snakes, birds and animals and figures that look like us. Romans 3:23-24 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.
In the beginning, humans enjoyed the presence of God, fellowshipping in innocence and purity with God. But when they chose to disobey God everything changed. They became afraid of God and hid from him. God put them out of paradise and they lost that intimate knowledge of his glory. But God had not given up on us completely.
In Exodus 33 we’re told that at certain times the presence or glory of God would be plainly seen in the tent of meeting. Moses would then go and talk directly with God on behalf of the people. On this occasion Moses has a conversation with God in which God tells him to move the people up towards the promised land, but he is not going to go with them because they have been consistently disobedient.
Moses argues that other nations would not recognise everything God had done for them if he wasn’t with them Exodus 33:16 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?’ God agrees and Moses ask to see God’s glory. God tells him that would be too much for him, but he can see a little of his glory. Moses goes up the mountain and talks with God, receives the ten commandments and is shown something of who God is and, Exodus 34:29 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.
Having been given the Law, the people were told to build a tabernacle, a tent, where God could be worshipped. Exodus 40:34-35 Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. 35 Moses could not enter the tent of meeting because the cloud had settled on it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.
Finally the Israelites settled in the land. And when they settled in the land God commanded them to build a temple, a permanent place for worship. Solomon is King of Israel when the temple is built and 2 Chronicles 5:13-14 They were praising the Lord by playing music and singing: “The Lord is good, and his love never ends.” Suddenly a cloud filled the temple as the priests were leaving the holy place. 14 The Lord’s glory was in that cloud, and the light from it was so bright that the priests could not stay inside to do their work.
I don’t know how long it was but four chapters later, in 2 Chronicles 9, the Queen of Sheba visits Solomon but she doesn’t recognise God’s glory. Instead she sees everything Solomon has done and it’s not long before the glory of God is lost and the glory of Solomon is the issue.
Then in Ezekiel chapters 8-10 there is a vision of the Temple, but it is not being used to worship God, it is used to worship the sun. So, Ezekiel 10:18 Then the glory of the Lord departed from over the threshold of the temple
All through the Old Testament, God calls people to realize His glory, calling them to give Him glory. His glory came in the garden, His glory came on the face of a man, His glory came in a tent, His glory came in a building – now it was time that He sent His glory again, and this time He sent it in the form of a man, His only Son, Jesus. John 1:14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
How did they see his glory? Jesus performed a miracle at a wedding in Cana John 2:11 What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.
All of that is in the past, so has God given up on revealing his glory other than in creation? Matthew 24:29-31 Right after those days of suffering, “The sun will become dark,
and the moon will no longer shine. The stars will fall, and the powers in the sky[d] will be shaken.” 30 Then a sign will appear in the sky. And there will be the Son of Man.[e] All nations on earth will weep when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 At the sound of a loud trumpet, he will send his angels to bring his chosen ones together from all over the earth.
This is unveiled glory. This is not partial glory, this is great glory. When that occasion occurs, when Christ comes in full and final glory, there will be no choices. The Bible says His glory will fill the whole earth and He will reign as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. So amazing is his glory that as we read earlier there will be no need for the sun, or any other light, because God’s glory gives light.
In the past God endeavoured to reveal His glory to humanity and we refused it. In the future, God will bring His glory and people will have no choice. That leaves only the present. What about the present? Where's the glory of God now? Is it on the face of a man? Is it in the garden somewhere? Is it in a building or a tent? Where is the glory of God? Where is it?
I think the best understanding of that comes from Colossians 1:27 To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
What he is saying is between God's revelations of glory in the past and God's revelation of glory in the future, God has not left the world without a revelation of His glory, but the only way the world is ever going to see His glory is when you and I live to show that glory. We are the temple the world sees. We are the tabernacle. We are the shining face. We are the presence of Christ in the world. The longer you gaze at Christ, the more intently you focus on Christ, the more you lose yourself in Him, the more you are transformed into His glory from one level to the next, and when you move through the world you are the Shekinah for this age, and so am I. For the church is called to represent His glory in the world. It’s an amazing thing to be able to imagine even a little of what heaven is going to be like, not that our thinking could ever do it justice, but we live in the here and now, and God’s word is for today as much as tomorrow. Let’s chase after Jesus and honour God in the way we live, today and every day.