Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Glorious God

by Dan Jones

It often seems our culture pictures God as some kindly old guy with a long flowing beard seated on a cloud.  Sure, He’s wise and powerful, but we often seem to think of him as some kind of ambivalent wizard who can be persuaded to approve of whatever we decide is good at the time because, well, he is God and he understands, right?

We talk of God’s glory, but I’m not so sure we truly understand what that glory actually looks like.

“All for God’s glory,” we say. Or (especially at Christmas) “Glory to God in the highest.” records 285 uses of the word “glory” in the Bible and many times the Bible describes the actual physical manifestations of His glory—and they are not subtle.

Exodus 24 describes Moses going to the top of Mount Sinai to hear the LORD. It says, “To the Israelites the glory of the Lord looked like a consuming fire on top of the mountain. (Verse 17, NIV)

At one point on the mountaintop, Moses asks to see God’s glory. (Charles Spurgeon said this was the greatest petition any man has ever asked of God.) 

And he said, “I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name ‘The Lord.’ And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live.” And the Lord said, “Behold, there is a place by me where you shall stand on the rock, and while my glory passes by I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will take away my hand, and you shall see my back, but my face shall not be seen.” (Exodus 33: 18-23 ESV)

The glory of God was so intense, Moses’ face glowed afterwards so brightly that people were afraid to come near him.  He had to wear a veil over his face as a result. (Exodus 34: 29-35)

The prophet Ezekiel was also in the presence of God’s glory when he was being shown the temple:

And behold, the glory of the God of Israel was coming from the east. And the sound of his coming was like the sound of many waters, and the earth shone with his glory. (Ezekiel 43:2 ESV)

Ezekiel could do nothing but fall on his face at the sight of such glory.

Several times, the glory of the LORD fills a place and prevents people from entering it.

…and the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled the temple of God. (2 Chronicles 5:14)

In Psalm 29, God’s glory can again be heard:

The voice of the Lord is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the Lord thunders over the mighty waters. (verse 3 NIV)

His glory is lofty and high above all else:

From the rising of the sun to its setting, The name of the LORD is to be praised. The LORD is high above all nations; His glory is above the heavens. (Psalm 113: 3-4 ESV)

One of my favorite descriptions of God’s glory is in Psalm 97, verses 2-6. (ESV)

Clouds and thick darkness are all around him;
righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne.
Fire goes before him
and burns up his adversaries all around.
His lightnings light up the world;
the earth sees and trembles.
The mountains melt like wax before the Lord,
before the Lord of all the earth.
The heavens proclaim his righteousness,
and all the peoples see his glory.

And here’s a description from Psalm 104:

May the glory of the Lord endure forever;
may the Lord rejoice in his works,
who looks on the earth and it trembles,
who touches the mountains and they smoke!
(verses 31-32, ESV)

These are not descriptions of a God who is merely powerful, they are descriptions of a God who is omnipotent—ALL powerful!

He is not merely wise, He is omniscient—ALL knowing!

He is not a “big” God, He is an INFINTE GOD!

He is not just good, He is HOLY!

He is not merely worthy of praise, He is worthy of ALL praise!  

And that omnipotence, that omniscience, that infinite holiness and love culminated in one earth-shattering minute here on this earth:

And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. (Matthew 27: 50-52 NIV)

But, while that one moment seemed like all the darkness and hate and pain and sin had blotted out God’s glory, His glory had in fact triumphed over all the evil the world would ever offer up.  

For the Jesus who was so mercilessly crucified would rise on the third day in the most glorious event described in all the Bible--His eternal triumph over evil and death itself!

On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! (Luke 24: 1-6a NIV)

Today’s Praise

And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. Revelation 21:23 ESV

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