The glory of God is a fascinating subject of study in the Word of God. At times, it’s been presented as a mystical, beyond-our-ability-to-grasp topic. But it is not! The glory of God appears in many ways. And it’s what Christians need to know and claim in order to live at the highest level. But, what is the glory of God? There is an interesting verse in Revelation 21 that helps us understand this. Revelation 21:22-24 says:
“I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine upon it, for the glory of God is its light, and its lamp is the Lamb. By its light shall the nations walk; and the kings of the earth shall bring their glory into it.”
I want you to notice that last phrase “the kings of the earth shall bring their glory into it,” because this brings understanding to the word glory. When kings present their glory for others to acknowledge they take things that are treasured and rare; things that are exquisite and even priceless, which testify to their value or the weight of their worth.
It is not coincidental that the Biblical word glory is translated from the Hebrew word kabod, which also connotes “weightiness; heaviness; or heft.” That means, in whichever way God chooses to manifest his glory, it is revealed through the weight of its worth. It supplies testimony to his incomparable character; to the superabundance of his grace and goodness toward mankind; and the splendor he displays in Creation.
(Transition) But let’s be more specific. How can we zero in on some identifiable aspects of his glory?
In Exodus 33 and 34, Moses stood before God and daringly requested to see his glory—something that would identify God’s greatness. And he was undaunted by Moses’ petition! He was delighted to answer it and even culled out a place for Moses to witness it. It’s often called the “cleft of a rock.” The story is recorded in Exodus 34:6—7. (ESV)
The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, (7) keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.
God could have answered Moses in numerous ways:
He could have said, “Moses do you see the stars? Each twinkle reflects a faint witness to my infinite creative power.” But that wasn’t God’s response.
Or, the Lord could have pointed out the beauty of a sunset painted with a hundred colors. But the Lord didn’t say that.
He could have taken Moses upon the wings of angels and soared with him through the galaxies, showing him the planets and world’s beyond reach of our telescopes. But he didn’t do that either.
There are many ways God could have described the weight of his worth but did you notice how God revealed it to Moses? He chose to define his glory through a self-revelation. A revelation comprised of eight statements regarding his character and nature. Let’s investigate these acclamations:
1. First, notice that God declared his name to Moses. And in order to emphasize its unparalleled glory he uttered it twice. He declared himself to be “The LORD, the LORD.” In so doing his proclamation affirmed that he was the One, True, Supreme Being who had no equal! Praise God that there is no God but Jehovah!
2. Second, God then testified to his mercy. What is mercy? Mercy is an deliberate act of God. It is not feeling sorry for another and it is not having mere sympathy for someone. Mercy is a purposed, intentional, deliberate act. So, in what ways does God’s intentional mercy manifest? It manifests when he extends protection, provision, guidance, and presence toward his creatures. Consider four passages that identify God’s mercy:
The first is found in Lamentations 3:23—24. “Because of the LORD’s great love [same Hebrew word as mercy] we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. (23) They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” The wondrous meaning of this passage tells us that God’s mercy cannot be exhausted! He is infinite in this virtue!
Ephesians 2:4 says “God . . . is rich in mercy.”
David said 1 Chronicles 21:13 that the Lord’s “mercy is very great.”
Micah 7:8 says God “delight[s] to show mercy.”
3. The third aspect of God’s self-declaration to Moses regards the glory of his grace. He lets us know in verse 6 that he is a wondrously gracious God. And grace is something none can live without! What it grace? It is God’s free, undeserved gift of goodness. As sinners, we do nothing to deserve grace he simply bestows it from the depths of who he is.
4. Next, God said he is “slow to anger.” In other words, He is ever-patient with us. I am so glad God doesn’t zap us every time we stumble or commit a grievous sin. God is wondrously longsuffering
5. Fifth, the Lord then made a pronouncement of his “steadfast love” to Moses. God is not fickle. He is steadfast! God has perfect, unwavering, unquenchable love toward mankind. And he has made of Covenant of Love toward his chosen people that promises never to withdraw it!
6. Next, coupled with super-abounding love, God also told Moses that he was “steadfast in faithfulness.” He is absolutely reliable, trustworthy, just, and you can depend on his unwavering care.
7. Seventh, God told Moses that he “forgives iniquity and transgression and sin.” The word forgive describes how God totally removes the guilt, stain, and memory of our sin.” Isn’t it wonderful that our Lord wants to be known for this quality? He intervened through his only begotten Son to cleanse and renew us.
8. But lastly, God cautioned Moses that his glory also deals with the judgment of sin. He said in verse 8 that he “will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.” The Creator of the universe is filled with love, compassion, mercy, and grace but he is also the Just Judge of all the Earth. And his holiness demands the judgment of sin! And this is why he sent Jesus into the world—to bear the judgment of sin.
These eight self-proclamations only begin to describe God’s glory. And we will continue learning of God’s glory even after a million years in Heaven.
(Transition) I want you to notice how Moses responded to God’s self-revelation of his glory.
1. First, it evoked worship. Exodus 34:8 says that “Moses bowed to the ground at once and worshiped.” This is what God wants from us. When we observe an aspect of God’s glory we should acknowledge it and praise God for it.
Has God been merciful to you? Worship him!
Has God saved you? Worship him!
Has God healed you or delivered you or answered a prayer? Worship him!
2. Second, it also prompted a public testimony to God’s glory. When God revealed himself to Moses in this powerful way, Moses had an obligation to share this incredible testimony with others. And people are still reading his report today that he inscribed in Scripture.
You and I have the same obligation. As we behold his glory, we are commissioned to reveal it to others. As Christians, our duty is to testify to the wonders of God’s grace, goodness, character, and power. Our God is good, merciful, just, truthful, gracious, and compassionate. This is what others must hear!
Isaiah 66:19 shows that the duty of Believers is to “proclaim my glory among the nations.” That sounds similar to the Great Commission in the New Testament, which tells Christians to “proclaim the Gospel to all Creation.”
(Transition) Did you know there are ways that the church itself can obstruct the glory of God? Let me explain it like this:
(Example) A lunar eclipse takes place when the earth is positioned directly between the sun and moon. The earth blocks the light of the sun and casts its shadow on the moon, making the moon impossible to see with the naked eye. Thus, the moon is hidden because earth obstructs the view. So, what does this lunar analogy teach us? It shows that God, like the sun in the sky, never ceases to shine in radiant glory and beauty. But there are times when even the church (“religiosity”) can obstruct the radiance of Christ from being witnessed. It can be done in so many ways:
It can occur when Christians or the church denies the Virgin Birth of Christ.
It occurs when Christians reject Christ’s assertion that He is “the way, the truth, and the life” and suggest that there are many ways to get to Heaven.
It happens when the church denies that the Scriptures are wholly and divinely inspired.
It can happen when Christians suggest there are inspired books apart from the Bible that God inspired. Folks, this is the only book that is wholly inspired by the Spirit and breath of God.
When the Christians or the church impugn anything recorded in the Bible it diminishes God’s glory! The Holy Spirit placed every sentence in Scripture for a reason. And I urge you to never obstruct the radiance and testimony that God makes through his Word. Remember, the Bible wasn’t written to make us feel good it was written to make us live right! Most importantly, it was written for God’s glory.
(Transition) I have mentioned how witnessing God’s glory should evoke our worship and public testimony of it, but there is something else God wants to come from his glory:
3. God wants to manifest his glory upon us and through us!
Look down some verses in Exodus 34 and I want you to see what happened to Moses as he had this dramatic experience with God in the cleft of the rock. Exodus 34:29 says:
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.
In other words, Moses was radiant with God’s glory!
For many years, I have heard people teach that ‘God will not share his glory with anyone.’ But this is not what the Bible expresses. I trust I understand what is meant by that statement. It means God is displeased when someone wrongly treats God’s glory or claims it as being inherently theirs. Knowing there has been misunderstanding concerning this let’s consult the Bible about it.
The verse that is most used about this issue is found in Isaiah 48:11. And it indeed shows God exclaiming: “I will not yield [share] my glory to another.” However, there is a rule of hermeneutics—Biblical interpretation—that scholars insist must never be violated. And it’s the regulation of context. All Scripture must be read in proper context, context, context or it can lose its proper meaning. And this most certainly applies to the Lord saying in Isaiah 48, “I will not yield [share] my glory to another.”
In the preceding chapters of Isaiah God is speaking to the nations of the world. He speaks to Babylon, Elam, and the Chaldeans. But then when chapter 48 opens, God turns his attention to Israel and begins discoursing with his chosen people. I want you to listen to this passage in its context:
“See, I have refined you [Israel], though not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction. (11) For my own sake, for my own sake, I do this. How can I let myself be defamed? I will not yield my glory to another.”
When you read this passage in the proper context you see that God has chosen to anoint Israel with his glory and no other nation can ever claim that special, divinely chosen, anointed status that Israel possesses! They are the singular nation that God chose to exalt and glorify above all other nations! Through Abraham, they became his holy people. He exalted them to provide humanity with the Holy Scriptures. Through Abraham, the tribe of Judah, and through King David God birthed the world’s one and only Messiah. That is glorious! And no other nation can claim that status.
But beyond this passage in Isaiah there are numerous passages that must be ignored if God’s intention is to withhold his glory from his children.
• I want to continue by pointing out an absolutely phenomenal passage in 2 Corinthians 3:7—11 that contrasts the glory resting upon Moses with the glory that rests upon Christians:
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!
• And Paul didn’t stop there with the need for Christians bearing the glory of God. In 2 Corinthians 3:18 says we go from “glory to glory.” In other words, God’s glory rests upon Christians when they accept Christ and then will increase when we are glorified with Christ’s likeness in Heaven.
• But then there is the remarkable passage of Romans 8:28—29 which describes the progression of our Faith in Christ Jesus:
“For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. (30) And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.”
• There is an interesting passage in Romans 2:7—11 that tells Christians to seek the God’s glory:
To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. (8) But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. (9) There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile; (10) but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. (11) For God does not show favoritism.
Yes, God reveals his glory! And one day, each Christian will be “glorified” and made into the likeness of Christ for all eternity! Meanwhile, I want God’s glory manifesting through my life today! I have reached the point that I cannot be totally content without the glory and presence of God! I must have it. I don’t want to live an ordinary life. I don’t want to attend a church that is ordinary. I want to attend a church filled with the kabod of God—his glory!
Do you know what this means? To attract the glory of God means we must do things differently than ordinary Christianity. No more imitating ordinary Christians. No more imitating other ordinary churches. You, I, must pull apart and dare to live in the glory of God.
The Lord Jesus commissioned Christians to take the “Gospel into all the world” and provide a clear testimony of God’s grace. Thus, we have a choice. We can attempt to reach the world through natural means, or we can seek to present Christ to the world through the presence, power, and glory of the Holy Spirit. I prefer the latter! When there is a manifestation of God’s divine presence it will always produce a testimony for Christ beyond anything we could fabricate.
I will continue this study next week as I teach on God’s glory manifested through you.
This is Part Two of my miniseries on The Glory of God. And to refresh your memory I’ll repeat the Bible’s definition of the word glory: The Hebrew word for glory is kabod, which means “weight; heft; heaviness; worth.” There is substance, weight, and worth when the glory of God appears. And before this message concludes I want you to see that God wants you to participate with his glory. But let’s first read our text found in Exodus 33:12—16.
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.”
Did you notice the preeminent importance of God’s Presence to Moses? He said in verse 15, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here.” In other words, Moses was saying, “[Lord,] Without your Presence in our midst, allow us to disperse from the edge of this desert and settle in the surrounding lands. Let the people return to Egypt if they so desire. Permit your people to forget this whole mission of returning to the land of Abraham unless you abide with us in demonstrable ways.”
What a prayer! Moses didn’t want to proceed an inch without God’s Presence! He knew this was mandatory if the Israelites’ journey was to conclude successfully.
I wonder if you and I can agree with Moses? Could we really say: “Lord, I don’t want to proceed on life’s journey toward Heaven without your demonstrable Presence. Just go ahead and call me home.” I’ll be honest with you. If it weren’t for my loved ones, I would want to depart the coasts this instant, and let the feet of them at the door scrape up my corpse and haul me to the morgue. That’s how important God’s Presence is to me! For the Christian, life to the fullest can only be experienced as the Spirit of God manifests through us in power.
You might think: is the glory and Presence of God really that important? Oh yes, it most certainly is! The Presence of God is something neither Believers nor the church should live without. It is essential to our wellbeing.
Perhaps you’re thinking: Well, I have seen plenty of successful Christians and churches that exist without the manifested presence of God. And I will agree with you. There are many successful Christians and churches that have no pronounced degree of God’s Presence upon them. Such churches have attracted large crowds; have built state-of-the-art sanctuaries; and they possess vast resources. And according to the standard of many, they are highly successful churches. But the approval of others is not the standard to which we should aspire. Our foremost desire should be for God to appraise us as successful! And this starts with whether God’s pronounced Presence dwells in our midst.
(Transition) Let’s continue our investigation of Moses’ discourse with God in Exodus 33 and identify something else he considered important:
And the next word that stands out is found in verse 16, where Moses says to the Lord:
“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?”
The word is distinction. God wants to place a marked distinction upon his people and the people of the world.
(Definition) According to Webster’s Dictionary, the word distinction is “The act of perceiving someone or something as being not the same and often treating as separate or different: the quality or state of being excellent or superior.”
There is only one way that Believers can be distinguished from the world. That is by God getting involved with his people. It is God’s activity that works in and among us that produces incredible miracles! To be distinguished means you are set apart from the ordinary. It means you have been endowed with qualities that others do not possess.
I have a question for you: As a Christian, what distinguishes you from others? In some way, is your life marked with unusually blessed characteristics? Don’t think what I am asking is beyond your ability to obtain! I am challenging you to never underestimate what God can do through you! That’s because, throughout Christianity, ordinary people have been anointed by the Spirit of God to live extraordinary lives! And you too can claim a life that is inundated with the glory of God!
Here is what Paul said about you in Ephesians 3:20. “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.” When Paul wrote these words he sent them to Believers like you and me! God wants you “to do immeasurably more than you can ask or imagine.” Simply tell the Lord you want to participate with him and he will include you.
And the same goes for this church! We must pursue the glory of God and operate outside the ordinary and function under the unction! I am talking about the unction of the Holy Spirit. How many believe you and this church can function under the unction?
Remember something about the Christian life: Believers are heading toward the capitol city of the universe—Heaven—where everything radiates with the glory of God—the gates; the streets; the plants; the animals; and most importantly the saints of God! Everything there literally pulsates with God’s glory! Here is how Paul stated in Romans 8:18:
“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”
Full and complete glory awaits us! Praise God. No more headaches, body aches, backaches, or anything less than total fulfillment in our body, soul, mind, heart, or being! Everything about us will radiate with peace, joy, love, and total contentment. This is the personal glory God has prepared for us.
The coming glory of Heaven should give Christians a hint of what they should seek today. Paul’s heavenly promise should inspire us to seek for and partake of God’s glory now! God wants to display the glory of his goodness through everyone here. He wants the kabod of his presence to reside upon his beloved. That is because the glory of God distinguishes Believers from unbelievers unlike anything else in the world.
(Transition) In what ways is God’s glory able to manifest itself through us? One way is through the fulfillment of specific promises he gives us. Let me explain.
How many under the sound of my voice has God spoken to and given specific promises?
Maybe he’s promised to save a wayward loved one.
Perhaps he’s assured you he would mend a broken relationship.
For some, he’s promised to transform a financial situation or resituate you into another job.
(Congregational Participation) I want momentarily pause from my teaching and ask everyone to participate with me. I want you to contemplate an outstanding promise God has given you. He may have promised it ten years ago, ten months ago, ten days ago, or ten minutes ago. (Wait)
(Insight) I want to show you what happens when God fulfills a promise to you. The fulfillment of God’s promise presents his glory. It doesn’t matter what God has promised. His word is on the line when he speaks to you. And his word is holy, and just, and righteous. That means when the promise of his word appears, it is always accompanied with his glory! Isn’t that wonderful! The fulfillment of God’s promises brings a manifestation of his glory! But there is yet a deeper insight I want to mention.
When God fulfills a promise and manifests his glory, it means he personally steps into your situation and interrupts the normal course of events.
It might mean he uttered his irresistible Word from Heaven to accomplish something that nothing on Earth could accomplish.
Or, it could mean that he dispatched a troop of angels in your behalf and commissioned them to bind the plans of evil people and create something beyond your imagination.
Always remember: God wants to reveal his glory to you. He delights in it! The Lord of Glory wants you to participate in his plans and witness his glory.
I want to illustrate this from the Bible. Turn to Luke 2:25.
Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. (26) [Now here’s the promise] It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. (27) Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, 28 Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying: (29) “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace. (30) For my eyes have seen your salvation, (31) which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: (32) a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.
When the promise was fulfilled God’s glory was revealed!
I have a question for you: How do you want to operate in life? Do you want to expend your energy and resources to achieve your vision? Or, do you want to call for the manifestation of God’s glory to operate in your behalf? Remember this: God will let you operate either way! He will let you choose. But there are vast differences in the outcome to our choices when we operate in the power of self or operate in the power of the Spirit.
Again, I’ll illustrate this from the Bible. The example is found in Exodus 16, where Moses shows the Israelites calling for quail one month after departing Egypt and walking through the Red Sea. (This story is also told in Numbers 11.) I’ll begin reading in Exodus 16:6.
So Moses and Aaron said to all the Israelites, “In the evening you will know that it was the Lord who brought you out of Egypt, (7) and in the morning you will see the glory of the Lord, because he has heard your grumbling against him. Who are we, that you should grumble against us?” (8) Moses also said, “You will know that it was the Lord when he gives you meat to eat in the evening and all the bread you want in the morning, because he has heard your grumbling against him. Who are we? You are not grumbling against us, but against the Lord.” (9) Then Moses told Aaron, “Say to the entire Israelite community, ‘Come before the Lord, for he has heard your grumbling.’”(10) While Aaron was speaking to the whole Israelite community, they looked toward the desert, and there was the glory of the Lord appearing in the cloud. (11) The Lord said to Moses, (12) “I have heard the grumbling of the Israelites. Tell them, ‘At twilight you will eat meat, and in the morning you will be filled with bread. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God.’” [When God fulfills his Word it provides evidence that Jehovah is the Supreme and only God!] (13) That evening quail came and covered the camp, and in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp.
When you compare that last verse with Numbers 11:31, you discover that God sent so much quail that it rose three-high throughout the camp! And the way God brought in the quail is also interesting! Again, verse 31 says: “Now a wind went out from the LORD and drove quail in from the sea.” In other words, the quail were brought into Israel’s camp by a sovereign act of God! The wind of the Spirit shoved them in!
Here’s my observation. Which way would have been better for the Israelites to work with God: One, set bird traps and catch quail or, two, pray and believe for God to work a wondrous miracle?
(Illustration) Some years ago, a California church launched a research campaign and spent $50,000 trying to locate the perfect place for a church. And they found it! But there was another church nearby that also needed a larger facility. The pastor started praying and God showed him the exact property to purchase. And he bought the property. What is the moral of this story. You can spend $50,000 and find the right place to build your church or you can spend time in prayer and let God show you where to build it!
(Transition) The last portion of this message deals with how you can secure the glory of God. Is that what you want to do?
I want to once more look at Exodus 33, where Moses is asking God to show him his glory. I’ll begin reading in verse 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.”
Did you catch how God told Moses he could participate with his glory? [Look closely] It’s found in verse 21. “Then the Lord said, “There is a place NEAR ME where you may stand on a ROCK.”
In order to see the glory of God you must get near God. And the closer you draw to God the more of his glory you will see!
You must pray.
Read his Word.
And stand steadfastly on “the Rock”—which is Jesus Christ!
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