As we were praying and thinking about what we might want to share this morning in our fellowship, we were made aware again of the fact that we are committed here in Grace Church to one basic thing and there would be no greater way to start the new year than to recommit ourselves to that very same basic, and that is we are committed to be a church that is set apart for the glory of God. We have one goal and one purpose and one motive and one incentive and one objective in mind, and that is to glorify God Himself.
I think that the message of the angels on the hillside in Bethlehem, “Glory to God in the highest,” should be the testimony of Grace Community Church. In fact, I’ve thought as I’ve looked at our building that somewhere on that building, we ought to put a great big plaque up that says, “For the glory of God,” and then underneath it, it should say, “This building is never to be used for any other purpose.” Because that is the intention of our ministry here, to glorify God. Five years ago or so, we did a study on that that set the pace, I think, for many, many things in the life of Grace Church. So that it became the criteria by which we judge everything. Will it? Does it? Is it geared to glorifying God?
And so as we begin 1977, it’s our desire that we as a congregation recommit ourselves to giving glory to God in everything we do, doing that which honors and glorifies Him.
And I think it’s important for many reasons. At Grace Church, we are obviously beginning a new year, which I’m convinced will be the greatest year in the history of our church. I think you’re all convinced of that, as well. It’s been that way every year of Grace Church’s history. And it won’t be any different this year. But I think the one thing that I recognize about our church this year is that Grace Church is growing up.
There’s a certain maturity about our church. I can look back and we’ve always grown and it’s always been exiting, but it hasn’t always been under control, by any means. There were years when we grew completely out of control and we just, we couldn’t hang onto everything. In fact, if you happen to be wandering through the patio on a Sunday morning looking a little bit wistful and lost, somebody might grab you and give you the third grade girls’ class because they didn’t have a teacher because we had grown too fast.
And we had all kinds of things happening, and we weren’t too sure even as a staff what was going on. We used to try to ask people what was going on so we could find out. And one time we had people all over the church report to us what they were doing and what ministries were going on so we could get some kind of an idea. And so there have been many years of the growth of Grace Church that have just been very spectacular, and kind of spontaneous, and sporadic.
And yet I feel right now Grace Church is beginning to really grow up, and all of these ministries are beginning to fall into patterns of maturity, and God has really placed His hand on key leaders. And just our last elders’ meeting alone, five new people were added in staff assignments to minister in our church, and I would venture to say many more will be added in 1977 as we explode and expand. And if the Lord allows us to finish our new building in 1977, it’ll even be all the greater.
We are anticipating that, incidentally. But we’re on the threshold of some tremendous things in the life of Grace Community Church. People are going to be saved this year. New people are going to come into the kingdom. The family is going to grow. People are going to come to our church because of the teaching of the Word of God and we’re going to have a new responsibility for them and their families. New staff will be added. New pastors will be added. New missionaries will be added around the world, and new missionary projects, and some of the missionary activities that are going on in our church right now are so exciting and innovative and revolutionary and creating what I believe is a biblical approach to missions that I’m excited about it.
I think some things that are going to happen this year are going to be a fulfillment of dreams we’ve had for a long time. I’ve always personally dreamed of a time when Grace Community Church would have a seminary so that we could take somebody all the way from leading them to Christ to preparing them for the ministry. And in recent days we are in a position of working with Talbot Seminary and they are very anxious to begin next September a valley campus for Talbot, running a full curriculum right here at Grace Community Church.
And this is really exciting to us because that means that we can train young men here for the ministry and the context of our church, and teach them the things about practical ministry that really would round out their education. And Talbot is looking to us for some real leadership in that. And it’s just really exciting. So these are going to be great, great months ahead, great times.
We’re planning to build a four-story education unit right out there as soon as we’re done with that one. And we’re going to put that building right on the priority list, and it’s going to be for children and classrooms for our Logos, and seminary, and perhaps a library. And it’s going to be exciting. And maybe before the year’s over, or soon after that, we’ll have to go back to that building and put the balcony back in. Who knows?
But all of these things that I see as Grace Church growing up and maturing, and all of the new ministries and the maturity and the development of many of you saints lay at our feet a tremendous responsibility to recommit ourselves to doing everything we do to the glory of God. We’re going to be more evident and apparent to the world than we’ve ever been. People are going to notice us. They’re going to see us.
And we have to keep our perspective. It would be very easy to become self-centered, and somewhat proud, and somewhat self-satisfied, and somewhat we’re the ones who know how to do it attitude, and we just don’t want that at all. We want to be committed to one thing, and that is that God be glorified. That’s the only purpose for which we exist, and that’s our goal.
And so as we begin to look at a new year, it seemed very fitting to many of us that we would talk about this whole area of glorifying God. When we committed ourselves to this principle years ago, it set our church in the right direction. And since those five years we talked about this have gone by, many new folks have come, and we need that reconfirmation of this basic reality that we are for the glory of God and no other purpose.
In fact, the most important thing in the whole universe is to glorify God. We read about it in our Scripture this morning. We sang about it in our hymns. The choir sang about it. God is to be glorified. God is to be exalted. God is to be honored, and He is to be honored in and through everything we do. That’s our purpose. In fact, the song writer was right when he said, “Let every kindred, every tribe on this terrestrial ball, to Him all majesty ascribe and crown Him Lord of all.”
Anything that is ever done here is to His glory. This is not to be a monument to a group of people, even a people with great vision and dedication. This is not to be a testimony to a board, or to the ministry of a staff or a pastor. This is to be to the glory of God, and that’s the reason everything is to be what it is. And we need to reconfirm that in our hearts and our minds.
Listen, everything that God ever made, He made for the single purpose of giving him glory. In fact, even when Pharaoh rebelled in Exodus 14:17, God said if He doesn’t want to do it his way, He says, “I will get my glory from Pharaoh,” My way. In Isaiah, He said, “My glory will I not give to another.” He shares it with none.
In Matthew chapter 6, part of the problem with the Pharisees was they sought glory and they were in competition with God and God did not tolerate such competing. The old catechism was right when it said the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. Paul was right on when He said, “Whatever you do, whether you eat, or drink, or whatever you do, do it all to the glory of God,” 1 Corinthians 10:31.
And God’s method of getting glory is amazing. His method has always been to gain glory through the use of something very low and very humble, and that’s good to know because that gives us the capacity to glorify Him. For example, the heavens are to glorify God. In Psalm 19:1 it says, “The heavens declare - ” what? “ - the glory of God.” That’s why they’re there. You look at the sky and it reveals the glory of God, the majesty of God, the power of God, the creative energy of God.
The other night, I was talking to one of our elders at a Christmas gathering and he said, “You know, you were preaching one time and you talked about the star called Betelgeuse.” That might not be the best pronunciation, but that’s the one that I remember, the easiest. So “beetlejuice.” It doesn’t sound too glamorous, but that’s not spelled the way it sounds, incidentally. But he said, “You preached about it and you gave statistics, and I couldn’t believe them. So I just checked on you in the library and,” he said, “that was right. You were right.” And I said, “Oh. I’m glad to know that. I’m not always, but I’m glad I was that time.”
And he said, “I just want to explain about that star to you.” So he took me out of the house out in the night. And he says, “Now see that star out there right there? It’s the right shoulder of Orion.” And he pointed Orion out to me and all. And I said, “Yeah. I got it.” And he said, “That’s Betelgeuse.” And he said, “I want you to know about that star. It’s 300 light years away. Light traveling at 186,000 miles a second takes 300 years to get here from that star.”
Now he says, “That’s not the most amazing part. The most amazing part is do you know how big that star is?” I said, “No.” He said, “It is twice the size of the earth’s orbit around the sun.” That’s a big star. That big, it still takes 300 light years for its light to get here. And there are billions beyond that. And I say to myself, “Yes, the heavens declare the glory of God. What kind of incredible creative energy makes a universe like this? Astounding.”
In fact, Colossians 1 says, “All things were made by Him and - ” what? “ - for Him.” Everything is for the purpose of glorifying Him. Everything was to come back to Him to speak His majesty. And you know the amazing thing is creation cooperates, doesn’t it? You look up there and you don’t see one big black section of heaven where the stars are pulling off a revolt. There’s not an atheism movement among the stars. And they don’t go out of orbit and just crazily spin all over the sky because they will to defy God. They just stay where they belong and do what they were made to do.
And animals are the same way. Flowers just, they don’t argue. They don’t protest. They just bloom and glorify God. Butterflies and whatever butter – there’s never been a butterfly fall, the fall of the butterflies has never occurred. They don’t argue. They don’t hassle. They don’t argue. They just butterfly, whatever.
And the animals are the same. The animals – “The beast of the field gives me honor,” says the prophet in the Old Testament. So it is that everything in creation glorifies God except the two highest things He ever made, the only two things He ever gave a will to: angels and men. And angels decided to revolt. And they did, and they fell, and God gave them no opportunity for recovery. He offered them no salvation. That’s why Peter expresses the fact that the angels look into the doctrine of salvation to see it and to understand it because they can’t comprehend such a thing because there never was such a provision for them. They are doomed. Read 1 Peter. Read Jude. They are doomed.
But there was one other rebel. That was man. And man defied the glory of God, and man denied the glory of God, and man rejects the glory of God, and man is separated from the glory of God, and man, according to Romans 3, has “fallen short of the glory of God.” But God for some marvelous, gracious, merciful, compassionate reason has not said, “That’s all for you.” He has provided salvation, hasn’t he?
And if you want to know a simple strand which runs through the whole Bible and by which you can tie it all together, this whole Bible – in fact, the whole history of redemption, the whole story from the fall of man to the second day of 1977 - is the story of God endeavoring to reveal to man His glory that man might reverse his rejection, and see His glory, and come to him, and acknowledge Him for who He is.
God has not given up. In thousands and thousands of years of patient love, God has continued to woo man back to the place of the recognition of His glory. I want you to see that with me a little bit in this morning’s study. I want you to see how God has endeavored again and again and again and again to manifest His glory to men, that they might give Him glory, that they might honor His majesty as they should. And we’re going to look at it in three parts: the glory of God past, the glory of God future, and the glory of God present.
Let’s look at the glory of God past, Genesis chapter 3. Genesis chapter 3. God had revealed His glory in the garden. Adam and Eve were in the garden. There was no sin. There was righteousness. God was there. They walked with God in the cool of the day. They talked with God. God was there in a visible manifestation of himself. His presence was there. And as they walked and talked with God, they recognized God. They saw God. They communed with God. They glorified God, which simply means they acknowledged Him to be who He is and did everything that would cause Him to be honored and to be glorified. And then sin came. And when sin came, all of that was destroyed.
Chapter 3, verse 8. After they had sinned, “they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day.” It’s evening and they hear the voice of God as He walks and calls for them. Two things are noticeable here. God’s voice is present. And secondly, His person is present in some kind of visibly way, which moved from one place to another. God is actually moving in the garden. He was there in some form that was moving, that was here, and here, and here, and here as it moved about. And you say, “Well, they had always walked with God in the cool of the day. They had always talked and communed with His glory.” Yes.
But when they fell into sin, and rejected God’s truth, and rejected God’s Word, they “hid themselves - ” verse 8 says “ - from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.” They hid behind trees to hide from God. They were severed from God. Communion was shattered. Fellowship was broken. The glory of God was something they didn’t want anymore. They wanted to run from it. Adam and Eve had known the personal presence of God. They had been with him. But they had disobeyed and now they ran.
The word “presence” is interesting. What presence was there there? He’s not a body. He’s a spirit. How did He manifest himself? Perhaps the best word to describe it, it’s a non-biblical word but it’s used many times to describe this, is the word “shekinah.” The word means “to reside or to dwell.” And God dwelt in a Shekinah glory. That is He manifested himself in the presence of light. If you take all the attributes of God, put them into one composite, God then transforms that into light, and that light is the revealing of His glory. And that’s how God manifests himself in the garden, in blazing, visible, glorious light. And they hid. And they rejected.
And listen. God rejected them. When you don’t give glory to God, He will dismiss you from His presence. Chapter 3, verse 32. “Therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from where he was taken. He drove out the man; and He placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubim, - ” those are angels designed specifically to guard the holiness of God “ - and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way of the tree of life.” They couldn’t come back to the garden. They couldn’t come back to His presence. They couldn’t come back to eat the tree of life. A sword kept them out. When a person fails to glorify God, he is removed from God’s presence.
It’s a sad thing to realize, but God had come to man and said, “Here I am. Will you honor Me? Here I am. Will you glorify Me? Here I am. Will you recognize My majesty?” And man said, “No.” And God drove him out of His presence.
You say, “Well, what did God do then? Did He give up? Did He say, ‘All right. You’re just like the angels. That’s it for you. It’s all over. No salvation for you. You had your chance.’?” No, He didn’t. God said, “I’m going to send My glory back again and I’m going to give them another opportunity to see it.” And His glory came a second time.
If you’ll turn in your Bible to the book of Exodus, chapter 33. Later in the history of God’s dealing with man, we come to the story of Israel and God is about to manifest His glory to His people, Israel. God is calling Moses to lead His people out, and of course Moses has got all kinds of doubts and fears and feelings of inadequacy and inferiority. And so God says, “You’re going to lead My people out of here.” And Moses says, “This is really a very difficult job, Lord.”
Exodus 33:12, “Moses said unto the Lord, See, You say unto me, Bring up this people.” It’s like saying, “It’s easy for you to say, God. I can hardly get my family packed for vacation, let alone two million people out of Egypt. I mean, God, that is an absolutely mind-boggling responsibility. How do I organize it?”
And “you have not let me know whom You will send with me.” “You don’t expect me to do it alone, do you?” Well, He sort of does a soliloquy at the end of verse 12 when He says that, “you have said, I know you by name, and you have found grace in My sight.” “You have said that You know me and You like me, so I’m assuming you’ll help me, and I won’t have to do it alone.” And God says, “Don’t worry,” verse 14. He said, “My presence shall go with you.” Now God uses the same word here used in the garden. His presence.
What is His presence? Well, that’s what Moses wanted to know. He said, “Well, that’s nice, God. Your presence will go with me. I appreciate that. Show it to me.” He still didn’t believe. “I want to see it.” So verse 18, “he said, I beseech thee, show me thy - ” and he doesn’t say “presence,” he says “ - glory.” “Show me thy glory.” Let me see your glory. And there you find that the glory of God and the presence of God are equated as terms. So we can take it all the way back into Genesis and know that what the presence of God in the garden was was the same as it is here. His glory manifest in light, as we’ll see in a moment.
So Moses said, “If you’re going to do this, God, show me your glory.” And look at God’s answer. “I will make all My goodness pass before thee, I will proclaim the name of the Lord before thee; will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy.” And you say, “Well, why does He say all that? Why does He say, “I’ll show you My grace, My mercy, My goodness, and My name?” Because - listen to this - those are His attributes and they are the composite that make up His glory, which is then transformed into light.
“The name of the Lord” in the middle of verse 19 refers to all that He is, all of His attributes, including grace, and goodness, and mercy. And if you go down to verse 6, you will see, of chapter 34, “the Lord God merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression - ” and on and on. And again, God is reciting His attributes because it is His attributes that make up His person that is transformed into light. Do you see? So He’s saying, “Moses, I’ll show you Myself, but the only way you could see me is to transform all that I am into something visible.” And the something that comes closest to the reality is light. Pure, flaming light.
And so He says, “I’ll show you. I’ll show you.” But He cautions Moses in verse 20 of chapter 33 and says this. “You cannot not see My face: for there shall no man see me, and live.” Now God says, “I can’t show you the fullness of My glory. I’d blow you out of existence.” You and I can’t even look at the sun without going blind if we stare at it. Can you imagine standing a few miles from Betelgeuse? Well, imagine the God who made all of them in all of His flaming glory, in all of His majesty. If you walked into His presence, you’d be out of existence in a split second. “You can’t see all of My glory,” He says, “You couldn’t handle it.”
And the Lord said to him in verse 21, “There’s a place over here by Me,” which indicates the light was somewhere, over where the light was. He says, “There’s a place, and you shall stand on a rock: And it will come to pass, I’ll let My glory pass by, and I will put you in the clift of the rock - ” a little cave there “ - and cover you with My hand - ” now that’s an anthropomorphism. God doesn’t have a hand, but God is saying, “I’ll veil you a little bit while I pass by.”
Because if I go by and you see Me, you’re going to go up in smoke. So I’ll veil it a little, and then when I get by, I’ll take away My hand, and verse 23 says, “and you will see My back parts.” And God is saying, “I can’t show you My full glory, but I’ll let a little of My afterglow leak your way because that’s all you can handle. Not My face.” So God tucks Moses in the rock, and He goes by, and Moses sees His glory.
But that isn’t the end of the story. You say, “What was God’s purpose?” You have to go to chapter 34 to find that out. And you come down to verse 29 and here was God’s purpose. “It came to pass, when Moses came down from mount Sinai with the two tables of testimony in his hand, and when he came down from the mount, that Moses knew not that the skin of his face shone while he talked with him.” He comes down and he’s just seen the glory of God, and guess what? His face is like a light bulb. He is lit. And, of course, it just jolts everybody.
“And when Aaron and the children of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone; and they were afraid to come near him.” I guess. He was just - whew. “And all the children of Israel came near - ” verse 32 said, along with “ - Aaron and the rulers of the congregation. He gave them in commandment all that the Lord had spoken with him in mount Sinai. And till Moses had done speaking with them, he put a vail on his face. But when Moses went in before the Lord to speak with him, he took the vail off, until he came out. And he came out, and spake unto the children of Israel that which he was commanded. And the children of Israel saw the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses' face shone: and Moses put the vail upon his face again, until he went in to speak with him.”
Now get the picture. Moses comes down, he’s lit up. They recognize that he’s lit up. He recognizes he’s lit up. He puts a veil on. All the time he’s talking to them, he’s got this veil. And then when he goes to talk with the Lord, he takes off his veil. You say, “What’s he doing?” Well, you see, he doesn’t want them – according to 2 Corinthians 3, Paul says he did not want them - to see the glory fade. And so he wore a veil. And then after awhile, you go back up on the mountain and he’s stick his head in the cave and get a little more glory, and he’d come back down and talk some more.
You have here a fantastic truth. What’s going on here is God is using a human being to transmit His glory to a nation of people. And He is saying to the children of Israel, “Will you see My majesty and My glory on the face of this man?” And Moses wanted it to be seen, so he spent enough time with God to make sure He was getting the glory, and if it started to fade, he ran right back up the mountain and got it again. There was something to be said for that, as we’ll see in application in a few moments, but God was saying to the children of Israel, “Here’s My glory. Will you see it?” Let me ask you. Did they? No.
What did they do for the next 40 years? They wandered in unbelief, didn’t they? All over the wilderness. God had come in the garden and said, “Here’s My glory.” And Adam and Eve said, “We don’t want it,” and walked out and hid. And God put them out. On the face of Moses coming from mount Sinai, God said, “People, here’s My glory,” and the children of Israel longed for the leeks and garlics and the onions of Egypt, and bellyached their way around for 40 years until God had to let the whole generation die. And God could have given up, but He didn’t. And you say, “You mean He tried again?” Yes. He brought His glory again. All the time they were there in the wilderness, His glory was right in front of them.
Look at the 40th of Exodus, the 40th chapter. What does it say? Verse 34, notice. They had just finished building this ugly big tent made out of badger skins that, no doubt, would turn black with the weather. Everybody thinks it was beautiful. The only thing beautiful about it was what was in it. And here it is. “Then a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, - ” they had built the tabernacle. The tabernacle was to be the house of worship for all their wanderings. They built it. “ - and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not even able to enter into the tent of the congregation, because the cloud abode thereon, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.” He couldn’t even go in. And God said this. “Look, all of the tribes are organized in sections around the tabernacle.” They all face the tabernacle.
And God put His glory right in the middle of the camp of Israel, and said, “Look at it, and see it, and recognize it.” And then just to be sure, verse 36, “when the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the children of Israel went onward in all their journeys: if the cloud were not taken up, then they journeyed not till the day that it was taken up. For the cloud of the Lord was upon the tabernacle by day, and fire on it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel, throughout all their journeys.”
And the pillar of fire and the cloud were all manifestation of God’s glory, and He had it there day and night, day and night, day and night. They sat there and they looked at it as it sat above that place every day they were in the wilderness. Forty years of watching the glory of God, and 40 years of denying it, 40 years of not glorifying Him, 40 years of selfishness, 40 years of griping, 40 years of murmuring, 40 years of rejection.
God is gracious, gracious God that He is, in spite of all of that, gave to the people of Israel the promised land. And when He had given them the promised land, He said, “I think I’ll try to show My glory one more time.” And so He said, “Build a temple. Solomon, build a temple.” And in 1 Kings chapter 8, we see what happened when the temple was finished. In 1 Kings 8 verse 10, “It came to pass, when the priests were come out of the holy place, - ” they had just finished the temple “ - that the cloud filled the house of the Lord, So that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud: for the glory of the Lord had filled the house of the Lord.”
God said, “Here’s your promised land. Here’s the land. Solomon’s reign is a reign of peace. The land is yours. You’re in the land. Here is My glory in the center of the city where you are to worship. Please recognize it.” And right in the middle of the life of Israel, God dropped His glory again, and said, “See My glory.” Did they? What happened after Solomon? Chaos, sin, idolatry, adultery, fornication, war. No, they never recognized His glory. In fact, in 2 Chronicles – you don’t have to turn to it, but in 2 Chronicles – chapter 9, when the Queen of Sheba came to visit that very temple where they glory of God dwelt, do you know who she praised? Solomon. “Oh, Solomon. You’re something.” She had nothing to say about God.
The place began to degenerate. Turn with me to Ezekiel chapter 8, and God gives Ezekiel a vision of the place. What happened to that place? God’s glory was there and God was crying out to those people saying, “Uphold My majesty. Do whatever you do for My glory.” But rather than that, they began to look at it as their own pride and joy. The glory of Solomon, the glory of themselves, their own place of pride. It began to degenerate.
In Ezekiel’s vision, chapter 8 verse 4, “behold, the glory of the God of Israel - ” he sees the glory of God in a vision and what’s going to happen about this glory of God. Then He says to him, “Son of man, - ” God speaking to Ezekiel is called “Son of man” “ - lift up your eyes now the way toward the north. So I lifted my eyes in the way toward the north, and behold northward at the gate of the altar this image of jealousy in the entrance.”
The entrance to the temple had an altar inside and right in the gate was a false god. They had brought idols into the temple. Unbelievable. Right in the holy of holies was dwelling the Shekinah between the wings of the cherubim over the mercy seat. God was there. And they had the audacity to put an idol in the entrance.
“He said further unto me,- ” in verse 6 “ - Son of man, see what they do? even the great abominations that the house of Israel commits here, that I should go far off from My sanctuary?” “They’re running me out,” He said. They are running me right out of My own sanctuary. “And He brought me to the door of the court; and I looked, showed me in the wall.”
And it goes on to describe, verse 9, “wicked abominations” and they were worshiping, verse 10, “every creeping thing, abominable beasts, and all the idols of the house of Israel, pourtrayed upon the wall round about.” They had painted and portrayed all of their idols all over the walls of the temple in defiance of God.
“And there stood before seventy men of the ancients of the house of Israel, and in the midst of them stood Jaazaniah the son of Shaphan, every man his censer in his hand; and a thick cloud of incense went up.” Here you have a whole lot of people taking the role of a priest who are not priests. And this was an abomination to God. He had swallowed three others who tried to do that, swallowed them in the ground. Phony priests. False religion all over the place.
They’re worshiping Tammuz, in verse 14, and he’s Baal. And in verse 16, it says that they were worshiping the sun. At the end of verse 16, “they worshipped the sun toward the east.” And He says, “Do you see that, Son of man?” in verse 17. “It’s a light thing to them. It’s a light thing to them.” But He says, “I’m not staying. They have rejected My glory again and I’m leaving.” And if you read the 10th chapter, you will see the progressive exit of the glory of God as He writes “Ichabod” on Israel. Ichabod means “the glory has departed.”
Verse 3, “the cloud filled the inner court.” What’s the cloud doing in the inner court? It’s moving from the holy of holies. It’s moving out. “And then the glory of the Lord went up from the cherub, over the threshold of the house; - ” it’s at the gate now. And you follow all the way through the 10th chapter and it’s gone over the mountain and God has left Israel. And Hosea 8:1 says vultures are over the house of the Lord.
That’s a sad scene because here’s God. He comes to the garden and says, “Here’s My glory.” And man says, “No.” And He comes on the face of Moses and says, “Here’s My glory.” And they said, “No.” And He comes in the tabernacle and says, “Here’s My glory.” And they say, “No.” And He comes in the temple and says, “Here’s My glory.” And they say, “No.”
You say, “Well, surely God’s patience has run its limit. Did He try again?” Yes. Once more. Once more. John chapter 1 verse 14. He had tried in a garden, on the face of a man, in a tent, and in a temple, and now He does manifest His glory in a human body, in a human body. John 1:14, listen. “And the Word - ” who is the Word? Jesus Christ. “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld - ” what? “ - His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,)” God manifested Himself in the body of Jesus Christ. He was the tabernacle, the tent. He was the garden of Eden. He was the manifestation of God’s glory.
And in Luke chapter 9, if you’ll look at it you’ll see that He revealed that so very clearly. He took Peter, James, and John up to the mountain one day in Luke 9 and verse 29 says as He prayed, the appearance of His face was altered and His raiment was white and glistening.” Brilliant, glistening, white light. And they saw Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory, stood right with Him in His glory. Spoke of His death. “And Peter and they that were with Him were were heavy with sleep: and when they were awake, they saw - ” what? “ - His glory.”
See? He revealed who He was. He pulled back His flesh and said, “This is who I am. I’m the Shekinah. I’m the presence of God. I’m God in human flesh.” And He wanted men to see, and He wanted men to acknowledge, and He wanted men to accept His glory. Did you know that Paul calls Him in 1 Corinthians 2:8, “the Lord of glory”? He is the Lord of glory. The glory the Old Testament prophets spoke of, the glory that had revealed itself in the Old Testament was here in flesh and blood. You say, “Surely this time the world will see.” Did they? “Came into His own and His own - ” what? “ - received Him not.” That’s tragic. A patient, loving, merciful God revealing glory over and over and over and man always turns His back. That’s the past.
You say, “John, what about the future? Will God ever reveal His glory again?” Oh, yes. Let’s look at the second point in our thoughts: the glory of God in the future. Turn to Matthew 24. And I want you to know something. When God reveals His glory in the future, everybody will recognize it. Everybody. I mean everybody. Matthew 24:29. Describing a period of time in the future, it says, “Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give its light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:”
Now the first thing God’s going to do in a great and dramatic crescendo to human history, to the times of the Gentiles, the great dramatic end of it all is going to be when God turns out all of the lights in heaven. It will become absolute blackness. You can read about it as it’s described later on in the book of Revelation, as well, as it occurs during the period of the tribulation as well as here afterwards. But the sky goes pitch black. Why? So there’s no competition for the glory that’s about to be revealed.
Verse 30. “And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: then shall all the tribes of the earth - ” what? “ - mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.” When they see His blazing glory coming out of a black sky - it’s the first time we’ve ever seen the term “great glory” - there will be a manifestation of the Shekinah of God unlike any that’s ever happened in history as Christ comes blazing out of heaven. And of course, at the end of Armageddon, apparently they turn their little pop guns at Him and try to blow Him out of the sky. Doesn’t work.
He comes in judgment, power, and great glory. This unmatched manifestation of Christ’s glory will be a sign of such magnificent magnitude that the nation’s already crying for the rocks and the mountains to fall on them, to hide them from the face of His glory. We’ll be hopelessly and helplessly caught in the judgment that comes. Can you imagine just a glowing ball of brilliance hurdling out of the sky to the earth? Further in chapter 25 and verse 31, “When the Son of man shall come in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him - ” He doesn’t come alone. All the angels are with Him. “ - He shall sit on the throne of His glory:” He’s going to bring His glory to the earth.
His glory, according to the Old Testament prophet, will fill the whole earth during His kingdom. And everybody’s going to see it. “And before Him shall be gathered all the nations: and He’ll judge them.” He’s going to destroy His enemies and cast them into hell. You say, “Boy, would I like to be there to be a part of that glory. Oh, man, what’s going to happen to us who get raptured? Will we see that?” You’ll not only see it, you’ll be it. He’s coming. His angels are coming. And we’re coming, too. We’ll be a part of that whole big ball coming out of the sky.
You say, “How do you know that?” Because when He comes, we shall come with Him on white horses. Read the 19th chapter of Revelation. It also says in Colossians 3:4, “when He shall appear, then shall ye also appear with Him - ” what? “ - in glory.” Isn’t that exciting? We’ll be a part of that. Fantastic. You think it’s good down here, you haven’t lived yet. Wait until we get up there and see what He has planned.
And then His glory fills the earth and it goes right on into the eternal state. And you know something? There’s no light in heaven. There’s no lamp in heaven. Read that in Revelation 21. It says “the Lamb is the - ” what? “ - light of it.” Heaven is a diamond. It’s a transparent gold and bejeweled diamond and in the midst of it is the glory of God blasting and shattering that light throughout the endless universe. Someday everybody’s going to see it, every eye. That’s the future.
You say, “John, you’ve covered the past and the future. What about the present?” That’s good. I’m glad you asked. That’s really important. I can get excited about the future. I get kind of sad about the past. But I got to get involved in the present. You say, “What is the present?” Well, You say, “Is God’s glory manifest today?” Well, it isn’t manifest in any building. I’ve been over to Jerusalem. I’ve been on Mount Moriah. I looked in the Dome of the Rock, and it wasn’t there. I even went in the basement, and it wasn’t there, either. And it isn’t in any church that I know. It certainly isn’t here. Don’t see it ever. I’m here all week and I never see it floating around.
You say, “Where is His glory now?” Well, I think Paul had it right when he said this, Colossians 1, “Christ in you - ” what? “ - the hope of glory.” You know where His glory is? It’s in you and me. You say, “You’re kidding.” No, no. I’m not kidding. “What? Know ye not that ye are the temple of the Holy Spirit?” “Therefore, whatever you do, whether you eat, or drink, do it all to the - ” what? “ - glory of God.” God wants glory in this age. Oh, yeah. And you are the temple. And you are the body of Christ. And you are the tabernacle in the world. And you are the garden of Eden. And I am.
Look with me at Ephesians chapter 3 and I’ll show you. Verse 19, at the end of the verse. It’s the last phrase, the last little thought of the verse. Ephesians 3:19. This is so powerful. “That ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.” Now that’s Paul’s prayer. He says, “I pray that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God, that all that God is, that all of His glory may just fill you.” “Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, - ” Now watch. When that fills you, when all that God is fills you, that becomes an energy that drives you to do the impossible, and the result will be “ - unto Him be glory - ” where? “ - in the - ” what? “ - church.”
Now get it. The glory is in the church. It’s not in the building. It’s in the living church. If God is to be glorified, He’ll be glorified when you’re filled with His fullness and make it manifest to the world. Isn’t that it? And if you don’t, then they won’t see it and He won’t receive it. It’s a heavy responsibility, beloved, to do that. And God has chosen us humble, earthy, to be those instruments by which He manifests Himself.
In Ephesians 1:6, he says we are to be “to the praise of His glory.” In Ephesians 1:12, he says we are to be “to the praise of His glory.” In Ephesians 1:13-14, he says we are to be “to the praise of His glory.” And that’s just what we’re to be. We are to so radiate God’s attributes, we are to live such godly lives, we are to so manifest Christ that the world sees His attributes in us and praises Him.
When I was a little kid and my dad took me to Knott’s Berry Farm and bought me one of those little things that glow in the dark at that little house they used to have there. Maybe they still have it. And I took it home and I thought that was the neatest thing I’d ever seen because it just glowed all over the place. And I took it and have it in a little bag, and I took it out of the bag and I stuck it on my dresser, nothing. It didn’t glow. It didn’t do anything. And my dad held it up to the light and said, “It doesn’t have its own light. It has to get light from somewhere else.” And then he took it in, and beautiful.
And you know what you are? You’re just like that. You’re useless. You can’t glow at all unless you get close to the light. When Moses ran back up the mountain and God and got back into the cave and waited for the glory to pass by again, he did what every believer has to do on a daily basis in his life. We’ve got to come out of the presence of God into the presence of the world if we have anything to radiate. We’ve got to get back in the presence of God. Maybe it’s been a long time since you really communed like that so that the glory of God is on your life and on your face so the world can see.
Listen, do you believe God is worthy of glory? Do you believe it? Do you believe God is worthy of praise? Do you believe God is worthy of adoration and majesty from men? I do. I believe it so much that I want Him to have it and I recognize the only way you’ll have it is if men see His glory in and through me, and that’s a responsibility that I’m excited to carry. But it means that I’m going to have to make sure I spend my time with Him so when I walk out, they see it’s on me.
Grace Community Church, as I said, is maturing. We’re standing at the threshold of the greatest possible things that we can’t even imagine. And they won’t mean anything unless they’re done to the glory of God, and that will only happen when you and I are living that way on a day-to-day basis. Someday the world is going to see His glory, but it might be too late. I’d rather give them the opportunity now, wouldn’t you? And besides, God is certainly worthy to be glorified, certainly. Let’s pray.
Our Father, we are grateful this morning hour for the fact that You have given us such a clear direction in terms of glorifying You. And we know that You’ve said that if we don’t glorify You, that’s a very serious thing. We know that You have said that Herod, who didn’t glorify You, “was eaten of worms, and died because he gave not God the glory,” Acts 12. And we know in Jeremiah 13 how You said that if the people didn’t glorify You, they would “fall on the dark mountains,” and stumble into death. And then You said and if they did, Your “eye would weep down with tears, and You would cry in secret places” because Your heart would be broken.
Father, we would not break Your heart. We desire to glorify You. Pray that all of us might make that commitment, that we will be to the glory of God, that our family will be to the glory of God, that our church will be to the glory of God. That as the days, and the months, and the years go by, there might be one spot at least in our world where the Shekinah shines for all to see, where we so live to praise You.
Thank You for giving us the privilege as humble as we are, as useless as we are, of being reflectors of Your majesty. We pray in Christ’s name. Amen.
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