Given as a devotional to the saints at Medicalodge, Neosho, MO, on 6/24/01
"For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ" (II Cor. 4:6, KJV).
We spent the first two weeks of June talking about Pentecost (End Note "A") and how it impacts our lives today, and last week, we offered praise to the Father of lights (James 1:23), (End Note "B") for creating us in His image and likeness. There are still more treasures to find in the Lord's storehouse of revelation knowledge on this subject of light and power. Today, we're going to explore the glory of God, and now it has interacted with the lives of men and women down through the ages. We'll begin with the events which happened on Mount Sinai, while the children of Israel were encamped below the mountain awaiting God's word to Moses. We read that, "The glory of the LORD settled on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days; and on the seventh day he called to Moses out of the midst of the cloud. Now the appearance of the glory of the LORD was like a devouring fire on the top of the mountain in the sight of the people of Israel" (Ex. 24:16,17, RSV). We've mentioned several times that fire is a symbol of God's presence among men. For example, the Lord captured Moses' attention with the burning bush (Ex. 3:2). Moses was not so much afraid, as he was fascinated with the fire of God burning on that mountain and with the bush that burned but was not consumed.
In case you are wondering why I keep going back to the Old Testament, there are two reasons, 1) I am fascinated by the greatest stories ever told to be found there, and 2) The Spirit has been tying up the loose ends for me by revealing the complete interconnectedness of the Old and New Covenants. He is showing me "the end from the beginning" (Isa. 46:10), and the more He opens it up to me, the more I see that Christ is the denouement, the fulfillment of it all. The Old covenant was a type and shadow of things to come. Understanding the elements of it and how God dealt with Israel, reveals what Christ has done and is doing for each of us in our lives today. So, bear with me, and who knows, maybe you will get hooked on the Old Testament as I am. It is the greatest, most exciting reading material ever written, and it all points to Christ and His finished work.
But I'm getting ahead of myself here. We'll pick up the "glory story" with Moses, after he led the children of Israel out of Egypt, and after he received the tablets of stone and the instructions for building the tabernacle, and after dealing with the golden calf fiasco. Finally, he was ready to build the tabernacle according to the pattern he received on the mount (Ex. 25:40; Heb. 8:5). (See End Note "C" for artist's sketches of tabernacle and utensils).
Exodus, Chapter 40, gives a concise account of how the tent of meeting was to be set up, with its various rooms and the utensils for each. In brief, in the outer court were the laver for ritual cleansing and the great altar for the animal sacrifices (Ex. 40:9-10); the holy place held the table for the bread of the presence, the golden lamp stand, and the altar of incense (Heb. 40:4-5); and beyond the veil in the Most Holy Place was the ark of the covenant which contained Aaron's rod that budded, and the tables of stone (Heb. 9:4). On top of the ark was the atonement cover, or the mercy seat (Ex. 25: 17-22; 26:34; 40:20), between the wings of the golden cherubim (Ex. 25:20). This was the very place where they encountered the glory of God (Ex. 30:6; Lev. 16:2). God told Moses, "There I will meet with you, and from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim that are upon the ark of the testimony, I will speak with you of all that I will give you in commandment for the people of Israel" (Ex. 25:22, RSV. See also Num. 7:89).
Remembering that blood sprinkled on the Mercy Seat made atonement for Israel's sins on the Day of Atonement, I was interested in the footnote for Lev. 16:2, in my NIV Study bible. It says that "In the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Old Testament), the word for "atonement cover" is the same one used of Christ and translated "sacrifice of atonement." That reference fast forwards us immediately to Romans 3:23-25, "Since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, they are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as an expiation (atonement) by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins" (Rom. 3:23-25, RSV). Notice here that sin has caused us to "fall short of the glory." Because of sin, we cannot enter the presence of God. Under Law, the scapegoat only rolled the sins forward a year at a time, therefore, there was no remittance of sins until Christ's sacrifice. We have mentioned that only the high priest could go beyond the veil, and then only after performing all the rituals for cleansing and purification required by the law (Lev. 16:1-19). It was a dangerous place, where an unauthorized person would surely die. And whereas the high priest had to go in once each year, Christ "...entered once for all into the Holy Place, taking not the blood of goats and calves but his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption" (Heb. 9:12, RSV). Chapters eight through ten of Hebrews show definitively that the Old Covenant, with its blood offerings, was a type and shadow of Christ's sacrifice.
Once the tabernacle was all set up and in place (End Note "C"), Moses had finished that part of his work. Listen carefully to what happened next: "Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting, because the cloud abode upon it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle" (Ex. 40:34,35, RSV). You will remember that as the children of Israel were fleeing Pharaoh's army, and for 40 long years in the wilderness, they were guided and protected by the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night (Ex. 13:21-24). In fact, the cloud rested over the tabernacle by day, and if the cloud did not move, they stayed where they were, but if it arose and began to move, they pulled up their stakes and followed it. The book of Exodus concludes with this amazing verse: "For throughout all their journeys the cloud of the LORD was upon the tabernacle by day, and fire was in it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel" (Ex. 40:38, RSV). When I first began to follow the Lord, I often wished for a "sign" like this, something that would indicate what I was supposed to do, where I was supposed to go. Later, I came to realize what Jesus was saying when He chastised the Pharisees for looking for a sign, saying, "An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas" (Matt. 12:39; 16:4; Lk. 11:29-30). They had the biggest Neon sign heaven could produce standing in their midst and they did not notice or heed it. He said that the men of Ninevah would condemn them, "because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here" (Matt. 12: 41).
To understand God's dealings with the Israelites after they came out of Egypt, we need to realize that they had been in slavery for over 400 years. They had been lashed by whips, forced into hard labor in the cruel slime pits of Egypt, making bricks for Pharaoh's building projects, and were completely deprived of their freedom. God took them by the hand and led them out of bondage the way we hold our little children's hands when they cross a street. He guided them and fed them and took such good care of them that their shoes and clothing did not wear out, nor did their feet swell after walking around Sinai for 40 years! (Deut. 8:4; 29:5). Moses said to them, "While I stood between the LORD and you at that time, to declare to you the word of the LORD; for you were afraid because of the fire, and you did not go up into the mountain. He said: "'I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage" (Deut. 5:5-6, RSV). As an aside, fear of fire, specifically hell fire, still keeps people from the Lord's presence today.
The Hebrews called this manifestation of God's presence in the cloud and the fire, the "shechinah glory." The word "shechinah" comes from two Hebrew words: "shechan" meaning "tabernacle" and "Yah," meaning God. So, we put them together and come up with "God's tent," or "God's house." That is very significant, because during the time of their desert wanderings, the Lord inhabited His glory which appeared over the Tent of Meeting. Later, He inhabited His glory that filled Solomon's majestic temple.
In I Kings 6, and II Chronicles 4-5, you can read about the building of Solomon's glorious, gold encrusted temple (End Note "C"), with its golden utensils and elaborate appointments. David's son dedicated the great building at the Feast of Tabernacles, offering twenty-two thousand head of cattle and a hundred and twenty thousand sheep and goats in sacrifice to the Lord, over a period of 14 days (II Chron. 7:5). Before the feasting began, the priests had brought in the ark of the covenant and put it in the Most Holy Place. Again, God manifested Himself in a powerful way! "When Solomon had ended his prayer, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the LORD filled the temple. And the priests could not enter the house of the LORD, because the glory of the LORD filled the LORD's house. When all the children of Israel saw the fire come down and the glory of the LORD upon the temple, they bowed down with their faces to the earth on the pavement, and worshiped and gave thanks to the LORD, saying, "For he is good, for his steadfast love endures for ever" (II Chron. 7:1-3).
Sadly, this first temple built to worship God was completely destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar, the Babylonian King, who took all the temple treasures and carried the children of Israel off to captivity for 70 long years. II Kings 25: 1-21, tells the tragic story of God's vengeance upon the disobedient and rebellious sons of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The book of Ezra describes the building of a temple to replace the first one which had been destroyed. This second temple is known as Zerubbabel's Temple because he was the one who began the work of building it. It was finally completed in 516 BC, and was used until Herod the Great built the third temple that was in Jerusalem in Christ's day. It is of interest to me that the bible does not say that God's glory inhabited the Most Holy Place in either Zerubbabel or Herod's temple (Ezra 6:13-22).
In Moses and Solomon's Day, the glory of God overshadowed the Most Holy Place, where the ark of the covenant was housed. Between the testaments, however, a period of about 400 years, God did not speak to His people, nor did He show Himself to them in glory. Not until the birth of Christ was the shechinah glory again seen by men. At that time, it appeared to the shepherds, who were keeping watch by night. The Gospel of Luke relates, "And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. And the angel said to them, "Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people; for to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord" (Luke 2:9-11, RSV). God had broken His 400 year silence, and His radiant glory announced to the people that He had came to dwell among them in the person of Jesus Christ. Emmanuel had arrived! (Matt. 1:23).
The Shechinah glory appeared again on the Mount of Transfiguration: "And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his garments became white as light" (Matt. 17:2, RSV). The astonished disciples, Peter, James and John heard a voice out of the bright cloud that overshadowed them, saying, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him" (Matt. 5:17). Moses and Elijah were also on that mount with Jesus. Moses represented the Law and Elijah represented the prophets, but the shechinah was clearly reserved for Jesus the Christ, the one sent to be a light to every man coming into the world (Jn. 1:9). Like the shepherds who beheld this glory, the three disciples fell upon their faces and were "sore afraid." I suspect that if any of us encountered the full blast of shechinah glory, we would react just like Paul, the three disciples, and Isaiah and Ezekiel, and Daniel, and John on the Isle of Patmos. We would fall on our faces before the power of almighty God.
Before Jesus left His disciples, He told them that He would return in power (Jn. 16:7), and the angel told them that He would return in like manner as He left (Acts 1:11). He returned ten days later, on the Day of Pentecost when He manifested Himself as tongues of fire on the disciples' heads and they spoke with other tongues. Empowered from on high, they turned the world upside down with the Gospel of the kingdom (Rom. 10:8). This is the third Sunday that I have talked to you about the Day of Pentecost, but the Lord keeps pressing me to dig a little deeper into the truths about it. When the ark of the covenant was placed in the tabernacle and later, in Solomon's temple, the glory of the Lord filled the place so that the priests could not perform their duties (Ex. 40:34-35; I Kings 8:11; II Chron. 7:1-2). What the Lord showed me as I was meditating and studying this subject is that the fire, which fell from heaven on the Day of Pentecost, was the shechinah glory. However, this time, instead of filling a temple made with hands, the glory filled the temple where God now lives and abides, where He rules and reigns, where He meets with us to give us His commandments. This ancient glory fell upon the believers on the Day of Pentecost and is still falling upon and dwelling within believers to this day. Please ask the Lord to show you the importance of this awesome revelation. We are the temple of God, Paul said: "For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, "I will live IN them and move among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people" (II Cor. 6:16, RSV. See also I Cor. 6:19).
The Jews in Israel today and many Evangelical Christians believe that another temple will be built in Jerusalem in order for the prophecies to come true about the Messiah's return. (The Jews are looking for His first coming and the Christians are looking for a "second coming"). Both groups have missed the point entirely, that we are the temple of God! It is not necessary to destroy the Muslim Dome of the Rock which sits on the temple mount today in Jerusalem. Messiah has come and He does rule from the throne of David in our hearts! Christ is the fulfillment of Isaiah's magnificent prophecy: "Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David, and over his kingdom, to establish it, and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and for evermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this" (Isa. 9:7, RSV). Truly, only the zeal of the Lord of hosts could accomplish all these things, "And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it" (Isa. 40:5, KJV).
Our Father does not dwell in houses made with human hands, but in the hearts of believers everywhere. When God opens our spiritual eyes to see it, like Ezekiel, we behold the glory of the Lord filling our house (Ezek. 43:5; 44:4) and like him, when we behold the glory, we fall upon our faces in worship to the one who filleth all in all (Eph. 1:23; Col. 3:11). Paul said of this experience, "But we all, with open (unveiled) face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the SAME image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord" (II Cor. 3:18, KJV). (End Note "D"). This is the same shechinah glory that filled the tabernacle of old, and Solomon's temple, and which announced the birth of Christ to the shepherds, and the Lord still inhabits His glory today, in us. The glory of the Lord transforms us from mud creatures, men formed of the dust of the earth, into light bearing sons of the Most High. It is that glory, the Apostle John says, which is the light of the city of God: "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" (Rev. 21:23, RSV).
He is the light of the world, and because He is our father, we are the light of the world. We are the city, whose builder and maker is God (Heb. 11:10), the one that Abraham and the other heroes of faith searched for, but never found. The scripture says they are waiting for it to be revealed in us (Heb. 11:39-40). We have left Mount Sinai behind us. It was where we began this "glory story," for it had to do with unforgiven sins, but we have come to Mount Zion, "unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem" (Heb. 12:22). Here we take our stand on the mount which cannot be moved. "Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe; for our God is a consuming fire" (Heb. 12:28,29, RSV). So let it be done in our lives, Father. Amen.
Jan and Lenny Antonsson
17178 Highway 59, Neosho, MO (Snail Mail)
End Note "A": "Power from on High, Part I," (Pentecost)
"Power from on High, Part II"
End Note "B": "Father of Lights"
"The Glory Story, Continued"
"Living in Glory"
"The Glory Factor"
Jan's Poem, "The New Creation"
End Note "D": "From Glory to Glory," by Jan
The Glory Road
We always enjoy hearing from you!
This page was uploaded to the web
by Jan Antonsson, Webmeister, on 6/23/01
and last edited on 11/03/08.