Nov 15, 2012, 8:42 AM
“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)
In very simple language, the glory of God can be defined as the presence of God in all its splendour and beauty. It is a rare phenomenon in the Bible and all those who were privileged to see it were stunned by the experience. It most definitely was an awesome sight!
The presence of God was made manifest by a cloud in the Tent of Meeting where God met with Moses as the latter journeyed to Canaan, the Promised Land with the Children of Israel. Once when “...the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle,” Moses could not enter it. That same cloud signalled to the Children of Israel when it was time to continue their journey through the wilderness on their way to the land God was going to give them. “In all the travels of the Israelites, whenever the cloud lifted from above the tabernacle, they would set out; but if the cloud did not lift, they did not set out – until the day it lifted. So the cloud of the Lord was over the tabernacle by day, and the fire was in the cloud by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel during all their travels.” (Exodus 40:36-38)
The word cloud is synonymous with smoke and God manifested himself to one of the greatest Old Testament prophets – Isaiah by name - in this manner as he encountered God in the temple. As Isaiah beheld God’s glory, he saw him “seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple.” He was so astonished, terrified and taken aback, confounded, mesmerised, transported, and stunned all at once. The angels sang: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty: the whole world is full of his glory.” (Isaiah 6:3)
In seeing God’s glory Isaiah realised his infinite greatness and knew beyond a shadow of doubt that he could not measure up to God’s holiness. The light of God’s glory revealed his shortcomings and he cried: “Woe to me! I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty!” (Isaiah 6:5) The temple had been filled with smoke, an indication of God’s presence. God’s glory humbles us and draws us to him. There is no better eye-opener. One encounter and we can no longer be the same.
When God needed a messenger therefore, Isaiah was willing to take up the challenge. “Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us? And I said, ‘Here am I. Send me” (Isaiah 6:8) May this be our response to God’s invitation each time he calls us to undertake a mission on his behalf.
God’s glory also takes the form of light. When the angel of the Lord announced the event of Jesus’ birth to the shepherds “...the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.” (Luke 2:9) You cannot behold God’s glory and not be struck by it. It is an unusual and uncommon happening that can give one the shivers. It is just out of this world! In everyday language, it will just blow your mind.
That same light, which is indicative of God’s glory, struck Saul on his way to Damascus as he pursued his persecution course against the early church – the people who belonged to the Way. “As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him. “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” “Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked. “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting,” he replied.” (Acts 9:4-5)
Zealous as Saul was in his campaign to stop the spread of Christianity, he literally ‘kicked against a stone’ when Jesus, the Risen Lord confronted him on his way to Damascus. The light that stopped Paul in his tracks blinded him, and he could not go any further in his wicked pursuit of Christians. Later a man named Ananias was sent by Jesus to restore his sight.
Light, smoke and cloud are some of the ways God manifests his glory. Most of the time he does not only want to draw our attention to the reality of his existence but also to his presence. We do not serve a dead, lame or ineffective God who is unable to defend himself. No! We serve a Living God who is Ever-present, All-Knowing and Almighty.Ask him to show you his glory and he would, because nothing compares to his surpassing glory.