The Mystery of Glory (1)

The Mystery of Glory (1)

We worship you for your holiness, we give you thanks for your goodness, we praise you for your glory!

Glory: the weighty splendor of God’s personal presence. The bottom line is that the weight of God’s presence outweighs the world; His presence is more substantive and heavier than the universe. As King Solomon says in 1 Kings 8:27: “Can it be that God will actually move into the neighborhood? Why, the cosmos itself isn’t large enough to give You breathing room, the highest heavens cannot contain You!” (the Message version)

The power of God’s presence makes the natural world burst at the seams. The earth is overpowered by God’s glory. Isaiah asks for God’s presence and what it would take for Him to make an appearance in Isaiah 64:1: “Tear the heavens apart and come down!” Or perhaps you like the way David puts it in Psalm 144:5: “Bend your sky, O Lord, and come down.”

Annie Dillard, in her book Teaching A Stone to Talk, has this to say about God’s power and presence: “Why do we people in churches seem like cheerful, brainless tourists on a packaged tour of the Absolute? On the whole, I do not find Christians, outside of the catacombs, sufficiently sensible of conditions. Does anyone have the foggiest idea what sort of power we so blithely invoke? Or, as I suspect, does no one believe a word of it? The churches are children playing on the floor with their chemistry sets, mixing up a batch of TNT to kill a Sunday morning. It is madness to wear ladies’ straw hats and velvet hats to church; we should all be wearing crash helmets. Ushers should issue life preservers and signal flares; they should lash us to our pews.”

In other words, we need to sing with the angels when they declared “the whole earth is full of God’s glory!” (Isaiah 6:3).

What happens when a dramatic sliver of God makes a special appearance in the natural world? Here are some glory sightings in Scripture, and a peek at what happened:

  1. On a Mountain: Dense cloud; thunder; lightning; consuming fire; smoke; violent earthquake; increasingly louder trumpet blast. (Exodus 19:9, 16-19; 20:18-19; 24:15-18).
  2. In a Tent: thick cloud; heavy presence. (Exodus 40:34).
  3. On a Journey: thick cloud by day, fire by night (Ex. 40:34-38)
  4. In a Cave: violent wind; earthquake; fire; gentle whisper. (1 Kings 19:11-13).
  5. In a Temple: thick cloud; heavy presence. (2 Chronicles 5:13-14).
  6. Without Words: the heavenly expanse. (Psalm 19:1-6).
  7. At a Calling: thick smoke; earthquake; heaven; angels; God’s presence. (Isaiah 6:1-5)
  8. At A Birth: heavenly host of angels filling the sky. (Luke 2:9-14).
  9. At a Wedding: water turned into wine. (John 2:11).
  10. During Prayer: dense cloud; body of light; clothing transfigured; voice of the Father; presence of two dead prophets. (Luke 9:28-36)
  11. On the Cross: Temple veil torn in two; earthquake, rocks split; tombs open, dead are raised; darkness at noon; salvation of thief. (Matthew 27:45, 50-53).
  12. At a Tomb: violent earthquake; an angel like lightning; soldiers fainted. (Matthew 28:2-6).
  13. In an Upper Room: tongues of fire; strong wind; foreign languages; filled with Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:1-4).
  14. Under Persecution: Stephen saw skies open, heaven, Jesus and the Father. (Acts 7:54-56).
  15. On the Road: lightning; flashing lights; voice from heaven; blindness. (Acts 9:3-7).
  16. In Each Other: Jesus says to the Father, “I gave them the glory that you gave me.” (John 17:22).

That’s right, when God’s glory makes an appearance, we can get everything from angels and trumpets and fire and earthquakes, to lightning and clouds and wind and thunder, to smoke and voices and blinding lights and foreign languages, to open graves and resurrected bodies and torn curtains and noontime darkness, to miracles galore, to perhaps one of the biggest glorious mysteries, transformed hearts and changed lives. For God’s glory is somehow reflected in ordinary human beings like ourselves. “All of us, as with unveiled faces, because we continue to behold and to reflect like mirrors the glory of the Lord, are constantly being transformed into His very own image in ever increasing splendor and from one degree of glory to another, for  this comes from the Lord Who is the Spirit.” (2 Corinthians 3:18, AMP).

Oh, if we could but live in light of God’s power and glory, and echo Solomon’s words in Psalm 72:18-19: “Praise be to the Lord God, the God of Israel, who alone does marvelous deeds. Praise be to His glorious name forever; May the whole earth be filled with His glory! Amen and Amen.”

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