INTRODUCTION & SCRIPTURE
If you have your Bibles with you this morning I would like you to open it at 2 Chronicles 5.
We are going to read a couple of verse this morning to enable us to get a clear picture of what God has placed on my heart to share with you this morning.
While you find the place in your Bible, let me just give you some background regarding this piece of scripture.
The Temple of God was finished, all the building work and decoration work has been done and now it is time to consecrate the Temple.
If you can remember, God instructed that the Temple be built, but He did not allow David to build it.
We read in:
1 Chronicles 28:3 GW
(3) But God told me (David), 'You must not build the temple for my name. You have fought wars and caused bloodshed.'
So here, in the scripture this morning, we have David’s son, Solomon, having been at the head of the building project, now also present at the consecration of the Temple.
So let’s read from verse 1.
2 Chronicles 5:1-7, 11-14, 6:1, 7:1-3 GW
1) All the work Solomon did on the LORD'S temple was finished. He brought the holy things that had belonged to his father David-the silver, gold, and all the utensils-and put them in the storerooms of God's temple.
2) Then Solomon assembled the respected leaders of Israel, all the heads of the tribes, and the leaders of the Israelite families. They came to Jerusalem to take the ark of the LORD'S promise (The Ark of the Covenant, KJV) from the City of David (that is, Zion).
3) All the men of Israel gathered around the king at the Festival of Booths in the seventh month. [(Feast of Tabernacles, KJV) (Sukkot) – Later, after Israel entered Promised Land, it became The Fall of Harvest (Chag ha-Asif)]
4) When all the leaders of Israel had arrived, the Levites picked up the ark.
5) They brought the ark, the tent of meeting, and all the holy utensils in it to the temple. The priests and the Levites carried them [The tent of meetings was the meeting place with God when the Israelites were in the desert after Moses freed them from the Egyptian slavery. They did not have a permanent Temple at that time, mainly because they travelled a lot. So we see that the tent of meeting, the original meeting place with God, was now also placed inside the newly erected Temple. Also, the Ark was placed in the Temple. So we see that God, in our human understanding, was brought into the temple. It was given to Him to occupy so to say. He was given residency.]
6) while King Solomon and the whole assembly from Israel were offering countless sheep and cattle sacrifices in front of the ark. [There was sacrifices given to God. Sometimes we need to make some sacrifices before God will bring His Glory to us.]
7) The priests brought the ark of the LORD'S promise to its place in the inner room of the temple (the most holy place) under the wings of the angels. [We see that God was given Centre stage]
11) All the priests who were present had performed the ceremonies to make themselves holy to God without regard to staying in their divisions. [The priests made themselves Holy before entering into the most holy place – Sanctification took place. Whenever we want the Glory of the Lord to manifest in our midst, we need to sanctify ourselves, we need to confess any sins to God and be washed in the Blood of Jesus Christ.]
12) All the Levites who were musicians-Asaph, Heman, Jeduthun, their sons, and their relatives-were dressed in fine linen and stood east of the altar with cymbals, harps, and lyres. With the musicians were 120 priests blowing trumpets. When the priests left the holy place,
13) the trumpeters and singers praised and thanked the LORD in unison. Accompanied by trumpets, cymbals, and other musical instruments, they sang in praise to the LORD: "He is good; his mercy endures forever." Then the LORD'S temple was filled with a cloud. [They praised & worshipped the Lord. Look at the word used here “unison”. The KJV says that “the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound”. They were in one accord. Whenever we pray, praise and worship God in one accord, the Glory of God will fall in our midst, and it can even be seen as a physical manifestation. When this Glory falls, people WILL get saved, people WILL get healed, and people WILL be filled with the Spirit, even when no one prayed for them. But there needs to be a unison. In other words, everyone must be making the same sound. Too often we find that the Glory of God is not present in a church meeting for the clear fact that there are no union amongst the congregation. People fight amongst each other, talk bad things behind other people’s back.]
14) The priests couldn't serve because of the cloud. The LORD'S glory filled God's temple. [God entered and filled the temple in a cloud. The priests could not serve because of the cloud. This resonates God’s acceptance of the Temple. When we are clean from our sins, when we give God centre]
2 Chronicles 6:1 GW
1) Then Solomon said, "The LORD said he would live in a dark cloud.
2 Chronicles 7:1-3 GW
1) When Solomon finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offerings and the other sacrifices, and the LORD'S glory filled the temple. [Fire consumed the offering. God accepted the offering. God’s glory filled the temple.]
2) The priests couldn't go into the LORD'S temple because the LORD'S glory had filled the LORD'S temple.
3) When all the Israelites saw the fire come down and the LORD'S glory on the temple, they knelt down with their faces on the pavement. They worshiped and praised the LORD, by saying, "He is good; his mercy endures forever."
Let us pray
God, we saw, manifested Himself when He accepted the sacrifices with fire from heaven.
Then we saw that He accepted the Temple by filling it with a cloud.
And then His Glory filled the Temple, so much so that the Priests could not serve.
But, in order for us to understand this concept, I believe it imperative that we first understand the phrase Glory of God.
I have often found that the word has been used very loosely by Christians.
I also believe that there is a huge misconception when it comes to the Glory of God.
I would say there is a depreciating value given to God’s Glory, solely because we do not understand it in its totality.
I need us to understand what it means in this morning’s message, when we speak about the Glory of God.
Let start this morning by asking a question:
What is the Glory of God?
John Bevere has an interesting take on this.
When we look at Exodus 33:18 GW we see Moses asking God the following:
… "Please let me see your glory."
Now the word Glory is translated here from the Greek word “kâbôd” and it translates, according to Strong’s, only figuratively, and in a good sense, as the weight of something and also speaks of splendour, abundance, glory and honour.
So what was Moses actually asking God?
He was asking God, as John Bevere wrote,
“Show me Yourself in all Your splendour.”
Look at what God said in verse 19
Exodus 33:19 GW
"I will let all my goodness pass in front of you, and there I will call out my name 'the LORD.”
Here God refers to His Glory as “all My Goodness”.
All means everything…
Nothing is reserved
King Entering Throne Room
Before an earthly king enters the throne room he is always proclaimed by announcement.
Only then does he enters in his splendour.
His greatness is revealed.
Nobody but the king can be mistaken to be the king.
Everyone knows who the king is.
If we take that same king, dress him in normal clothes and place him on the street without his entourages, not many people will recognise him as the king.
This is what God is saying to Moses.
And I quote John Bevere here again:
“I will proclaim My own name and pass by you in all My splendour.”
God’s Glory is everything that makes God, God.
I want you to listen closely to this as it will become apparent later on in the sermon.
In other words:
“Literally the immeasurable weight and magnitude of God are contained within God’s Glory.”
The Glory of God is the Presence and Power of God being manifested or demonstrated.
That is what God’s manifest Glory is.
Let’s look at the importance of the Cloud, the Fire & the Glory
THE CLOUD, THE FIRE & THE GLORY
A) Before Jesus came to earth
We are introduced to the cloud, and the fire and the Glory for the first time in Exodus 13
Exodus 13:21-22 KJV
(21) And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night:
(22) He took not away the pillar of the cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people.
We see here that God went before them “in a pillar of cloud” by day and a pillar of fire by night.
What was the purpose of this?
The cloud was there to lead them by day and the fire to give them light and I presume warmth as well, although the Bible does not pertinently state that.
The scripture says that He went before them “to lead them the way”
So God goes before the Israelites in order for Him to lead them
Pillar behind them
In the very next chapter, chapter 14, we read the story of how Pharaoh followed the Israelites into the desert and, just before the sea was opened for the Israelites to walk through, we read the following recorded in verses 19 and 20:
Exodus 14:19-20 KJV
(19) And the angel of God, which went before the camp of Israel, removed and went behind them; and the pillar of the cloud went from before their face, and stood behind them:
(20) And it came between the camp of the Egyptians and the camp of Israel; and it was a cloud and darkness to them, but it gave light by night to these: so that the one came not near the other all the night.
Here the pillar moved to the back of the Israelites to protect them.
God’s glory within the cloud and fire was there for the leading and the protection of the Israelites.
Exodus 19:16-18 records God on Mount Sinai and it says that a thick cloud was upon the mountain.
God spoke from within the cloud.
Then in Exodus 24 from verse 15 we read where he got onto the mountain again and it says that a cloud covered the mountain and that the Glory of the Lord abode upon the mountain.
It goes on to say that the sight of the Glory of the Lord was like devouring fire
Here we see the presence of the Cloud, The Fire and God’s Glory
That brings us to Exodus 40.
Exodus 40:34-38 KJV
(34) Then a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.
(35) And Moses was not able to enter into the tent of the congregation, because the cloud abode thereon, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.
(36) And when the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the children of Israel went onward in all their journeys:
(37) But if the cloud were not taken up, then they journeyed not till the day that it was taken up.
(38) For the cloud of the LORD was upon the tabernacle by day, and fire was on it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel, throughout all their journeys.
How similar is this to the account that we read regarding the consecration of the Temple?
Again we have the presence of the Cloud, which covered the tent of the congregation, we have God’s Glory filling the Tabernacle, we have the fire burning by night and we have Moses not able to enter the Tent because of God’s glory which filled the tabernacle.
The question is this:
Why would God need to be in a cloud?
Why not just appear to them in all His glory for them to follow Him?
The answer is found in Exodus chapter 33
Remember Moses asked God if he could see His Glory, in Exodus 33:18.
Now, in the following verses God answers Moses:
Exodus 33:20-23 GW
(20) But you can't see my face, because no one may see me and live."
(21) Then the LORD said, "Look, there's a place near me. Stand by this rocky cliff.
(22) When my glory passes by, I will put you in a crevice in the cliff and cover you with my hand until I have passed by.
(23) Then I will take my hand away, and you'll see my back, but my face must not be seen."
No one may see my face and live
In our human nature we are incapable of looking at God.
We will not be able to handle God’s Glory if He reveals it.
Remember what we said about God’s Glory.
God’s Glory is a manifestation of who He is.
Therefore, in order for God to manifest His Glory to the Israelites, He had to conceal His Glory in a cloud.
Now God did give Moses a glimpse of His Glory as He said He would.
He gave him a glimpse of His back, that’s all.
And then we read in Exodus 34:29 and 30 that, when Moses came from the mountain “His face was shining from speaking with the LORD” and “When Aaron and all the Israelites looked at Moses and saw his face shining, they were afraid to come near him.”
God needed to conceal His Glory in a Cloud and sometimes, because of His Power, it manifested as fire.
B) Whiles Jesus was on earth
You can go through the Old Testament and you will find many scriptures that speak about the Glory of God being manifested within a cloud and then also the manifestation of Fire or Light or Power.
But that was before Jesus came to earth.
The question now stands:
Did this change when Jesus came to earth?
Jesus came down to earth and He became human.
Yes, He was fully God and fully Human, but He still had a human form.
Then, in Matthew 3, His baptism is recorded.
Listen to this:
Mark 1:9-12 GW
At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan River.
As Jesus came out of the water, he saw heaven split open and the Spirit coming down to him as a dove.
A voice from heaven said, "You are my Son, whom I love. I am pleased with you."
At once the Spirit brought him into the desert,
As I have stated earlier, God told Moses that He could not show him His glory, because he would die.
Moses was a sinful human and therefore could not handle the Glory of God.
But Jesus was without sin, He was the Son of God and He was God.
On the entire earth at that stage, Jesus was the only one able, in His human form, to handle the Glory of His Father.
Yes, in the past God did sent His Holy Spirit to come upon someone, but it was always just for a short period of time.
So when Jesus was baptized, from heaven, from the clouds, God’s Glory, God’s Holy Spirit, came down and at that moment Jesus received the Glory of God.
It is at that moment that Jesus receives the leading, the protecting and the Power, the Fire, of the Holy Spirit.
This was a permanent arrangement.
Now Jesus called His body a temple.
Remember when He said in John 2:18-19 GW?
(18) The Jews reacted by asking Jesus, "What miracle can you show us to justify what you're doing?"
(19) Jesus replied, "Tear down this temple, and I'll rebuild it in three days."
Jesus was referring to His body which will die at their hands, but that He would become alive from the grave after 3 days.
But none the less He referenced His body to be a temple.
And therefore it is relevant to connect the scripture we read in the beginning to Jesus being baptised.
At the Temple the cloud filled the temple and God’s glory filled the Temple, indicating that He accepted the temple.
With Jesus’ baptism from heaven, from the clouds, God’s Glory ascended onto Him and filled Him, indicating that He accepted Jesus.
In fact, God spoke to them saying “You are my Son, whom I love. I am pleased with you."
When they made sacrifices to God at the temple, God sent fire, His power was manifested, which consumed the sacrifices, indicating that He accepted their sacrifices.
When Jesus was on the cross, at His death, Matthew records it as follows:
Matthew 27:51 GW
(51) Suddenly, the curtain in the temple was split in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, and the rocks were split open.
God’s power manifested at Jesus death, because he accepted Jesus’ sacrifice.
He accepted Jesus’ payment for our sins.
Also, just as God led His people in the desert, so the Holy Spirit led Jesus into the desert after His baptism.
Isn’t that amazing?
God led His people in the desert in a cloud by means of His Glory and Power and now, the moment Jesus receives God’s Glory, the Spirit leads Him to the desert.
God gave Jesus His Glory by means of the Holy Spirit.
In fact Jesus had the same Glory as that of The Father.
John 1:14 GW
(14) The Word became human and lived among us. We saw his glory. It was the glory that the Father shares with his only Son, a glory full of kindness and truth.
Furthermore, Jesus Himself accentuated this when He said in John 8:54 GW
"If I bring glory to myself, my glory is nothing. My Father is the one who gives me glory…”
The thing is God’s Glory was within Jesus.
That did not mean that Father God could not meet with Him in all His Glory.
It did not mean that God could not manifest His Glory any more.
And there is an incident recorded in the Bible where God manifested His Glory.
However, when He met with Jesus, He still needed to meet with Him within a cloud as the people were still not able to handle His Glory.
Let’s read about this:
Mark 9:2-9 GW
After six days Jesus took only Peter, James, and John and led them up a high mountain where they could be alone. Jesus' appearance changed in front of them.
His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone on earth could bleach them.
Then Elijah and Moses appeared to them and were talking with Jesus.
Peter said to Jesus, "Rabbi, it's good that we're here. Let's put up three tents-one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah."
(Peter didn't know how to respond. He and the others were terrified.)
Then a cloud overshadowed them. A voice came out of the cloud and said, "This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!"
Suddenly, as they looked around, they saw no one with them but Jesus.
On their way down the mountain, Jesus ordered them not to tell anyone what they had seen. They were to wait until the Son of Man had come back to life.
Again God manifests within a cloud, for the sake of the people.
Were Jesus, in His human form, able to handle God’s Glory?
I believe He was.
You see, the prerequisite for seeing God’s Glory is that you need to be dead.
Physically dead would do the trick, but also dead to sin, whiles still physically alive.
You need to be free from the yoke of sin.
When Jesus was baptised He indicated and proofed that he was dead to sin.
And when we are dead to sin, only then are we able to handle God’s Glory.
Up to that point Jesus have not died on the cross and He did not yet pay the penalty on behalf of us for our sins.
The people still had to sacrifice animals themselves.
But when Jesus sacrificed Himself, all who accepted Him became dead to sin.
When Jesus was on earth he showed us that it was possible to receive God’s Glory and that it was able to see God’s Glory without the cloud.
Jesus wants us to see His Glory in all its majesty
Therefore He has given us the Glory.
John 17:22-24 GW
(22) I have given them the glory that you gave me. I did this so that they are united in the same way we are.
(23) I am in them, and you are in me. So they are completely united. In this way the world knows that you have sent me and that you have loved them in the same way you have loved me.
(24) "Father, I want those you have given to me to be with me, to be where I am. I want them to see my glory, which you gave me because you loved me before the world was made.
Peter also confirmed this in:
2 Peter 1:16-18 KJV
(16) For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty.
(17) For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
(18) And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount.
C) After Jesus’ Ascension
We have just read that Jesus gave us the Glory
God’s Glory now resides in those who accepts Him as their Lord and Saviour.
When you receive Jesus you also receive the Holy Spirit.
You also receive God’s Glory.
In actual fact we can say that your body now becomes the cloud in which God’s Glory can be manifested.
And you have the ability to show God’s Glory to others as He abides in you.
You have not become God, as many religion would have you believe.
Just as the cloud was not God, but God’s Glory abided within in, so your body just becomes God’s abode.
In fact, your body has become the Temple in which the Holy Spirit wants to live.
1 Corinthians 3:16 GW
(16) Don't you know that you are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you?
God can only manifest His Glory in something that is clean.
If the temple is not clean He cannot abide in it.
But that’s the great thing of all of this.
Before Jesus died on the cross and took the punishment for our sins on Him, the people needed to offer sacrifices to God.
Therefore, whenever they sinned, their temple, their body, was defiled again.
That is why, before Christ, the Holy Spirit only abided in people for a short time.
But after Jesus paid the price we are clean.
Yes, we sin.
Yes, we make mistakes.
But we have been cleaned by His Blood.
The price was already paid.
And therefore we are clean.
All our sins are forgiven.
Jesus did not die on the cross for just a certain number of sins.
He died for all our sins.
And that is why the Holy Spirit, that is why God’s Glory, can abide in us.
But what about the fire?
We spoke about the cloud, having been substituted by your body.
We spoke about the Glory of God.
But what about the fire.
In Acts 1:8 Jesus said that we would receive power when the Holy Spirit comes to us
Then in Acts 2 we read the following:
Acts 2:1-3 GW
When Pentecost, the fiftieth day after Passover, came, all the believers were together in one place.
Suddenly, a sound like a violently blowing wind came from the sky and filled the whole house where they were staying.
Tongues that looked like fire appeared to them. The tongues arranged themselves so that one came to rest on each believer.
God’s Glory abodes in those who accepts Him.
But when God sends down the fire, when God hits us with the fire of the Holy Spirit, that is when we receive Power.
That is when we see what God has in store for us.
That is when we receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
That is when God leads us into the lions’ den and we are able to tame the lions.
That is when God allows us to enter the burning furnace and we are able to leave there without a scratch.
That is where God tells us to get out of the boat in the middle of a storm and walk on the water.
That is when God tells us to lay our hands on the sick and they will be healed.
That is when you can tell evil spirits, demons, to pack up and leave.
Jesus said that we will be able to do greater things than He did.
John 14:12-17 GW
"I can guarantee this truth: Those who believe in me will do the things that I am doing. They will do even greater things because I am going to the Father.
I will do anything you ask the Father in my name so that the Father will be given glory because of the Son.
If you ask me to do something, I will do it.
"If you love me, you will obey my commandments.
I will ask the Father, and he will give you another helper who will be with you forever.
That helper is the Spirit of Truth. The world cannot accept him, because it doesn't see or know him. You know him, because he lives with you and will be in you.
God’s Spirit lives in those who accepts Him and that means that we have become the abode of God’s Glory and that’s why we can see.
Just as God’s Glory manifested in the cloud in the desert to lead God’s people out of the wilderness, so each one of us have been tasked to lead the world out of the wilderness.
After all, Jesus said that we are “a Light for the world” (Matthew 5:14)
When Jesus was taken up into heaven, God was waiting for Him.
Jesus transformed into Glory whiles ascending.
Acts 1:9 KJV
And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.
They needed to hide The Glory in the Cloud because not everyone was able to handle the Glory.
Not everyone had the Glory of God abiding in them.
And therefore, to keep those who did not receive it yet from dying, God still needed to hide His Glory in a cloud.
And it says that, when Jesus comes again, and this is something I always missed before.
Let me read it for you…
Luke 21:27 KJV
(27) And then shall they see the Son of man coming IN a cloud with power and great glory.
I always read that Jesus was coming on the clouds.
Riding it like a surfboard towards earth.
But it does not say Jesus will come ON a cloud.
It says that Jesus will come IN a cloud.
When Jesus comes again, unfortunately not everyone will be ready.
Not everyone will have the Glory of God in them.
Not everyone would be dead to sin.
Therefore, Jesus still needs to come, covered in a cloud.
He still needs to cover His Glory in a cloud.
Maybe this morning you are one of those who have not yet have God’s Glory abiding in you.
Paul writes to the Church of Rome and he says the following:
Romans 2:7 GW
(7) He will give everlasting life to those who search for glory, honor, and immortality by persisting in doing what is good.
Won’t you make that decision this morning
Won’t you decide to search for God’s Glory this morning?
To receive His Glory and have Him live in you.
He is waiting for your acceptance this morning.
To those who have not yet receive the Holy Spirit Power, the Fire, I am going to pray this morning that you receive it.
But before I continue, I need to give a message to the church this morning.
In our scripture this morning we read what led to the temple being visited by God Glory in such a way that the priest could not even serve and people fell down and prayed to God, repented.
God wants to visit us in all His Glory.
But we need to make sure that we have sacrificed.
We need to make sure that we have gotten rid of all the things that stands between us and God.
If something stands between you and receiving God’s Glory in a visitation, I need you to get rid of it.
We need to ensure that God takes Centre Stage
He needs to be the most important aspect of this church.
If He is not then we have become just another show.
We need to ensure that we are living a Holy Life.
We need to be clean of sin.
Is there anything that is still making you to be dirty?
Clean it this morning.
Make a commitment to get rid of it.
Our Praise & Worship needs to be in One Accord
We need to be on the same note.
We need to work towards one vision.
It is time that we earnestly search for God’s Glory to manifest in our midst.
But we need to ensure that we at least look at the points I have mentioned and excel in accomplishing them.
God wants to visit us.
He wants to come in all His Glory.
But we need to do some work.