Show me Your Glory
CHCC: April 12, 2009
Set up Video (link on YOutube) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GlZtEjtlirc
Video: Richard Dawkins interviewed by Ben Stein from Movie "Expelled" (Available on Youtube)
The Final statement Dawkins made in his interview was a quote from another Athiest (Bertrand Russell) who was asked what he would say if he discovered that God did indeed actually exist. The quote, “Sir, why did you make yourself so hard to find?”
Does God hide Himself? Perhaps from those who aren’t really looking for him, the answer might be, “Yes.” But what about those who are earnestly seeking for God and honestly desiring to find him. The answer to that is found in the following:
Jeremiah 29: 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you," declares the LORD.
The Bible’s full of examples where God showed Himself to people who were seeking Him with an honest heart. Today we’re going to look at 3 of those, starting with Moses in the book of Exodus. (which we’ve been studying together for the last few weeks.)
1. Moses – Exodus 33:14-23
When God gave Moses the Law, written on stone tablets, there on Mt. Sinai, the people were down below riotously worshipping a golden calf they had asked Aaron to make for them. Moses came down the mountain, saw their sin, and hurled down the stone tablets in anger breaking them in pieces. The People realized how great their sin was, especially when 3000 of them were killed by the Levites at Moses command (by the way, this was the day the Jews later called Pentecost, and on this Pentecost day 3000 were killed. Compare that with the New Testament day of Pentecost when 3000 were saved and baptized.) Moses went back before the Lord to atone for the sins of the people, and it was during this meeting to intercede for wayward people, that God had this conversation with Moses.
Exodus 33: 14 The LORD replied, "My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest."
15 Then Moses said to him, "If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. 16 How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?"
17 And the LORD said to Moses, "I will do the very thing you have asked, because I am pleased with you and I know you by name."
18 Then Moses said, "Now show me your glory."
19 And the LORD said, "I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the LORD, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. 20 But," he said, "you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live."
21 Then the LORD said, "There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock. 22 When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. 23 Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen."
Moses was so in tune with the Lord, and so connected to the Lord that he begged Him “If your presence does not go with us, do not send us from here.” Moses was not willing to take another step or move to any other place apart from the Lord’s presence and provision. He was basically saying, If you won’t go with us, then just kill us and end it here. He refused to take any action apart from God. This reveals his closeness to God which helps us to see why God spoke to him face to face like a friend.
His request to see God’s glory was immediately answered by God’s willingness to show His glory to Moses. God accommodated Moses request because he knew the heart of Moses. Compare Moses request with Dawkins statement, “Sir, why did you make yourself so hard to find?” If God would have chosen to answer such a statement coming from an Athiest, he would have said something like this. “You were never looking for me so you never found me.” God has nothing to reveal to unbelievers, but he is more than willing to interact with those earnestly seeking Him.
2. Elijah - I Kings 19
The account of Elijah, in 1 Kings 19, is another example of God revealing himself to someone he had a relationship with. Elijah, had just finished an encounter with 450 prophets of Baal, and after defeating them in a contest to have God call down fire on an offering, which God did, thereby proving that he existed and that Baal didn’t exist, Elijah had the false prophets killed which angered Queen Jezebel. She promised to kill Elijah, which sent him sprinting off into the desert to get away from the wicked Queen. God intervened in Elijah’s troubled world and restored him back to health and sanity at the Mt. Horeb Hilton, then this conversation took place between the Lord and Elijah.
But the Lord said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
10 Elijah replied, “I have zealously served the Lord God Almighty. But the people of Israel have broken their covenant with you, torn down your altars, and killed every one of your prophets. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me, too.”
11 “Go out and stand before me on the mountain,” the Lord told him. And as Elijah stood there, the Lord passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12 And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper. 13 When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.
Once again, a man with a close relationship with God is given a rare opportunity to see and hear the Lord in a dramatic way. You may remember that Elijah was the prophet God took away to heaven in a whirlwind and a chariot of fire (2 Kings 2). Which also lets us know that Elijah didn’t suffer a normal human death; he went out in a blaze of glory (quite literally.)
3. Peter, John, and James – Luke 9
So far, we have looked at Moses special encounter with God, Elijah’s special encounter with God, and now we are about to look at another special event where Jesus takes three of his disciples into a mountain to pray, and is transfigured there before them. His face and clothes glowed with a heavenly radiance, and what two people should appear at this event? The same two we have just talked about earlier. Moses and Elijah, representing the Law and the Prophets in bodily form, are at this transfiguration where the true glory of Jesus as Christ is revealed. That which had been hidden in flesh and blood, is now revealed for what it truly is. The covers are pulled aside, and the true glory of Jesus is revealed before 5 witnesses, two of which came back to earth to be present for this event.
Luke 9: 28 About eight days after Jesus said this, he took Peter, John and James with him and went up onto a mountain to pray. 29As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning. 30Two men, Moses and Elijah, 31appeared in glorious splendor, talking with Jesus. They spoke about his departure, which he was about to bring to fulfillment at Jerusalem. 32Peter and his companions were very sleepy, but when they became fully awake, they saw his glory and the two men standing with him. 33As the men were leaving Jesus, Peter said to him, "Master, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah." (He did not know what he was saying.)
34While he was speaking, a cloud appeared and enveloped them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. 35A voice came from the cloud, saying, "This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him." 36When the voice had spoken, they found that Jesus was alone. The disciples kept this to themselves, and told no one at that time what they had seen.
The glory Moses and Elijah had seen once before on earth, is now repeated by the flesh and blood Jesus. The difference is that this time, they are allowed to see the face of God in Christ without dying. God has put on flesh, and in doing so, his glory is no less glorious than before, but more accessible than before. Jesus is the fleshly face of God for all to see. The transfiguration made things more clear to Peter, James, and John than anything they had already witnessed or experienced. Once again, God was willing to make himself known to those who were in relationship with Him. I find it interesting that Luke’s gospel records the transfiguration right after Peter’s confession of Jesus as the Christ, the son of God. That would have been a no-brainer if Peter had said it after witnessing the transfiguration, but his confession of Jesus as the Christ came before the transfiguration event. One wonders if it even enabled it.
4. You and Me (and all the world) - John 1
John 1:1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was with God in the beginning.
3Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4In him was life, and that life was the light of men. 5The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.
Here’s what Jesus said near the end of his 3 year ministry on earth.
John 12: All these God-signs he had given them and they still didn’t get it, still wouldn’t trust him. This proved that the prophet Isaiah was right:
God, who believed what we preached?
Who recognized God’s arm, outstretched and ready to act?
First they wouldn’t believe, then they couldn’t believe, again, just as Isaiah said:
Their eyes are blinded,
their hearts are hardened,
So that they wouldn’t see with their eyes
and perceive with their hearts,
And turn to me, God,
so I could heal them.
These are people who had seen God Himself in person. They had witnessed miracles. Three of them even saw Jesus transfigured before them. What more could God have shown them. But still they didn’t’ completely believe or even understand.
The greatest display of God’s glory came at the cross. It was there that God has now SHOWN Himself FULLY in Jesus’ death and resurrection. At the cross we see Jesus as both the high priest and as the blood sacrifice, the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. And at the tomb we understand that Jesus revealed power over death to prove that he was who he claimed to be all along. Though no one saw the actual moment of resurrection itself, Jesus made no less than 7 appearances to individuals, small groups, and even once to a large group numbering over 500. Many saw the resurrected Jesus for a period of 40 days after his death and burial. Then the disciples saw his ascension into Heaven, and the promise by angels that Jesus would return again just as he left. Many followers of Jesus had a chance to see wonderful, miraculous visions of God’s glory in the person of Christ. Still there were those unwilling to believe unless they saw things firsthand.
Thomas who we call the doubter, is a good case in point. He had missed one of Jesus’ appearances to the other disciples, and said he would not believe until he saw for himself and put his hands into the wounds of Jesus. Once again, a loving Lord heard the words of Thomas, and obliged him with his appearance in the flesh of the resurrected Jesus, inviting him to see and to touch and to believe. Well, it was all Thomas needed. His answer said it all.
John 20;28And Thomas answered and said unto him, My LORD and my God.
29Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.
There are some who have testified to seeing amazing things even in our day and age. Others have lived faithful lives and have never seen anything miraculous or above the ordinary. Jesus called these people “blessed” Their faith and obedience didn’t require any visions of grandeur or angelic visitations. No chariots of fire or whirlwinds to make things unmistakable. Still they believed.
For you today, If you earnestly seek the Lord he promises he will be found by you. (Jeremiah 29), With or without visions of glory, God yearns to have a relationship with you. What is your hearts desire with regards to connecting with God? Express your desire to him, and see what kind of adventure will unfold in your daily work with your loving Lord.