Ichabod – Glory of God (6)
Story of Jennifer’s encounter with the Lord’s voice a short time after becoming a Christian. She had stopped drinking when she became a Christian, but would still go to clubs with friends if she was invited. However, one evening, while at a particular club, she heard what seemed like an audible voice saying to her, “Leave! You do not belong here!” She obeyed. Some time later, she was reading her bible and she came across the name of the bar that she had been at. It was “Ichabod’s,” which means, “The Glory of God has departed.”
She wonders to this day what horrible thing would have happened if she hadn’t obeyed. Today, we will learn what it means when the Glory of God has departed. I hope that you will see what happens when the Glory of God is absent from a nation, a church, or your life. And I hope you will do all that you can to ensure that you do not drive God away from your life!
1. First place this appears in scripture:
a. 1 Samuel 4:10-22(NIV) So the Philistines fought, and the Israelites were defeated and every man fled to his tent. The slaughter was very great; Israel lost thirty thousand foot soldiers. The ark of God was captured, and Eli’s two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, died. That same day a Benjamite ran from the battle line and went to Shiloh, his clothes torn and dust on his head. When he arrived, there was Eli sitting on his chair by the side of the road, watching, because his heart feared for the ark of God. When the man entered the town and told what had happened, the whole town sent up a cry. Eli heard the outcry and asked, "What is the meaning of this uproar?" The man hurried over to Eli, who was ninety-eight years old and whose eyes were set so that he could not see. He told Eli, "I have just come from the battle line; I fled from it this very day." Eli asked, "What happened, my son?" The man who brought the news replied, "Israel fled before the Philistines, and the army has suffered heavy losses. Also your two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, are dead, and the ark of God has been captured." When he mentioned the ark of God, Eli fell backward off his chair by the side of the gate. His neck was broken and he died, for he was an old man and heavy. He had led Israel forty years. His daughter-in-law, the wife of Phinehas, was pregnant and near the time of delivery. When she heard the news that the ark of God had been captured and that her father-in-law and her husband were dead, she went into labor and gave birth, but was overcome by her labor pains. As she was dying, the women attending her said, "Don’t despair; you have given birth to a son." But she did not respond or pay any attention. She named the boy Ichabod, saying, "The glory has departed from Israel"-because of the capture of the ark of God and the deaths of her father-in-law and her husband. She said, "The glory has departed from Israel, for the ark of God has been captured."
i. Retelling of the story:
1. For the devout Jew, one of the most chilling words in the Hebrew vocabulary is the word ICHABOD, which means the “glory has departed.” The first time this word appears it is in the midst of one of the darker periods of Israel’s history.
a. Old Eli was the caretaker of the sanctuary at Shiloh. The Philistines were harassing the Hebrews, making life miserable for them, burning or stealing their crops every harvest.
b. While the Jews were engaged in a skirmish with the Philistines, the two sons of Eli foolishly took the Ark of the Covenant from the Tabernacle and carried it into battle to guarantee victory, they thought.
c. They treated this sign of God’s presence, the Ark, as a good luck charm, as if God were under their control.
d. But the battle is lost, the Philistines take the Ark, and kill Eli’s sons in battle. Eli falls when he hears the news and dies, while His daughter in law goes into shock and gives birth prematurely to a boy who she names Ichabod.
e. What had happened here that was so horrible for the Jews was that the VISIBLE SIGN OF GOD’S PRESENCE had been taken away from them.
f. While the Ark was not the literal glory of God, it represented His presence. So in a very real sense, when the Ark was lost, the 12 tribe alliance had lost their sign of God’s glory.
g. From the time of Moses in the wilderness to this point, God’s presence and God’s glory is what had made this nation unique.
h. When God was present, they were INVINCIBLE.
i. But if His presence and glory were missing, then they were just another miserable nation of peasants.
j. It can be the same for many congregations of churches in America today, who are willing to be satisfied with having church as usual.
i. Where singing several songs and listening to a sermon is presumed to be worship.
ii. Where there is an absence of the glory of God, and as a result there is spiritual poverty, powerlessness and lifelessness.
iii. I have to tell you today, that it is not my desire to see this church be without the glory of God where we are simply like other churches.
iv. Being “ordinary” is not good enough for me and I believe it will not be good enough for you.
v. Our church must be a place where the glory of God rests, where our worship is authentic, and where our lives are transformed because we are encountering the glory of God.
2. Another place where the experience of God removing His glory occurs in the Book of Ezekiel. Before the destruction of the Temple in 687BC, there was plenty of worship, sacrifices, priesthood, religion. (describe religious activity going on)
a. There was worship activity going on but there was no MORAL TRANSFORMATION occurring in the worshipers.
1. We know from last week that such an experience is a contradiction in terms.
ii. Bottom line….
b. Worship without transformation does not exist.
i. Remember, last week we learned that the word for transformation is METAMORPHO, which occurs three times in the New Testament.
1. In the Transfiguration, where Jesus was changed in appearance, what was inside became visible outside.
2. In Romans 12:2, where we are told that we are to be “transformed METAMORPHO by the renewing of our minds.”
a. That is, changed by our encounter with the truth.
3. And finally, in 2 Corinthians 3:18, which is the recalling of what happened to Moses’ face and contrasting that experience with what will happen to Christians when they encounter God’s glory.
a. They are CHANGED (METAMORPHO) into the likeness of Christ.
4. We have learned over the past few weeks that when the Glory of God is present and visible, there is true worship. One cannot help but to fall on his or her knees when confronted by the glory of God!
a. True worship ALWAYS results in transformation.
3. The next place we read in Scripture about an Ichabod experience is in the Book of Ezekiel. I will read you just the ending of a very long and detailed passage:
a. Ezekiel 11:22-25 “Then the cherubim, with the wheels beside them, spread their wings, an the glory of the God of Israel was above them. The glory of the Lord went up from within the city and stopped above the mountain east of it. The Spirit lifted me up and brought me to the exiles in Babylonia in the vision given by the Spirit of God. Then the vision I had went up from me, and I told the exiles everything the Lord had shown me.”
b. This passage is the conclusion of an elaborate vision in which Ezekiel is the witness to the withdrawl of God’s glory from the inner court, the outer court, the temple area, the city itself, and finally, from the land and nation itself.
i. There seems to be a reluctance in leaving, on the part of the glory of God as it leaves the temple, rests upon the threshold, then leaves to go to the Mount of Olives, east of the city, where it stops for a time. It is as if God is pausing to look over the City He loves.
1. It was on this same Mount of Olives that Jesus cried over the city of Jerusalem.
ii. The withdrawl of God’s Glory occurred not because of a single sin.
1. This was the sum of many refused opportunities, many refused invitations, and many hardened hearts.
c. Most of the book of Ezekiel is a telling of the reasons for the glory of God departing from the city. .
4. There are some reasons for the Glory of God having left the nation and people of Israel.
a. False Convictions lead to a False Glory.
i. They had the form of godliness without any substance.
ii. In the case of Hophni and Phineas, they tried to use the Ark of God as a good luck charm.
1. They believed they could tell God what to do, they assumed His place and relegated God to that of servant.
2. They didn’t know God. They only had religion.
iii. We must be careful that we don’t fall into this trap.
iv. Charles Finney, a great preacher of the 1800’s said, “Any religious system that does not break the power of sin is a lie.”
1. We don’t have to look very far to see in the many religious systems that use God as their good luck charm…that they try to channel into doing their own, personal will.
1. Chad Curtis, a former Baseball player for the New York Yankees tells how he had played in 151 of 162 regular season games. And now the Yankees were in the World Series and he had not been on the field for the first three games of the series and wasn’t on the roster for the fourth.
2. He was lying on my back in my hotel room when I lifted my eyes toward God and said, "God, all year long, I served You, and now You won’t even let me get on the field. Why?"
3. In a loving, consoling way, the inaudible reply came back. "What am I—a good-luck charm or a life-giver?"— Chad Curtis, retired major league baseball player
vi. Faith in Jesus Christ is much different than that.
1. We look for God to be on our string, but Jesus comes and takes the form of a servant, a slave, and then, instead of crushing the enemies of Israel, he dies a death on the cross because he comes to break the power of self-centered, self-destructive, and self-indulging sin…so that we will look to God not to put Him on our string, but that we might bring glory to His name!
b. Corruption lead to Forsaken Glory – Hophni & Phineas were Eli’s sons, and were said to be exceedingly corrupt, having little regard for the holy things of the altar, taking bribes, perverting justice, and just plain looking out for themselves rather than serving the people like priests were called to do.
a. This is a danger for you and I, when we pursue what we want instead of what God wants.
i. We live with corrupted priorities and practices.
ii. We don’t take the things of God seriously. We act like the world except when we are in church.
iii. Our language, our conduct and behavior outside of church contradicts what we say we believe.
iv. Such behavior will result in God’s presence and power missing from our lives. We will be nothing but just like the rest of the world.
b. Isaiah 59:2 tells us that “Your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that He will not hear.”
1. All sin destroys something. It may destroy something else at first, but it ultimately destroys us as well.
2. In a Christian’s life, the most damaging consequence of unrepented sin occurs in our relationship with God.
a. It results in a lack of power in our life, because the GLORY IS GONE!.
b. It results in a lack of Joy in our Salvation, because the GLORY IS GONE!
c. If you have something between you and another Christian, and you haven’t talked it out and brought it out so you can be reconciled, then you are driving away the glory of God from your life.
d. You might even drive the glory of God out of your church!
3. Repent today. Ask God for His forgiveness. Ask your brother or sister for forgiveness. Reconcile and experience the Glory again.
c. Complacency lead to Faded Glory – Eli had a severe problem with this. He knew his sons were doing these evil things and yet did not rebuke them or stop them. He tolerated their evil behavior.
i. This is a danger for the church as well, when we tolerate evil in our lives or overlook it around us.
ii. We must learn to hate sin and refuse to allow it into our homes.
1. What are you tolerating in your life?
2. If you tolerate it very long, you will see less and less of the Glory of God.
3. He will not strive with you forever.
4. He will let you have your way and let you bear the consequences of your actions.
iii. Complacency concerning evil numbs us to the presence of God.
iv. We will be gradually insulated against being shocked by it and will be just like the frog put in gradually warming water. We will wake up one day and the presence of God is missing from our lives.
d. Consecration leads to Fresh Glory –God had a plan for restoring His glory to Israel through the prophet Samuel, whose mother’s travails had led her to dedicate him to God’s service from birth, and who served faithfully before God. It was under Samuel that the Glory of God found its way back to Israel. Samuel, who was consecrated and set apart at birth, took seriously the need to seek God.
i. Consecration - being set apart, is the solution to a fresh experience of God’s glory.
ii. Here are some Hebrew words that will help us grasp the meaning of God’s glory and whether it is present or not.:
1. There are six words that mean glory.
a. Hader – beauty or excellence
b. Tohar – purity or brightness
c. Sebhi - respect
d. Hodh – grandeur of God
e. Adderith – big, unbounded
f. Kabod – heavy, authoritative, taking charge.
2. When Kabod is absent, God is absent. Ic kabod – means God is absent.
a. When the glory has departed, God has departed.
b. But when the glory descends, God takes charge.
iii. Can you see one of the keys to experiencing the Glory of God?
1. It is a heart that desires to let God be in charge!
2. It is when one is willing to assume their rightful place of worshiper before Creator God and let Him rule!
3. That readiness to worship is the prelude to experiencing the glory – the physical manifestation of the majesty of the Divine presence.
4. Will you run your life or will you let God?
a. The answer you give will determine whether or not you will experience the glory of God in your life!
e. Haggai 2:6-9 "This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘In a little while I will once more shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land. I will shake all nations, and the desired of all nations will come, and I will fill this house with glory,’ says the LORD Almighty. ‘The silver is mine and the gold is mine,’ declares the LORD Almighty. ‘The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house,’ says the LORD Almighty. ‘And in this place I will grant peace,’ declares the LORD Almighty."
i. In Haggai’s vision, he saw the Glory of God returning. Ezekiel later describes the Glory of God returning to the land again as well.
ii. We know that the 2nd Temple of Herod did not exceed the glory of the first temple.
f. 1 Corinthians 3:16 "Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?
i. We are the temple. God has made you and I into the temple of the Holy Spirit when we trusted Jesus Christ as our Savior. We became His temple.
ii. But where is the Glory?
iii. We have lost the concept of the majesty of God. Of His greatness and His glory.
1. The Church has surrendered her once lofty concept of God and has put cheap substitutes in its place…entertainment and worldly values.
2. Much of the church has forgotten that the reason we gather is to encounter the majesty and glory of God.
3. With our loss of the sense of majesty has come the loss of religious awe and consciousness of the divine Presence.
4. We have lost our spirit of worship and our ability to withdraw inwardly to meet God in adoring silence.
5. The words, ‘Be still, and know that I am God,’ mean next to nothing to the self-confident, bustling worshiper in this 21st Century.
5. But God’s plan is that the church awaken to His glory; and be reflectors of His glory. His plan is that you do the same.
a. The greater glory that God is speaking of in Haggai, the increasing glory is that which is spoken of is found in 2 Cor. 3:18. We read it last week. We need to look at it again today.
b. 2 Corinthians 3:18. "And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit."
i. God promises to reveal His glory in our midst.
ii. For you and I to experience His glory, we must let God be God.
iii. We must realized that we don’t exist for ourselves, but for God’s glory.
iv. To regain her lost power the Church must see heaven opened and have a transforming vision of God. (Romans 1:18-23)
v. There is no shortcut to God’s glory being found among us. There is only the Cross. That is why Jesus went through the cross.
1. Your attitude should be the same as the of Christ Jesus: Who being in the very nature, God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became ob3edient to death, even death on a cross. Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father! (Phil. 2:6-11)
6. During the latter part of Ezekiel’s ministry, God gave to him visions of a glorious future,
a. Its central feature was the return of Israel to the Promised Land, the rebuilding of the Temple and best of all, the return of the “glory of God” to the Temple.
b. A strange word is formed through a combination of the Hebrew word for glory (kabod) with the Hebrew word for “return” (shuv).
c. Ichabod becomes Shuvkabod.
d. Today, if you are missing the bright glory of God in your life, if your life is ordinary and seems just like everyone else’s, God has a plan for you.
i. He wants to let you see His glory.
ii. To have His glory come to you.
iii. To cause you to worship Him.
iv. To transform you.
v. To change your life from the inside out!
vi. At the end of this sermon there will be a time for you to ask God to return to you as you return to Him.
7. So where are you in relation to the glory of God today?
a. Maybe some of you have never experienced the joy and blessing of having the glory of God upon your life.
i. The things we have been talking about seem foreign, strange and unusual.
ii. Or you are uncomfortable because we talk about how God reveals himself to us, and you have never experienced Him, you have never had the kind of relationship with God that we have been talking about today.
iii. That can change today. You can experience God in a way that you never dreamed possible. You can do so by turning from your self-led life and surrender control of your life to Him. Let Jesus Christ forgive you your sins and enter into a life-changing relationship with God today. You only need to
1. Admit you need God. Admit you cannot do it on your own. Admit that you have sinned by living a self-led life.
2. Believe that God has sent His son, Jesus to take your sins away.
3. Confess, speak with words, that you believe in Jesus and are willing to let Him rule your life forever. That step involves slipping out of your seat and coming forward and praying with me here at the front of the church. Those 20 steps may seem like long ones, but they will be steps you only regret if you don’t take them.
b. Maybe you are in the place where the glory of God is about to depart from your life.
i. You have been caught up in some act of disobedience, or sin and God has been dealing with you on it. You know its wrong but keep doing it anyway. Or you are holding onto a grudge. You know that God will feel awfully far away if you don’t’ turn from your sin. You will soon forget what it is like to experience his Joy in worship.
c. Maybe God’s glory has gone from your life already.
i. The joy you once knew is gone, just a memory.
ii. You feel a heaviness to each day. You are miserable because of your unconfessed sin.
d. Confess your sin, renew your consecration. The Glory of God will return to your life!
When the disciples were in the upper room, they were the fulfillment of the Haggai passage.
e. Acts 2:1-6 “When the day of Pentecost came, they were all in one place.”