Sunday, June 30, 2013

Glimpses of Glory...

On February 7th 2006, I was privileged to be present at the Pastor’s Conference at First Baptist Jacksonville Florida to hear Dr. Jerry Vines’ final sermon called “Glimpses of Glory.” Dr. Vines is one of my heroes and I have to say his sermon from Exodus 33:17-23 has to be one of the greatest messages I've ever heard. In that text, Moses asked God if he could see His glory. God said Moses would not see God’s face, but He would hide Moses in the cleft of the rock while God’s glory passed by. It wasn't a full view of glory, just a glimpse of the back of God’s glorious countenance. There were about 12,000 people who heard this wonderful preacher extol the glories of God and we were moved to tears contemplating the glory of God.

In my quiet time readings, I've been tracing the theme of God’s glory and in 2nd Chronicles 7:1-3, we see one of these glimpses of glory. The occasion was Solomon’s dedication of the completed temple and when Solomon finished praying, fire came down from Heaven and consumed the burnt offerings and sacrifices and the glory of God filled the temple to the extent the priests couldn't even enter the temple. The people were prostrate on the ground and worshiped and praised God saying over and over: “For He is good, for His mercy endures forever.”

In the early hours of the morning the other day with coffee in hand, as I read of this glimpse of God’s glory, I was trying to wrap my mind what it would be like for God’s glory to fill our worship center some glorious Lord’s Day in such a way it forced us out into the parking lot and we fell on our faces in worship as a thick cloud of smoke and fire enveloped us as it happened to the children of Israel. How incredible would that be? How scary would that be? How awesome would that be? Obviously the context and the occasion helps us understand why God’s glory would appear in that fashion at that time. But I think there are some other things that allowed the Children of Israel to see a glimpse of God’s glory that incredible day.

First, they recognized this house belonged to God and they gave it back to Him freely. Sure they had given sacrificially of their gold and silver, their labors, skill and craftsmanship to make the temple a reality. But there was no doubt it belonged to God and the emphasis was not on this beautiful building, the emphasis was on the God who would meet them there in worship. It was by the grace of God and His power and might that delivered them out of bondage and established them as a nation in the first place, so they understood clearly it was God’s house.

Secondly, I believe it was their posture before a holy God. The people and the priests had followed God’s instructions explicitly in humble obedience, they sanctified themselves to be holy and set apart, they confessed their sin and came together as one (2nd Chron.5:11-14); King Solomon’s humble prayer of dedication of what this house of God was for and what He asked God to do there prepared them to see a glimpse of God’s glory.

Finally and most importantly, it was simply God’s gracious favor, His goodness and mercy that endures forever as the people expressed repeatedly; that allowed them to see a glimpse of His glory. If God doesn’t lower Himself to us, we’ll never get a glimpse of His glory.
So what? Obviously here on earth we may not see such a dramatic display of the glory of God on a Lord’s Day like the Children of Israel experienced that day but that doesn't mean you and I can’t have a glimpse of His glory every day if we look for it. As I've meditated on the glory of God, I can tell you I've seen glimpses of glory this week.

I saw a glimpse of God’s glory radiating in the eyes of our students and chaperons who served at M-Fuge in Philly as they led worship and shared what God did in them and through them last Sunday. I saw a glimpse of God’s glory in the love our students and chaperons have for one another.

I saw a glimpse of God’s glory in the faces of two believers coming up out of the baptismal waters as I declared over them “We are buried in the likeness of His death, we’re raised to walk in the newness of life!” Oh the joy to see the glory of God in two new disciples of Jesus Christ!

I saw a glimpse of the glory of God at the bedside of one our faithful men who most likely is in his last days on earth. To see this faithful saint speaking of the Lord’s faithfulness to him and the hopes and dreams he has for his future, however brief it may be, gives me a glimpse into the glory of God.

I saw a glimpse of the glory of God reading through a number of sermons shared with me by a faithful saint whose father ministered for the Lord Jesus as a pastor for 60 years. Having the life’s work of a faithful preacher of God’s Word at my fingertips; hearing the voice of God speaking through the pen of a man of God who obviously “rightly divided the word of truth” shows me glimpses of glory!

I see glimpses of glory in faithful saints who continue to serve and praise God even when they are struggling with their health and the myriad problems and difficulties of life. Serving their Lord Jesus with joy and gladness shows me glimpses of God’s glory.

I see the glory of God in my own life with peace that passes all understanding in the midst of difficulty.  As I write this, one of my daughters is in the hospital having seizures with no apparent explanation to this point. The calm assurance that God is in control shows me glimpses of glory that I can’t express with words.

Glimpses of glory are all around us when we walk by faith and not by sight and we choose to look for the glory of God as it passes by. The old hymn says “Oh that will be, glory for me, glory for me! When by His grace I shall look on His face, that will be glory, be glory for me!”  Let me encourage you to look for glimpses of glory, from my little corner of the world to yours…

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