Last time we touched on God’s glory. This time I want to look into our glory. Any glory that we have comes only from God. It is a reflection. Yet, God gives it and then treats us as if we are the glorious ones who deserve to be applauded for the greatness we’ve achieved.
When we see greater glimpses of God’s glory, it changes us. Remember that it says in John that Jesus was the light mentioned in Genesis 1. It also says that this light is the light of all men. When we see God, who is this light, it only brings out our light all the more. I believe that what happened to Moses on the mount was very much a devastating thing. It was devastating in the way that it brings about a glory in Moses.
God told Moses to climb up the mount and “be there.” The first time that Moses climbed up, human nature would make the first thought to be to try and figure out how you’re going to get down. You get on the top and there is thick fire and smoke clouding your senses. I’m sure that what God meant was, “Don’t let yourself be taken over by your senses and thoughts. Put all these things away and simply come up the mount to be with me.”
What God was revealing was kavod (glory). It is the understanding of the significance of this moment. Don’t be thinking about they who are down below. Don’t be trying to figure out how to get down. Be here, in this moment, and stay there.
What is our glory? I think our glory is our ability to “be there” with God in all circumstances. It is our ability to tap into this inner light tied to the creation of the world. It is our ability to connect with the ruach (God’s Spirit). Our glory is an understanding as much as it is a tangible reality.
All moments are precious. Our glory is formed when we step outside of the life society tells you to live. There is an entire kingdom with set rules and guidelines that will tell you to take care of your own needs and not to worry about the needs of others. This kingdom is antichrist and ruled by the prince of darkness himself. Society follows these rules by saying things like, “Work hard and you’ll be recognized.” We all know it’s a lie.
We all know the people who got promoted for their connections and network. We all know the guy who has worked hard for 18 years and hasn’t gotten but a few dollars as a raise. There is a system that would tell you to protect your own life and the life of your family’s before any one else’s. But in Acts 2, they sold everything, gave the proceeds to the poor and needy, and provided for one another.
Do you sense what I’m trying to get at? I apologize that I’m not very good at conveying my thoughts. Our glory is tied in with living from the ruach. It is living in a way that to the rest of society seems counterproductive and counterintuitive. We are to focus on the things that are most important: people.
The more in tune you are with God, the more precious all time seems to become. It says in Jeremiah to separate the precious from the vile, and then you shall be God’s mouth. What is the precious and vile? It is not a list of do’s and don’ts. The precious things are people, character, life, experience, love, eternity, etc. The vile are things that take up our thoughts, hopes, ambitions, and dreams, but leave us empty and broken.
In Psalm 106:20, it says that, “they (the Israelites) changed their glory into the similitude of an ox that eats grass.” By making the golden calf, the Israelites forfeited more than they know. They gave up the light inside of them. They surrendered their own lives over to demons. Satan didn’t overtake them. They gave themselves into slavery. They put their own hands in chains.
We do the same thing when we, as Christians, partake in the same sin. Israel’s sin is not that they crucified Jesus. I can’t tell you how angry that I get when I hear people talk about Israel being judged because they crucified the Lord. Let me tell you what was really happening. Israel stood before Sinai and watched as the Lord came down to dwell with them. They did not recognize the God of their fathers. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob all recognized God when He showed Himself. The Israelites consistently did not recognize, and refused to partake in being the people of God. The crucifixion of Jesus was only an ultimate unveiling of this fact that when their own God came and lived among them, they so couldn’t see God that they killed Him.
It is in modern day that we have a generation of Jews who have put Jesus completely out of their minds. He isn’t regarded as a figure of history. His crucifixion isn’t regarded as actually having taken place. Scriptures like Isaiah 53 are taken out of the Synagogue teachings. All of this is for the sake of not believing in Jesus. If they want to take Jesus out of history, then they will reap what they sow. And they are reaping. Many people are trying to say that the Holocaust never happened.
When the Jewish people will acknowledge Jesus as their Lord, and even the God of their fathers, then they will have taken the action necessary to appease God’s judgment upon them. It is only in humbling themselves before the Lord and acknowledging their sins and repenting that they have never recognized Him, nor have they ever desired Him.
We have the same guilt. We claim to believe the Scriptures, and yet we don’t even take Proverbs seriously. If we can’t even wrestle with Proverbs, how can we truly wrestle with the words of Jesus? They somehow become words of advice, or good moral standards, but are limited to being only that. They aren’t the words of God. If they were the words of God, then we would take seriously that “in many words there is surely folly.” We would take seriously that being cruel, and then saying, “I was only joking!” is like a madman who fires flaming arrows every which way.
We would take serious account of Jesus saying that He will deny all of those who do not take to heart “the least of these His brethren.” We would take seriously when Jesus says, “Whoever shall break one of the least commandments, and shall teach men so, shall be called the least in the kingdom.” We would take seriously that whosoever divorces their wife, except because of fornication, causes her to commit adultery, and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery. We would have to take seriously that we should give to him that asks, and from him that would borrow of you turn not away. We would have to take seriously the words, “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you and persecute you.” We would take seriously the words, “Be ye perfect, even as your Father, who is in heaven, is perfect.” All of this, and I’m only in Matthew chapter 5.
The fact that we haven’t acted like this and we haven’t taken the utmost seriousness of this is evidence that we have indeed fallen into the same sin as Israel. We have indeed forfeited our own glory for that of another lesser glory.
God teaches us that we are to show all times as though God has given it. He has given it. He has given us each and every circumstance. Every moment is precious. You only have this moment to tell them your heart. You only get this one chance to correct them. You only get this one chance to display your love. You only get this one opportunity to display the glory of the Father. There won’t be another time to offer yourself. There won’t be another time to offer a shoulder to cry on. There won’t be another time to speak the Gospel. There won’t be another time to actually engage and be there and show people that you really care. As soon as you have shown that you really aren’t engaged and you really don’t care, and they spent their time telling you of this, but all you wanted to do was tell your story, you have lost it.
Every speaking is utter. Every moment is dear. All of eternity hinges upon every moment and every speaking and every engagement. This will either bring forth an event to penetrate space, time, and history, or it will forever be just another moment. The choice is ours. If we do not take seriously the call to live in this glory and apostolic mindset, the world will go to Hell all around us and it will be our own fault. If the world goes to Hell, let it be because Satan has deceived many, and not because I haven’t taken seriously the call of God to love my enemies and to bless those who curse me. Let not my own family go to Hell because I was too afraid to tell them when they were in the wrong, and that wrong created a mentality that broke down and caused them to fall away.
Life is too precious to toy with. It is the kavod that causes us to take these things seriously. If we lack the glory of God in us, we will be reduced to a mere methodology, weekly services, and hit or miss events that we can decide whether or not to go to. God is calling His Church into something much bigger than that. We are to see each other daily. We are to speak to one another in all truth and sincerity. The time is too precious to not live this way any longer. Let us all acknowledge our sin of not seeing God as God, and repent before Him.
Being Precedes the Doing
God told Moses to come up the mount and bethere. Jesus told us to be witnesses. The being precedes the doing. This is why we are still in need of apostles and prophets, of which I believe I am one of them. It is given to God’s apostles and prophets an understanding to teach and to edify and to reveal the secret things of God that have been hidden until such a one can be called to receive such as these mysteries. God gave His apostles and prophets and evangelists and pastors and teachers to edify the saints. This verse in Ephesians also precedes the doing of the work of the Spirit.
If we have no need for these foundational men (apostles and prophets), and if they are indeed something of the past that have passed away with the first century, then why are there so few who teach these hidden things that Paul proclaims so mightily? Why is there so little teaching about us being grafted into Israel that we might drive the Jew to jealousy? Why is there so little teaching that this grafting in is into their root? Why is there so little teaching about Israel and the Church being one – without Israel the Church cannot fulfill her role and without the Church Israel cannot fulfill hers? Why is there so little teaching about “And all Israel shall be saved,” Romans 11:26?
We have missed these hidden things, and it is only the mystery of the Church and Israel. There is the mystery of Christ. There is the mystery of the gifts and callings of God. Each thing needs to apprehend us before we can say that we truly understand it. There is an eschatological understanding of the faith that is hidden from modern understanding. We subscribe to the doctrine that Jesus will come back, but we can’t even tell whether we’ll be here or in heaven when He comes back. Does the Bible not give clarity of these things? If it is clear about things like rapture and assurance of salvation, then why are there so many people who don’t know where to stand on such issues?
We have missed very much the teaching of the apostles and prophets. In the lack of such teachings and words from these men, we have also missed the aspect of being in the faith. It is the third chapter of Ephesians that Paul concludes with, “To Him be glory in the Church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.”
To the degree that we have dismissed this verse as simple rhetoric or dramatic language, we have missed the calling of God. Our calling and ultimate purpose as the Church is the glory of God. The glory of God is only fully present when He has established His Kingdom here on earth forever. Our calling is not to something here and now, but instead to something eternal. Our calling is to live in a way and have a mode of being that transcends time and space. We ought to live as though we truly are seated with Christ in heavenly places. If we are seated there, then certainly we can see into the future and know our calling well enough to not debate of stupid things like freewill and sovereignty. Our calling is to Israel and their salvation only – they are to be the priestly nation to the nations. Our evangelism and “winning the world” for Christ is in vein if it does not take into account the glory of God forever, which takes into account the promises of God to Israel – which are irrevocable (Romans 9).
What are the criteria that we judge successful church? It is not a lie to say that when we get into the parking lot that one of the first things we ask whoever is seated next to us, “What did you think? Was the meeting good? Did you like the sermon? What did you think of the worship?” We base successful church on size and popularity of ministries. As long as the preaching isn’t wimpy and the speaker isn’t a heretic, we think that these things to be success. We have lost the apostolic distinctive: the glory of God in the Church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end.
Our primary call as the Church is to physically display a relationship with God in a tangible and realistic way to Israel that will drive them to jealousy. What do I mean by this? In Daniel 11, we read that the antichrist will kill many believers by the sword and burning them alive. He will imprison many believers. And we also read that there will be some “helpers.” These helpers will cling to the “wise.” The wise are the saints who have the end time understanding to stand up and proclaim the truth. They blow the horn. These are the ones who declare to the world what is really happening and what God has to say about the world events.
These wise will be killed and imprisoned. Some will hear their testimonies and will follow them. They will turn many to Christ through their words. You can find this in Daniel 11:33-35. Those who help these wise are called hypocrites in one translation; it is said they cleave to the wise with flatteries in another. These helpers follow the saints. They hear the words and they believe them. Yet, there is something about their following and their helping that is fake. We read in verse 35 that the persecution of the wise brings about refinement, purging, and cleansing of the helpers. Who are the helpers?
I have to imagine that these helpers are the Jews. The antichrist stirs up anti-Semitism throughout the world in the earlier verses of Daniel. He sets himself up as god (the abomination of desolation) in their temple. We know that the Jews will be sifted through the nations and found to flee into the wilderness places (Revelation 12). I say Jews for the simple fact that we aren’t sure where the rest of the tribes are, but I am sure that God knows. It is possible that even the lost tribes will endure end time suffering along with their Jewish kinsmen.
We are the wise. We are the ones who are supposed to have understanding. Many don’t see this perspective, though. We will be killed and imprisoned on behalf of Israel. We will stand up and identify with that People in their end time calamity in a priestly way that we are the altar and the sacrifice. We are the priest and the altar at the same time. We offer our own lives – “Loving not our own lives even unto death.” We acknowledge the sins of Israel as our own sins because we are one with Israel and we cannot claim to be of the same root (grafted in) without claiming those same faults.
God’s chosen people will see in us a character that only Jesus displayed. This is what is meant when Paul said that we are to drive the Jew to jealousy. This is our calling. This is our eternal purpose: to sacrifice our lives on behalf of Israel.
But it doesn’t stop there. We read in Ephesians 3 that the whole reason that God created the universe is that we might display the manifold wisdom of God to the principalities and powers of the air. In our sacrificial attitudes and compassion toward Israel we are displaying that very thing. This is where all the mysteries come together. We are one under the same Head. You cannot separate Israel and the Church. When you speak of one you speak of the other. They are the same because they are under the same Head. Though they are recognized as two different entities and given two different names, they go hand in hand. Man is physical and spiritual – you cannot separate them.
Our eternal purpose is to display this kind of reality and understanding. We can’t simply display it as individuals. Corporately we need to show forth the glory of God – which is the character of God. Words cannot express the depths of this. We can’t look into the dictionary or lexicon to find the words for glory and what they mean. It isn’t sufficient. These concepts need to apprehend us.
There will be no glory of God in the Church until we can wrestle with these foundational truths. We must humble ourselves to seeking first His Kingdom. Righteousness exults a nation, and a nation with an apostate Church will be cast down. Apostasy comes from a half Gospel. When our good news is about getting into heaven instead of being a part of the Kingdom and ruling and reigning forever with Christ, then we have missed it.
How severe can our misunderstanding be? After every great revival movement in the Western World there has been a great war to follow. After John Wesley came the war of 1812. After Finney came the Civil War. After the Welsh Revival came World War 1 and 2. What happened? If God was pouring out His Spirit and people were coming to Christ and morals were being practiced in the most immoral places, then why do we find such severe wars and racism after the most prominent revivals? Right down the line – the bigger the revival movement the more harsh the war that follows.
I fear that we have taught a half gospel. A half gospel is not the Gospel. The Gospel takes into account the beginning to the end. It looks at the whole picture. It grips the eternal perspective.
Our gospel starts in Genesis 3; the Gospel starts in Genesis 1. Jesus’ death on the cross was not to bring life and life abundantly. That is one of the effects, but it is not the main purpose. Jesus’ death and resurrection are cosmic events to bring about cosmic redemption. Through our righteousness and justification we can bring redemption to the world around us. What do you think the first chapter of Ephesians is about? We are sharers with God in the story of the redemption of all things.
My fear is that we look to revival because it is an easy way of avoiding God. We want a spiritual high that only comes once in a lifetime. We want to feel God’s presence and know that He is close to us. Our calling isn’t for revival. It isn’t to evangelize the world. Our calling isn’t to bring God’s presence down to earth. Our first and foremost calling is to display to the principalities and powers the manifest wisdom of God. The way we do that is by living in step with the cosmic redemption story and God’s plan of redemption for all nations. Israel is the key – without them we have no Kingdom.
Revival is looked to as a means to avoid this calling. I am growing more and more convinced that even the people with good intentions desire revival simply to have the spiritual shot in the arm. It makes it easier to endure the day. It is still a focus upon self. Revival is looked to in order to relieve me from burden because I can just soak and bask in the glory of God instead of being the glory of God.
This call to displaying the glory of God is an ultimate one. It brings everything into question. We are to bring down strongholds of the devil and release men from their bondage. If strongholds and bondage are simply looked upon as external things like, “Pharaoh took away our straw and told us to increase our quota,” then we have no idea what we’re doing. Bondage and strongholds go deeper than trying to relieve us from suffering. The bondage wasn’t Pharaoh’s oppression. The bondage was the system itself.
We suffer the same problem. We want to be relieved of our bondage to bills and debt and mean bosses and everything else that societal workplaces and lifestyles promote. Yet the bondage isn’t in the debt. The bondage is in the system of loans and banking. The bondage is in the system of business. We don’t try to free people from that Pharaoh. We don’t pray against thatstronghold. We have to make a living, right?
We are living far beneath the glory of God. We cannot even identify where our oppression comes from.