The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)
A recurring theme in both the Old Testament and the New Testament is the glory of God. The NLT Study Bible states that ‘God’s glory is the manifestation of his person, his power and his majesty’. Throughout the Bible, we witness countless examples. Let’s look at some of these.
For a period of about two years, the land of Egypt was ravaged by plagues sent by God. In Exodus 7:17 we read of God saying to Pharaoh, “I will show you that I am the Lord”. The Egyptians had more ‘gods’ than any society at that time yet, as God targeted a different deity with each successive plague, one by one, the most important ‘gods’ were shown to be powerless.
One example of this is when the Nile was turned into blood. The Egyptians worshiped several Gods connected to the river. So, when the river turned to blood, it would have seemed to the Egyptians as though the Nile gods had been killed. God revealed his glory. None were able to stand before his mighty person, power and majesty.
Some centuries later, King Solomon built a temple where God could dwell. At the dedication of the Temple, we read:
When the priests came out of the Holy Place, a thick cloud filled the Temple of the Lord. The priests could not continue their service because of the cloud, for the glorious presence of the Lord filled the Temple of the Lord.” (1 Kings 8:10-11)
His power and majesty were on display that day.
Centuries later a day came, when Jesus was invited to a wedding celebration in Cana, Galilee. In this famous story, we read of Jesus turning water into wine. In John 2:11 we read “This miraculous sign at Cana in Galilee was the first time Jesus revealed his glory. And his disciples believed in him.” His disciples became aware of his person, his power and his majesty. Thousands of others would discover this same truth in the ensuing three years, and countless others in the two millennia that have followed since his death and resurrection, which is perhaps the ultimate display of his glory.
However, there is another thought that is linked to this and it is the thought that we, the followers of Jesus Christ can bring glory to Him. But how do we this? We do this as we speak and act in such a way that demonstrates that we acknowledge who God is. 1 Peter 2:12 instructs us to:
Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.
Isn’t it a beautiful thought that there is something we can do to bring our Saviour glory? We do this when we choose to do the right thing. We bring glory to God when when we say ‘not my will, but yours be done’. We do it when we joyfully choose the path less trodden because it is the one that leads us to Christ. Let’s remember this as we go about our daily lives this week with all the challenges and opportunities we will have to bring God glory.
“It is a great privilege to do anything for the King.” C. H. Spurgeon
He that dwells in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. (Psalms 91:10)
My dove in the clefts of the rock, in the secret places on the mountainside, show me your face, let me hear your voice; for your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely.
(Song of Songs 2:14)
If you had asked a Jewish person at the time of Jesus, what the holiest place on earth was, he would have answered without hesitation - the holy of holies. The Hebrew name is ‘kodesh hakodashim’. It was in the temple in Jerusalem. To access it, you had to pass through a number of courts, all of which admitted fewer and fewer people until, only one man, once a year, was granted access to the holy of holies. It was in the innermost chamber, the secret place. The one day in the year that the high priest entered was called Yom Kippur - Day of Atonement. As one writer has said, ‘It was ‘the holiest act, in the holiest place on the holiest day of the year’.
I have sometimes tried to picture the crowd standing outside the temple, knowing that the High Priest, that very moment was standing in the presence of God. I have wondered if something of that holy presence in the kodesh hakodashim, permeated out to the waiting pilgrims. Would those outside have experienced a sense of the holiness? Sadly, only one man could every enter in and experience the glory of God for Himself.
However, since AD 70, with the destruction of the Temple, that holiest place, that secret place, no longer exists. Some time before that, an even greater secret place replaced the kodesh hakodashim where God now meets with man. It’s the place where you come alone, away from all others around you, close the door and meet with Him. It’s your own personal, secret place.
In Hebrews 10:19-22 we read, “Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.”
We no longer have to linger outside the holiest place, like the pilgrims of old. Gods wants to see our faces, He wants to hear our voices. Are you taking time each day to resort to the secret place and enjoy the pleasures that only His presence can bring?
Now I can go into the holy of holies
I can kneel and make my petition known
I can go into the holy of holies
And although I’m just a common man
Because of God’s redemption plan
I can boldly approach the throne
Pauline Ann Anderson
Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place? The one who has clean hands and a pure heart. (Psalms 24:3-5)
Many years ago, I read a book called Hinds’ Feet on High Places. It's an allegory that recounts the story of a girl called Much Afraid who has been called by the Shepherd (Christ), to travel to a place of maturity. However, in order to do that, there was much cleansing and purifying that had to take place along the way. To help Much Afraid reach the high places she is guided by her two companions Sorrow and Suffering.
The Hebrew word 'aliyah' means ‘ascent' or ‘rise'. In John’s gospel we read of Jesus making the ascent to Jerusalem.
John 2:13 When the Jewish Passover was near, Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
John 5:1 Some time later there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
The city of Jerusalem lies approximately 2,500 feet above sea level on a relatively high mountain ridge so Jesus would literally have been climbing up to Jerusalem. Psalms 120-134 bear the label ‘songs of ascent’. Many scholars believe that these psalms were sung by worshippers walking up the road to Jerusalem for the three great pilgrimage festivals of Passover, Tabernacles and Pentecost, or by the priests as they climbed the 15 steps for their service in the temple, symbolically ascending to God.
God is always beckoning us to come up higher to a cleaner, wider and holier place. He has set His heart on leading us to the high places where we too, like Much Afraid, can leave the lower levels of spiritual life and rise to a place of maturity. We read these beautiful words:
The Lord God is my strength, and He has made my feet like hinds’ feet, and makes me walk on my high places. (Habakkuk 3:19)
Can you feel the draw? Is there a longing in your heart to ascend? Do you wish that you too could have hinds’ feet and walk on high places? If so, then learn a lesson from Much Afraid. In order to ‘clean your hands’ and ‘purify your heart’, you have to accept the companions He gives you to guide you to that place no matter how uncomfortable their presence may seem. Could ‘Loneliness’ in lockdown be one of the companions that has been assigned to you in recent months? Or perhaps it’s ‘ Boredom’ or ‘ Frustration’. At first, Much Afraid shrank away with dreading from her companions but, in time, she learned that the Shepherd had chosen rightly. You can learn that too as you persevere in your journey to the high places.
The song of the high mountains is calling me
And all the sunlit valleys speak my name
Shining rivers call me on
So Lord I come, Lord I come
“Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her.” (Hosea 2:14 )
I was reading an article recently by a Messianic Jew who was explaining the derivation of the Hebrew word ‘midbar’ which means wilderness. It actually comes from the root word ‘davar’ which means to speak.
A wilderness is not an inviting place. It certainly would not be a popular holiday destination. We describe a wilderness with words like ‘barren, hot, uninviting, forbidding and parched’. But as the writer points out, there is something important missing from the wilderness; it is devoid of distractions.
One of the devil’s devices that he uses to keep us from God is to fill our lives with distractions. These come in many shapes and forms. Some are legitimate, everyday necessities. Some are related to leisure, and many are just time wasters. Throughout all of this, God is trying to speak to us, trying to draw us closer to himself. But sometimes, the distractions shout so loudly in our ears that we can’t hear the still small voice that is calling to us.
For this reason, God allows wilderness seasons to come in to our life, seasons where the distractions cease, and we are alone with Him and He can speak to us. For many people this last year has been like that. Many of the old distractions have been stripped away as we have found ourselves cut off from friends, family, church and, in many cases work. God has brought us into a wilderness, and many have found that in this season that the ‘midbar’ has become a place of precious union and communion with God. There will be many people who will never be the same after this time in the wilderness. Some lives have been permanently changed. In the wilderness, like Moses and Elijah, they have met with God.
This ‘midbar’ season will end, sooner or later. Meanwhile, enjoy what God is doing and let it be a time of renewing and refreshing. Don’t lose this opportunity. Find out what God wants to speak to you about during your time in the ‘midbar’.
‘Solitude with God repairs the damage done by the fret and noise and clamour of the world’.
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