THE VISIBLE GLORY OF GOD.
God, has at all times moral and spiritual glory.. But that is invisible to the eye. Of that this paper does not treat, but of the intense brightness visible to, the eye, attendant on the manifestation of the Lord.
This glory is not spoken of as
exhibited in the work of creation; nor to Adam in
When is it first named?
God had redeemed His people out of
1. GIVING THE MANNA.
1. The first instance occurs before the giving
of the Law, and when
Moses spake unto Aaron - Say unto all the congregation of the children of
* In Gospel times, the Jews murmur against the Son of God shrouded in flesh. At times His divine glory breaks forth. He proclaims Himself the true manna, the bread sent down from heaven. They doubt, wonder, and disbelieve, as did their fathers over the manna. And Jesus meets them in grace, and not in justice.
At Sinai God proposes that they shall be treated according to their deserts. If obedient, they shall be the first of the nations, kings, and priests. They accept the proposal, and the nation is gathered to hear His commands. He comes therefore amid physical terrors, designed to make them fear God, and dread to offend one so good and so great.
The covenant is duly made, and
ratified by sacrifice. Half of the blood is given to Jehovah, half is sprinkled
on the people. Moses, and certain representatives of
the nation go up the mount, and feast before Him. Moses is called higher up into the
mount. “And the
cloud covered the mount. And the glory
of the Lord tabernacled
It would seem then from what
follows, that the glory, concealed for seven days, burst out when Moses had
been called up higher on the mount. “And the sight (appearance) of the
glory of the Lord was like devouring fire on the top of the mount,
in the eyes of the children of Israel”
The glory of God seems now to have changed its character. It is a terrible brightness, like devouring fire to the eyes even of His covenant
people. God will manifest His glory
against offenders even of His own redeemed
After the ravages of the sword
of man, the Most High sent plagues on them.
But, in grace, upon Moses’ plea, the people is
spared, and a new covenant is made with Moses alone, as the representative of
3. THE TABERNACLE.
Before the sin of the calf, the
Lord promises, to dwell with
shall be a continual burnt offering throughout your generations at the door of
the tabernacle of the congregation before the Lord: where I will meet you, to speak
there unto thee. AND THERE I WILL MEET WITH THE CHILDREN OF
The royal tent being completely prepared according to God’s written instructions, and the Spirit’s teachings, Moses alone, as the mediator of the new covenant puts its parts together.
The glory of Jehovah had (apparently) descended from the top of Sinai enveloped in the cloud, to speak with Moses at the tent door.* The pillar of cloud stood there, and thence Jehovah spoke with Moses: Ex. 33.
* What ‘tent’ this was, we know not. It was not (of course) the tabernacle, which had not then been made. The LXX read ‘his tent’ – Moses’ own.
When all the parts of the tabernacle had been arranged and anointed, and the burnt offering and the meat offering presented by Moses, the Lord takes possession of His royal pavilion, as the King of Israel. “Then the cloud covered the tent of the congregation, AND THE GLORY OF THE LORD FILLED THE TABERNACLE. And Moses was not able to enter into the tent of the congregation, because the cloud abode thereon, AND THE GLORY OF THE LORD FILLED THE TABERNACLE.”
This is a great advance upon the Lord’s appearing to Moses at first in the bush. It is an advance too upon the glory of Jehovah being seen on the distant top of Sinai. The brightness of the Lord’s presence was not shown outside the tabernacle. But it dwelt within the veiled Holiest of the sanctuary.
Thus the tabernacle was hallowed
by the glory of God’s presence. But
But as Jehovah had glorified the Mediator in setting up this tabernacle, He would also honour Aaron the priest, and the sacrifices of His appointment. After the death of Moses the mediator, how was this great and terrible God to be approached by sinners? How could He who hates sin, dwell with a people sinful by nature and practice?
(3) GLORY SHOWN IN THE TABERNACLE.
would show how this difficulty could be overcome. He who made known the danger devised also the
remedy. It was through the sacrifices,
presented by the priests of His own appointment. For none but God’s chosen ones, peculiarly
sanctified, might draw near to the Most High.
Moses then is directed to say, that God would display His good pleasure
in the sacrifices, and in the priesthood after its consecration, by causing the
lustre of His presence to be seen by the whole of
The splendour then which shone
as devouring fire on the top of Sinai had now a lodgement within their
camp. Its consuming energies were now
stayed by the sacrifices and the altar.
Sin was atoned for, and God was satisfied to dwell with His people. The glory which Moses alone at first could
see, and which prevented His abiding in the tabernacle, is now displayed to all
(4) THE GLORY DEFENDS THE FAITHFUL SPIES.
Unbelief bursts out thereupon in
sad measure. They weep in cowardice and
was only in order to give them up into the hand of their enemies, that the Lord
had led them thus far. They wish that
they had died in
Caleb and Joshua, the two faithful spies, seek to undo the pernicious effects of the unbelief propagated by the ten unfaithful spies. They are full of courage, and attempt to stem the tide by presenting to the people the power of Jehovah their God. They had left Him out of the account, and had measured their weak selves alone against the difficulties. ‘Fear not the people of the land! They have no power against our God! But do fear to rebel against Jehovah.’ “But all the congregation bade stone them with stones.” Great was the peril of the faithful two. How could they resist two millions of infuriated men?
Here was the crisis. Can their God defend them?
“AND THE GLORY OF THE LORD APPEARED IN THE
TABERNACLE OF THE CONGREGATION BEFORE ALL THE CHILDREN OF
The Lord speaks in
displeasure. Their words and ways are
known to Him. He is ready to cut them
off with the pestilence. Moses pleads,
and begs God to pardon, as He had done; lest foes should misrepresent His
character and ways towards
The Most High pardons the nation so far, as to spare them from immediate death. But the murmurers shall die in the wilderness, and not see the land. The ten unbelieving spies fall dead by the plague before the Lord. The Most High thus shows His glory in smiting unbelievers of His people, and in defending His faithful servants. The men of unbelief shall not see the earth “filled with the glory of the Lord,” in the, day of His power: Num. 14.
(5) THE GLORY DEFENDS MOSES AND AARON.
A new rebellion arises, striking at both the rulers of God’s appointment. Korah the Levite would set aside the priesthood of Aaron. ‘For were not the whole congregation holy? How was it then, that Moses and Aaron were exalting themselves at the expense of those who were as worthy as they were?’
Moses then bids them put their reasonings to the test. – ‘If they thought that they were as acceptable to God as Aaron, let them offer incense to Jehovah. Was it not enough that they were Levites; would they not be content, unless they usurped the priesthood?’
But there was another party, to whose ambition Moses’ pre-eminence as leader of the people was peculiarly offensive. Moses sent to call the ringleaders of these offenders before him. They would not come. They were not going to own his usurpation by coming at his beck. “We will not come up! Is it a small thing, that thou hast brought us up out of a land that floweth with milk and honey, to kill us in this wilderness, except thou make thyself altogether a prince over us? Moreover, thou hast not brought us into a land that floweth with milk and honey, or given us inheritance of fields and vineyards. Wilt thou put out the eyes of these men? We will not come up!” Num. 16.
This message was peculiarly full
of unbelief toward God, and insolence toward His Mediator and Leader. It assumed that
God is left out. Their own sin, which was the cause of their sojourn, by God’s sentence, in the howling wilderness, is forgot. The fault is that of Moses only!
This double rebellion is typical of the last days. There will be at last a refusal of Jesus, both in His character of King and in that of High Priest. That will be the signal for the descent of the vengeance of God, of a like sort to that which is here described.
How was the controversy settled?
Korah and his two hundred and fifty princes stood at the door of the tabernacle with Moses and Aaron, censers in hand, and incense on them. “And Korah gathered all the congregation against them unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation: AND THE GLORY OF THE LORD APPEARED UNTO all the congregation.”
Out of the effulgence of His Presence the Lord speaks to Moses and Aaron: “Separate yourselves from this congregation, that I may consume them in a moment.” The whole nation had been cut off, but for the plea of the two whom they had offended and slandered.
Out of the glory commission is given to Moses to call out all who would hearken, from the tents of the rebels of Dathan’s party. At Moses’ word, the earth opened, and swallowed them up alive. All around fled at their scream, as they went down into the deep abyss of earth: for they said – “Lest the earth swallow us up also.” Thus these antagonists of Moses, though members of the Lord’s covenanted people, are dealt with, as were pursuing Pharaoh and his host. “Thou stretchedst out Thy hand, the earth swalloweth them:” Ex. 15: 12.
What of the Levites who rose against Aaron?
“There came out a fire from the Lord, and consumed the two hundred and fifty men that offered incense:” ver. 35.
As refusing Aaron’s priesthood and
sacrifices, they are cut off, though they were God’s chosen Levites, as
victims of God’s wrath. When the Lord’s glory appeared before, the
fire from the Lord fell upon the sacrifices, and thus spared the Levites and
At this new and outrageous offence, “behold the cloud covered the tabernacle of the congregation; AND THE GLORY OF THE LORD APPEARED.”
Again, but for the intercession of Moses and Aaron the whole nation had been destroyed. But Moses directs Aaron to offer incense with fire from off the altar, and to go quickly unto the congregation and make an atonement for them; for there is wrath gone out from the Lord; the plague is begun.
Aaron did so. He stood between the dead and the living, and
the plague was stayed. But fourteen
thousand seven hundred were cut off, beside those that died in the judgment on
Korah. This is the last appearance of
the glory in the wilderness. After
GLORY ENTERS THE
1 Kings 8; 2 Chron. 5, 7.
All is at
length ready for the Lord’ occupation of His house. Up till that time He had suited
of God’s proclaiming and naming then offers praise and gives thanks. It was a great time of feasting, lasting
fourteen days. It was typical of the
greater day to come, when David’s Son and Lord shall enter in glory into the
rebuilt house, and God’s accepted ones shall “sit down
with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and all the prophets in the
(7) DEPARTURE OF T HE GLORY.
Ezekiel traces for us the
departure of God and His glory from the house He had entered. He leaves it not, till He has pointed out to
His prophet the reasons of His so doing. The floods of idolatry in
“The cloud next filled the inner court. THEN THE GLORY OF THE LORD WENT UP FROM THE CHERUB, AND STOOD OVER THE THRESHOLD OF THE HOUSE, AND THE HOUSE WAS FILLED WITH THE CLOUD, AND THE COURT WAS FULL OF THE BRIGHTNESS OF THE LORD’S GLORY:” 10: 3, 4. There was something that resembles this in Solomon’s day. But there it was Jehovah entering the house; now He is leaving it, because of sin.
“Then the glory of the Lord departed from off the threshold of the house, and stood over the cherubim. And the cherubim lifted up their wings, and mounted up from the earth in my sight: when they went out the wheels also were beside them, and they stood at the door of the east gate of the Lord’s house, AND THE GLORY OF THE GOD OF ISRAEL WAS OVER THEM ABOVE:” Ezek. 10: 18, 19.
The Lord there pronounces His judgments, and an Israelite falls dead. Ezekiel laments. God promises a remnant.
“Then did the cherubim lift up their
wings, and the wheels beside them; AND
THE GLORY OF THE LORD OF
also the Lord Jesus in the days of His tabernacling on earth in the glory of
the Only Begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth, takes leave of the
temple. He departs by the eastern gate,
a moment pausing on His way. “And Jesus going out was moving away from the temple, and His
disciples came to Him to point out to Him the buildings of the temple.” He bids them look at them all, and foretells
their entire demolition. He then departs
to “the mountain on the east of the city,” and
thence delivers His prophecy of the judgments on the temple and city, and of the desolation till His return. Ezekiel did not see the glory ascend to the
heaven. So neither did Jesus manifest
His ascension to
Where is the glory of the God of Israel now?
(8.) THE GLORY IN HEAVEN.
It is now in heaven. Stephen’s testimony to
(9.) RETURN OF THE GLORY TO EARTH.
OLD TESTAMENT ASPECT.
1. Haggai testifies, that the heavens and earth, and the kingdoms of earth shall be shaken, and the Lord Jesus, as the desire of the nations shall come, “and I will fill the house with glory, saith the Lord of hosts.” The latter glory of the house shall be greater than its former glory, and then shall there be peace on earth: Hag. 2: 6-9. Observe, as the strong contrast to this, that Jesus assures us He did not come at His first advent to give peace on earth, but to send fire and a sword: Matt. 10; Luke 12: 49-53.
testifies that Jehovah shall again choose
3. But Ezekiel, the witness of the glory’s departure, is made a witness also of its return to a renewed temple. The temple is to be rebuilt according to a pattern given by God. As Jehovah left the temple by the east gate, by the eastern side He returns to it. “Behold, THE GLORY OF THE GOD OF ISRAEL came, from the way of the east, and His voice was like a noise of many waters; and the earth shined with His gory.” “So the spirit took me up, and brought me into the inner court, and behold THE GLORY OF THE LORD filled the house:” Ezek. 43.
The temple once again entered,
the Lord and His glory are to go no more out. “Son of man, the place
of my throne, and the place of the soles of my feet, where I will dwell in the
midst of the children of
This is of course the millennial day of glory.
(10.) ITS RETURN. NEW TESTAMENT ASPECT.
Jesus, rejected by
“THE SON OF MAN SHALL COME IN THE GLORY OF THE FATHER with His angels; and then shall He reward each according to his work” (Greek) Matt. 16: 27.
That this was no vain boast was proved, seven days after,* by the scene on the Mount of Transfiguration.
* Here the reference is to Ex. 24: 15. Moses was then on the Mount of God. On the seventh day after his going up the glory appears. Moses goes up alone, save with Joshua. The glory which dwelt on
There “He was transfigured before them; AND HIS FACE DID SHINE AS THE SUN, and His raiment was white as the light.” The Father’s voice out of the excellent glory owns Him as His ‘Beloved Son.’ In that glory Jesus is coming to reign. “They shall see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory:” Matt. 24: 31. Clothed in it He shall judge the living nations: 25: 31. “When the Son of man shall come in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then shall he sit upon the throne of His glory. And before Him shall be gathered all the nations.”
(11.) FINAL ABODE OF THE GLORY.
God’s eternal dwelling place is
in the heavenly city, the
“The city had no need of the suit, neither of the moon to shine for it, for THE GLORY OF GOD DID LIGHTEN IT, and the Lamb is the lamp thereof:” (Greek) ver. 23.
Thus we have traced the glory of
God from its first appearance to the ransomed people of earth amidst their
tents, to its final abode midst the ransomed from the dead, in the city of
The hope of our calling is to have part in the kingdom and glory of Christ. “We exhorted, and comforted, and charged every one of you, as a father doth his children, that ye should walk worthy of the God who is inviting you to His own kingdom and glory.” The apostle gives thanks because of God’s choice of them as His elect to salvation, into which salvation he called the Thessalonians by his good news, “with a view to your obtaining the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ:” 2 Thess. 2: 13, 14.
The kingdom of glory is already won by Christ, and we are called through sanctification of the Spirit and
belief in the truth to seek to have part in that glory. God calls us to seek after it by “patient continuance
in well doing:”
The Lord grant us to aim at this; if by any means we may attain to the resurrection of the righteous from among the dead, and to having a part in the [millennial] kingdom of glory!