~by Randy Bushey
Who among the gods is like you, O LORD? Who is like you— majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders? (Exodus 15:11).
In our PRISMS series at Bethel, we’ve been wrestling with the question, What is the glory of God?
The term glory is used frequently when speaking about – or praying to – God. It appears in the Christmas story, and in carols. We know it has something to do with honour and esteem; it is the opposite of shame.
But how could we define the concept to that 12-year old kid?
To the Hebrew people of the Old Testament, God was holy and He evidenced His holiness by observable demonstrations of His glory.
In other words, holy is what God is; glory is how He shows it.
And His glory is bullet-proof and immeasurable. Its immensity or value can never be reduced or diminished. It is not subject to depreciation or decline. It has no “best before” date, nor does it have a defined shelf-life.
God is Self-existent. His Being is eternal, without beginning or end. He exists outside of time. He is absolutely autonomous, and is therefore not dependent, derived, or contingent on anything or anyone.
He is Almighty God is the maximal sense of that title.
But the Hebrew people of Moses’ time had forgotten that.
Much of their understanding of God had been lost in their successive generations of cruel slavery at the hands of the Egyptians.
In fact, much of the structure-based glory of Egypt – the vast array of diverse edifices (temples, monuments and other architectural marvels) representing the prodigious construction projects of the Middle Kingdom and Second Intermediate periods – was erected by the mass effort of harshly-treated Hebrew slaves.
And so when Moses led the nation of approximately 2 million people out of Egypt on one of the most dramatic wild-cat strikes in all of history, much urgent learning of the character of the God they were trusting was needed.
The whole of Israel was enrolled in a crash-course in basic theology.
And the Lord taught them about His glory. Because most of the population was illiterate, God gave them symbols and signs – all connected to His glory.
He provided tangible, observable, physical evidence of:
-His protection – the Lord destroyed the pursuing Egyptian armies. He explained, But I will gain glory for Myself through Pharaoh and all his army, and the Egyptians will know that I am the LORD (Exodus 14:4).
-His provision – the Hebrew nomads were grumbling about the lack of food, and through Moses and Aaron, the Lord promised that the following day would bring the miraculous provision of manna.…In the morning you will see the glory of the Lord (Exodus 16:7)
-His presence – Israel was led by a cloud during the day, which converted to a pillar of fire each night. It directed their movements, course, and resting points. They came to realize this supernatural feature as a physical manifestation of their invisible God. Such evidences were later known as the shekinah glory, based on the Hebrew word for “to dwell”. Although God was omnipresent and existed in every place, in some sense He chose to live with Israel. This was most evident when the Tabernacle was erected – the portable worship center of Israel. Then the cloud covered the Tent of Meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle (Exodus 40:34).
Takeaway: Living almost 35 centuries after the events of the Exodus, we have confidence in the immutability of our God. He is unchanged.
Which leads to the diagnostic question: Who do I look to for the provision of what I need to live productively, and for the safety and protection of my loved ones?
Myself? My employer? The government? Any other realistic options?
The 21st century Christ-follower needs to daily remind her/’himself that the continual presence of the Lord is our complete, ultimate, unchanging and sovereign source of our protection and provision.
Today and forever.
- graphic from freebibleimages.org