September 11 – the intersection of God’s holiness and glory

September 11, 2021 Randy Bushey

~by Randy Bushey

Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory (Isaiah 6:3).

As I’ve been reading through the Old Testament, I’ve been impacted in recent weeks by the magnificent splendour and unparalleled beauty of Solomon’s Temple.

The Temple in the Holy City was likely the most impressive structure in the entire world at the time. It was designed and constructed to reflect God’s glory.

So what is glory?

It is an expression of resplendent beauty, magnificence, value, riches, dignity, and honour.

Glory as the antithesis of shame.

The Old Testament Hebrew term kabod, and the New Testament Greek word doxa – each translated glory –  carry the sense of weight or heaviness, significant in a culture where value was often measured by heft or mass.

Bible teacher John Piper describes glory in connection to the holiness of God: glory is the “manifest beauty of his holiness. It is the going public of his holiness. It is the way he puts his holiness on display for people to apprehend.”

From Isaiah 6:3 above, we’ve summarized that holy is what God is; glory is how He shows it.

God’s holiness has 2 aspects: He is absolute in His moral perfection; and He is holy in the sense that He is different, unique, “other”.

Consequently, God called on His chosen people Israel, to be morally righteous and to be different. Of all the peoples on the earth, the Hebrew people were called to live to the moral code of God’s covenant through Moses, including the 10 Commandments.

And they were always recognized as distinctive – in their appearance, their diet, their lifestyle, their commerce, their cultural observances and their religious worship – to the glory of God.

King David had taken Israel to its golden age – security, prosperity, and spiritual blessing – as the nation experienced shalom under the covenantal love of God.

However, he was prohibited from building the Temple. David was permitted to make preparation by making plans and arranging to source the vast supply of materials.

But the construction project to erect the worship center – God’s “house” – in Jerusalem was assigned by God to David’s son, Solomon.

At the completion of that project – 7 years in duration – Solomon offered a lengthy public prayer of dedication to the Lord, indicating that for Israel, the Temple would symbolize worship, repentance and stand as a witness to the covenant faithfulness of God.

And at the conclusion of that prayer, the Lord responded in an unmistakably dramatic demonstration of shock and awe – seared into their collective consciousness forever of those who observed the display.

The historical narrative indicates:

When Solomon finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the LORD filled the temple. The priests could not enter the temple of the LORD because the glory of the LORD filled it (2 Chronicles 7:12).

Can you imagine witnessing blazing fire falling from the heavens and the brilliant glory of God filling the cavity of the grand, newly constructed Temple structure and hovering over it?

But, rather than being overwhelmed by fear and proclaiming the awesomeness of God in His almighty, unrelenting, consuming power, they worshiped, declaring His goodness and love!

When all the Israelites saw the fire coming down and the glory of the LORD above the temple, they knelt on the pavement with their faces to the ground, and they worshipped and gave thanks to the LORD, saying, “He is good; his love endures for ever” (v.3).

Takeaway: the glory of God is such that to those who dismiss or ignore Him –

or who hate Him, His glory will be overwhelming, consuming, and destructive.

However, those who are the thankful recipients of His grace and goodness echo the words of the psalmist: The earth, O LORD, is full of your steadfast love (Psalm 119:64).

And to those who have responded to His light by embracing the Person and work of His Son – their lives are lived in worship and in the confirmed knowledge that He is good; his love endures for ever.

 

~ graphic by freeBibleimages.org