Thursday, 7 October 2010

Seeing the Glory of God in the Face of Christ


I recently discovered that the first occasion that the visible glory of the Lord appeared to the Israelites was about a month after God miraculously delivered them from slavery in Egypt through the Red Sea. Concerned at how they are going to survive in the desert, they begin to grumble against Moses and Aaron. The glory of the Lord appears in a cloud, and God tells Moses that He will provide them with meat at twilight, and fill them with bread in the morning. (Ex 16:6-7;10-12).This first display of the Lord’s visible glory results in an act of grace – in response to grumbling, the Lord provides the gift of manna, the bread from heaven. This first revelation of God’s visible glory in the Bible thus immediately points us to the One who would later call himself the true bread from heaven (John 6:32).

The New Testament is filled with the revelation of how the glory of the Lord is seen in Christ:

  1. Pre-incarnate glory of Christ:
    “And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began” (Jn 17:5)

  2. Glory of Christ in the incarnation:
    “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth” (Jn 1:14)

  3. Glory of God revealed at birth of Christ:
    “And there were shepherds living out in the fields near by, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified...Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favour rest” (Lk 2:8;13-14)

  4. Glory demonstrated through miracles:
    a) After changing water into wine – “This, the first of his miraculous signs, Jesus performed in Cana of Galilee. He thus revealed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him" (Jn 2:11)
    b) Raising of Lazarus – “Jesus said, ‘This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it’” (Jn 11:4).

  5. Glory demonstrated at the Transfiguration:
    “Peter and his companions were very sleepy, but when they became fully awake, they saw his glory and the two men standing with him” (Lk 9:32)

  6. Glory of Christ at his Second Coming:
    “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory” (Mt 25:31).

  7. Glory of God revealed in Jesus:
    “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory, and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word” (Heb 1:3)
    “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said “Let light shine out of darkness” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ” (2 Cor 4:4-6)

Seeing the glory of God in the face of Christ is – I have to say it – unnerving. I have recently come to understand that I need a mediator to shelter me from the glory and holiness of God – that mediator is Christ. I have seen Him as the cleft in the rock that sheltered Moses when the glory of the Lord passed by (Ex 33:22). Now I am seeing that the cleft in the rock is filled with as much glory as God Himself and it almost feels like I have nowhere left to run. “You cannot see my face, for no-one may see me and live” God tells Moses. Man in his sinful state simply cannot behold the glory of the Lord. Yet the glory of my mediator is...overwhelming.

The apostle John had a revelation of the glory of Jesus which he describes in Revelation 1:12-16. His reaction to this? “When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead”. (Rev 1:17). Maybe being unnerved by the glory of God in the face of Christ is not the wrong reaction to have, after all.

Feeling unnerved as I am only gives me more hope for the future – for that day when this body of sin will finally be destroyed, and as part of the bride of Christ clothed in our glorified bodies we will be able to sit down at the wedding feast of the Lamb, and see Him face to face! Oh, to join with the angels in singing His praise!

“Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. In a loud voice they sang “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honour and glory and praise” (Rev 5:11-12).






Face to face with Christ, my Savior,
Face to face—what will it be,
When with rapture I behold Him,
Jesus Christ Who died for me?

Chorus:
Face to face I shall behold Him,
Far beyond the starry sky;
Face to face in all His glory,
I shall see Him by and by!

Only faintly now I see Him,
With the darkened veil between,
But a bless├Ęd day is coming,
When His glory shall be seen.

Face to face—oh, blissful moment!
Face to face—to see and know;
Face to face with my Redeemer,
Jesus Christ Who loves me so.