December 24, 2011

Seeing the glory of God

The prophetic events foretold in the Old Testament have been described much like two mountain peaks with a valley of time between them. Those looking at the descriptions can see only the mountain tops, so they assume all these events happen at the same time.

For instance, the coming of the Messiah is often prophesied as if He would save His people and rule the world — in one advent. This is why many of the Jews wanted to make Jesus a king and have Him free them from Roman rule. However, saving came first. The role of king has been reserved for the second mountain peak. Now, we are in that valley of time. Note the words of this prophet . . .

A voice cries: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.” (Isaiah 40:3–5)
These verses are tied to both events, the first and second coming of Jesus Christ. The first sentences are quoted in the Gospels. John the baptizer was the voice who cried to the people to prepare the way of the Lord. He did this prior Jesus’ appearance as a babe.

The last line in this passage from Isaiah is a grand mixture. The first phrase says, “the glory of the LORD shall be revealed.” Compare this to what John wrote about Jesus first coming . . . 

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)
Yet the second part says “all flesh shall see it together.” That did not happen then. In fact, “all flesh” has yet to see the glory of the Lord. This is not going to happen until He comes again, the second mountain peak.

In the valley of time, the glory of the Lord is not seen. For one thing, Satan and sin keeps people in darkness, as Paul wrote, “The god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Corinthians 4:4).

However, a day is coming when Jesus will return, not as a child in a manger, but as a King and a judge of the whole earth. Isaiah said that His glory would be revealed and all would see it. This is confirmed by Jesus Himself.

And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves, people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world. For the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near. (Luke 21:25–28)
Matthew and Mark add that, “He will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other” (Matthew 24:31).

All will see Him and His glory, but not all who see His glory will be included in that gathering. Nevertheless, all will realize who He is and fall on their knees before Him.

Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:9–11)
Because Jesus humbled Himself and became one of us dying for our sins, at His name, every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that He is Lord, just as Isaiah said.

Oh Lord, today’s newspaper uses words like “the magic of Christmas” without realizing that what many sense is the presence of Your Holy Spirit. Political correctness tries to remove the Your name from this celebration. Many earnestly believe that the real meaning of Christmas is about gifts and Santa Claus. This is sad.

However, one day everyone will know the truth. You are the One who became flesh and lived among us that all flesh might see You and be glad. You offer redemption and forgiveness of sin. I pray that eyes will be opened to see and accept Your offer now, instead of waiting until You return as Judge when they must reluctantly bow and confess that You are Lord.

As for me, I don’t want my worship to be “one day” but fully today — and every day. Grant me grace also to proclaim Your glory, telling others that the manger child is God with us — that they may see and hear and know and glorify You.

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