The Heavens Declare

CCF’s sermon for today’s was given by Pastor Vince Burke, and it was simply about the glory of God. I won’t try so hard to interpret or re-interpret it, I’ll just post a link to it next week once it’s uploaded onto the CCF site. These are just mental notes from what was given earlier today and some short thoughts.

There were only three main points based on Hebrews 1:1-3:

1 God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, 2 in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. 3 And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high…

1. Perceive the Glory of God
In a world that prefers individuality and “freedom” to what the Bible talks about, we often see people who refuse to believe in God. Pastor Vince told of the following story:

George Buttrick, the former chaplain at Harvard University, recalls that students would come into his office, and declare, “I don’t believe in God.” Buttrick would give this disarming reply, “Sit down and tell me what kind of God you don’t believe in. I probably don’t believe in that God either” (The Jesus I Never Knew, Philip Yancey).

I do think that seeing the glory of God is supposed to be possible, but we don’t find it easy because we just see the wickedness of man all the time.

The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. -Psalm 19:1

The heavens do declare the glory of God; just look at the sky on a clear night where there’s no pollution, and you’ll see. Just that the clouds of our own doing (in this case pollution) obscure what would normally be beautiful.

2. Promote the Glory of God
Seeing His glory and experiencing it, it is only right for us to share it. I forget the verses Pastor Vince used (I forgot my pencil), so I’ll instead share another verse that I think is very pertinent in this regard.

Then I said, I will not make mention of him, nor speak any more in his name. But his word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay. –Jeremiah 20:9

3. Protect the Glory of God
This is not so much as being an apologist as it is being personally reverent to the Lord. This is where the fear of the Lord comes into the picture. The fear of the Lord, as Pastor Vince explained, is not so much the fear of being hurt by one’s Father, but the fear of hurting one’s Father through one’s actions.

It was a simple message, not really anything new and groundbreaking, but often we have to be reminded of such fundamental things. We tend to think of God as made in our own image, of God as someone we can’t really see. The deepest insight that came to me was this.

2 Moses said to the Lord, “You have been telling me, ‘Lead these people,’ but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. You have said, ‘I know you by name and you have found favor with me.’ 13 If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you. Remember that this nation is your people.” 14 The Lord replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” 15 Then Moses said to him, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. 16 How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?” 17 And the Lord said to Moses, “I will do the very thing you have asked, because I am pleased with you and I know you by name.” 18 Then Moses said, “Now show me your glory.” 19 And the Lord said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the Lord, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. 20 But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.” 21 Then the Lord said, “There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock. 22 When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. 23 Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen.” –Exodus 33:12-23

Indeed, the Bible says that any mortal man who sees God literally, in his full glory, would be utterly obliterated on the spot. It is, I would think, quite similar to looking at the sun completely unprotected from a distance of one meter (assuming you even get that close.) The absolute glory is so pure that it unmakes our sinful being. But Jesus says later:

8 Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.” 9 Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? –John 14:8-9

Does this mean that the former is no longer true? Of course not. When we encounter the Lord in all His glory and hail Him to be the God that He is, we have a choice: either to reject Him (which is our default nature) and go on in our spiritual death, or to accept Him for everything that He is and die to ourselves.

20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”–Galatians 2:20-21

So either way, if we encounter Jesus, we still die. I’d rather choose to die to myself and be raised in Him than to die by myself and not be raised at all.

Dying and Living in The Son,
Your Black Lion

~ by J. R. R. Flores on May 6, 2007.

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