Romans 4:3 What Saith the Scripture? RIVER BEND CHURCH OF CHRIST

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1 ? WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY? Romans 4:3 What Saith the Scripture? RIVER BEND CHURCH OF CHRIST December 2007 The Brilliance of God s Glory Frank Richey For too long we have neglected to study the glory of God. I m not sure we have ever been impressed with the glory of God. With all my human frailties, I will try to magnify God in this lesson as we study The Brilliance of God s Glory. And when this lesson is over, even with all the scriptures that we will look at concerning the brilliance of God s glory, I will feel a great inadequacy in trying to help us comprehend this subject. Let us introduce this article with some scriptures that speak of God s glory. In Ephesians 1:17, Paul tells us that God is the Father of Glory. Paul continues to explain the glory of God by telling us that God is dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see (1 Timothy 6:16). John s description of heaven speaks to the glory of God when he said, The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light (Revelation 21:23). He continues by telling us that There shall be no night there: They need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light. And they shall reign forever and ever (Revelation 22:5). The story of the Transfiguration in Matthew s gospel tells how Jesus took Peter, James and John upon a high mountain and was transfigured (metamorphoo-changed) so that the three disciples could see Jesus in a glorified state. Matthew tells us, and He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light (Matthew 17:2). Paul, in recounting his experience on the road to Damascus said, As I journeyed and came near Damascus at about noon, suddenly a great light from heaven shone around me (Acts 22:16). He goes on to say that I could not see for the glory of that light (Acts 22:11). Before Agrippa, Paul said I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun (Acts 26:13). All of these scriptures speak to the glory of God, but even with these descriptions, it is difficult for us to comprehend God s glory. Even though this article is about the glory of God and not the subject of man glorifying God, I feel the importance of inserting one passage showing that we are to glorify God. Notice 1 Chronicles 16: Honor and majesty are before Him; Strength and gladness are in His place. Give to the LORD, O families of the peoples, Give to the LORD glory and strength. Give to the LORD the glory due His name; bring an offering, and come before Him. Oh, worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness! God s Brilliance Is Too Great for Human Eyes to Behold God dwells in unapproachable light. Remember we read in 1 Timothy 6:16, where God is dwelling in unapproachable light. Albert Barnes Commentary says, The light where He dwells is so brilliant and dazzling, that mortal eyes could not endure it. Jamison, Fausset, & Brown said, If one cannot gaze steadfastly at the sun, which is but a small part of creation, by reason of its exceeding

2 heat and power, how much less can mortal man gaze at the inexpressible glory of God. No man can see God and live. Again in 1 Timothy 6:16, not only does Paul say that God dwells in unapproachable light, he goes on to say that no man has seen or can see the God of heaven. Poole s Commentary says of this passage, Nor can see; nor can the sons of men see Him with their bodily eyes, or so as to comprehend Him in his perfection, though some have with their bodily eyes seen His back parts and appearances, and with their souls have, through His grace, been enabled spiritually to behold Him. There are other passages that teach the same truth. God told Moses, You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live (Exodus 33:20). John said, No one has seen God at any time (John 1:18; 1 John 4:12). Certainly these passages raise questions about those who have seen God according to several Bible references. So let us turn our attention to this subject. The Bible Speaks Of Many Who Saw God Well, how can this be true if we have just read passages that tell us that no man has seen God? The answer is simple. God has appeared to man in many ways, even allowing man to see a portion of His glory without man suffering immediate death while looking on Him. Let us look at some of these scriptures where people have said they saw God. Seeing God by seeing God s angels- Remember the story of Jacob wrestling with an angel all night until day break? Finally the angel blessed Jacob and Jacob called the name of the place Peniel, For I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved. (Genesis 32:30). Did Jacob see the glory of God? Verse 24 says he wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day. It is obvious that Jacob saw a representative of God in the form of a man. Many refer to Jacob wrestling with an angel. This may have been the case, though the scripture does not say. A similar story is found in Genesis 16, where Hagar is seen fleeing from the presence of Sarah. Three times in Genesis 16:9-11, we are told that an angel is speaking to Hagar. But in verse 13 Hagar says, she called the name of the LORD who spoke to her, You-Are- the-god-who-sees; for she said, Have I also here seen Him who sees me? Did Hagar see the glory of God? No. She saw an angel. If she had seen the glory of God she would have died! Seeing God in a Vision- Isaiah 6:1 says, In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple. Did Isaiah see God in His glory? It is probable that Isaiah saw a vision of God not unlike the vision of John in Revelation, chapter 4. The descriptions of the heavenly visions are similar. Seeing God in a manifestation- Exodus 24:10 tells us that the seventy elders of Israel saw the God of Israel. This must have been a manifestation of God in some manner that the elders could comprehend. Again, no man can see God and live (1Timothy 6:16). Seeing God in a form- The classic example of seeing God s glory is in Exodus 33 where Moses desires to see the glory of God. God responded by saying, You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live (Genesis 33:20). But then God makes arrangements for Moses to see the glory of God in a limited way. And the LORD said, Here is a place by Me, and you shall stand on the rock. So it shall be, while My glory passes by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock, and will cover you with My hand while I pass by. Then I will take away My hand, and you shall see My back; but My face shall not be seen (Genesis 33:21-23). Keep in mind that Moses is hiding behind a rock, God is shielding Moses from His glory, and Moses is able to see God from behind. Even in this limited glimpse of the glory of God, when he came from the mountain, Moses did not realize the physical affect that the experience had on him. The Bible says that the skin of his face shone, and they were afraid to come near him (Genesis 34:30). The manner in which Moses was able to see God is further explained in Numbers 12. God appeared to Miriam in a pillar of cloud and came to Moses defense, saying the he manifested Himself to prophets in visions and dreams but of Moses He said, I speak with him face to face, even plainly, and not in dark sayings; and he sees the form of the LORD. Why then were you not afraid to speak against My servant Moses? So the anger of the LORD was aroused against them, and He departed

3 (Numbers 12:8-9). Did you notice that God said Moses saw the form of the Lord. What does that mean? The word form comes from the Hebrew word, tmuwnah, meaning a shape, phantom, similitude, manifestation, image, or likeness. In all these descriptive terms, there is not a hint of Moses actually seeing God in His glory! Seeing God in a thick cloud- Several instances are recorded in the Bible of God appearing in a thick cloud. The reason was so the people could understand that God was appearing to them without them seeing the glory of God. To do so would have killed them. The Lord said, Behold, I come to you in the thick cloud, that the people may hear when I speak with you, and believe you forever. So Moses told the words of the people to the LORD (Exodus 19:9). When the glory of God appeared on Mount Sinai, as God was about to reveal the Ten Commandments to the Children of Israel, the Bible says, Now the glory of the LORD rested on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days. And on the seventh day He called to Moses out of the midst of the cloud. The sight of the glory of the LORD was like a consuming fire on the top of the mountain in the eyes of the children of Israel. So Moses went into the midst of the cloud and went up into the mountain. And Moses was on the mountain forty days and forty nights (Exodus 24:16-18). These people thought they would die from seeing the glory of the Lord masked in a thick cloud. They would have died if the thick cloud was not there to mask God s glory. Exodus 34:5 is another passage pointing out that God appeared in clouds. The verse says, Now the LORD descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the LORD. Theophanies-God appearing to man- There seems to references in the Bible of God appearing to man. This is called a theophany. The most obvious of these theophanies is the appearance of Jesus Christ in the flesh. References are too numerous and the appearance of Christ is too obvious for discussion in this article. But are there other instances of theophany? Consider these three examples. 1. Tower of Babel- Genesis 11:5 says, But the LORD came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men had built. Why, or in what form, I don t know. Certainly God could see from heaven the construction projects of the people he created, but he chose to come down from heaven to see what was going on. How did he appear or did he appear to men? We simply are not given that information. 2. The appearance of the Commander of the army of the Lord- This story presented in Joshua 5 tells of Joshua seeing someone he supposes is a man with a drawn sword. When Joshua approaches him and asks Him if he was an adversary, the reply was No, but as Commander of the army of the LORD I have now come. And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped, and said to Him, What does my Lord say to His servant (Joshua 5:14)? Notice that Joshua worships and calls this Man Lord. Adam Clarke says, Nor was he reprehended for offering Divine worship to this person, which he would not have received had he been a created angel. We know from at least two instances in the New Testament that angels refused worship. John was reproved for falling at the angel s feet and worshipping him in Revelation 19:10 and 22:8. So was this God appearing as a man to Joshua? 3. The fourth Man in the fiery furnace- The Book of Daniel gives the account of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego being thrown in the fiery furnace for refusing to bow down and worship the Golden Image erected by King Nebuchadnezzar. The furnace was so hot that the men selected to throw the three men into the furnace, died from the heat. However, later when King Nebuchadnezzar looked into the furnace he said, Look! I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire; and they are not hurt, and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God (Daniel 3:25). Was Jesus actually walking with these three Hebrew s in the fire? God Is Spirit and Is Invisible God cannot be seen because He is Spirit and is invisible. Jesus said, God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth (John 4:24). Paul tells us that Jesus is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation Colossians 1:15). 1 Timothy 1:17 says that God is eternal, immortal, invisible. That which is invisible cannot be seen by human eyes. Therefore, in order to appear to man, God must do so in a manner in which man can see. This is accomplished through forms, manifestations, visions, etc.

4 One Day We Will Share In God s Glory The scriptural references to fully make this point are too numerous for this article, thus necessitating an abbreviated listing. When Jesus ascended to heaven, He ascended into glory (Luke 24:26; 1 Peter 1:20-21; Hebrews 8:1; Revelation 5:12). As faithful Christians, we are assured of sharing in that glory with Him. Paul said that we rejoice in hope of the glory of God (Romans 5:2). He also says that When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory (Colossians 3:4). Why was Paul able to endure such great trials and afflictions as he served God? He says, Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory (2 Timothy 2:10). He also said, For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory (2 Corinthians 4:17). Paul also said, For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us (Romans 6:18). Paul speaks of our citizenship being in heaven and says the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself (Philippians 3:20-21). Yes, I have failed again. I told you in the beginning of this article that I could not adequately explain the glory of God. Although God gives us glimpses of His glory, we will never be able to understand or comprehend it in this life. However, when we reach heaven, we will not only be able to see God in His glory, we will share in that glory. May we ever praise and glorify the God of our salvation, looking forward to that day. TIMES OF SERVICE Sunday Morning Bible Study 9:45 Sunday Morning Worship 10:45 Sunday Evening Worship 4:30 Wednesday Night Bible Study 7:00 Non-Profit Org. U.S. Postage PAID Florence, AL Permit No. 820 Editor-Frank Richey Home: (256) You are always welcome at River Bend church of Christ You are invited to a Gospel Singing River Bend Church of Christ Friday, January 18, :00 PM River Bend is located 6 miles west of Florence, on County Road 2 (Gunwaleford Road) River Bend church of Christ County Road 2 Florence, AL 35633

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