The Herald Weekly Vol XVII : 48

The Glory of the Lord Revealed

In the Judeo-Christian region of the Middle East, there are four primary sacred mountains:

Mt Ararat in eastern Turkey, the traditional landing place of Noah’s ark; Mt. Sinai in the Sinai peninsula, the peak where Moses received the Ten Commandments; Mt. Moriah or Mt. Zion in Israel, where lies the city of Jerusalem and the temple of Solomon; and Mt. Tabor in Israel, the site of the transfiguration of Jesus. Mt. Sinai, also called Mt. Moreb and Jebel Musa (the ‘Mountain of Moses’) is the centre of a greatly venerated pilgrimage destination that includes the Monastery of St. Catherine and the Burning Bush, Elijah’s Plateau, and Plain of ar-Raaha.

We remember Mt. Sinai not just for the arduous climb, or beautiful sunrise, but for the fact that it was there that God called Moses to Himself. It was there that God revealed His glory to Moses, “and the sight of the Lord was like devouring fire on the top of the mount in the eyes of the children of Israel” (Ex 24:17). It was on this mount that God gave to Moses the Ten Commandments on two stone tables, His rule for righteous living among His people. But when Moses came down from the mount, he saw how the Hebrew people were worshipping a golden calf, and dancing before it. In his anger, Moses cast the tablets out of his hands, and broke them at the base of the mount (Ex 32:19). God punished those who worshipped the golden calf and many were struck dead (Ex 32:35).

It was on Mount Sinai that God “spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend” (Ex 33:11). It was on this mount that Moses pleaded with God to show mercy on the Hebrew people. God hewed down two more stone tablets, and wrote on them the 10 commandments again.

When God did this, He proclaimed Himself as “The Lord, The Lord God merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth; Keeping mercy for thousands forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin…” (Ex 34:6,7)

When Moses descended from the mountain-top experience, he did not know that “the skin of his face shone while he talked with him (God)”. After spending 40 days and 40 nights on Mount Sinai with God, Moses’ face shone, and he had to “put a veil on his face” (Ex 34:29,33).

But God does not speak to His people only on Mount Sinai; He speaks to us wherever we are. He speaks to us through His Word, the Holy Bible. After spending time reading His Word, and communicating with God in prayer, will our faces also shine like Moses? Would others around us be able to see God’s glory shining from our faces?

At Christmas, we often sing the words “Gloria in excelsis Deo (Latin words which mean Glory to God in the highest). These words are found in the chorus of the hymn “Angels We Have Heard On High”. And truly, it was at Christmas that the glory of the Lord was revealed. The birth of Christ was the revelation of the glory of the Lord just as Isaiah had promised in Isa 40:5, “And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.” As the shepherd looked after their sheep in the fields, they witnessed the angels’ singing of “Glory to God in the highest”. They were much afraid, and did not fully understand what they witnessed. But the angels were truly proclaiming the Christmas story.

Prophet Isaiah spoke of the doom and judgement on God’s people for incurring His anger. But he also spoke of God’s love which is always tempered with His love. After 39 chapters of God’s judgement, Isaiah 40 starts with “Comfort ye, comfort ye, my people saith your God. Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the Lord’s hand double for all her sin.”

And this message of comfort and salvation is found in the message of hope found in the arrival of the Messiah. Isaiah 40:3 talks of one who will “prepare… the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.” This prophecy is fulfilled in John the Baptist, the one who preached in the wilderness of Judea, and brought news of the arrival of salvation for God’s people.

The glory of the Lord is the expression of God’s person, His nature. It refers also to His presence, and everything that exists in the earth as a manifestation of His glory because “all things were made by Him.” Everything that He created speaks of His glory, and discloses His person.

When Moses asked God to “shew me thy glory”, God said, “Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live” (Ex 33:18, 20-23). And God said, “Behold, there is a place by me, and thou shalt stand upon a rock: And it shall come to pass, while my glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a clift of the rock, and will cover thee with my hand while I pass by. And I will take away mine hand, and thou shalt see my back parts: but my face shall not be seen.”

Though no one has ever seen God’s face, His glory was seen on many occasions. From the garden of Eden to the wilderness in Egypt, God revealed His glory to His people. He showed His glory when He created heaven and earth and all that was in them. He provided for His creatures in the Garden of Eden, and He provided them manna in the desert too. When the temple of God was completed, the glory of the Lord came and filled it (1 Kgs 8:11), and the people fell down and worshipped.

God’s glory is shown in His creation, a cloud, a pillar of fire, a blazing light, in the mystery of the birth of Christ. As we behold Christ this Christmas time, may the Holy Spirit transform us into God’s image. Christ humbled Himself to be born of a virgin, and became obedient unto death on the cross. And God exalted Him and gave Him a name that is above every name.

This Christmas, many will behold the lights along Orchard Road but they will miss Christ. Many will behold the gifts bought for them, but forget the Gift of God. They will be blinded by the lights and not behold the glory of the Lord in Christ revealed. As we busy ourselves with preparations before Christmas, let us consider Christ, and the glory of the Lord. Let us walk in humbleness of heart and mind, and live our lives before God with much gratitude.

Let us truly adore Him with our hearts as we sing,

Sages, leave your contemplations,
Brighter visions beam afar.
Seek the great Desire of nations,
Ye have seen His natal star.
Come and worship, come and worship,
Worship Christ, the newborn King.

Pastor Bob Phee
(1st printing 6 Dec 2009)

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