Transformed by His Glory

“When Moses came down from Mount Sinai, with the two tablets of the testimony in his hand as he came down from the mountain, Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God.”
(Exodus 34:29)

Throughout his life, Moses had several encounters with the Lord, and it began to show.  Moses met God in the burning bush that was not consumed, and in that encounter was called to proclaim the release of God’s people from captivity in Egypt.  Through Moses, God’s mighty hand worked signs and wonders before Pharaoh, through the plagues and the parting of the sea.  And most spectacularly, Moses met with God on Mt. Sinai, where he received the 10 Commandments and the instructions for the life of the covenant nation of Israel.  All this time in the presence of God began to have a transforming effect.

Moses hungered for the word of God.  He would often set up a tent away from the camp (unlike the Tabernacle that was to be in the middle of the people), where Moses would pray and intercede for the people before the face of God.  We are told in Ex 33:9 that when Moses went into the tent, the cloud would descend upon the tent and the Lord would speak with Moses.

Moses hungered for the presence of God.  God had told Moses to lead the people up to Canaan, to a land flowing with milk and honey, but added that he would not go up with them, lest he consume them, for they were a stiff-necked people (Ex 33:3).  As he came before the Lord, Moses prayed “If your presence will not go with me, do not bring us up from here.”  Moses had such an experience in the presence of God that he could not imagine going forward without God.  Life would be unbearable, the obstacles too high to overcome.

Moses was transformed by the glory of God.  When Moses came down from the mountain, his face shone because he had been talking with God.  The people, who had not had such an encounter, couldn’t handle the glory, it was too much for them, so they asked him to put a veil over his face.  But the people could see, they knew, that Moses had been in the very presence of God, and his life would forever be changed.  That is the effect of God’s glory in the life of man.

What’s fascinating is this: Moses, through all his encounters with God, never saw the Lord face to face, for no one could see the face of God and live.  To satisfy Moses’ longing to see the glory of God, God placed him in the cleft of the rock, covered him with his hand until he passed by, then took away his hand so that Moses could see his back (Ex 33:21-23).  Moses was completely transformed by the passing, veiled encounter with God, and everyone took note.

We, however, have seen a greater glory in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father” John 14:9.  We all, as Paul says in 2 Corinthians 3:18 “with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.”  If you know Christ, you know the Father.  If you have walked with Christ, you have walked with the Father.  If Christ dwells in you, the Father dwells in you as well.  If, in times of worship, prayer, meditation upon the Word, you have gazed upon the face of Christ, you have seen the face of God.

Does the world know you’ve had this encounter with the glory of God?  Is there evidence in your life of having been in His presence?

Has His love transformed yours, recreated you, so that you love differently, sacrificially, redemptively, as Christ loved you?

Has His Spirit created in you a hunger for His Word, for His presence, so that, you can say with the Psalmist, “One day in your house is better than a thousand elsewhere.”  Do you long to feast on His Word, ready to hear it more and more, so that one hour in worship, twenty minutes of a sermon, are just the beginning?

Friends, one of the reasons the world isn’t drawn to God is because we have taken God’s name in vain.  No, I don’t mean we’re swearing and blaspheming God’s Holy name.  We take the Lord’s name in vain when we make it meaningless, powerless, empty in the eyes of the world.  The world isn’t drawn to God because we haven’t come down from the mountain showing that we’ve been in His presence, shining with the light of His worth, His glory, His wonder.   Maybe our worship, our devotion, our prayers, have been halfhearted and misguided, so that we haven’t encounterd God at all.  Maybe we have, but we’ve been too afraid to let the world know, so we veil His glory, hiding our lamp under the basket.

Friends, this cannot be.  The Church exists to make known the glory of God, to lift high the cross of Christ in proclaiming salvation from sin, to grow as a body in holiness through the power of God’s Spirit.  Such glory is the hearts true desire.  May we encounter the glory of God as we walk with Christ our Lord, so that the world may see His glory in us.

Majesty up Close

“Bless the LORD, O my soul! O LORD my God, you are very great!
You are clothed with splendor and majesty”
(Psalm 104:1)

 As a kid, I never saw a lot of Bald Eagles, except in picture books or on TV, or maybe at the zoo.  The Majestic Bald Eagles the captions would always read; our national symbol, regal and dignified, representing the aspirations of a nation, soaring on the wings of eagles…

You can imagine, then, the sheer excitement and wonder that overwhelmed me a couple of years ago when I actually saw my first Bald Eagle in the wild, right here over Cherokee.  There was a little terror in the event, it swooped right in front of my car, but it was thrilling nonetheless.  This year, especially, I’ve seen several in the area, and it is really a wonderful sight.

Until you get up close.  From a distance these are majestic and awesome creatures, but up close we see what they really are – big, dirty, birds.  Eagles primarily eat fish, but since the rivers and lakes here are pretty well frozen over, the eagles turn to other sources – small animals (even pets), and carrion, what they find dead or steal from other predators.  Then I saw a video (link here) of one town in Alaska where the Bald Eagles have actually become quite a pest.  The more I see, the less majestic they get.  If you want to keep that young, innocent, aura surrounding our national symbol, it’s better to keep them at a distance.

This got me to thinking about our use of the word “Majesty.”  What do we mean when we say that?  Look it up in the dictionary, and majesty refers to the splendor, dignity, and authority of a person or object.  “For purple mountains majesty…” we sing, and truly the mountains are awesomely large and very impressive.

Throughout the Scriptures and in our worship we declare that God is Majestic, that God is clothed with splendor and majesty.  Listen to some of the Psalm as they describe the majesty of God:

Psalm 29:4 “The voice of the Lord is powerful; the voice of the Lord is full of majesty.”

Psalm 93:1–2 “The LORD reigns; he is robed in majesty; the LORD is robed; he has put on strength as his belt. Yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved.  Your throne is established from of old; you are from everlasting.”

God is truly majestic, and all His works display the splendor of His majesty:

Psalm 111:3 “Full of splendor and majesty is his work, and his righteousness endures forever.”

The beauty of God’s majesty, however – that which separates the majesty of God from any other thing we might call majestic – is that God’s majesty doesn’t alter even when you are up close and personal.  Unlike the Eagles, who are better at a distance, when God reveals himself to you personally, in the life, love, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, His majesty is magnified in our eyes.

In 1 Peter1:16-18, Peter describes how the majesty of God was revealed in the person of Jesus, especially remembering the Transfiguration, where the majesty of God was fully revealed in Christ, and the voice from heaven declared, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.  Listen to him.”  Jesus lived for the glory of God by giving his life in love for fallen man.  Nothing could reveal the heart of God more clearly, nothing could demonstrate God’s wisdom and power more simply, nothing could express God’s love more personally.

When you come to the Father through Jesus His Son, you come face to face with His majesty.  The closer you get to God, the more beautiful He becomes, the more glorious his grace, the more majestic his splendor.

Were the world a scroll and my life a pen it would be impossible to fully describe the beauty of God’s love for us in Jesus Christ, impossible to exhaust the riches of God’s mercy in the cross of Christ, impossible to say too much about the Majesty of God.

May my every thought, word, and deed, may every sermon and every song, may every prayer and post, may my life be lived to ascribe to God the majesty due His name!