The Glory of the Lord
...to Know the Most Holy Place where God’s Spirit Will Dwell
MOSES, DAVID, SOLOMON, EZEKIEL AND JOHN were all men who were, in a very significant way, allowed to behold the Glory of the Lord. What their hearts longed for is the same longing that is coming in many hearts today. It is David, who gave the most precise voice to his desire. Most of us who know and love the Lord God have found great help from his Psalms. In them, he always revealed the deep cry of his heart, even when he was in trouble—or when his enemies were on the attack against him. Overshadowing it all, however, was the cry of his heart to know the Most Holy Place where God’s Spirit would dwell. David is a help to us as this same desire grows in us. Moving for a while over Moses who preceded the others, I want us first to listen in on David as his heart reached toward the Lord in a search for His Temple, his Most Holy Dwelling Place. The same cry that was in his heart is beginning to come forth in ours. As for David’s plea, this one verse from Psalm 27 keeps coming to my own heart. Please listen to it with me: One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the House of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold (like a prophetic seer) the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in His Temple (search for His Most Holy Dwelling Place)—verse 4.
Years ago, some of us learned to sing this Psalm 27 passage, to a tune the Lord gave. Singing it helped us keep it in our hearts. Through the years its melody and words have come back time and again, each time to provoke a deeper longing in my own heart. If you don’t have a tune to this Psalm, ask the Lord to give you one. It may be for your own private singing, or maybe just as a melody for your heart. That’s where we want to store the understanding and light that comes from Psalms like this Psalm 27—plus many more of them.
What has gained my attention the most is the deep desire David had toward God’s Temple. In his closing days it was the obsession of his heart to see it, to be there in it. Although he himself was not allowed to build the glorious dwelling—he had been too much of a man of war—he did, however, receive from the Lord the plan for its building. This was as Moses received the plan for the Tabernacle. The Temple would have a similar outlay, but with a physical glory that far exceeded the Tabernacle of Moses. It was amazing that the Tabernacle built in the time of Moses had remained in use some 500 years, but it was only a “tent.” In the vision of David’s heart, the Lord’s house should be made of far grander material.
David, who so desired to see the Temple but was not allowed to behold it, passed on to his son Solomon the plan for every part it. He felt in his own spirit that it would become God’s glorious dwelling. The word from the old King to his son was very touching. He said to Solomon, Now set your heart and your soul to seek the LORD your God; arise therefore, and build ye the Sanctuary of the LORD God, to bring the Ark of the Covenant of the LORD (since the days of Moses housed in the ancient Tabernacle), and the holy vessels of God, into the House that is to be built to the Name of the LORD—I Chronicles 22:19.
When the edifice was complete, it was so glorious a place that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud: for the glory of the LORD had filled the House of the LORD— I Kings 8:11.
THERE HAD BEEN SIMILAR OCCURRENCES OF THE Glory of the Lord when Moses was yet in the wilderness with the children of Israel. One significant time, recorded in Exodus 24:15-18, was when the Lord revealed to him the plan for the Tabernacle. There is this wondrous account given us in the New Living Translation of the Bible. Then Moses went up the mountain, and the cloud covered it. And the glorious presence of the LORD rested upon Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it for six days. On the seventh day the LORD called to Moses from the cloud. The Israelites at the foot of the mountain saw an awesome sight. The awesome Glory of the LORD on the mountain top looked like a devouring fire. Then Moses disappeared into the cloud as he climbed higher up the mountain. He stayed on the mountain forty days and forty nights. There God gave him the plan for the Tabernacle
When it was completed, the glory of the LORD filled the Tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter into the Tent of the congregation, because the cloud abode thereon, and the glory of the LORD filled the Tabernacle—Exodus 40:34,35.
We may well conclude that this cloud, like a devouring fire, that filled both the Tabernacle and the Temple was none other than the same Holy Spirit that descended upon the one hundred and twenty disciples gathered in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost about a thousand years later. Suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them—Acts 2:2,3.
But, with all the Glory revealed in the Tabernacle, in the Temple and on that gathering in Jerusalem, there remains a greater Glory yet to be known—in all the earth.
NOW, LET US CONSIDER SOMETHING ABOUT THE Prophet Ezekiel, who came along about 500 years after Solomon. Being among the first ones of Judah taken captive into Babylon, he was also a man much taken with the Glory of the Lord. In Babylon there was no house where they could worship— neither Tent nor Temple. They were in a strange land under the rule of a heathen king. They were captives with no one in the land giving any consideration to their religion or that they might have a place to worship their God.
But one day Ezekiel went out by the River Chebar—probably a canal built for King Nebuchadnezzar—and turned his heart toward seeking the Lord. A strange, but wonderful, vision appeared before him, a sight that almost defied human description. As he watched, he realized he was beholding the Glory of the Lord. He saw dimensions of His glory apparently never before seen by man. It was a vision so heavenly that it was difficult to describe in earthly tones, even though he made a wondrous attempt.
Let us hear some of his testimony as interpreted in Eugene Peterson’s The Message. When I was thirty years of age, I was living with the exiles on the Kebar (Chebar) River. On the fifth day of the fourth month, the sky opened up and I saw visions of God. He then went on to say: I looked: I saw an immense dust storm come from the north, an immense cloud with lightning flashing from it, a huge ball of fire glowing like bronze. Within the fire were what looked like four creatures vibrant with life. (This is from Ezekiel 1:1,4,5.)
Ezekiel went on to describe something that seemed similar to what the Apostle John described in the Book of Revelation. It is not our purpose here to interpret these passages other than to observe that Ezekiel and John both beheld the Glory of the Lord, and both apart from any religious adornments or ritual.
See this further from Revelation 4:1-5 as it is interpreted in The New Living Translation—Then as I looked, I saw a door standing open in heaven, and the same voice I had heard before spoke to me with the sound of a mighty trumpet blast.
The voice said, "Come up here, and I will show you what must happen after these things" (after what he had seen with regard to the Church). And instantly I was in the Spirit, and I saw a throne in heaven and someone sitting on it! (This was apparently the Throne of God.) The One sitting on the throne was as brilliant as gemstones—jasper and carnelian. And the glow of an emerald circled his throne like a rainbow. Twenty-four thrones surrounded Him, and twenty-four elders sat on them. They were all clothed in white and had gold crowns on their heads. And from the Throne came flashes of lightning and the rumble of thunder. And in front of the Throne were seven lampstands with burning flames. They are the seven Spirits of God (the fullness of God’s Spirit at work).
Both Ezekiel and John saw the Glory of God as the creative activity of heaven. It was into this that Moses, David and Solomon were allowed entrance. It is unto this—as awesome as it may seem—that we are being drawn as this age ends and the age to come draws on.
THERE IS A TERM CALLED THE “SHEKINAH” that ancient rabbies used with reference to the Glory of the Lord, in particular the Glory that Ezekiel beheld. The word shekinah does not occur in the Bible, but the concept conveyed by the word does. We might do well to say that the Glory of the LORD and "Shekinah" Glory are identical.
The Hebrew verb shakan, from which the word “shekinah” appears to have come, simply means “to take up residence with long continuity in a neighborhood or with a group of people.” Isn’t this amazing? When it has reference to God it takes on a beautiful mysticism that draws us to consider that it has something—something wonderful—to do with His coming to dwell among His people.
Although there have been only glimpses, as it were, of the “Shekinah Glory,” it begins to become evident that it is a glory that will eventually dwell, without the hindrance of sin or rebellion, amidst a people redeemed and made pure by the blood of the Redemption. The amazing thing is that this redeemed people will be drawn into the creativity and rule of the Lord God. As we may see in a later article, the New Testament Greek word dóxa, translated often as glory, is a word that has to do with governmental dignity.
There is one more Word from a Minor Prophet revealing to us that this glory with which we have had only brief glimpses through the Scripture will one day be known in all the earth. See this: For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the Glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea—Habakkuk 2:14. This, it becomes apparent, is said with reference to the Day of the Lord when the Messiah Himself shall reign in all the earth, in all His glory, a redeemed people with Him. The Apostle Paul had this to say with reference to this Day: When Christ, Who is our Life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with Him in glory— Colossians 3:4. Oh, what a hope and expectation!
BUT, LET’S GO BACK TO EZEKIEL, TO SOMETHING sad and alarming, but something that sets the stage for our present understanding. An amazing thing about Ezekiel was that he could worship the Lord even in the strange land where there was nothing to remind him of his religion. In addition, most of the people of Israel had grown cold toward the Lord God.
The Lord Jesus seems to indicate that something similar may come upon us in the closing of this age. Two passages come to mind. In one the Lord asks this provocative question. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth? Luke 18:8. There is a strong implication here that the faith of all believers shall have been so tested that it might appear there will be none left in all the earth.
Again, there is this teaching from the Lord Jesus about the days preceding His second appearing. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold—Matthew 24:12. Love will have gone out like a flickering flame in the wind.
One of the saddest accounts—I believe—in all The Bible was when Ezekiel was caught up in spirit and taken from Babylon back to Jerusalem where the Temple built by Solomon remained standing. He watched as the Glory of the Lord departed, oh, so reluctantly, from that Temple. Following are some references that reveal how slowly, hesitantly, and with a sad disinclination the Lord departed from His Dwelling, leaving His people to be overcome by Babylon under whose rule they would spend their seventy years in exile.
As long as the Lord of Glory dwelt in their midst they could know triumph over their enemies. But because of sin, much of it done in secret, He could no longer dwell with them. That which Moses knew, for which David longed, and which Solomon beheld, came to its end.
But for the Words of the Prophets, the Hope of Israel was gone. Here is the summary of what Ezekiel beheld in the spirit.
• Ezekiel 8:4 And, behold, the Glory of the God of Israel was there, according to the vision that Isaw in the plain.
• Ezekiel 9:3 And the Glory of the God of Israel was gone up from the cherub (on the Ark of the Covenant), whereupon He was, to the threshold of the house…
• Ezekiel 10:4 Then the Glory of the LORD went up from the cherub, and stood over the threshold of the house…
• Ezekiel 10:18 Then the glory of the LORD departed from off the threshold of the house (theTemple entrance), and stood over the cherubim (the angelic beings that accompany the work of God among all nations).
• Ezekiel 11:22 Then did the cherubim lift up their wings, and the wheels beside them; and the Glory of the God of Israel was over them above.
• Ezekiel 11:23 And the glory of the LORD went up from the midst of the city, and stood upon the mountain which is on the east side of the city. Thus, did the glory depart.
After this, the Word of the LORD also came unto Ezekiel, saying, Son of man, thou dwellest in the midst of a rebellious house, which have eyes to see, and see not; they have ears to hear, and hear not: for they are a rebellious house.— Ezekiel 12:2. Later, this Word even more sad, came with regard to the children of Israel who cherished not the presence of the God’s Spirit but allowed sin to rule in their midst. And they shall know that I am the LORD, when I shall scatter them among the nations, and disperse them in the countries— Ezekiel 12:15. Israel has known nothing but sorrow and turmoil since that sad time.
What we have left is the earnest (the guarantee, or deposit) of our inheritance (Ephesians 1:14) and the promises of the Prophets. These are both glorious and leave us who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ—and Israel too—with a hope that shall by no means be put to shame.
David was not only a King in Israel whose vision embraced the Temple, he was also a Prophet who saw the Day of the Lord with a glory reaching far beyond the glory of Solomon’s day. His vision reached for a people more pure, a glory more far-reaching, and a Kingdom more certain than any ever known before. He saw the Day when his greater Son would build a greater Temple that would be filled with a greater Glory! His final prayer was, …and let the whole earth be filled with His Glory; Amen, and Amen—Psalm 72:19.
In this month’s praying, we will spend time with David—listening to his heart, learning from him, praying as he prayed, and expecting that we may have a part when the Glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together—Isaiah 40:5.
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