December 16, 2012   Luke 2:8 – 15   Glory  

      I appreciate the illustrations from Jeff Strite.   But back in 1962 Cosmonaut Gherman Titov was visiting in Seattle after having just returned from space, and he said “Sometimes people are saying that God is out there. I was looking around attentively all day but I didn’t find anybody there.   I saw neither angels nor God."    Hearing about Titov’s comment that he hadn’t seen God in space, one man quipped:   "Had he stepped out his space suit he would have!"    Centuries ago, the psalmist said: "The heavens declare the glory of God." (Psalm 19:1)    And over the centuries there are many people who have believed, that the closer they get to the heavens, the closer they could get to God.  And that’s no less true of astronauts.
·   Frank Borman (for example) was commander of the 1st space crew to travel in space. As he looked down on the earth Borman radioed back a message, quoting Genesis 1: "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth."  As he later explained, "I had an enormous feeling that there had to be a power greater than any of us - that there was a God, that there was indeed a beginning."   · James Irwin walked on the moon in 1971 and later became a preacher. He often described the lunar mission as a revelation. In his words, "I felt the power of God as I’d never felt it before."
· And Charles Duke, who also walked on the moon, later became active in missionary work.    As he explained, "I make speeches about walking ON the moon and walking WITH the Son."   · When John Glenn made his final trip to space aboard the Discovery spacecraft he looked down on the earth and said: "To look out at this kind of creation and not believe in God is to me impossible. It just strengthens my faith."  (Adapted from “A Spiritual View of Space” by Charles W. Colson) 

      Creation is beautiful and displays the glory of God but I am so glad that we do not have to go into space to see the glory of God.  We can see the glory of God in Jesus.   The shepherds were just watching their sheep out in the fields at night and the glory of God shown around them.    You do not have to go into space to get close to the glory of God.   Jesus came to Earth.   God came to us.   Immanuel came and Emmanuel means God with us.    John 1:14 the word became flesh and lived awhile among us.   We have seen his glory the glory of the one and only Son who came from the father full of grace and truth.    Jesus is the glory of God.  That is certainly true.  

    The word used for glory in the OT Hebrew is Kabod which means which lends itself to the idea that one possessing glory is laden with riches, power and position etc.  It also denoted the manifestation of light by which God revealed himself whether in lightening flash or in blinding splendor which often accompanied theophanies.   A theophany is when God looked like a man in the OT and would converse with men.   There are some instances of these.  One of those is with Joshua.   Joshua approaches Jericho and he sees a man standing in front of him who hand is drawn with a sword in it.   Joshua asks him if he for or against him and he answers neither but as commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.  Joshua falls down in worship and the commander tells him to take his shoes off for he is on holy ground.   The angels always said do not worship me for I am a fellow servant. 

     In the Old Testament God came down and dwelt in the Tabernacle.   Exodus 40 tells about the point at which the Tabernacle was first put together God came down in the form a cloud “…and THE GLORY OF THE LORD filled the tabernacle.   Moses could not enter the Tent of Meeting because the cloud had settled upon it, and THE GLORY OF THE LORD filled the tabernacle.” Exodus 40:34-35   When Solomon dedicated the temple the glory of the Lord so filled the temple that the priests could not minister.   When the children of Israel left Egypt God led them with a cloud during the day and by fire at night.   Exodus 13 tells us that the Lord went ahead of them by day in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way by night in a pillar of fire.  God’s presence or his glory was revealed to them by cloud and by fire.   God guides us today by his word his spirit and counsel and in other ways.  

    The NT follows a similar pattern according to Bakers dictionary of theology.  In reference to God it denotes his majesty his righteousness and holiness.  In Ephesians 1:17 He is called the Father of glory.  Luke 2:9 the glory of the Lord shown around them was the presence of God.   In the NT it is predominately the son that we see the display of glory.   Jesus glory is displayed at the mount of transfiguration.   The disciples said we beheld his glory.   That was the inner 3 disciples Peter, James and John.  There was a manifestation of glory at Paul’s conversion in Acts 9 where Paul is on his way to Damascus with letters from the chief priests to imprison Christians.  A light from heaven flashed around him and he falls to the ground has a conversation with Jesus and he is blinded for 3 days.    John on the isle of Patmos has a vision of Jesus which is recorded in Revelation.   There is the sense of Jesus being glorified in his suffering.  Jesus said in John 12 the hour has come that the son of man should be glorified.   Hebrews tells us that though he was a son yet he learned obedience by the things which he suffered.  

    How do you feel about the glory of God?    Is it something to fear?   Is it something that we should desire?   How does the glory of God impact man?   How did the shepherds respond to the appearance of the angel and then the glory of the Lord shown upon them?     They were terrified.    And the angel spoke peace to them.   The glory of the lord shown around them.   The glory of God can shine on and through man.   Stephen’s face in Acts 6 shined like an angel as he was facing his trial.  All of those sitting in judgment of him saw his face.   I think that was God giving testimony of Stephen’s life.  It was a witness of God to others. 

       Moses face shined after being on the mountain and conversing with God.  God said I speak to Moses face to face but Moses did not see God’s face.   II Corinthians 3 tells us the Children of Israel could not look steadily at Moses face because of the glory.    Moses put a veil over his face to cover up the glory – wow.   That is pretty interesting isn’t it?    I find it interesting that 3 or 4 people at different times have seen a glow around me when I have preached.   I have taken encouragement from that, that God wants me to preach.   That could be God saying to the people who have seen that, that this is my word and you should take my word to heart.   It seems to me that the manifestation of God’s glory to man always had a purpose.   I think it changed the men lives.   I do not think the appearance of Stephen’s face impacted the Sanhedrin much but it is recorded in the bible.    When God showed his glory to the shepherds they left their sheep to see Jesus.    Moses life was changed and John’s life was changed.   Peter James and John that saw Jesus transfigured were changed.   Daniel was changed from his visions.  

      I find it very interesting how God is moving today and God is using and moving in people that we would be very surprised about.   A person tells the story of Maori Kaumatua, or leader.    He is in His late 50’s, when he was 10 he and His family had no knowledge of Jesus or his claims on their lives.    In fact they were deeply into the other side, having open visions of their tribal guardian and other spirits. His young sister got cancer and was dying; He loved his little sister and wanted to see her well again.    One morning while he was milking the cow he saw Jesus appear to him on the cross, Jesus spoke to him and said Ï loved you so much that I suffered this for you.     Then Jesus appeared to him in all His Glory and said then I became like this in order to set you free.     Remember that this was a 10 year old.    He ran to His mom and told her what had happened; she struggled with it and suggested they call a local minister to see what he thought.    He came and was amazed at the vision the boy had received, and then suggested that he lay his hand on his little sister and pray for her.     As he prayed she began to convulse and vomit a black substance.    They rushed her to the doctor who examined her and proclaimed this girl is healed, the only thing wrong with her now is a lack of food, give her some food.   That was nearly 50 years ago, she is still well today!   God revealed his glory to him and used it for her healing.   That is neat.     

    In Acts 3 that I recently preached on Peter and John go to the temple and heal the beggar at the gate of beautiful and the people are amazed.   In Peter’s response to the leaders he said the God of our fathers has glorified his servant Jesus.   It is in the name of Jesus that he has been healed.   Through the healing that God did there God was glorified.   It brought others closer to God.     I think when God moves on men today it is to reveal his glory and his presence and to speak to people.    God did this and it is marvelous in our eyes.   When God reveals his glory people are amazed.   It is a beautiful thing.   God’s glory is beautiful.   The glory of the Lord shown around the shepherds and they went to see Jesus.      I think signs, wonders, miracles and healings are still valid today.   Joel said in the last days there will be visions and dreams.   We are in the last days.   The last days are the time since Jesus came on earth.   God has not changed and he has not become politically correct and removed his works and glory from the world.    He still moves in the hearts of men.   He still displays his glory.   

    In Isaiah 6 Isaiah saw the Lord high and lifted up and the train of his robe filled the temple.   The seraphs or angels were calling to one another saying holy, holy; holy is the Lord Almighty the whole earth is filled with his glory.   Isaiah’s life was changed and Isaiah said Lord send me.   Do you want to see God’s glory?   Moses said show me your glory.   Do you want God to be glorified through you?     Christians should desire to see Jesus.   The Greeks came to the disciples and said we want to see Jesus.   Jesus is glorified at the right hand of God.