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The Glory of the Lord

Grace To You / John MacArthur
The Truth Network Radio
November 1, 2021 4:00 am

The Glory of the Lord

Grace To You / John MacArthur

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November 1, 2021 4:00 am

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The whole concept of the glory of the Lord surrounds the Christmas scene. At the birth of grace to you with John MacArthur. I'm your host, Phil Johnson. Imagine you've been traveling for hours and you realize you forgot some important detail.

You left a door unlocked or a window open. That might get your blood pressure going a bit, or at least bring on a headache. Amazingly though, millions forget about something far more important. In fact, they do it like clockwork every year without experiencing a single physical symptom. What have they forgotten? Simply put, it's the real meaning of Christmas. And that's the topic and title of the study John MacArthur begins today, on Grace to You. Now of course, John, today is only the first day of November, so let me acknowledge the elephant in the room and say, why are we airing a series on Christmas so many weeks before December 25th?

There really is a good reason. They want to share some stories so they can use those insights during the season that is to come. So this is kind of pre-Christmas season training. And we're going to begin a study today titled The Real Meaning of Christmas. And considering how easy it is to become distracted from what's important during the Christmas season—in fact, it's almost difficult to find your way to the real truth about Christmas in the middle of all the chaos—we want to get a jump from a biblical perspective on helping you, equipping you to be able to meet and meaningfully discuss the realities of the glorious incarnation of the Son of God. So now is a great time to prepare rather than taking the typical look at the narrative of Christmas, the familiar Christmas story, we're going to take a deeper look below the surface to uncover the spiritual dynamics at work in Christ coming to earth. In other words, instead of looking at the gospel accounts of the story itself, we're going to look at Hebrews chapter 1 and the glory of the one who came into the world that we celebrate at Christmas, and then we're going to look at Philippians 2, the incarnation of the Son of God. In the triune Godhead, it's going to be a theological look at Christmas that will give you much, much biblical truth that you can use effectively to make your worship this Christmas even more significant and to tell other people the real meaning of this holiday.

So stay with us for the whole series. That's right, and friend, let me encourage you to follow along with John these next few days. His study can help you prepare for your best Christmas ever. Here he is to show you the real meaning of Christmas. Isaiah chapter 40. As we prepare our hearts for making this Christmas season most meaningful, I want us to focus on this very phrase in verse 5. And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed. Now if you know me at all, you know that the glory of God and the glory of the Lord is a tremendously important and urgent theme in my own teaching ministry.

I speak of it often because the Bible speaks of it often. And you might think that perhaps we're forcing this very, very beloved theme onto the issue of Christmas, but that is not the case at all. For the word of Isaiah in chapter 40 verse 5, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, is in fact the Christmas story.

It is the Christmas message. The birth of Christ was the revelation of the glory of the Lord, just as Isaiah had promised. The whole concept of the glory of the Lord surrounds the Christmas scene. At the birth of Christ the Bible says that angels required such a focus as they shouted glory to God in the highest. And in Luke 2 9 it says the shepherds in meeting the angel were instantly aware that the glory of the Lord shone round about them and they were very much afraid. So the glory of the Lord was the angelic focus at the birth of Christ. The glory of the Lord was the aura that invaded the scene.

It isn't imposed upon the Christmas story, it is the Christmas story. But let's focus if we can just on that first part of verse 5. The glory of the Lord shall be revealed. What does that mean? What kind of name is this? What kind of title is this? What kind of thought is this? What is the truth bound up in the message of the Spirit of God here?

Let me give you simply this to begin with. The glory of the Lord is the expression of God's person. It is any manifestation of God's character. Any manifestation of his attributes in the world, in the universe, is his glory. In other words, the glory is to God what the brightness is to the sun. The glory is to God what wet is to water.

The glory is what heat is to fire. In other words, it is the emanation. It is the effulgence.

It is the brightness. It is the product of his presence. It is the revelation of himself. Any time God discloses himself, it is the manifestation of his glory.

That really refers to his presence. Now we know that everything that exists in the universe is a manifestation of God's glory. Because all things are made by him. And everything that is in existence then is somewhat a result of his nature, therefore it projects his person. The heavens declare the glory of God.

The beast of the field gives him glory. Everything he ever made speaks of his nature. Everything he ever did speaks of his essence.

So that the whole of all created things and all things in existence are revelations of God's glory. They are disclosures of his person. You see his glory in the smallest flower. You see his glory in the butterfly. You see his glory in a tree. You see his glory in the sky. You see his glory in everything.

All are reference points to his nature. Now, Moses, having seen all of that, wanted more. And in Exodus 33 he said to God, Show me your glory. It wasn't as if he had never seen any of it.

It was as if he wanted to see more of it. And God said to him, No man shall see me and live. I cannot display to you the fullness of my glory or you would be consumed.

But I'll allow you to see my afterglow. Tucked him in a rock and revealed some of his glory. And so there were times when beyond the general revelation of his creation, beyond his glory manifest in what we see in nature. Beyond that, God gave some very special revelations of his glory.

That day to Moses when he was tucked in the rock. Later to the people as he came down from the mountain and had the glory of God emanating from his face. God gave some special manifestations of glory. In the garden, for example, Adam and Eve walked and talked with God in the cool of the day.

His presence was there in an emanating, ineffable cloud of light. And they saw his glory. In Leviticus chapter 9 and verse 6, Moses told the people that the glory of the Lord was going to appear to them and it did. When they were in the wilderness, in Exodus chapter 16, God was feeding them with manna. And as the manna came and was provided for them, the Bible says the glory of the Lord was seen. At Mount Sinai when Moses went up to commune with God, the glory of the Lord covered the mountain and covered Moses so that the people could not see either.

Exodus 24, 15. We find that in Exodus chapter 40, at the completion of the tabernacle, the glory of the Lord filled the tent of the congregation. And in Leviticus chapter 9, when the priesthood was initiated and the priestly ministry defined and at first was set apart unto God, at that very initiation of the priesthood, the glory of the Lord was seen. In Numbers 14 and verse 10, when the people had reached Kadesh Barnea and instead of entering into the promised land by faith, they began to murmur and complain and rebel, the Bible says the glory of the Lord appeared.

Later on, after God had established the priesthood, there were three men, Korah, Dathan, and Abiram who decided that they would take upon themselves the priestly function. And they defiled that holy office and the ground opened up and swallowed them according to Numbers 16 and it says in verse 19 that the glory of the Lord appeared. In the same chapter later on, when the people rebelled against Moses and Aaron, the glory of the Lord was manifest and it says it threatened to consume them in a moment. In their wanderings in the wilderness, according to the 20th chapter of Numbers, they became thirsty at Meribah and in the midst of their thirst, Moses and Aaron fell prostrate before the Lord to pray on their behalf and the glory of the Lord was there. In 1 Kings 8 and 11, it says when they completed the temple, the glory of the Lord came and filled it.

When they offered the first offering, 2 Chronicles 7 verse 1, the glory of the Lord was seen and the people fell down and worshiped. So you see, God not only revealed his glory in creation, but God revealed his glory in very special ways, in the ineffable Shekinah. Now, I grant you that as I read these things again and again, all of the appearances of God's glory have about them a certain amount of mystery.

No matter how many times you go over it and how many times you think it through, there is connected with the glory of God a certain amount of marvelous mystery. A cloud, a pillar of fire, blazing light, very difficult for us to understand what this must have been like. There's only one place we can go in the Old Testament to get a description of it and it's in the first chapter of Ezekiel.

Would you look with me for a moment at that? Ezekiel chapter 1. Ezekiel, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, gives us the only description of what it was to see the Shekinah. And just to give you an idea of what he says, let me run down through this text.

Just listen. Ezekiel 1, verse 4, And I looked, and behold, a whirlwind came out of the north, a great cloud and a fire unfolding it, and a brightness was about it, and out of the midst of it, like the color of amber, out of the midst of the fire. Also out of the midst of it came the likeness of four living creatures, and this was their appearance. They had the likeness of a man, and every one had four faces and every one had four wings.

By the way, this has to do, I think, with angelic attendance to the Shekinah. And their feet were straight feet, and the soles of their feet were like the soles of a calf's foot, and they sparkled like the color of burnished bronze. And they had the hands of a man under their wings on their four sides, and they four had their faces and their wings. Their wings were joined one to another. They turned not when they went.

They went every one straight forward. As for the likeness of their faces, they four had the face of a man and the face of a lion on the right side. And they four had the face of an ox on the left side, and they four also had the face of an eagle. Thus were their faces, and their wings were stretched upward. Two wings of every one were joined one to another, and two covered their bodies.

And they went every one straight forward. Whenever the Spirit was to go, they went, and they turned not when they went. As for the likeness of the living creatures, their appearance was like burning coals of fire, like the appearance of lamps. It went up and down among the living creatures, and the fire was bright, and out of the fire went forth lightning. And the living creatures ran and returned like the appearance of a flash of lightning.

Have you got it? Clear? I'll read more. Now as I beheld the living creatures behold one wheel upon the earth by the living creatures with its four faces, the appearance of the wheels and their work was like the color of a barrel. That's a precious stone. They four had one likeness. Their appearance and their work was as it were a wheel in the middle of a wheel. When they went, they went upon their four sides, and they turned not when they went.

As for their rims, they were so high they were dreadful. Their rims were full of eyes round about them four. And when the living creatures went, the wheels went by them. And when the living creatures were lifted up from the earth, the wheels were lifted up. Wherever the Spirit was to go, they went. There was to their spirit to go. And the wheels were lifted up beside them, for the spirit of the living creature was in the wheels. Frankly folks, it doesn't get any better.

It just keeps going on like this and on and on. You come to verse 26. And above the firmament that was over their heads was the likeness of a throne, like the appearance of a sapphire stone. And upon the likeness of the throne was the likeness of the appearance of a man above upon it. And I saw like the color of amber, like the appearance of fire round about within it, from the appearance of its loins even upward and from the appearance of its loins even downward, I saw as it were the appearance of fire, and it had brightness round about, like the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain.

So was the appearance of the brightness round about. Stop there. You say, mercy MacArthur, help. I'm long lost. Listen. People have asked me for years, what does all that mean?

I can give it to you very simply. I haven't got the faintest idea. And I think that's the point. Ezekiel really did the best he could do. But he was trying to describe the indescribable. He was trying, as one man said, to unscrew the unscrewdable. He was trying to tell us something that was impossible to communicate. He saw the glory of the Lord, and that's what he says in verse 28. Middle of the verse. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord. I mean, I gave you the best shot, but I just can't give you any more. It's too mysterious.

It's too much. At best, he gave it a good effort. He saw the glory of the Lord later in chapter 3. He saw the glory of the Lord later in chapter 8, chapter 9, chapter 10.

He saw it and saw it and saw it. And still it had this incredible mystery. Now there's coming a day, says the prophet Habakkuk, when the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. But until that day of full knowledge, we are dealing with limited perception. We just really don't understand. And Ezekiel could and could not describe it.

And the more he goes on, the more tangled up we get. Creation revealed the glory of God. And beyond that, the Shekinah, those very special glory appearances, revealed his glory. But even with those, there was mystery.

There was mystery. If all we had was that, our understanding of God's glory would be shrouded in confusion. And yet God wants us to know him, and he wants us to perceive him, and he wants us to understand his self-revelation.

How can we ever know if that's all we have? Well, fortunately Isaiah comes along and Isaiah says this, the glory of the Lord shall be what? Revealed. There's coming a greater disclosure, a fuller revelation. Let's see how the New Testament speaks of its fulfillment. Hebrews chapter 1. Hebrews chapter 1 is another text that deals with the true Christmas story.

The true Christmas story. Verse 1, Hebrews 1. God, who at sundry times and in diverse manners, spoke in time past unto the fathers by the prophets.

And you can stop there. God spoke. That's the subject and the verb. God spoke. God's self-disclosure. He did it at different times and in different ways.

That's what those two terms mean. At different times and in different ways, God revealed himself. Primarily, now mark it. Unto the fathers, that is to historic progenitors of the nation of Israel, the godly men of the past, he did speak by the prophets. Now think with me.

Let's pull together what we've learned up to now. God did not remain silent. God did not remain invisible. God did not leave himself shrouded in the clouds of darkness. But he shone the light of glory. First of all, he shone the light of glory in creation. And then he shone the light of glory in the Shekinah, those very special ways in which he invaded the life of the people of the Old Testament. But most marvelously and most conclusively and most helpfully, he disclosed himself beyond his creation and beyond his Shekinah in the word of God revealed to the prophets. So that the greatest revelation in time past is not the vision of the Shekinah.

It is not the comprehension of the creation. It is the understanding of the Old Testament. For that is the word spoken by the prophets. It says, verse 7 of Amos 3, the Lord God will do nothing, but that he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.

He has disclosed himself through the prophets in the writings of the Old Testament. Now listen, creation and the Shekinah is limited. The written word gives content to the creation.

It gives content to the Shekinah. We might even borrow the words of Job. When Job contemplates the God who reveals himself in creation, he says this. Lo, Job 26, 14, these are but the outskirts of his ways, and how small a whisper do we hear of him. You see, God only whispers in his creation. God only whispers in his Shekinah. But he speaks in his word. And in the Old Testament, verse 1, he spoke.

Not a whisper, but in full voice. But you know something? Even that was full of mystery.

Did you know that? I doubt whether there was ever in the Old Testament time a more godly man than Daniel. He really knew what it was to pray. He knew what it was to walk with God. He knew what it was to live a life of obedience.

He had a sense of history. He lived over 90 years, and he saw God work through all of those years. He had revelations from God that were not equaled by anybody else. He saw the future like no one in the Old Testament saw it. Incredible man, given all that he was given in his personal relationship with God, given all that he was given through divine revelation, given all of those factors at the very end of Daniel.

Chapter 12, verse 8, he says this. I heard, but I did not understand. You didn't understand, Daniel? You didn't understand?

No, you see, that's how it is. If all you had was creation, you'd have a whisper. If all you had was Shekinah, you'd still have a whisper. If you had the Old Testament, you'd have God speaking in a full voice, but even then there would be mystery. That's why 1 Peter 1, 10 to 12 says that the Old Testament prophets searched what they wrote to see what person or what manner of time it referred to. But it was not revealed unto them, says Peter, but unto us. That's why in Hebrews 11, 39, and 40, it says that they were not perfected without us. The completion didn't come until the better thing, which is the New Covenant. So, with all that they had, there was still mystery. The fullness was still missing. They didn't get the fullest, truest, complete picture of what God was really like.

Creation helped, Shekinah helped, the Word helped, but there was an incompleteness in it all until verse 2, Hebrews 1. He hath in these last days spoken again. And how did He speak this time?

By His what? Son. Now that is God shouting. If He whispers in His Shekinah and He speaks in the Old Testament, He shouts in His Son. You can't mistake it.

It's unmistakable. He is God, and you see all of God manifest in Him. His judgment, His justice, His love, His wisdom, His power, His omniscience.

It's all out of Him as we watch Him walk through the world, working His work, living His life. The fullness of God is seen as it was never ever seen in Jesus Christ. And that's why 2 Corinthians 1.20 makes a monumental statement that you ought to remember, and you ought to mark in your Bible. All the promises of God in Him, that is in Christ, are yes, and in Him, amen, unto the glory of God. Everything of the glory of God is yes and amen in Christ. And He becomes that full revelation of the glory of the Lord.

Look at verse 2 for a moment. It says, In these last days. What are the last days? That is a term that refers to the Messianic period. The last days began when the Lord Jesus came. There's a long period of last days.

We're still in it 2,000 years later. John said, My little children, it is the last time. The New Testament says He has appeared once in the end of the age. The last time, the end of the age, the last days began when the Messiah came. It was the last days of revelation for the canon, the testament, the text was completed then. It was the last time God spoke until He utters His voice again in His kingdom. And so, after God had given the whisper and the audible voice, He shouted in His Son. And the New Testament gives us that revelation.

There's an interesting note that I just make to those of you who look at the text perhaps more closely. It says in the Greek, He has spoken unto us by son-ness. The word His isn't there. By son-ness.

In other words, the article is absent. In the past He spoke by prophet-ness or He spoke through prophets. Now He speaks through son-ness. And the emphasis then is not so much on the person of the Son as the quality of being a son. In other words, being a son is better than being a prophet.

He is stressing the quality or the nature of the term. He has elevated the quality of His spokesman. And that fits into the text of Hebrews because the whole book of Hebrews basically compares Christ with everything else. He is greater than the prophets, He is greater than the angels, He is greater than the priests, He is greater than Moses, greater than Aaron, greater than Melchizedek, and on and on and on. His covenant is a greater covenant and so forth. And so He speaks by son-ness.

He speaks in the living Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. That's John MacArthur, Grace TU's Bible teacher and he's also Chancellor of the Masters University and Seminary. He's showing you the glory of the Lord in human flesh. It's part of the study John launched today titled, The Real Meaning of Christmas. You know, something you may have noticed over the years, around Christmas, people are more open to hearing biblical truth than almost any other time. To help you take advantage of that openness, John has written a book called, God's Gift of Christmas. It's a beautiful hardcover book that explains the gospel truth at the heart of the Christmas story. Pick up a few copies of this great evangelism tool when you contact us today. Call toll free anytime, 800-55-GRACE or go to our website, gty.org. Keep in mind, the price of God's Gift of Christmas is currently reduced by 25 percent.

And that's true for a limited time for nearly everything we sell. The price for God's Gift of Christmas, nine dollars and shipping is free. To order God's Gift of Christmas or a MacArthur Study Bible or any of our resources at 25 percent off the regular price, call us at 800-55-GRACE or go to gty.org. And while you're at gty.org, take your time and come back often to read practical articles on issues affecting your life and your church on the Grace To You blog. You can also read daily devotionals from John and follow along with the reading plan from the MacArthur Daily Bible. And don't forget, all of John's sermons, 3,500 total, are free to download on MP3.

All of that and much more is ready for you at gty.org. Now for John MacArthur, I'm Phil Johnson. Thanks for listening today and be here tomorrow as John continues to help you avoid missing the real meaning of Christmas. It's another half hour of unleashing God's truth, one verse at a time, on Grace To You.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-07-29 08:20:19 / 2023-07-29 08:30:40 / 10

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