Articles

Understanding the Glory of God in Our Midst, May 23, 2010
 

 Understanding the Glory of God in our midst*

**

Throughout the Old and New Testament, the Lord revealed Himself through His
Word and His dealings with His people. One of the things* *the Lord has
revealed to us is His desire to dwell with His people and to manifest His
presence and His glory *corporately* among them. This was in God’s heart
from the very beginning, as far back as when He commanded Moses to build the
tabernacle *“And Let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them”
*(Exodus 25:8).**

This desire in God’s heart is expressed throughout the Scripture, both in
the Old and New Testament:

*"And I will dwell among the children of Israel and will be their God*"
(Exodus 29:45); "*And I will dwell among the children of Israel, and will
not forsake my people"* (1 Kings 6:13); "*And he said unto me, 'Son of man,
the place of my throne, and the place of the soles of my feet, where I will
dwell in the midst of the children of Israel forever"* (Ezekiel 43:7); "*Sing
and rejoice, O daughter of Zion! For behold, I will come and I will dwell in
your midst," says the LORD. Many nations shall be joined to the LORD in that
day, and they shall be My people. And I will dwell in your midst"* (Zechariah
2:10);

*“I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they
shall be My people”* (2 Cor 2:16). These verses express what the Lord
desires for His people *in this age*, with the full realization of God’s
heart occurring in the age to come *“…Behold, the tabernacle of God is with
men, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be
their God” *(Rev 21:3).

Moses realized that it was the very presence of God among the Israelites
that *distinguished *them as His people: “*15** If Your Presence does not go
with us, do not bring us up from here. 16 For how then will it be known that
Your people and I have found grace in Your sight, except You go with us? So
we shall be separate, Your people and I, from all the people who are upon
the face of the earth.” *(Exodus 33:15,16)

While God is omnipresent, the above verse is talking about the “manifest
presence” of God, or the glory of God among His people. A.W. Tozer
articulated this concept well in his classic *The Pursuit of God*:

"If God is present *at every point in space*, if we cannot go where He is
not, cannot even conceive of a place where He is not, why then has not that
Presence become the one universally celebrated fact of the world? The
patriarch Jacob, "in the waste howling wilderness," gave the answer to that
question. He saw a vision of God and cried out in wonder, "*Surely the Lord
is in this place; and I knew it not*." Jacob had never been for one small
division of a moment outside the circle of that all-pervading Presence. But
he knew it not. That was his trouble, *and it is ours*. *Men do not know
that God is here*. *What a difference it would make if they knew*. *The
Presence and the manifestation of the Presence are not the same*. There can
be the one without the other. God is here when we are wholly unaware of it.
*He is manifest only when and as we are aware of His Presence**."*

At times, God even manifested His presence to Israel in a supernatural
physical form, as what happened when Moses completed the tabernacle:

*“** 34** Then the cloud covered the tabernacle of meeting, and the glory of
the LORD filled the tabernacle. 35 And Moses was not able to enter the
tabernacle of meeting, because the cloud rested above it, and the glory of
the LORD filled the tabernacle.”** *(Exodus 40:34-35). The same thing
happened when Solomon completed the first temple (2 Chron. 5:14).

Whether by manifesting His presence in a supernatural form or through His
deeds among Israel, when His glory was upon them, His presence was manifest
and self-evident, so that they were acutely aware of it.

In 1 Corinthians 10, the apostle Paul talks about some of God’s dealings
with Israel; then reminded us that, *“**11** All these things happened to
them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the
ends of the ages have come.”* (1 Cor. 10:11)

As we look at Israel’s journey in the Old Testament, we see that when they
walked in obedience to the Lord, the glory of God was among them as He
manifested His presence. Not only were* they* acutely aware of it, but even
unbelievers around them recognized that God is in their midst, as He
promised He would do if they walked in His commandments: *“10 Then all
peoples of the earth shall see that you are called by the name of the
LORD...** **12** The LORD will open the heavens…” *(Deut. 28 10,12). Jesus
said that when the people of God are the salt of the earth and the light of
the world, unbelievers would *“16… see your good deeds and praise your
Father in heaven.”* (Matthew 5:16).

This theme runs throughout the Scriptures: Rahab, who told Joshua and Caleb*:
“**10** For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea for
you when you came out of Egypt… 11 And as soon as we heard these things, our
hearts melted… for the LORD your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth
beneath.”* (Joshua 2: 10, 11)

When God manifested His presence to Israel through His deeds when David
encountered Goliath, David said: *“…and the whole world will know that
there is a God in Israel. 47 All those gathered here will know that it is
not by sword or spear that the LORD saves; for the battle is the LORD's…” *(1
Sam. 17:46)

The same thing happened in Elijah’s encounter with the prophets of Baal*:”
37 Answer me, O LORD, answer me, so these people will know that you, O LORD,
are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again." 38 Then the
fire of the LORD fell and burned up the sacrifice… 39 When all the people saw
this, they fell prostrate and cried, "The LORD -he is God! The LORD -he is
God!" *(1 Kings 18: 37-39)

Because of the presence of God in Daniel’s life, King Nebuchadnezzar, a
heathen, told him: *“47 Truly your God is the God of gods, the Lord of
kings.”* (Dan. 2:47). Also, King Darius, another heathen, said: *“For
He isthe living God…
27 He delivers and rescues, And He works signs and wonders in heaven and on
earth, who has delivered Daniel from the power of the lions.”* (Dan. 6:26,
27).

So it was in the New Testament, when the glory of God was present among the
early church in the book of Acts, the Lord *manifested His presence*
with *signs
and wonders, and the fear of Lord fell upon all:*

* “**1**When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place.
2Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven
and filled
the whole house where they were sitting. 3They saw what seemed to be tongues
of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4All of them
were filled
with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit
enabled them.” *(Acts 2)

*“43** Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done
through the apostles… And the Lord added to the church daily those who were
being saved.”* (Acts 2:43,47)

*“11** So great fear came upon all the church and upon all who heard these
things” *(Acts 5:11)

In contrast, when Israel walked in disobedience, the glory of God lifted off
of them. They lost the manifest presence of God and their acute awareness of
Him. Their enemies overcame them and, rather than recognizing that God was
in their midst, they mocked Israel, saying, “Where is your God?”

Hence the cry for revival in the Scriptures is often coupled with the
prayer: “*17**“Spare Your people, O LORD, And do not give Your heritage to
reproach, That the nations should rule over them. Why should they say among
the peoples, ‘Where is their God?’” *(Joel 2:17)

The Lord had warned them in His word that this would happen if they did not
walk in His commandments: “*23** The sky over your head will be bronze… 25The
LORD will cause you to be defeated before your enemies…”* (Deut 28:23,25)

* *

*Similarly, Jesus said in the New Testament, *“*13**You are the salt of the
earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again?
It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by
men.” *(Matthew 5:13)

When the glory of God lifted off of Samson because of his sin, *“21** The
Philistines took him and put out his eyes… They bound him with bronze
fetters, and he became a grinder in the prison.”* (Judg. 16:21)

In Psalm 139:7, David speaks of the omnipresence of God, saying, “*7** Where
can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence?”* Yet in
Psalm 51:11, because his sin cost him his awareness of the presence of God,
he cries out, *“**11** Do not cast me away from Your presence”.*

In the same way, when Israel sinned, *they lost the manifest presence of God
* among them, and the Lord told them through Jeremiah:*“39** I will
cast youout of My presence…”
*(Jeremiah 23:39)

The Lord subsequently delivered them into the hands of their enemies, who
destroyed the temple of the Lord and took them as slaves in Babylon:

* *

*“**1** By the rivers of Babylon, There we sat down, yea, we wept when we
remembered Zion. 2 We hung our harp upon the willows in the midst of
it. 3For there those who carried us away captive asked of us a song…
4How shall we sing the LORD’s song in a foreign land?”* (Psalm 137:1-4)

Then the Lord, out of His great mercy and faithfulness, raised up Daniel and
gave him understanding of the times and stirred him to stand in the gap on
behalf of his people. His prayer in Daniel 9 summarizes God’s dealings with
Israel at that time:

*“4** “O Lord, great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and mercy with
those who love Him, and with those who keep His commandments, 5 we have
sinned and committed iniquity, we have done wickedly and rebelled, even by
departing from Your precepts and Your judgments. 6 Neither have we heeded
Your servants the prophets, who spoke in Your name to our kings and our
princes, to our fathers and all the people of the land. 7 O Lord,
righteousness belongs to You, but to us shame of face… because of the
unfaithfulness which we have committed against You… 9 To the Lord our God
belong mercy and forgiveness, though we have rebelled against Him. 10 We
have not obeyed the voice of the LORD our God, to walk in His laws…
therefore the curse and the oath written in the Law of Moses the servant of
God have been poured out on us, because we have sinned against Him. 12 And
He has confirmed His words, which He spoke against us and against our judges
who judged us, by bringing upon us a great disaster; for under the whole
heaven such has never been done as what has been done to Jerusalem. 13 “As it
is written in the Law of Moses, all this disaster has come upon us; yet we
have not made our prayer before the LORD our God, that we might turn from
our iniquities and understand Your truth. 14Therefore the LORD has kept the
disaster in mind, and brought it upon us; for the LORD our God is righteous
in all the works which He does, though we have not obeyed His voice. 15 And
now, O Lord our God, who brought Your people out of the land of Egypt with a
mighty hand, and made Yourself a name, as it is this day—we have sinned, we
have done wickedly! 16 “O Lord, according to all Your righteousness, I pray,
let Your anger and Your fury be turned away from Your city Jerusalem, Your
holy mountain; because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers,
Jerusalem and Your people are a reproach to all those around us. 17 Now
therefore, our God, hear the prayer of Your servant, and his supplications, and
for the Lord’s sake cause Your face to shine on Your sanctuary, which is
desolate. 18 O my God, incline Your ear and hear; open Your eyes and see our
desolations, and the city which is called by Your name; for we do not
present our supplications before You because of our righteous deeds, but
because of Your great mercies. 19 O Lord, hear! O Lord, forgive! O Lord,
listen and act! Do not delay for Your own sake, my God, for Your city and
Your people are called by Your name.”* (Daniel 9:4-19)

So we see that when the glory of God is among His people, *God is known in
the land*, and revival is the fruit of His manifest presence. Conversely,
when the glory of God departs from His people, they experience times of
spiritual drought and lack of fruit.

During the New England awakening in the 1700s, the glory of God was upon the
church, and the fruit of that was a great harvest that transformed New
England at that time. Here are excerpts from Jonathan Edwards’s book, *A
Faithful Narrative of the Surprising work of God*, about that time:

* *

* “At that time God's work in the conversion of souls was carried on amongst
us in so wonderful a manner, that, so far as I can judge, it appears to have
been at the rate at least of four persons in a day; or near thirty in a week,
take one with another, for five or six weeks together.”*

* *

*“Several persons have had so great a sense of the glory of God, and
excellency of Christ, that nature and life seemed almost to sink under it;
and in all probability, if God had showed them a little more of Himself, it
would have dissolved their frame. I have seen some, and conversed with them
in such frames, who have certainly been perfectly sober, and very remote
from anything like enthusiastic wildness”*

* *

*“While God was so remarkably present amongst us by His Spirit, there was no
book so delightful as the Bible, also, there was no time so prized as the
Lord's day, and no place in this world so desired as God's house.”*

*“This work of God, as it was carried on, and the number of true saints
multiplied, soon made a glorious alteration in the town: the town seemed to
be full of the presence of God: There were remarkable tokens of God's
presence in almost every house. It was a time of joy in families on account
of salvation being brought to them; parents rejoicing over their children as
new born, and husbands over their wives, and wives over their husbands. The
doings of God were then seen in His sanctuary, God's day was a delight, and
Our public assemblies were beautiful: the congregation was alive in God's
service, every one earnestly intent on the public worship, every hearer
eager to drink in the words of God. The assembly in general was, from time
to time, in tears while the word was preached; some weeping with sorrow and
distress, others with joy and love, others with pity and concern for the
souls of their neighbors”*

*“A loose careless person could scarcely be found in the whole neighborhood;
and if there was any one that seemed to remain senseless or unconcerned, it
would be spoken of as a strange thing.”

*

However, if we examine the condition of the Body of Christ today, we find a
different spiritual climate. While there are pockets of revival, the church
corporately lacks the glory of God in our midst as it was present among the
early disciples or in historic revivals. We have come to a state of weakness
and are without power, similar to the condition of Israel during their
Babylonian captivity.

The Lord is not feared and the church is mocked by the world. In essence,
the world is saying to us, “Where is your God?” This is due to our sin,
compromise, lack of unity, and lack of holiness.

**

However, the Lord is stirring His bride to return to Him. He is gathering
His remnant and is raising up many across the world to cry out to Him in
repentance and intercession like Daniel and Nehemiah, to see the restoration
of the glory of God in the body of Christ. Many share the witness of the
Holy Spirit that the Lord is about to release us from this state of
spiritual Babylonian captivity and that His glory will come upon us once
again as we obey His stirring for repentance, humility, holiness, and unity.
**

The Bible speaks of the glory of God upon the end-time church, the bride of
Christ: “*9** ‘The glory of this latter temple shall be greater than the
former,’ says the LORD of hosts.”* (Haggai 2:9)

"*Arise; shine, for your light has come! and the Glory of the Lord is risen
upon you. For darkness shall cover the earth, and deep darkness the people;
but the Lord will arise over you, and His Glory will be seen upon you. The
Gentiles shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your
rising. Lift up your eyes all around and see: They all gather together, they
come to you. Your sons shall come from afar, and your daughters shall be
nursed at your side. Then you shall see and become radiant, and your heart
shall swell with joy*" (Isaiah 60:1-5).

Jesus said, *“12 He who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also;
and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father.”*

(John 14:12)

* *

*“27**That He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having
spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without
blemish.”* (Ephesians 5:27)

*“Come, I will show you the bride, the Lamb’s wife… 11 having the glory of
God…” *(Revelation 21:9,11)

We must first begin by recognizing our spiritual poverty. Then, in
repentance and intercession, contend for the glory of God in our midst and
the subsequent outbreak of revival. This is our spiritual inheritance.*

*


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