21. THE GLORY OF THE LORD.
For forty years the Children of Israel, wandered in the wilderness. Throughout this time, God revealed his presence to his children by a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night, and from the mist of the pillar of cloud and fire, came the spoken Word of God.
Exodus 13:21 And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way, and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light, to go by day and night. 22 He took not away the pillar of cloud by day, or the pillar of fire by night, from before the people.
So God was always present, before his people in the cloud and fire.
Although verse 21 tells us that ‘the Lord’ (meaning God) went before them in cloud and fire. Chapter 14 verse 19, then tells us that “the Angel of God” went before them in the cloud and the fire. As most Christian Bible scholars believe that the Angel of God is a manifestation of Jesus Christ, we can say that both God the Father and God the Son were present in the cloud and fire.
Then in verse 20, we see this pillar of cloud coming between the Egyptians and the Israelites, bring darkness to the Egyptians and light to the Israelites. So clearly the cloud and the fire are one.
Exodus 14:19 And the Angel of God, who went before the camp of Israel, moved and went behind them, and the pillar of the cloud went from before their face, and stood behind them. 20 And it came between the camp of the Egyptians and the camp of Israel. It was a cloud and darkness to one but it gave light by night to the other, so that the one came not near the other all the night.
Numbers chapter 9 verses 15 & 16 show even more clearly that the cloud and the fire are one.
Numbers 9:15 Now on the day that the tabernacle was raised up, the cloud covered the tabernacle, the tent of the Testimony; from evening until morning it was above the tabernacle like the appearance of fire. 16 So it was always: the cloud covered it by day, and the appearance of fire by night.
This is the same cloud and fire that came down upon Mount Sinai, when the Lord descended on it in fire, and from out of that cloud and fire, came the Word of God. When we read about this in Exodus chapter 24, we see that the cloud and the glory of God are the same thing. For it tells us that the glory of the Lord looked like a consuming fire, and from out of the midst of the cloud, God called Moses.
Exodus 24:15 Then Moses went up into the mountain, and a cloud covered the mountain. 16 And the glory of the LORD rested upon Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days. On the seventh day he called unto Moses from out of the midst of the cloud. 17 The sight of the glory of the LORD was like devouring fire on the top of the mountain in the eyes of the children of Israel.
Deuteronomy chapter 5 verse 24 says of the appearance of God’s glory on Mount Sinai.
“And you said: 'Surely the LORD our God has shown us his glory and his greatness, and we have heard his voice from the midst of the fire. We have seen this day that God speaks with man; yet he still lives.”
Deuteronomy 5:24 And you said, Look and see, the LORD our God has shown us his glory and his greatness, and we have heard his voice out of the midst of the fire. We have seen this day that God does talk with man, and he still lives.
On Mount Sinai that day, God appeared in fire and cloud revealing his greatness and his glory to mankind.
At the dedication of King Solomon’s temple, God again revealed his Glory and his presence by cloud and fire. In Kings Chapter 8 Verse 10, it says that the cloud filled the house of the Lord. Then in Verse 11, it says that the glory of the Lord filled the house of the Lord. So the cloud and the glory are one.
I Kings 8:10 And it came to pass, when the priests were come out of the holy place, that the cloud filled the house of the LORD, 11 so 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.
The following is another account of the dedication of Solomon’s temple.
II Chronicles 7:1 Now when Solomon had finished praying, the fire came down from the sky, and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices; and the glory of the LORD filled the house. 2 And the priests could not enter into the house of the LORD, because the glory of the LORD had filled the LORD'S house. 3 And when all the children of Israel saw how the fire came down and the glory of the LORD upon the house, they bowed themselves with their faces to the ground upon the pavement, and worshipped, and praised the LORD, saying, For he is good; for his mercy endures forever.
In the Old Testament, when God revealed himself, it was usually in a cloud that looked like fire. Moses could walk into this fire, as he did at Mount Sinai, and he was not harmed. Yet at other times, fire came from the Lord and consumed men who had sinned against God (Numbers 16:35). So the righteous can enter into the glory of God (the cloud and fire) and they will not be harmed, but sinners are consumed by the presence of God.
In Psalm 68, king David describes God arising, his enemies scattering and fleeing before him, then perishing as wax melts before a fire. To the wicked, God comes like fire to destroy them, while to the righteous God comes riding on the clouds. David is not having a vision of God coming, riding on rain clouds here. No! He is having a vision of God coming to us riding in cloud of his glory, which looks like cloud and fire.
Psalm 68:1 Let God arise let his enemies be scattered: let them also that hate him flee before him. 2 As smoke is driven away, so drive them away: as wax melts before the fire, so let the wicked perish at the presence of God. 3 But let the righteous be glad; let them rejoice before God: yes, let them exceedingly rejoice. 4 Sing unto God, sing praises to his name: extol him that rides upon the sky by his name JAH, and rejoice before him.
Keeping in mind that the cloud of God’s glory was not fire, but looked like fire, and fire came from out of his presence and destroyed his enemies. Let us have a look at 2 Kings 6:17, where the armies of God are described as horses and chariots of fire. Not that the armies of God are horses and chariots of fire, but the prophet Elisha is trying to describe what he is seeing, and what he is seeing is beyond our comprehension.
II Kings 6:17 And Elisha prayed, and said, LORD, I pray, open his eyes that he may see. Then the LORD opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountains were full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.
Let us now go to 2 Kings 2:11 – 12. Here Elisha is describing what it looked like to him, when God descended from the sky in the glory cloud of his presence and took Elijah up into the sky.
II Kings 2:11 And it came to pass, as they continued on and talked, that suddenly a chariot of fire with horses of fire, appeared between the two of them, and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into the sky. 12 Elisha seeing it cried, My father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof. And he saw him no more: and he took hold of his own clothes, and rent them in two pieces.
When Jesus Christ was on the earth in the flesh, he met with Moses and Elijah, high up a mountain. Jesus was speaking with Moses and Elijah. Then Peter spoke,
Matthew 17:5 While he was still speaking, suddenly, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear him!”
This was no ordinary cloud it was the glory cloud and fire of God’s presence. Then in Acts we are told when Jesus Christ ascended to the sky a cloud received Him.
Matthew 17:9 And when he had spoken these things, while they were looking, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.
Acts 1:9 And when He had spoken these things, while they were watched, he was taken up, and a cloud received him out of their sight. 10 And while they looked steadfastly toward the sky as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, 11 who also said, You men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into the sky? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into the sky, shall also come in like manner as you saw him go into the sky.”
How was Jesus Christ taken up into the sky? He was taken up in the glory cloud of God’s presence, and when Jesus returns, He will return in the glory cloud of God’s presence.
This is how Jesus Christ Himself, describes His second coming.
Matthew 24:30 Then shall the sign of the Son of man appear in the sky: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of the sky with power and great glory. 31 And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.
Revelation 1:7 Look, he comes with clouds, and every eye will see him, even they who pierced him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of him. Even so, amen.
How will those who pierced Jesus (nailed him to the cross) see him? I believe that as the young Church began to grow, these Roman soldiers, who nailed Jesus to the cross, were amongst the first to believe and received Jesus Christ as their Lord and Deliverer. Therefore when the Lord comes in his glory with his angels, they will be raised from the dead and they shall see him with their own eyes.
In writing to the Thessalonians, Paul says:
1Thessalonians 4:17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.
While in 2 Thessalonians 1:7, he tells us that God will not give us rest from those who trouble us, until Jesus Christ is revealed from the sky with His angels in flaming fire. In 1 Thessalonians chapter four, Paul simply refers to the cloud of God’s glory as clouds. But the in 2 Thessalonians chapter one, Paul refers to God’s glory as flaming fire. Why is this so?
Because in 1 Thessalonians chapter four, Paul is talking about the Christians being caught up into the cloud of God’s glory. To us being caught up, God’s glory will look like a very white, very bright cloud. Then surrounded by angels and the cloud of God’s glory, we will meet with Jesus Christ as he returns to earth, the same way he was taken up 2,000 years ago.
But in 2 Thessalonians, chapter one, Paul tells us how the coming of Jesus Christ will look to the wicked who have been troubling the Christians. They will see Jesus Christ descending from the sky in the bright white cloud of God’s glory. Then from out of the cloud will come consuming fire, taking vengeance on those who do not know God.
Let us look a bit more closely at 2 Thessalonians chapter one.
II Thessalonians 1:3 We are bound to thank God always for you, brothers and sisters, as it is fitting, because that your faith grows exceedingly, and the love of every one of you all toward each other abounds. 4 So that we ourselves boast of you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that you endure:
Both in Matthew chapter 13 verse 21 and John chapter 16 verse 33, Jesus Christ makes it very clear that we who believe the Word of God and receive it into our hearts will also receive persecutions and tribulations because of the Word.
Paul boasts of the Thessalonians’ patience and faith in all their persecutions and tribulations that they endure. In other words, they have great faith in God who sustains them through these persecutions and tribulations. They also have great patience to endure these persecutions and tribulations; persecutions and tribulations that God does not seem to be in a hurry to take away.
Why? Because persecutions and tribulations are good for us. Peter writes:
1 Peter 1:6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, you are distressed by various trials, 7 that the testing of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it be tried by fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ,
Jesus Christ our bridegroom is coming for a bride without spot or wrinkle. For this reason, we the Church need to be grieved by various trials
II Thessalonians 1:4 So that we ourselves boast of you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that you endure. 5 Which is evidence of the righteous judgment of God that you may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you also suffer. 6 Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to repay tribulation to them that trouble you; 7 And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from the sky with his mighty angels, 8 in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the good news of our Lord Jesus Christ; 9 who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; 10 When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day.
According to this passage, we the Church of Jesus Christ will not receive rest from our persecutions and tribulations until the day Jesus Christ is revealed from the sky with his angels in flaming fire. On that same day, to those who troubled us, God will repay them with tribulation. We, the Church of Jesus Christ, will enter into rest on the day that God pours his wrath out upon the wicked and destroys them with fire.
It will only take an hour for God to remove the wicked from the face of the earth with fire. We, the Church who have persevered (patiently endured) through these persecutions and tribulations have been promised by Jesus Christ, that He will keep us from that hour of trail.
Revelation 3:10 Because you have kept my command to endure, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. 11 Look, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no man may take your crown.
Written by Kenneth Allan Clark and printed and published by
VICTORIOUS CHRISTIAN MINISTRIES INTERNATIONAL. P.O. BOX 144 WYNNUM QLD 4178 AUSTRALIA.
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Scripture taken from the “Clarks English Translation” © Copyright 2011 by Victorious Christian Ministries International. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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