Where Are We When God’s GLORY Passes By?

A Bible Commentary on Exodus 33:12-23

FINDING THE CLEFT OF THE ROCK

Augustus had been traveling near Somerset in England’s west country, along a road with cliffs on either side when a storm struck.  He quickly darted in a hollowed-out place in the rock for shelter.  He was fortunate to find this hiding place so quickly while waiting for the storm to pass by and began to think about the idea of the “rock of faith” is a shelter from the “storms of life.”  The words for a hymn began to form in his mind but, according to a story that still prevails, there wasn’t paper in his pocket to write down the words.  Looking down he saw a playing card, considered a sinful thing to have in his day for this young minister.  Nevertheless, he picked it up and began to write:

The analogy of Christ to a rock has its roots in Scripture.

Numerous Old Testament references to the Lord as a “Rock” or “Rock of my salvation”, can be found.  Psalm 18:46 mentions that “The LORD lives!  Praise be to my Rock!”

Alluding to the Israelites during their wanderings in the wilderness, Paul writes,  “For they drank from a spiritual Rock which followed them [produced by the sole power of God Himself without natural instrumentality] and the Rock was Christ!” –      (1 Corinthians 10:4 ~ Amplified Bible.)

Paul is referring to the event recorded in Exodus 17:6, where Moses at God’s command, struck the rock in Horeb, bringing forth a needed supply of water for God’s people.  That physical rock is a picture of Christ Jesus providing a never-ending flow of “water” to satisfy sinful man’s spiritual need.

So the song, Rock of Ages, was conceived in the mind of this 23-year-old man and it wasn’t published until years later when he himself published it in Gospel Magazine the year before he died at the age of 38.

The Picture of Christ…

Is a rock broken open, or cleft, to provide a place for spiritual refuge from sinful people that surround us in our daily lives and is surely drawn from Moses’ experience recorded in Exodus 33:20-23.

There are things about God that we must not see.

Others are shown to have seen spectacular visible representations of the GLORY of God, though perhaps none so directly dazzling as Moses; and Moses was granted this favor only with certain limitations, restrictions, and precautions.  That which we, the Church, crave to see and to know of God (I pray that we do) and the way He acts is beyond us.

  • Why God acts as He does.
  • Why God acts when He does.
  • Why God doesn’t seem to act at all.

Though we’d like to see ALL of God, Man cannot be brought to a full view and understanding of God.  The brilliant display of God’s grace and goodness and the full viewing of it are too much for mankind in the present state of things.  What Moses and others were permitted to see was only a small part and portion of God, and of His ways and works.  Because Moses, a mortal, couldn’t see God’s face and live, God Himself protected Moses by placing him in the cleft of a rock as He passed by and covering Moses in the cleft with God’s own hand from any harm that would surely befall a mortal who looked directly upon the full GLORY of God.

WHAT IS THE “GLORY” THAT WE’VE SO OFTEN HEARD ABOUT?

The Old Testament Hebrew word for GLORY is kabod – weightiness (He’s a God of strength and substance); glory, honor, splendor, power, authority, magnificence, fame, dignity, riches, excellency.  He’s a great and all-powerful God.  There was a day when the people of God would go to church, not just to sing songs about God or to hear stories about what God did in the past from their pastor’s sermon.  God isn’t some cosmic vending machine in Heaven, some great genie in the lamp that we rub, and out he comes to grant us our every wish.  The Bible says that God sits in Heaven and does whatever He wants – He’s God!  We need to have holy respect and awe for this God recognizing His Glory.

Resting in His Glory –

Similarly, by being hidden in Christ Jesus, the Rock cleft on his behalf at the Cross, the believer is sheltered from eternal death he would face should he stand unsheltered before a holy God who executes righteous judgment.

Paul wrote to the church at Colossae, “If we have risen with Christ, our affection is on things above, and hidden in Christ.”  (Colossians 3:1-3)

So our life is hidden within a wonderful Savior, as one hides from a storm sheltered by the cleft in the Rock – not hidden as a secret, but hidden as protection from harm.  SONG –

HIS WAYS ARE HIGHER…

The things we’re talking about here are much larger than we are; too great for our full understanding; too intertwined with divine attributes and beyond the scope of human comprehension.

Isaiah 55:8-9 (NIV)

[8]  “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,”  declares the LORD.  [9]  “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

But because He is above us, and His ways are higher than ours, we have a reason for confidence and security in our trials.  When our days and nights are filled with uncertainty for a scheduled medical procedure at the hospital, the results from a biopsy, the outcome from yesterday’s job interview, we have a reason for confidence and security in the results.

Our refuge is the One Who is higher than we are!

It’s like a little child we must disappoint from time to time and denying their desires.  They want to do one thing, but another be done.  They want to play in a dangerous place, but a loving parent knows better.  They want to go one way, but it’s necessary to go another.  The child can’t understand why it’s so because his capacity for understanding hasn’t yet developed in grasping the larger things in life.

Prayer of thanks that we have a Savior – One who is greater than ourselves.  Song –

To Tullius O’Kane, who wrote the words of the song, the cleft in the Rock was a place of rest.  While we Christians may resist the notion of rest in our busy world as being motivated by laziness or apathy, there is a REST into which we MUST ENTER.

Hebrews 3:18-4:1 shows that NOT entering the promised rest is a thing to be feared:

[3:18]  And to whom did God swear that they would never enter his rest if not to those who disobeyed?  [19] So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief.  [4:1]  Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it.

So what is this PROMISED REST?

It’s the land of Canaan, called God’s rest because He promised it, and gave it to the Israelites as their rest; and where He Himself had a place of rest; and where He gave the Messiah, the Author of peace and rest; and which was a type of heaven, the rest from toils and labor, which remains for all the people of God!

In the imagery of the song, the promised rest is found in the cleft of the Rock – that is the fact that Jesus was pierced, bled and died to purchase our entrance to the promised land, or as the Hebrew writer says it, the promised rest.

There Stands A Rock and I Go to the Rock!

In the tabernacle, the mercy seat was located directly above the ark of the covenant, between two gold cherubim.  The specs for it may be found in Exodus 25.  And speaking of the MERCY SEAT, the Lord said to Moses, “I will meet with you there.”

Numbers 7:89, among other Bible verses, shows Him doing just that!

The Mercy Seat typifies the divine throne and the One who sits on it.

The above-referenced Scripture describes the awesome scene, still in symbolic language, of which the MERCY SEAT is a type.

The mercy seat was the most sacred location of the tabernacle and in fact, on earth.  And the way to the mercy seat was once only available to Moses, that he should inquire into the mind and will of God, and then to the high priest, that he should enter once a year to make atonement for the peoples’ sin.

At the moment Jesus died, the VEIL that concealed the Most Holy Place was destroyed – torn from top to bottom.  The writer of Hebrews in the New Testament wrote:

Hebrews 6:19-20 (AMP)

[19] [Now] we have this [hope] as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul [it cannot slip and it cannot break down under whoever steps out upon it – a hope] that reaches farther and enters into [the very certainty of the Presence] within the veil.

[20] Where Jesus has entered in for us [in advance], a Forerunner having become a High Priest forever after the order (with the rank) of Melchizedek.

AND,

Hebrews 10:19-22 (NIV)

[19] Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, [20]  by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, [21]  and since we have a great high priest over the house of God, [22]  let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.

The MERCY SEAT signifies the way of access to God that lies through Jesus Christ and propitiation (appeasement or satisfaction) by His blood and righteousness; through the veil that signifies His flesh.  We make use of that access when we pray in His name.

Song – From Every Stormy Wind

We see that Jesus is pictured in many of our songs, new and sometimes old, and the Scriptures as a Rock that is cleft, broken, or fractured.  It was on a lonely hill just outside of Jerusalem that the body of Jesus was “broken” on a Roman cross, piercing His hands and side, allowing His lifeblood to flow out, the price of all the benefits that have been mentioned in this blog-study – not the least – His everlasting life in the realms of GLORY!

AND that’s why we hide in the Cleft of that Rock!  A safe place to be!!

_______________________________________________________________________________

CREDITS:

Commentary:  Shelter from the Storm – Our Daily Bread Devotional – 10/8/2019;  The Glory Of God; Show Me Your Glory by Chris Jordan, Sermon on April 25, 2006.

Dictionary:  GotQuestions.org – What is glory?

Photo/Images:  Google Image Search.

Music Videos:  YouTube search.

Bible Translations:  Amplified Bible (AMP); New International Version NIV).

 

“Mercy” Came Running because…

HOW DOES THE BIBLE DEFINE “MERCY”?

A commonly used word in the language of the church today, but it will not be as churches change to a more “positive” image;  refuse to preach on the subject of “hell” and “judgement.”  No one wants to hear their pastor preach on such topics!

“For a time is coming when [people] will not tolerate (endure) sound and wholesome instruction, but, have ears itching [for something pleasing and gratifying], they will gather to themselves one teacher after another to a considerable number, chosen to satisfy their own liking and to foster the errors they hold,    And will turn aside from hearing the truth and wander off into myths and man-made fictions”  (1 Timothy 4:3-4 AMP).

The “law of first mention”.

When studying the Word of God, when the “law of first mention” arises, it means that we should take a special note of how a word is used; first mentioned in Scripture.  Genesis is a good place to start looking:

“But while he lingered, the men seized him and his wife and his two daughters by the hand, for the Lord was merciful to him; and they brought him forth and set him outside the city and left him there.    And when they had brought them forth, they said, Escape for your life! Do not look behind you or stop anywhere in the whole valley; escape to the mountains [of Moab], lest you be consumed..    And Lot said to them, Oh not that, my lords!    Behold now, your servant has found favor in your sight, and you have magnified your kindness and mercy to me in saving my life; but I cannot escape to the mountains, lest evil overtake me, and I die”  (Genesis 19:16-19).

This was the “first mention” of the word “mercy”.   Lot is spared from the judgement of God falling upon the wicked of Sodom and Gomorrah.

– mercy = “The act of sparing or the forbearance of a violent act expected.”  [Noah Webster’s 1828 Dictionary].

EXODUS 25:22

THE “MERCY SEAT” WAS WHERE GOD MET MEN:

“There I will meet with you and, from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim that are upon the ark of the Testimony, I will speak intimately with you all.”~ Exodus 25:22

Te Hebrew word for “Mercy Seat” is KAPPORETH and the Hebrew word for Mercy is CHECED.

There isn’t a correlation between the two words.   KAPPORETH has nothing to do with Mercy.  The Mercy Seat wasn’t made to sit on; Mercy Seat means atonement.  Without God’s plan of redemption man would have no mercy; God would have to judge every sin in our lives immediately.  The Mercy Seat along with the other furniture in the Tabernacle, was a picture of how God has put our sin under His Mercy Seat and covered it with the blood of Jesus instead of the blood of animals.

Once a year, the High Priest would enter the Holy of Holy s  where the ark of the ark of the testimony rested behind the veil.  He would sprinkle the Mercy Seat with the blood of animals, making an atonement for the sins of the children of Israel.

New Testament “MERCY” – The Veil Was Torn, Top Down.

Mercy is when we are spared from judgement or harm.  But when churches refuse to preach “hell” and “judgement” and less and less talk about “mercy”, the word is being gradually phased out of sermons.  God just becomes the “Good Guy” not thinking of harming or judging anyone.  So the subject of “mercy” never arises.  What we are hearing today is, “God loves the Sodomite just like he is.”  Is that what God said to the people of Sodom and Gomorrah?  “Hi, all you people of Sodom–I Am God!  I just came down to let you all know that I love you, and I will accept you just the way you are!”  NO, that is not how the Lord came.

Genesis 18:17-21:  “And the Lord said, Shall I hide from Abraham [My friend and servant] what I am going to do,    Since Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all nations of the earth shall be blessed through him and shall bless themselves by him?    For I have known (chosen, acknowledged) him [as My own], so that he may teach and command his children and the sons of his house after him to keep the way of the Lord and to do what is just and righteous, so that the Lord may bring Abraham what He has promised him.    And the Lord said, Because the shriek [of the sins] of Sodom and Gomorrah is great and their sin is exceedingly grievous,    I will go down now and see whether they have done altogether [as vilely and wickedly] as is the cry of it which has come to Me; and if not, I will know.”

The angels that God sent on, didn’t go with the message,  “Hi, everyone, we are angels!  We have come with the message that ‘God loves you!’ and that He will accept you just as you are!”  No, that is not how the conversation went down as they spoke with Lot.

“And the [two] men asked Lot, Have you any others here–sons-in-law or your sons or your daughters?  Whomever you have in the city, bring them out of this place.    For we will spoil and destroy [Sodom];  for the outcry and shriek against its people has grown great before the Lord, and He has sent us to destroy it”  (Genesis 19:12-13 AMP).

There was “mercy” with the Lord regarding the Sodomites–but only if they repentedEzekiel 33:11 says,

“Say to them,  As I live, says the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live…”

But if we are unwilling to preach “judgement”, no one will be seeking for “mercy”; they will only justify their sin and see no need for mercy.

The Hebrew word CHECED is God’s Character; it combines the twin ideas of “love” and “loyalty” in a covenant relationship.

Israel’s continual waywardness made it inevitable that God is never going to let her go.  His relationship with His children must be maintained; His loving-kindness; His “mercy”; His goodness is all undeserved.  For this reason, the predominant use of the word Checed, including mercy and forgiveness is a main constituent of God’s determined faithfulness to His part of the bargain.

A Dilemma; “Which comes first, mercy or justice?”

Rashi(11th Century AD Jewish commentator) said that God gave ‘precedence to the rule of mercy’ and joined it ‘with the rule of justice.’  There is no reference in Scripture to any sentimental kindness and no suggestion of mercy apart from repentance.  God’s demand for righteousness is always insistent; it’s always at the maximum intensity of His Character.

“MERCY” Came Running:

The Biblical meaning of “mercy” is: “to be spared or rescued from judgement, harm, danger or trouble.”  Notice how “mercy” is used in the following Bible verses:

Psalm 4:1 says, “You have freed me when I was hemmed in and enlarged me when I was in distress; have mercy upon me and hear my prayer.”

Psalm 6:2 reads,  “Have mercy on me and be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am weak (faint and withered away); O Lord, heal me, for my bones are troubled.”

1 Timothy 1:12-13:  [v.13]  “Though I formerly blasphemed and persecuted and was shamefully and outrageously and aggressively insulting [to Him], nevertheless, I obtained mercy because I acted out of ignorance in unbelief.”

Titus 3:5:  “He saved us, not because of any works of righteousness that we had done, but because of His own pity and mercy, by [the] cleansing [bath] of the new birth (regeneration) and renewing of the Holy spirit.”

*[See also Psalm 9:13; Jude 1:21]

The “Prodigal Son” Analogy or Parable–Luke 15:11-32.

I think most of us know the story that Jesus tells in the form of a PARABLE of the “prodigal” son; leaving his father with his premature inheritance, and leaving his home and family where he winds up ‘wasting his fortune in reckless and loose [from restraint] living.’ (verse 13).

After a famine hits the land where the younger son had journeyed to, he gets a dose of ‘humble pie’ or in his case, ‘pig pie’; he was “sent into the fields to feed hogs where he would gladly have fed on and filled his belly with the carob pods that the hogs were eating, but [they could not satisfy his hunger and] nobody gave him anything [better]”  (verses 15-16). 

“Then when he came to himself…”; his confession was given: “I have sinned against heaven and in your sightI am no longer worthy to be called your son; [just] make me like one of your hired servants”  (verses 18-19).

That is true repentance with the companion character of humility.  So read on to what the son does and more importantly how his father responds to his son’s repentance and humility:

“So he got up and came to his [own] father.  But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was moved with pity and tenderness [for him]; and he RAN and EMBRACED him and KISSED him [fervently]”  (verse 20).

Now after seeing his father’s reaction, he once more repeats his confession once more, only with a surprised expression with his father’s words:  “Bring quickly the best robe (the festive robe of honor) and put it on him; and give him a ring for his hand and sandals for his feet.  And bring out that [wheat-] fattened calf and kill it; and let us revel and feast and be happy and make merry,    Because this my son was dead and is alive again: he was lost and is found!”  (verses 22-24).

The son’s father did not look out his window while watching television as his son was walking down the path to the house; his head hung down in repentance and humility.  But he girded his garments in his loins (running bare legged with joy) and “MERCY” CAME RUNNING to the repenting son.

I co-wrote a play several years ago that was performed in a local area church on Resurrection Sunday entitled “Mercy On Trial”.  After the drama was over that Sunday, as the people mingled and left the building, I had the Philips, Craig and Dean song played over the sound system “Mercy Came Running”.  Here are the lyrics to the chorus:

Mercy came running

Like a prisoner set free

Past all my failures to the point of my need

When the sin that I carried

Was all I could see

And when I could not reach mercy

Mercy came running to me.

Through the blood of  the Lord Jesus Christ, we have “mercy” granted to us through all of eternity.  The withholding of judgement against us because:  His pure blood cleanse us from all sin.

JESUS  was the final sacrifice; His blood was sprinkled on the Mercy Seat, the Cross at Calvary for our sins; not once every year but once for all.  “Mercy” came running to us because God loved us so much that He gave us His One and only begotten (unique) Son, so whoever believes in (trust in, clings to, relies on [MERCY] shall not perish but have eternal (everlasting) life. ~ John 3:16.

JESUS, [“MERCY”] came running to us because…when the sin that I carried was all I could see, I turned from my sin in repentance; “I was dead and now ALIVE again!