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).

 

The Vital Signs of Spiritual Health

The Text today is:  PSALM 26

THE NEW YEAR IS HERE!

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Have you heard the greeting, “Have a healthy and prosperous New Year!”?

Doctor’s Dilemma–

I couldn’t be a doctor today.  Besides the blood, needles and sharp scalpels…there’s all those sick people!  Sick people all day long!  How depressing!  You visit someone at a hospital…you get them well, and then they turn around and get sick all over again!  Even Jesus said in Mt. 9:12 –  “Those who are strong and well [healthy] have no need of a physician, but those who are weak and sick.”

DOCTORS see you at your worst and they hear all your aches, complaints, pains and physical ailments.  Just once, I would like to make a doctor’s appointment, sit down in the examining room…and, when he asks me what’s wrong, I say, “Nothing…I just wanted to stop by and cheer you up!”

MAKING AN APPOINTMENT TO SEE THE GREAT PHYSICIAN–there’s no waiting! :

This is what DAVID is doing–he’s going to the GREAT PHYSICIAN…getting a SPIRITUAL check-up…only to find out…that he’s spiritually fit!  DAVID has been taking preventative medicine for his soul.  He has found the sin remedy and applied it to his heart and life.

David was a man after God’s own heart.  He wanted to please GOD in everything that he did, just as we did when we were small and wanted to please our parents in everything we did.  Now like David, we didn’t always do it…but that’s what David always wanted to do.

Trusting God to Keep DAVID from “Back Trouble”–

How many of you reading this have had problems with your back?  The older I get, it seems, the more trouble I have.  Notice what king David said in Psalm 26:1 (b):  “…I shall not slide.”

“Backsliding” —

David knew, as long as he trusted in, leaned on, and relied on the Lord, GOD could keep him from sliding back into sin.  As soon as he started looking to his own strength…trusting in himself, he would soon have “Back Troubles”–he would start to slide backward.

“LOVING-KINDNESS” – Psalm 26:3 (a):

What did David see when he looked at GOD’s FAITHFULNESS to him?  It was evident, because he saw GOD’s LOVING-KINDNESS!

Has GOD been GOOD to you this past year?  AMEN?

You may have experienced tragedies…some hard times…some disappointments.  BUT…it could have been a whole lot worse.  If it wasn’t for GOD’s “loving-kindness”…His grace and mercy…the devil would have had a hey-day in your life.

When you’re SPIRITUALLY HEALTHY, like David, you will see the positive side of everything GOD allows in your life.

Walking in GOD’s Truth [faithfully]– 

Psalm 26:3 – “I have walked in Your truth [faithfully]” (Amplified Bible).

Compare this verse now, with Verse 1: “I have walked in MY integrity.”  As far as DAVID knew, walking the way he knew, his WALK should be equaled to his TALK.  I don’t know about you, but boy…do I need the Holy Spirit’s help in this area at times, and He certainly has conversations with me in this area.

DAVID didn’t do one thing and believe another…he practiced what he preached.  He could say with the Apostle Paul in Acts 23:1 – I have lived before GOD, doing my duty with a perfectly good conscience until this very day.”

BUT…some people can be walking in their own INTEGRITY–their character…BUT…still  not walking in GOD’s TRUTH.

Did I confuse you here?  Let me try to explain.  In their own minds, they might be doing what THEY THINK is right!  BUT…in GOD’s mind, they aren’t walking according to His TRUTH–His Word.  They might be justifying their own sins within their own conscience and mind.

In other words, they might not see that SIN as a sin.  There may be sin present in their lives without their acknowledgement.  That’s why DAVID adds in Psalm 26:3 – “I have walked in YOUR truth.”

The Importance of How GOD Sees Our Life–

It’s really not how WE see our life.  We may not see our symptoms of sin…but GOD does!  That’s why we need to go to the Doctor–he may see something we missed!

I’ve heard before, that men in particular,  refuse to go to the doctor after confessing their symptoms to their wives because…he doesn’t want to know for sure what the problem is…and his condition gets worse!

DAVID could say, “I have walked in Your truth”, NOT JUST in what I think is right…but in what GOD thinks is right.

There are many STANDARDS today for right/wrong–

PEER pressure sets one standard;

PARENTS may set certain standards;

SOCIETY may set certain standards of behavior;

RELIGION sets standards for conduct and belief.

That all said, there is only ONE STANDARD by which we will all be judged on…GOD’s STANDARD!  We need to say along with DAVID:  “I have walked in TRUTH.”

HOW TO STAY SPIRITUALLY HEALTHY – Psalm 26:4-5: 

[4]  I do not sit with false persons, nor fellowship with pretenders;  [5] I hate the company of evildoers and will not sit with the wicked.

DAVID tells us how he was able to stay in Spiritual Health–he separated himself from the ways and influences of the wicked.  Much of our sinful indulgences are determined by the company we keep–by outside influences.  That certainly doesn’t mean we should avoid all contact with non-believers.  How else can we give our testimony?  What the emphasis here is, association is different than “hanging out with” continually.

While it is true that our hearts are “deceitful above all things and desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9)…it is the INFLUENCE of others that drives us to commit these sinful acts.

My mother repeated this phrase to my brother and I when we were young on several different occasions:  “SIN LOVES COMPANY”…AND…the easier it is to join in…commit to the sin…we want to justify it.

How many times have you heard, perhaps used the words yourself...”But everybody else is doing it!”  Not for DAVID!  He’s going to stay away from people who TURN THEIR HEARTS away from GOD.

Another Spiritually Healthy Key – 26:6:

“I will wash my hands in innocence, and go about Your altar, O Lord”

DAVID points out another vital sign of Spiritual Health– Hand-Washing!

David came to the HOUSE OF WORSHIP with INNOCENT HANDS!

Have you ever wondered…why do people stay away from church today?  Perhaps, it’s because of a guilty conscience.  And yet, what a better place to come, with guilty hands and receive cleansing!

A LOVE for God’s House – 26:8

Another SIGN of a Spiritually Healthy Christian is LOVE for God’s house.

Those who sincerely LOVE GOD, have a love for God’s house…and will be in Church regularly.  It’s one thing to shun evil companions (that’s “negative goodness”)…it’s another thing to shun GOD’S HOUSE.

One way to bring joy & fulfillment into your life is to do what DAVID did in 26:8:  “Lord, I love the habitation of Your house, and the place where your glory dwells.”

Why was this so important and special?

“That I may make the voice of thanksgiving hear and may tell of all your wondrous works”  (26:7).

TO DAVID, WORSHIP was a POSITIVE experience…not just NEGATIVE living (shunning the “bad and the ugly” company you keep).  He LOVED to go to GOD’S HOUSE, because there, he could proclaim in public, what GOD had done for him in PRIVATE!  Psalm 122:1 says,

I WAS glad when they said to me,

Let us go to the house of the Lord.

DAVID MAKES A REQUEST!

“Gather me not with sinners and sweep me not away [with them], nor my life with blood-thirsty men.  In whose hands is wickedness, and their right hands are full of bribes”  (26:9-10 AMP).

I like the way the Message Bible gives a mental picture:  “When it’s time for spring cleaning, don’t sweep me out with the quacks and crooks.”  

Being in sound Spiritual Health, DAVID can come to GOD with his requests.  David is saying, “When the day of harvest comes, GATHER ME in with the Godly.”

 THERE ARE 2 Types of HARVEST…WHEAT and the he TARES.

Harvest Time
Harvest Time

There are only 2 types of people – the LOST and SAVED.

Only 2 ways…GOD’S WAY and the DEVIL’S WAY.

Only 2 destinies…HEAVEN and HELL

Psalm 1:6:  “For the Lord knows and is fully acquainted with the way of the ungodly  [those living outside God’s will]  shall perish (end in ruin and come to naught)” – Amplified Bible.

DAVID KNOWS …which harvest he will be gathered into.

GOD KNOWS…who belongs to His family…He knows your name, how many hairs on your head (in my case, there’s not much there to count)…the thoughts and intents of your heart.

WE CAN’T TELL the wheat from the weeds (“tares”)…BUT GOD KNOWS!

What lies ahead for David (and us)…IF we are Spiritually Healthy Christians?

26:11 –  “But as for me”  

David isn’t going to let anyone drag him down, ruin his Spiritual Health.  He knows the wicked are infected with SIN–Society calls it a “Social Disease”–but whatever you want to call it…it’s still SIN.  And DAVID is going to stay away from them.  He knows that it is GOD’S MERCY keeping him away from SIN!

HAVING A GOOD FOOTHOLD ON THE ROCK–

The Vital Sign of having a good foothold on the Rock unfolds in 26:12 (a):  “My foot stands on an even place” ; “I am standing in a safe place”– NOT on a “slippery slope”.

DAVID KNOWS that slipping on SIN will ruin his relationship with GOD.   So, David wants to stay away from slippery places; to stand on FIRM GROUND–there, in the midst of “the congregation will I bless the Lord” (26:12 (b).

Having a Healthy & Happy New Year Ahead!

How concerned are we for our health…Spiritually speaking?  EVERYONE wants to have good health this coming year, I know I do.  AND David points us in the right direction.

OUR PHYSICAL AILMENTS –  We should follow our Doctor’s orders.  So why don’t we follow the orders of the GREAT PHYSICIAN for our SPIRITUAL AILMENTS?  Might the diagnosis be as simple as...”self-denial”?

Let’s spend the New Year, as concerned about our PHYSICAL HEALTH, as we are about our PHYSICAL HEALTH.  AND…when we do…we might find out…THAT…our PHYSICAL HEALTH will improve too!