Our esteemed brother, who contributed over many years to the Magazine, was called home on 2nd July, aged 91 years (Ed).
Glory (doxa) as applied to God describes the outshining of the splendour with which the one and only true God holds Himself, and reveals Himself, in every characteristic and attribute of His essential Being. These characteristics are shown to us principally in seven ways: holiness, righteousness, power, loving-kindness, longsuffering, mercy, and grace. As we consider and study them individually and look into them, as far as the human mind can, we find that each of these characteristics and attributes scintillates with its own particular glory, and each blended together has an overall manifestation of glory also. If we were to study the rainbow we should find an independent glory in each of the hues, but these combined together would present before our eyes the glory of the rainbow we more often take notice of. It is glory which expresses the origin and character of that which it is exhibiting. Here then we have the God whose glory outshines, eclipses, and turns to darkness the glories which men may attribute to other so-called deities or gods.
This God of glory appeared to Abram, an idolater in the land of Chaldea. Again, as we look into this there is much to see. The appearance a word which in the original does not appear to have been taken up by our lexicographers, but an alternative is given, and which seems to indicate a physical sight rather than a mental impression or vision, leading some to indicate that Abram saw the Shekinah glory. When we turn to the Old Testament Scriptures the word used for God is "Jehovah", that title by which He is so often referred to in His relationship with man, and particularly Israel, who were led by that Shekinah pillar of the cloud and of fire.
The Sovereign Lord
This appearance to Abram brings us to another character of God. Why not Nahor, Haran, Terah, or some other of the sons of Shem, or for that matter one of the sons of Canaan or Japheth? There can only be one answer to this. It is that God is the Sovereign Lord of the universe who does all things after the counsel of His own will. So He chose to appear to Abram, and gave him a command: "Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and come into a land which I shall shew thee" (Acts 7.3). No request here, nor yet condition, but a direct, authoritative command.
The God of Loving-kindness
The journey to the land was in two parts: first to Haran, and then to Canaan. For Abram another event had to take place before he completely obeyed the divine command. His natural father had to be removed before he could reach Canaan, as he had assayed to go with Abram from the Ur of the Chaldees. So at Haran there was a delay (Terah means delay) of some years before Terah died, after which God moved Abram on again and he arrived in the land He had promised him. The loving-kindness and patience of God is to be wondered at when we remember He is the Sovereign Lord. One of the often unspoken characteristics of the Lord throughout Scripture is His long-suffering patience.
The God of Promise
Abram having come into the land of which Jehovah in His sovereignty had commanded and shown him, now receives no possession in it not even 48 square inches but he is promised a territory covering possibly more than 100,000 square miles! What a test of faith in a newly-found God! Further, this was to be given to his seed! But he had no child, and lived in the land for some ten years before he had Ishmael, of whom Jehovah promised he would make a great nation, but not Abrams seed. No possession, and no posterity, but a simple faith in the God of Promise and Divine Reliability.
The God of Foreknowledge and Power
Not only does the Lord promise blessing to Abram and his seed, but times of difficulty also. His seed would come into bondage in a strange land, that is a land belonging to others and not part of the promised possession. They would be in that land for a period of four hundred years, and they would be evil entreated in it. Behind this, the Lord would honour Himself with a deliverance from it for Abrams seed, and the judgment of that nation for their refusal to obey His commands or accept His authority.
The God of the Covenant
Not only is the Lord the God of Promise, but He confirms this in four, if not five ways:
Abraham laughed at the possibility of the birth of a son, owing to his age and that of Sarah. Sarah also laughed at it as she was past conceiving, and also old. But the promises of God are Yea, and Amen, however impossible they may appear to men. Despite Abrahams plea for ratification of the promise in Ishmael, who was already born to him though not through the promised means the Lord reiterates His promise to Abraham. Through a natural way the unnatural takes place, the promised seed is given, and God gives him the name Isaac meaning "He will laugh" a salutary reminder that we should not mock at the word of God.
The God of Long-suffering
Stephen, in his address in Acts 7, passed over some three generations in no more than twenty-one words to Joseph the son of Jacob. There was quite a difference now in the divine countenance. It seems to be hidden, though in that hidden condition still working out His promises. Envy takes hold of his brothers as Joseph tells them his dreams, and they sell him into Egypt a frightening experience for this 17-year-old. Removing his coat of many colours (no doubt another source of envy) before selling Joseph to the Ishmeelites, they killed a kid of the goats and dipped the coat in its blood, and sent it to his father. By doing so they deceived Jacob by implying that they had found it, and that Joseph had been killed and devoured of a wild animal. We know of the trials of Joseph over the next thirteen years - the false accusation of Potiphars wife, and her taking from him another coat; of his period in prison also. But we must remember that the Lord was with him in it all, and working behind the clouds for his good. The ultimate of this was to make Joseph the chief ruler of Egypt next to Pharaoh; to re-unite Jacob with the son he had mourned those thirteen years or more; and also to reconcile Joseph to his brethren.
Almost another 160 years pass, and again there is trouble. A king has arisen who knows not Joseph, and he brings the children of Israel into slavery, decreeing also that no male child among them should be allowed to live. During this time Moses was born and was fair to God. Sparing his life, God took him to be brought up for at least forty years in Pharaohs palace away from home and family. This must have been a sorrow to him, but by this means he was trained as an administrator.
Thinking sufficiently of himself that his people would know him as their deliverer, he went out to them and avenged one who was being ill-treated by an Egyptian, and killed the Egyptian. On going out again the next day he found two brethren quarrelling, and sought to put them at one. The outcome of this was that he fled into the land of strife, where he spent another forty years training as a shepherd. All this time God was moving behind the scenes, and was behind the scenes He was moving. Moses was no doubt in some sort of bewilderment at the seemingly wasted years.
To be continued.