"But we all, looking on the glory of the Lord, with unveiled face, are transformed according to the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Lord the Spirit" (2 Cor 3.18, JND).
We have in the Scriptures references to the visible glory of Christ, the moral glory of Christ, and the glory of deity. The visible glory of Christ would refer, inter alia, to the glory that filled the Tabernacle (Ex 40.34); that filled the Temple (2 Chr 5.1314); that was seen on the Mount of Transfiguration (Mt 17.1-8); and to the glory that arrested Saul while on his way to Damascus, a glory brighter than the mid-day sun (Acts 9.3; 22.6; 26.13).
The moral glory of Christ has reference to the distinctive and beautiful features of the grace of God as were seen in that lovely Person; features which should now be seen in the saints by reason of the indwelling of God's Holy Spirit (1 Jn 2.20). Such divine, moral qualities would include compassion, devotedness, endurance, faithfulness, forgiveness, goodness, grace, holiness, humility, integrity, love, mercy, obedience, patience, peace, piety, etc.
The glory of deity, on the other hand, relates specifically to the unique supremacy of God in Christ in His creatorial power, authority, dominion, judgment, majesty, might, omnipotence, omnipresence, and omniscience. As the great "I AM", He is the One who upholds all things by the word of His power; for He is before all things, and by Him all things subsist (Jn 17.5; Col 1.15-17; 1 Tim 6.16; et al). In this short paper I shall not touch upon the glory of deity for its profundity is beyond the comprehension of the human mind (Job 11.7; Rom 11.33-34). Let us not attempt to look into "the ark of the Lord" (1 Sam 6.19).
It should be a regular experience each Lord's Day when we are together to call to mind the Lord Jesus in the celebration of the Supper, that we have a sight by faith of the glory of Christ. The most treasured event in our weekly calendar is when we assemble to remember Him with our hearts over-flowing with praise, worship and thanksgiving (Ps 100.4). The Breaking of Bread is not a time to be occupied with our service in testimony, or with our personal circumstances. It is an occasion when we focus on, and express our affections for, the One who loved us and gave Himself for us. In such an environment, where His glory fills out the holy place, we are spiritually moved to engage our hearts with all that our Lord accomplished for the eternal glory of Almighty God. Such occupation will have the effect of transforming us from glory to glory, even as by the Lord, the Spirit.
When Moses came down from the mount the second time his face shone with the glory of Jehovah. The convicting power of such glory rendered it impossible for the people to look upon him, and he was obliged to put a veil upon his face (Ex 34.29-33). From this we learn that the glory which attended the Law was the ministration of death, which glory was to be done away by reason of the glory of the gospel of the grace of God which excelleth. "For if that annulled (the law) was introduced with glory, much rather that which abides subsists in glory" (2 Cor 3.11, JND). While Moses was in the mount the first time he received full instructions from God for the preparation and erection of the tabernacle (Ex 25.40; 26.30). When he had finished the work and the tabernacle was reared up, the Lord filled it with His glory so that Moses could not enter by reason of that glory (Ex 40.33-35). Moses, as guided by the Spirit of God, was responsible for the finished work, but the Lord laid claim to the tabernacle and to the order of sacrificial service by filling it with His glory. And so it is today in the assemblies of the Lord's people: no person should lay claim to control, guide, or lead in the worship of the saints, it is the glory of the Lord in the power of His Spirit that moves in the hearts of the believers (including sisters in silence) to render to God the sacrifice of praise, worship, and thanksgiving through our Lord Jesus Christ (Heb 13.15). When we are together in the spirit of worship (a holy convocation), we are outside the entire sphere of human thought and activity; it is then we get a sense of the Lord's presence, and by faith a vision of His glory.
When Solomon's Temple was completed, the Lord filled it with His glory so that the priests could not stand to minister by reason of the cloud (2 Chr 5.14). The teaching here is that "worship" and "service" are separate functions, which sadly today are often mixed. Sometimes at the Breaking of Bread (a worship meeting), a brother will interrupt to give a word of ministry while the saints are caught up by the Spirit in the full flow of worship and thanksgiving. This kind of confusion is less likely to occur when we understand that "worship" is from the heart to God (ascending) through Christ, while the service of "ministry" is from God (descending) to man; nowhere in Scripture do we find the two functions mixed. Having celebrated the supper, we may well profit from a word of ministry before we separate - ministry that would enrich our understanding of the One who glorified His Father on earth.
In keeping with the truth of our text, we, daily, should fix our eye of faith upon the glory of Christ. The writer to the Hebrew Christians, penned: "But now, we see not yet all things put under him. But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour" (Heb 2.8-9). Seeing by faith the glory of our blessed Saviour at the right hand of the greatness on high will surely overwhelm us with wonder, love and praise.
The disciples on the Mount of Transfiguration fell with their faces to the ground when they heard God speaking from out of the excellent glory about His Beloved Son, but when the Lord touched them, saying, "arise", they saw "no man, save Jesus only" (Mt 17.6-8). Peter, James and John were eye-witnesses of His majesty; they were privy to a sight more marvellous than any miracle, a scene more impressive, august and glorious than any other vision on earth. Indeed, what the disciples saw was a living miniature of the future Kingdom; it was more instructive, vivid and magnificent than any prophecy could present, and all this divinely recorded for our instruction and blessing. When in this life we come to the conclusion that there is nothing worthy of our contemplation, we too will be able to say that we see "no man, save Jesus only" (Mt 17.8).
To be continued.