Just a quick comment about seeing the glory of God and the many different ways it can affect us.
First, a couple of weeks ago, Anne Graham Lott spoke about Isaiah’s mystical vision of God (Isaiah 6) and his response to it, which was abject humility. “Woe is me, for I am a man of unclean lips.”
This week, I read a very different story of a time when God revealed his glory supernaturally:
Now when Solomon had finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the LORD filled the house. The priests could not enter into the house of the LORD because the glory of the LORD filled the LORD’S house. All the sons of Israel, seeing the fire come down and the glory of the LORD upon the house, bowed down on the pavement with their faces to the ground, and they worshiped and gave praise to the LORD, saying, “Truly He is good, truly His lovingkindness is everlasting.” (2 Chronicles 7:1-3, NASB)
Here the response is praise, expressing a renewed confidence in God’s goodness.
But in still another passage from this week’s devotional reading, there was this:
Then the Spirit lifted me up, and I heard a great rumbling sound behind me, “Blessed be the glory of the LORD in His place.” And I heard the sound of the wings of the living beings touching one another and the sound of the wheels beside them, even a great rumbling sound. So the Spirit lifted me up and took me away; and I went embittered in the rage of my spirit, and the hand of the LORD was strong on me. (Ezekiel 3:12-14, NASB)
Ezekiel had already seen a supernatural vision of the glory of God, described in chapter 1 and involving angels (“living beings”) and wheels and lots of rumblings and fire. Here, the Spirit says of this vision, “Blessed be the glory of the LORD in His place” because that vision was a manifestation of the glory of God to Ezekiel.
Look how he responds, though: “I went embittered in the rage of my spirit, and the hand of the LORD was strong on me.” In the next couple of verses Ezekiel begins to realize his calling as a prophet.
What a curious mix of responses: humility (woe is me!), praise and confidence (truly He is good) and now ferocity on behalf of God’s word to His people.
I’m not completely sure what the moral is. Perhaps that when God favors us with one of those transcendent moments in our walk with Him where we see his power and presence clearly, it will affect us in a deeply personal way. It will reflect the fundamental connection God makes with us at that moment, and as such will be different for every person, every time.
I think also, we sometimes try to capture the same moment when it’s not the same anymore. WE seek the same “feeling” when the glory may produce a completely different response, appropriate to the time, but we miss it in our desire for the same reaction. So I find this a very good point.
Dave: Connected to your comment is that these verses talk about GOD doing something to reveal himself to us, which is not the same thing as when we reflect on his power and presence and make ourselves more aware of it by our reflection. While that’s good for us to do, it isn’t the same thing as when God breaks through transcendently. We can conjure up feelings of revival, and perhaps that will be encouraging, but when God himself shows us his glory, it can show us something we would not have thought of on our own.
Perhaps these different “reactions” are just that. Reactions. But based upon not only the writer and the reactions of the person(people) but also of the context of the place and time. Isaiah’s reaction was humble, perhaps because God had directed His attentions on HIM and HIM alone..? And when Solomon’s event happened, there were MANY people, so they bowed down seeing the glory of God manifested. The passage about Ezekiel reminds me of someone being told they are now in charge of a LOT of people, it’s a REALLY important job and they realize they don’t know what they are doing or don’t want the heavy weight of responsibility on their shoulders.