Today’s Reading: 1 Kings 13, Ezekiel 43, Psalm 95-96, Philippians 4.
“Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples!” Psalm 95:6
What does it mean to declare God’s glory among the nations?
That’s a pretty big thing to ask (command!) isn’t it? I mean, can anyone really put God’s glory into words in their own minds? If you can’t really grasp something mentally, isn’t it even that much more difficult (impossible!) to declare it to others?
What is this “God’s glory” that I (we) are to proclaim to the nations of the world?
I think we get a really big clue from another chapter in today’s reading.
Ezekiel 43 is about the glory of God: “1 Then he led me to the gate, the gate facing east. 2 And behold, the glory of the God of Israel was coming from the east. And the sound of his coming was like the sound of many waters, and the earth shone with his glory. . . 4 As the glory of the Lord entered the temple by the gate facing east, 5 the Spirit lifted me up and brought me into the inner court; and behold, the glory of the Lord filled the temple.”
Ezekiel saw God’s glory. That’s clear from the opening verses of this chapter.
But what did he see?
We can’t be sure of everything. But it is interesting to note what follows in the chapter. Consider:
First, the Lord speaks of dwelling with His (formerly) sinful people: “Now let them put away their whoring and the dead bodies of their kings far from me, and I will dwell in their midst forever” (v.9). God – in the context of a chapter speaking of His glory – makes known He will dwell with His people who were – at one time – very sinful.
Second, He speaks of His people obeying Him fully: “they may observe all its laws and all its statutes and carry them out” (v. 11). Again, in the context of His glory being revealed, we read of God being with His once sinful people who will fully obey His law.
Third, the Lord talks about blood being a dominant and necessary requirement for reconciliation: “You shall present them before the Lord, and the priests shall sprinkle salt on them and offer them up as a burnt offering to the Lord. For seven days you shall provide daily a male goat for a sin offering; also, a bull from the herd and a ram from the flock, without blemish, shall be provided. Seven days shall they make atonement for the altar and cleanse it, and so consecrate it. And when they have completed these days, then from the eighth day onward the priests shall offer on the altar your burnt offerings and your peace offerings, and I will accept you, declares the Lord God” (vs. 24-27). God promises to accept His people when several spotless animals are slaughtered on 7 different days in a row.
Let’s recap. In a chapter where God reveals His glory to Ezekiel we read of a promise of the Lord to dwell with His people – who had been very rebellious. We also read where His people will be fully obedient to His ways. The chapter ends with God’s people being required to offer blood sacrifices in order to be accepted by Him.
Are you seeing what I am seeing? The glory of the Lord – according to Ezekiel – is about God dwelling with sinful man and making them obedient people through sacrificial bloodshed.
Let’s put what we know about the New Testament on top of this beautiful reality. God’s glory is made known to nations when they hear and understand that God has made a way for them to be accepted by Him through the sending of His Son – the perfect sacrifice. God has promised to dwell with sinful humanity – making them sinless and perfect – through the sending of His sinless and perfect Son who was slaughtered in our (their place)!
There is a lot to God’s glory – no doubt. But one thing is certain: it is most clearly seen and displayed and explained and embraced through the comprehension of the Gospel of Jesus. A way has been made to be right with God. God has done it! God has offered His Son on behalf of anyone who would believe! This is the glory of God!
Okay Christian – “Declare His glory among the nations!”