"‘Behold, the Lord our God has shown us his glory and greatness, and we have heard his voice out of the midst of the fire. This day we have seen God speak with man, and man still live. Now therefore why should we die? For this great fire will consume us. If we hear the voice of the Lord our God any more, we shall die. For who is there of all flesh, that has heard the voice of the living God speaking out of the midst of fire as we have, and has still lived? Go near and hear all that the Lord our God will say and speak to us all that the Lord our God will speak to you, and we will hear and do it." (Lev 19:24-27).
Monday, March 30, 2009
The Temple of God
God, as God
If ever any person begins to see God, as God, according to the Scripture they are devastated. God is not like us. God is Holy, God has infinite power, "who can endure the heat of his anger" Naham asks (Na 1:8). Yet we treat God, as less than God in our culture, in our lives and most devastatingly in our churches, yet: "This is what he LORD has said, 'Among those who are near me I must be regarded as holy, and before all the people I will be glorified" (Lev. 10:3). Does this mean anything?
Isaiah sees God, as God
Isaiah, for example entered the temple to pray, with ordinary, low expectation. He came to the temple, to the place where the glory of the Lord dwelt, without really knowing what the glory of the Lord was, or what the temple was... But suddenly all that changed as the earthy temple began to take on its heavenly reality. The robe of God's glory filled the temple in what must have been a light of glory, (cf. Is 6:2), the temple's foundations "shook at the voice of the one who called, and the house filled with smoke" (Is. 6:4). This is reflected in the book of revelation: "and the sanctuary was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from his power, and no one could enter the sanctuary" (rev 15:8).
Looking at Revelation we clearly see that this is the fierceness of God's glory coming to judge sin. Is it any different in Isaiah? The prophet seemed to think not. The smoke, the wrath, the glory of God is summed up in his nature, "Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is filled with his glory" (6:3). God is Holy, he is set apart, he is sinless and hates sin. He is perfect, he is just, and "He repays those who hate him" (Deut 32:43).
Isaiah suddenly saw God, as God and cried out: "Woe is me" (6:5), a prophetic curse against himself!
Israel sees God, as God
When Israel stood at the foot of mount Sinai: "there were thunders and lightenings and a thick cloud on the mountain and a very loud trumpet blast, so that all the people in the camp trembled. Then Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God" (Ex 19:16-17). And this God they met, what was he like? "Now Mount Sinai was wrapped in smoke because the Lord had descended on it in fire. The smoke of it went up like the smoke of a kiln and the whoe mountain trembled greatly." (19:18). Now how did they respond?
God told Moses, "they are right in all they have spoken" (28).
The Disciples see God, as God
Now in the New Testament, we find the presence of God in the Temple of Christ's body, "the word became flesh and tabernacled amongst us" the same word in the OT LXX used of the Tabernacle built by Moses, "and we beheld his glory" (John 1:14). The disciples responded each time they saw God's glory in Christ, the same way, when he demonstrated his power to calm the storm, "they were filled with great fear and said to one another, 'Who then is this?'" (Mk. 10:40). Then on the mount of Transfiguration, a greater glory was seen by the inner three, just as in Isaiah's vision, the earthly temple began to take on its heavenly reality. Peter it is noted, "did not know what to say, for they were terrified" (Mk. 9:6).
The Church sees God, as...
John Prophecied concerning Jesus, "He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with Fire" (Matt. 3:11). As I studied this verse today I began to meditate on the Scripture, and tried to seek an answer as to what exactly this means. He will baptize his followers with the HS and fire. We have seen that the presence of God has been the presence of God, who is Spirit, and exemplified by fire. To this we could add the burning bush of Moses, and the words, "Our God is a consuming fire" (Heb 12:29). It seems John is prophecying the presence of God, through the Holy Spirit will be given. Now John 15-17 seems to bear this out, Jesus will not leave us as orphans, but will come to us, by sending his spirit and then dwell in us forever.
In Acts 2, we read that the disciples where praying and seeking the Lord, when suddenly, "there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house" again the presence of heaven appears on earth, and "divided tongues as of fire" appeared (v. 2-3). This event speaks of the Disciples, "being filled with the Holy Spirit" (v. 3).
Many people witnessed their preaching and "all were amazed and perplexed" (v. 12). God was in their midst. Now the rest of the NT Epistles clarify that the church, as an assembly of believers, "grow into a holy temple in the Lord" and is "being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit" (Eph 2:21-22). 1 Cor. carries this on as well warning that there is a consequence, the church is "God's temple" in which "God's Spirit dwells".
And we show up, if we bother to show up at church at all, with a sense of ... nothing. We are not devastated. We expect nothing, we fear nothing, and we wonder why are churches accomplish nothing! When God's glory appears, what terror will fill the world, "when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengence..." (2 Thes 1:7-8). To paraphrase Jesus, "when he comes will he find faith in his church?"
I need to think through the implications of this more, but I need a break till tomorrow.