God on the Ground
"He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature." (Hebrews 1:3)
During the Exodus, when the descendants of Jacob were brought out of Egypt, out of captivity and slavery, their God went with them and led them. As a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night, and God was with them. God’s people witnessed His glory and power, a power that bent kings to His purposes and held back the waters of the sea. The Egyptians too saw His glory, saw that the combined powers of their Pharaoh, their armies and even their gods were nothing before the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Surely all who watched, all who journeyed, and even all those who pursued must have been filled with awe of the glory and power of God.
But whatever they saw, Moses saw more. Whatever glory was revealed to them, greater glory was shown to Moses. Deuteronomy 24 tells us that Moses was the greatest of the prophets, a man whom the Lord knew face to face, as a friend. He was unequaled in the many mighty deeds and acts of terrifying power that the Lord performed through him in the sight of all Israel and Egypt. Moses asked to see God’s glory, and God granted his request, passing by Moses as he hid in the cleft of a rock. But even Moses, greatest of the prophets, friend of God, was only permitted to look upon the back of God’s glory (Ex. 33:23). Still, for a very long time, it was more than anyone else could claim.
In some ways, I think we still find it hard to believe. When we think of God’s glory, we still think of great pillars of fire, stretching into the star-strewn night. We still try to imagine the awe of those who watched a sea pull back before them to leave dry ground. We conjure images of a God with thunder in his footsteps and lightning in his fists. And surely all of this belongs to our God, all of it is a tributary to His glory. But impressive as it all is, as majestic and awesome as it is, as far as it is above and beyond any human ability, it is at best still only the "back" of God’s glory.
Sometimes, we forget that by God’s grace, we have seen more than Israel, more than the Pharaoh, more even than Moses. In Jesus, we have seen His glory unveiled, the glory as of a Father’s only son (Jn. 1:14). In Jesus we have seen the clearest reflection of God’s glory, "and the exact imprint of God’s very being" (Hb. 1:3). Sometimes, we envy what Moses has seen and heard, but the truth is that Moses would have envied us. Moses saw the back of God’s glory, which alone is more than enough for anyone, but we have seen the exact imprint of his being.
Our Christmas series this year is titled, "God on the Ground," and through this series we will be exploring the many ways that God has revealed himself in Jesus. Through Jesus we not only hear and learn, but see that God is life, God is Light, God is love and God is salvation. Join us this advent season as we look again at the glory of God revealed in the Son.