“And he said, I beseech thee, shew me thy glory. And he said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. And he said, Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live.” (Exodus 33:18-20)
“And the Lord descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the Lord. And the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed, the Lord, The Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth.” (Exodus 34:5)
Here Moses asked God for something that we all as Christians should seek. To see the Glory of God. This is ever the heart’s desire for children of God. We WANT to see the Glory of God. We want to see His face. Moses did not ask for fortune or fame. Moses did not ask for the power to work great miracles. He did not ask for the adoration of the masses. All he asked for, the thing he begged for, was to see the face of God, to see God’s Glory. That desire in Christians would be a breath of fresh air in our day. Most of the religious leaders of our day seek to achieve their own glory by receiving the praise of men, prating about in mock humility, and in mock piety. Most preachers seek only the praise, the presents and the popular preference of men. What a welcome thought indeed would be the renewed desire in the hearts of men to see God’s Glory. Oh, how sweet it would be to see the whole world turned to God. But, Oh how great a fool anyone would be to expect this. God’s people, however, could and should be this way. We should seek God. What is this Glory? Let’s look at what Moses saw.
“And he said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee.”
God gave His humble servant Moses just as much as Moses could stand. And more than what Moses received would have been too much to take. The wonder of a clear picture of God’s Glory is just too great for our physical selves to stand. “For there shall no man see me, and live.” It would be sure physical death for us to see the face of God. Not only would it kill us, but we would want to die. If we could truly see God we would want to be with Him rather than here.
Imagine Stephen in the seventh chapter of the book of Acts. Let’s look at this. Stephen has just preached to the council and it tore down deep into their souls and their own hearts brought accusation against them. To this they responded in anger and struck out at the one who brought the message. Things are no different today. Men still react in the same way to preaching. Let us look now at the scripture.
“When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth. But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up steadfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.” (Acts 7:54-56)
Nowhere do we see Stephen begging for his life. He did not testify anymore, he did not plead for his life nor did he plead for the sakes of their souls. No! Stephen had seen God. He had no desire to stay here in this world. It did not matter to him how or where he left this life but he was ready, willing and anxious to go. When Stephen cried out, “Lord Jesus receive my spirit” he was saying much more than many believe or know. In the Greek language the word for “receive” can also be used to say, “accept” or “take”. In some instances it means “come on” . This tells us a great deal. If Moses had seen God he would no longer have been fit to serve. He would have cried out as Stephen did, “Lord, come on and take my spirit away” . Oh, friends, if we could see God, we would want to be with Him. We would not want to stay in this over-rated world laden with sin and iniquity. To be honest, as one song-writer puts it, “I’m longing for home,” . I don’t want to live here in this world forever. I have tasted the sweetness of fellowship with Jesus and I long to see the precious face of the one who died for me. If I could see His Glory now there is no way I’d stay here. There is no way I would want too. But as it stands, His Glory has yet to be fully manifested to me. Because of this there is still a strong enough pull of this life on my flesh to make me fear death and make me want to stay here a little longer. Oh, but friend, there cometh a day when I shall see Him, all the world won’t matter to me then. I will no longer know fear, pain, confusion, weariness, or doubt. I will be with Him forevermore. Happy day! Happy day! When Jesus calls His saints away!
It is a thrilling thought is it not? It is a thrilling thought that one day we who are His will see Him in the clouds. It is thrilling to know that my eyes are going to behold the face of Almighty God. I think often of what it will be like. So sad that there is no way that our minds can comprehend the Glory that we shall behold. A great day for those of us who are saved, But a sad day for those who have rejected Christ in this life. Oh, friend, what a sad end for so many people who have heard the gospel of Jesus Christ and are yet unwilling to come to repentance. It’s going to be a terrible day.
These people need to see the Glory of God too. If they were to see Jesus in His Glory they would come to repentance now. How sad that so many have waited too late. How sad when we all disappear; there will be those left behind, though they have heard the gospel over and over in their lives and refused every time that God has dealt with their hearts.
“And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” (2Thess. 2:11-12)
Oh, for a glimpse of the Glory of God. What would it be worth to this world just to get a glimpse of that Glory? The good that it would do this world would be immeasurable. We need that today. This presents a problem. How can a lost world see the Glory of God? How, if even Moses could not look on God, can this lost and dying world see him? God answers this problem for us. Notice, He told Moses that He would make all of His goodness to pass before him. Moses asked to see God’s Glory and God showed him His goodness. That doesn’t sound like much to the church today with all the great theological insight that is coming to light. The goodness of God just doesn’t do anything for us anymore. We really don’t much care for preaching which focuses on God’s goodness. It is truly sad, the state that the church is in. As a whole we would rather hear a message which damns the rest of the world than to hear one which should be a help to us as the children of the living God. It is almost as if we rather enjoy the thought of others going to hell, just don’t teach or correct “us”. “Preacher, leave me alone, just go on and preach folks to hell for living like a devil, but don’t be meddling with my attitudes, and the state of my sinful heart.”
Friend’s, God’s people Israel did not just go marching right out of Egypt and into the land of Canaan. No! They spent time in the wilderness being purged from their old selves. Brother Mac Phillips says that “God got His people out of Egypt, then He had to get Egypt out of His people.” Such is the case in God’s people today. God is still calling out a people, still purging His people, still separating a people unto Himself. God had them separated from Egypt and then He had to separate them unto Himself, and in that order. He uses the same method still. They were settled into Egypt when they were there; Just as the church is settled in the world today. They did not fit in. They were different. So different, in fact, that it showed. Balak saw them and feared them so he called Balaam to curse them. Balaam saw them and he envied them. He said, “Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his.” (Numbers 23:106) They were different because they displayed God’s goodness for all to see. God’s goodness was manifested before all who saw them; It out to be so today in the lives of all who call themselves children of God. We ought to display the goodness of God to the lost world.
How can we make a difference in this life? How do we manifest God’s goodness? Let us look at how Israel did. The whole world at that time had heard of Israel. Every eye could see the Grace of God when they looked at this nation which had been a nation of slaves. They were uneducated, inexperienced in battle, unaccustomed to managing their own lives and making their own decisions. THEY HAD BEEN SLAVES! They knew nothing of running a nation, establishing rules and guidelines or establishing order. Now, suddenly they are free and organized, possibly well over two million people, traveling in the wilderness, in a definite order and very definitely under an amazing degree of discipline; The kind that can only be achieved after much training and experience. Those that saw these people saw an orderly progression and a definite pattern in their travel. How can slaves that know nothing of how to manage their own affairs be so well managed? It is much like the way that Jesus’ disciples were looked upon in the book of Acts, it was noted of them that they had been with Jesus though they were unlearned and ignorant men. The same was obvious in Israel. It was obvious in looking at them that they were being led of God.
When people look at us they ought to see the same thing. We are a called out people, who were once slaves to sin. The world around you knows what you were before you made your profession. It is well known what you used to be. It is noticeable what you have become. The difference is obvious when a person gets saved. The difference that God has made in the life of one who has become a Christian is a testimony of the Grace of God, His Goodness. When those who knew you before can look at you and know that you are “a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”(2Cor. 5:17) then you are displaying the Goodness of God.
People will see that you don’t go to the same places; do the same things. There will be a difference in you that will show. You will not be what you once were. A man a few years ago made a profession of faith. There was no crowd there to see him profess Christ. He and a young preacher were all alone with God. That young preacher had the awesome privilege of witnessing the birth of yet another child of God, a new creature. It was not just an emotional outburst. Many weeks later someone who had known the new convert all of his life was worried. The object of their worry being him inquiry was made by the young preacher as to why this person was in such a state concerning the individual in question. “He’s just not himself anymore, he doesn’t curse anymore, he won’t drink alcohol anymore, something’s wrong with him.” Friend, there was a difference, but there was nothing wrong. No, on the contrary, there was something right with him now. He was already an old man and he said many times that he wished it hadn’t been so late in life that he was saved. But let me tell you, it showed.
When God lives in your heart, you will not be able to hide it, it will show through. It may make a difference for another who is headed for hell. The change that took place in your heart could be the first glimpse some people have of the Glory of God. The is exactly what worried old Balak. He looked out on that sea of possibly more than two million people and as he looked thoughts probably crossed his mind that these had been slaves in Egypt. Egypt ruled at that time. He had probably heard what had happened just as Rahab did. He had probably heart that they were led by a man who was led by their God. This was that God that parted the sea, and destroyed the nation of Egypt with the plagues and the army of Pharoah in the sea. Balak saw a people free from what had held them.
If you are a Christian, people see you in much the same way. Those who knew you before see you freed from some of the things that held you captive. A lost world can not understand this new creation. That makes people uncomfortable, angry, even sometimes afraid. When you are saved you are different. Where the lost are held captive, you are free. Where the lost really have no choice but to sin you have now got the ability to choose. The lost have a taskmaster which drives them to sin while the saved have a Saviour who leads them out of sin. The lost world see’s the difference. The world of religion is now so perverted that you can’t differentiate between the world and the church. The religious crowd dresses like the world, acts like the world, talks like the world. If you are saved your are not of the world, you are just passing through, your treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue. Friend, if you are saved you won’t fit in no matter what circle you seem to be a part of. They will see you as different, the religious world will see you as different. You will be the proverbial “square peg in the round hole.” You won’t fit in. You will be labeled a legalist because you won’t participate in the sins of the religious world. On the contrary, you will speak against it. “Them that sin rebuke before all that others also may fear.” And you will be labeled a liberal because you are willing to look past the sins of the lost to see a soul in danger and in need of help. “What have I to do to judge them that are without?” We don’t need to judge the lost they are “condemned already.” Judgment is to be toward ourselves, the people of God. The time has come that judgment must begin at the house of God. This is a great point of division in the church today. When you honestly come to grips with this one point you definitely won’t fit in. To put it in plain and simple terms, “Don’t waste your time condemning a world that God has already condemned; but purge your own heart and life and use good judgment when you look at the church, do not condone sin because it comes under the name of “Christian”.
Let’s look at three major points of God’s character in what Moses saw in Exodus 33 and 34….
“And the Lord descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the Lord. And the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed, The Lord, The Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty:” (Exodus 34:5-7)
In this text we have three characteristics of God, one of which is forgotten in our day. At the same time it is not a new problem. Jesus dealt with the omission of three things in Jerusalem. One of these which is still omitted today is mentioned (if not in word it is definitely implicated in this passage) “And that will by no means clear the guilty.” God’s people are today guilty of the same sins as God’s people were then.
“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cumin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgement, mercy, and faith; these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.” (Matt. 23:23)
The church has lost it’s ability to manifest the Glory or goodness of God in the world because we have omitted the weightier matters of the law, “Judgment, mercy, and faith.”
As previously stated, to refuse to condone the sins of the religious world in our day is to be labeled a legalist. Nobody minds if we stand a preach against the sins of the world that can be seen openly, such as murder, abortion, fornication, theft, etc. But God help the preacher that preaches against those sins of the heart that can be hidden from others. Sins that the church is full of today; hatred, greed, vengeance, envy, covetousness. As strange as this may seem, we often don’t know our fellow Christians as well as we think we do. Most people who claim to be Christians have more than one testimony. It is true. Most of the church members in our day have multiple personalities. One they live before the pastor and the church, one they live with their families at home, one they live with their friends, and one they live before the people that they work with. Because of this we find we can not preach against sin of any kind without exposing to most church members just who they are. You can preach on just about anything until you begin preaching against the sins of carnality in the lives of the church members. It is then that you find out who your friends are.
Most people think you ought to preach on “love one another,” because, “Jesus loves us as we are.” Yes he does, and if your lost you will go to hell if you die as you are. If you are saved and indulging in open sin, you can die just as you are.
God help us! The world will claim to belong to Jesus and be angry at a preacher for preaching against ungodly music. “Freedom of speech,” the world cries. God says, “by thy words thou shalt be justified and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.” And again, “let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.” Freedom of speech, HOGWASH! That is in the constitution, not the bible. If you pay a bunch of fornicating, doping, boozing, hippies and gangsters to talk dirty to your children go right ahead and let them keep buying that trash to listen too. But don’t be dumb enough to get mad at a preacher who is man enough to stand up and tell you that trash like that will destroy your children’s lives. You go ahead and feed your children’s flesh and it will backfire on you one day. Talk about that preacher now. While you are venting your spleen at his meddling in your life remember one thing. When your little girl is found to be pregnant out of wed-lock, when your kids wind up junkies, or gangsters and in trouble, raped or dead because you fed their flesh and let them go their own way, remember who you are going to call on for prayer later. Remember who you will call for help when your baby boy or girl is in the drunk-tank, maybe an emergency room, overdosed or badly injured, even dead. Don’t wait to remember, THINK NOW WHO IT IS THAT YOU ARE GOING TO BE CALLING ON FOR HELP, FOR PRAYER!!! You’ll be calling one of those same preachers that you are bad mouthing now because your life may be in such a mess that you know that you won’t be able to call on God. If you let your family go that way and won’t be the mom or dad that you ought to be, God may not listen to you anyway. You will need a man of God who is right with God and who can pray and move the hand of God in your behalf. You had better use good, scriptural judgment in your life and do your best to live godly and follow the man of God. It is usually in your best interest to get rid of those things in your life that you hear preached against.
In our day though, judgment has been pushed aside, no one exercises judgment in their own heart anymore. If you will judge yourself you will quit doing a lot of things.
Judgment, mercy, and faith. We must manifest these three things for the world to see God in us. For us to display God’s Goodness we must put all of these principles into practice. Judgment is almost forgotten. It is condemned, even though it is right.
Mercy is also a forgotten thing today. In the religious world we hear this compromising baloney about agreeing to disagree. What that really means most of the time is “don’t preach anything that might convict”. These who cry that we should all agree to disagree are simply trying to bring those who will stand on the word of God into a position of compromise. A position that will not condemn their actions or beliefs. And when they are crossed, these are the most unmerciful and hateful people you have ever met. The crowd that preaches tolerance because they don’t have the guts to preach the truth will crucify you when you stand on any doctrine in the face of opposition. Jesus said that He did not come to send peace but a sword. Where does religion find the right to compromise in the name of keeping peace in the religious world? We are not to be religious, we are to be examples of the believers. To be Christ-like. If there ever was a man who caused division, it was Jesus. If anyone ever caused troublesome stir in the religious world, it was Jesus! If anyone ever condemned those who sided themselves against the truth, it was Jesus! Yes He was merciful, and we are to be. But not at the expense of the truth.
The confusion is in the exercise of mercy. Today, religion has adopted the attitude that mercy is to allow others to go the way that they want too, and not condemn their beliefs or teaching. That is not mercy at all. If a man who is not a good swimmer decides to dog paddle into a pond, far from shore against the advice of a friend who willingly agrees that dog paddling is actually swimming and if he can dog-paddle then he can swim, therefore if he wants to try and swim an unreasonable distance from shore then he has the right too. This kind of mercy, though it see’s that man is in danger, will agree to let him go without protest, because he has a right to do what he pleases. In reality, mercy will try to talk him out of it before there is a need to throw him a line and drag him in. A drowning man does not need some one to agree with him that he can not swim, he needs help. By the same token, if we know that someone is dead wrong in their theology, the most merciful thing that we can do is show them their error in hopes that they will listen and make the proper changes in their life. Then watch, when they find themselves in a mess and about to go down, throw them a line. Show them the truth of the Word of God, if they refuse it, then their blood in on their own heads.
The most merciful thing that we can do with the lost world, the most merciful thing that we can do with the religious world, (they are usually the same group), is to tell them the truth though it may anger or hurt them. We would do well to remember that we are dealing with an eternal soul when we witness, temporary friendship on this earth should not blind us to the fact that this person will spend eternity somewhere.
At the same time, those who preach this all inclusive gospel, that we all are alright, are the first ones to condemn anyone who will not agree with their perverted gospel. They preach that we should agree to disagree. This is ridiculous. Why must we agree to disagree? If we disagree, we simply disagree. Must everything become super-spiritual jargan? Must we abandon the simple truth that if we disagree, then someone is wrong? God help us to exercise some common sense. Tolerance is not mercy. Tolerance is heresy!
If we will exercise true mercy, we will share the truth with the world, and love them in spite of their response. We can be kind to all, we can love all, but we can not agree with all.
Lastly, we see the mention of faith. We have a lack of faith in the religious world today. In speaking of faith, we must remember that it is the precursor to faithfulness. Everything that we have in this life is eventually used up, worn out, or simply gone one day. Even our minds, if we live long enough will begin to go on us. Our sight, our hearing, memory, body, all begin to leave us later in life. That sounds comical but it is true. Faith, on the other hand will grow with exercise. It can become weak only if we allow it too. The more we use it the greater it will become. When people look at us they should see the Glory of God in our being faithful to what we know to be right. Even the world hates a hypocrite. Our faithfulness is a great testimony to the world.
Paul wrote to the church at Rome, “So then faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God.” (Rom. 10:17) How do we grow our faith? By hearing, by the word of God. We go to church to hear the word of God preached, and we read the word of God to hear the word of God preached. The Holy Spirit preaches to hearts in the reading of the Holy Scriptures. Then we exercise our faith in our daily lives. The world will note this. It is a very important part of the Christian life.
How does the world see faith in our lives? Every time that you go to church, the world drives by the church and see’s your car there. People get to know you and after you have had to decline invitations to certain activities because you are going to church, you will be gaining a reputation that will be scrutinized and watched. When you are asked questions about the bible, and you are able to answer and show the scripture it will be noted that you are faithful to learn the word of God. Your refusal to participate in vulgar, cruel, or unchristian behavior will also be a testimony of your faith. People see the difference, even though you may not think so.
People can see God in your life if you will live for God. God made all His goodness to pass before Moses. God can show His goodness to the world today through His people. It, therefore becomes most important that we exercise the goodness of God for the lost world to see.
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