Glory: It’s too heavy for us to carry!

Most Christians probably get taught in church that glory means ‘Weight’. I’ve been thinking about glory over the last few days. And today at morning prayer I shared what God had been telling me about glory. Whilst Christians, and especially church leaders know that glory means ‘weight’ we can very easily forget that glory is too heavy for us to carry! In fact, glory isn’t meant for us at all. It’s for Christ alone. I love that one of the five Solas, Soli Deo Gloria, meaning “Glory to God alone”. And it’s not just a good statement, but also a very wise saying….

When we mess with the glory of God, or try to take it away from him, we end up in a very sticky mess. Because Glory is to heavy for us to carry. There’s some very, very strong messages and warnings in the bible about this:

  • One that I remember is found in 1 Samuel 4. The Israelites decide to use God’s glory as a good luck charm for fighting their battles. In fact, they use the Ark of the Covenant as some sort of Genie Lamp, which they think they can use for whatever they like. They totally disregard the instructions that God had given them and take the Ark of the Covenant onto the battlefield with them. They are defeated and then the Philistines capture the ark. Here’s what happens:

10 So the Philistines fought, and the Israelites were defeated and every man fled to his tent. The slaughter was very great; Israel lost thirty thousand foot soldiers. 11 The ark of God was captured, and Eli’s two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, died.

Death of Eli

12 That same day a Benjamite ran from the battle line and went to Shiloh with his clothes torn and dust on his head. 13When he arrived, there was Eli sitting on his chair by the side of the road, watching, because his heart feared for the ark of God. When the man entered the town and told what had happened, the whole town sent up a cry.

14 Eli heard the outcry and asked, “What is the meaning of this uproar?”

The man hurried over to Eli, 15 who was ninety-eight years old and whose eyes had failed so that he could not see. 16 He told Eli, “I have just come from the battle line; I fled from it this very day.”

Eli asked, “What happened, my son?”

17 The man who brought the news replied, “Israel fled before the Philistines, and the army has suffered heavy losses. Also your two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, are dead, and the ark of God has been captured.”

18 When he mentioned the ark of God, Eli fell backward off his chair by the side of the gate. His neck was broken and he died, for he was an old man, and he was heavy. He had led Israel forty years.

19 His daughter-in-law, the wife of Phinehas, was pregnant and near the time of delivery. When she heard the news that the ark of God had been captured and that her father-in-law and her husband were dead, she went into labor and gave birth, but was overcome by her labor pains. 20 As she was dying, the women attending her said, “Don’t despair; you have given birth to a son.” But she did not respond or pay any attention.

21 She named the boy Ichabod, saying, “The Glory has departed from Israel”—because of the capture of the ark of God and the deaths of her father-in-law and her husband. 22 She said, “The Glory has departed from Israel, for the ark of God has been captured.”

  • The second warning that speaks clearly of leaving the glory to God is in Ezekiel. The temple has been used in a way that blasphemes God. In fact, in Ezekiel chapter 8, there are six things that the people are desecrating the temple with:

Idolatrous Portrayals on the Wall (8:10)The inner walls of the temple had been covered with images of “abominable beasts” and idols. The idolatry of Israel had permeated into the Temple of Yahweh itself.

Hidden Idolatry (8:11-12) The elders of Judah are inside the temple practicing idolatry, thinking that because they think that Yahweh has forsaken them. As such, they do not think God sees their idolatrous sins practice in secret.

Weeping for Tammuz (8:13-14) Tammuz was the Sumerian god of fertility, who every summer would die and become god of the underworld, as the hot Middle Eastern sun would dry up the ground.

Turning their back on God (8:15-16) Twenty-five elders of Judah turn their backs on the temple of Yahweh, right in front of the temple and worship the sun. This is a tremendous insult, physically turning their backs away from the Holy of Holies, God’s dwelling place, and worship the creation rather than the creator. In essence, they are turning their spiritual backs on God. God responds by asking, “Is it a trivial things to the house of Judah to commit abominations which they commit here?”

Violence (8:17) This idolatry breeds violence.

Insulting God (8:17)

Because of this, we read in Ezekiel 10…

1 I looked, and I saw the likeness of a throne of lapis lazuli above the vault that was over the heads of the cherubim. 2The LORD said to the man clothed in linen, “Go in among the wheels beneath the cherubim. Fill your hands with burning coals from among the cherubim and scatter them over the city.” And as I watched, he went in.

3 Now the cherubim were standing on the south side of the temple when the man went in, and a cloud filled the inner court. 4 Then the glory of the LORD rose from above the cherubim and moved to the threshold of the temple. The cloud filled the temple, and the court was full of the radiance of the glory of the LORD. 5 The sound of the wings of the cherubim could be heard as far away as the outer court, like the voice of God Almighty when he speaks.

6 When the LORD commanded the man in linen, “Take fire from among the wheels, from among the cherubim,” the man went in and stood beside a wheel. 7 Then one of the cherubim reached out his hand to the fire that was among them. He took up some of it and put it into the hands of the man in linen, who took it and went out. 8 (Under the wings of the cherubim could be seen what looked like human hands.)

9 I looked, and I saw beside the cherubim four wheels, one beside each of the cherubim; the wheels sparkled like topaz. 10 As for their appearance, the four of them looked alike; each was like a wheel intersecting a wheel. 11 As they moved, they would go in any one of the four directions the cherubim faced; the wheels did not turn about as the cherubim went. The cherubim went in whatever direction the head faced, without turning as they went. 12 Their entire bodies, including their backs, their hands and their wings, were completely full of eyes, as were their four wheels. 13 I heard the wheels being called “the whirling wheels.” 14 Each of the cherubim had four faces: One face was that of a cherub, the second the face of a human being, the third the face of a lion, and the fourth the face of an eagle.

15 Then the cherubim rose upward. These were the living creatures I had seen by the Kebar River. 16 When the cherubim moved, the wheels beside them moved; and when the cherubim spread their wings to rise from the ground, the wheels did not leave their side. 17 When the cherubim stood still, they also stood still; and when the cherubim rose, they rose with them, because the spirit of the living creatures was in them.

18 Then the glory of the LORD departed from over the threshold of the temple and stopped above the cherubim. 19 While I watched, the cherubim spread their wings and rose from the ground, and as they went, the wheels went with them. They stopped at the entrance of the east gate of the LORD’s house, and the glory of the God of Israel was above them.

20 These were the living creatures I had seen beneath the God of Israel by the Kebar River, and I realized that they were cherubim. 21 Each had four faces and four wings, and under their wings was what looked like human hands. 22 Their faces had the same appearance as those I had seen by the Kebar River. Each one went straight ahead.

Glory is a serious thing. And it is only to be given to one person, and that’s Jesus. If you’re taking God’s glory, or you’re abusing it or messing with the glory of God, then stop it. Right away. Jeremiah 9:24 says “But let him that glories glory in this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD which exercise loving-kindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight”, says the LORD.

Taking God’s glory is a serious issue, and it carries an enormous price. As leaders we are to be exceptionally aware of misusing the glory of God. Let us not think for one moment that we have a ministry because of who we are. It’s all about who He is. It is only for the glory of God that we have been raised up as leaders, and that’s the way it should be.

Looking at glory has been very challenging for me. Is it challenging you?

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Dean Roberts

Dean is a Minister in the Anglican Church. Currently he is Curate in the parishes of Bedwas, Machen, Michaelston-y-Fedw and Rudry in South Wales. He was born and bred in Wales, is married to Megan, and has two dogs called Taliesin and Melyn, and two cats named Sinsir and Hâf. He graduated from Cardiff University with a BA Hons. in Theology & Religious Studies, and has studied for an MA in Theology, Ministry & Mission at Trinity College Bristol. He also holds a Cert.RSCM from the Royal School of Church Music. He loves playing music, walking, reading, blogging and horse riding as well as going to the cinema and theatre. Read More @ http://deanroberts.net/about

  • Tony

    I agree partly with what you’ve written but I’d be interested to to embark on a New Testament study of glory. The glory of the Father was given to the Son but He didn’t keep it to himself. Instead In John 17:20-22 Jesus declares that he has already given it away to us. Obviously this doesn’t make him devoid of glory but it does place his glory on us and we are to carry it. Glory also speaks of brilliance and radiance as Isaiah exhorts us to shine in the darkness as the glory of the LORD rises on us (Isaiah 60:1). This starts to sound heretical and seems to put Jesus at odds with God, sharing out glory when God clearly said he won’t share his glory. That is unless we look at why Jesus says he gave us the glory the Father gave him. He says it’s for the sake of our unity with each other and with him. Biblical study leads to the understanding that glory is substance as well as an abstract attribute belonging to God alone. If glory was too heavy for us to carry Jesus would be breaking his promise that his burden is light. I think the trick is to understand that we’re not stealing his glory, he’s giving it to us to display to the world. The Church displays the glory of God in the earth and through the preaching of the gospel and the evidence of transformed lives, the knowledge of the glory of God will cover the whole earth as the waters cover the see. Ultimately Jesus personifies the glory of God and his presence in our lives demonstrates his life to the world to the praise (and glory) of the Father. I agree that it’s possible to try and steal God’s glory and I believe that will land you in it deep! But I also think our understanding of glory needs a New Testament spin. What do you think?

    • Good points raised Tony, and I agree with your NT approach to glory. But ultimately, the glory is still his isn’t it?

      By carrying glory, I mean carrying it off our own backs. If we carry glory that Christ has given to us, then he is really doing the carrying isn’t he? And then surely he is just using us as instruments to display the glory that is his?

      • Tony

        agreed but i believe it’s a partnership we choose to bear the glory and Jesus carries it with us to the glory of the Father. We know how it all ends anyways. We get glorified and live in his glory! woop woop!