Beholding the Glory of God
Would you take your Bibles please and turn to the 3rd chapter of the book of Ezekiel...
Ezekiel chapter 3 and weíre going to read verses 22-27, as we go straight through the book of Ezekiel.
I tell you itís getting tougher.
I donít have enough books on Ezekiel.
I need to go buy some more tomorrow.
>(Verse 22) The hand of the LORD was upon me there, and he said to me, "Get up and go out to the plain, and there I will speak to you."
I think we find there a clue to beholding the glory of God.
Donít ever expect to behold the glory of God if youíre not going to do what the Lord says.
God says, "I want you to get up and go"...
And Ezekiel said, "I got up and went".
>So I got up and went out to the plain. And the glory of the LORD was standing there like the glory I had seen by the Kebar River (that was back in chapter 1) and I fell face down.
(Verse 24) Then the spirit came into me and raised me to my feet. He spoke to me and said: "Go shut yourself inside your house.
(Verse 25) And you, son of man, they will tie with ropes; you will be bound so that you cannot go out among the people.
(Verse 26) I will make your tongue stick to the roof of your mouth so that you will be silent and unable to rebuke them, though they are a rebellious house.
(Verse 27) But when I speak to you, I will open your mouth and you shall say to them, "This is what the Sovereign Lord says". Whoever will listen let him listen, and whoever will refuse let him refuse; for they are a rebellious house.
>These verses bring to a conclusion the first section of the book of Ezekiel.
The first three chapters of Ezekiel deal with Godís call of him and his commission of him to be a prophet of God.
God called Ezekiel to be a prophet.
And yet now we have looked at three chapters and so far Ezekiel has not spoken a word.
He hasnít said a word to anybody for the Lord.
God called him a prophet, but so far he is a silent prophet.
Now that doesnít mean heís wasting time because you see...
The man who has been called of God must be prepared by God before he can speak for God.
>In this passage of scripture Ezekiel for the second time in these three chapters...
Comes face to face with the glory of God.
He said, "So I got up and went out to the plain."
And he says, "Behold the glory of the Lord was standing there."
He said, "I saw again the glory of God."
Now what is the glory of God?
That is a very interesting thing in the word of God.
What is the glory of God?
>The word "glory" is the Hebrew word "kabowd".
It literally means the weight or the quantity of something.
If you were to ask someone, "How much do you weigh?"...
You are asking them, "How much glory do you have?"
Some of us have more glory than others.
But thatís what the word "glory" means.
It means the weight or the quantity of a certain thing.
When the word "kabowd" (weight) is applied to the person of God...
It means the splendor and the majesty and the power and the holiness and the love of God.
As a matter of fact, the glory of God is the sum total of all God is.
The glory of God is the brilliance of God.
It is the manifest expression of Godís person and character.
To say that God is a heavy God is exactly right...
Because when you try to weigh him or try to measure the quantity of him...
The earth is too small for the scales it would take to weigh him.
The universe is too small for any measuring device it would take to measure the quantity of him.
Thatís the glory of God.
>Now in these verses I have read for you, I want you to see three things about the glory of God.
#1 Ė God reveals his glory.
How do we know that God is heavy?
How do we know that God is a God of glory?
How do we know that?
Because God has chosen to reveal his glory.
Listen to me, friends, we wouldnít know one thing about God if he had not chosen to reveal it to us.
How in the world would we have ever discovered him?
God is a spirit.
God is a God of the heavenlies.
You and I are physical beings who live here on planet earth.
How would we have ever known anything about God?
How would we have known that God is a real person?
How would we know that he is a God of majesty and splendor and brilliance?
How would we know that he is a God of holiness and power and love?
How do we know that?
Because God has chosen to reveal that to us.
Man did not discover God as a result of a personal conquest...
And man did not discover God as a result of accidentally stumbling across him.
Man can know God because God has chosen to reveal himself to man.
And thatís the only reason.
God is a God of sovereignty and majesty and glory...
And the only reason we know anything about him at all is because he has chosen to reveal his glory.
>Now, not only does he reveal his glory because he wants to do it...
God reveals his glory at different times.
In Ezekiel chapter 1, Ezekiel saw the glory of God.
In chapter 1, he saw this golden whirlwind, this golden tornado, that was divided into two sections.
Below there were these four living creatures...
And each one of those four creatures had the hands of a man and the wings of an angel.
And each one of those four creatures had four faces...
One on the front, one on the back and one on each side.
And each one of those four creatures, on either side of them were massive wheels.
And inside of those wheels were other wheels, wheels within the wheels.
And this speaks of all of the sum total of Godís creation.
But above the firmament, on the upper section of that glory cloud...
He saw a throne and one who sat upon that throne...
And that was Jesus Christ himself.
And Ezekiel, when he saw that, he said, "I have seen the glory of the Lord."
And now here in chapter 3, seven days later, if you compare chapter 3 to chapters 1 and 2...
Seven days later here he sees another vision of the glory of God.
>Listen to me, friends, God reveals his glory because he chooses to do it...
And God reveals his glory at different times.
There may be a period in your life that you will go for a long time hungering for the glory of God.
Now that doesnít mean that you donít love him, and it doesnít mean that you donít sense his presence.
That doesnít mean that you are out of fellowship with him.
But it means there are times when the glory of God just shows up.
There are times when we come and we sing and we pray and we preach and we have a good time in church.
And we leave encouraged and uplifted.
But then there are times when we come together and for no other reason except the sovereignty of God...
The glory of God comes and fills this place.
God does not reveal his glory all the time.
God reveals his glory at intervals that he chooses for special purposes.
>Now let me share with you a third thing.
God reveals his glory not because he chooses to do it and at different intervals...
God reveals his glory in different ways.
For example, sometimes God may reveal his glory in a song.
Sometimes in the very middle of a song the glory of God will show up.
Now everybody may not see it because God doesnít always reveal his glory to everybody at the same time.
Somebody else might just say, "Well that was a pretty good song."
Somebody else might say, "Who told them they could sing?"
But to someone else, here will be someone who will be hungering for a blessing of God...
And for no unknown reason except for the sovereignty of God...
God will just reveal his glory to you.
>Sometimes God reveals his glory through a sermon.
Let me tell you, I always know when God is blessing you when Iím preaching...
And I always know when heís not.
Sometimes people will say, "While you were preaching, God broke my heart. God spoke to me."
You see, you were blessed by the sermon and you experienced the glory of God.
I canít explain that.
But folks, thatís just the way it is.
Sometimes Godís glory is revealed through a song.
Sometimes Godís glory is revealed through a sermon.
Sometimes Godís glory is revealed in a cloud.
Thatís what Ezekiel was looking at.
He saw this mighty cloud, this whirlwind, this tornado.
Thatís the way God manifested his glory.
>Sometimes God manifests his glory in a rainbow.
After the flood and Noah and his family came out...
God showed his glory by putting a rainbow up there in the sky.
>Sometimes God reveals his glory through a miracle.
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were thrown into the fiery furnace...
And while they were there a fourth personality made an appearance and it was the very Son of God himself.
Others saw him but they did not know who he was.
But Shadrach and Meshach and Abednego witnessed the glory of God.
Sometimes God reveals his glory through a miracle.
God can heal sick people.
God can raise people from the dead.
God can cause a wind to stop blowing.
God can cause waves to stop rolling.
God sometimes reveals his glory through a miracle.
>But while God sometimes reveals his glory through a song and through a sermon...
And through a cloud and through a rainbow and through a miracle...
The greatest manifestation of the glory of God is not in a thing but in a person, and that person is Jesus Christ.
Put this in your margin: John 1:14:
And the word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only who came from the father, full of grace and truth.
Yes, God may reveal his glory through a song or a sermon or a whirlwind or a rainbow.
But I tell you, the greatest manifestation the world has ever or will ever know of the glory of God...
Is in the person of Jesus Christ.
Thatís why Romans 3:23 comes so heavily into play.
For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.
>Now listen to me.
If the glory of God were just a song, what would that verse mean?
If the glory of God were just a sermon, what would that verse mean?
If the glory of God were just a whirlwind, what would the Bible mean when it says:
All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.
Am I supposed to be able to sing like somebody else sings and I fail to measure up?
Am I supposed to be able to preach like somebody else preaches and I fail to measure up?
Am I supposed to make a wind like a whirlwind and I fail to measure up?
What does it mean when the Bible says, All have sinned and come short of the glory of God?
And we have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son of God.
Thatís what it means.
It means we all have sinned, in that we have come short of the glory of God...
That was manifest in the life and ministry of Jesus Christ.
I do not know that I am a sinner because I canít sing like somebody else sings.
I do not know that I am a sinner because I cannot preach like someone else preaches.
I do not know that I am a sinner because I cannot make a tornado like someone else makes a tornado.
I do not know that I am a sinner because I cannot put a rainbow in the sky like someone else can.
But when I look at the life of Jesus I know I am a sinner because I canít be like him.
I fall short.
No matter how moral I might be.
No matter how good a character I might possess.
When I put my life beside his life, I have to admit that God has told the truth...
And I come short of the glory of God.
And so God reveals himself to us.
>Now a second truth I want to tell you.
Not only does God reveal himself to us as he chooses at different intervals in different ways...
But the second truth, God reveals his glory to us to strengthen our spiritual lives.
Now go back to Ezekiel chapter 3.
And this is very important.
God reveals his glory to us to strengthen our spiritual lives.
Listen to me, friends, God doesnít reveal his glory to you so that you can feel good...
Not even that you can feel good about yourself.
Thatís whatís wrong with many Christians today.
They are going to this conference and that conference and this seminar and that seminar...
Because they want to feel good about themselves.
Well friends, I want to tell you, thatís not what the glory of God is for.
The glory of God is not to put you on a personal high.
The glory of God is to strengthen your spiritual life.
>Look there in verse 23.
Ezekiel 3:23: So I got up and went out to the plain, and the glory of the Lord was standing there, like the glory I had seen by the Kebar River.
And he says again, "and I fell on my face."
I fell on my face.
Whatís he doing?
Now our charismatic friends say that here is an illustration of being slain in the spirit.
But folks, I want to tell you, the idea of being slain in the spirit is not taught anywhere in the Bible.
Now you watch TBN and Benny Hinn and Kenneth Copeland and Rod Parsley...
And you watch any of these folks that are big into this being slain in the spirit...
What do they do?
People come up to them.
Sometimes they touch them on the forehead.
Sometimes they breathe on them, blow on them.
And what do they do?
They fall backward.
Thatís why theyíve got 15 or 20 folks there just catching people that are falling out.
Because the experience these folks have they fall back.
But this says, "When I saw the glory of the LORD, I fell on my face."
This is not being overcome by some emotional whim and you pass out backwards.
This is beholding the glory of God and you fall on your face in worship before him.
You see, friend, thatís what the glory of God wants to do.
When you have the opportunity to behold the glory of God...
It is so that your worship life will become deeper and richer and stronger.
God wants us to worship him.
Weíre not supposed to worship preachers.
Weíre not supposed to worship staff members.
Weíre not supposed to worship buildings.
Weíre to worship God.
Heís worthy of worship and none else is worthy of worship.
And when he allows us to see a glimpse of his glory the first reaction we ought to have...
Is to spiritually at least fall on our face before him in worship and praise and adoration to him.
>But not only does God reveal his glory so that we might worship him...
But God reveals his glory so that we might walk in him.
Look there in verse 23: So I got up and went out to the plain and the glory of the Lord was standing there.
And he goes on to say, "and I fell on my face. Then the spirit entered into me, and set me upon my feet."
Now weíre not strange as we look at this because we saw the same thing back in chapter 1.
Back in chapter 1, when he beheld the glory of God, he fell on his face and worshiped.
Back in chapter 1, the spirit entered into him and he stood up.
Here we see this same thing again.
What is it a picture of?
It is a picture of a fresh anointing of the Holy Spirit.
You say, "Well, Bro. Joe, the spirit entered him back there in chapter 1.
Why did the spirit have to enter him again in chapter 3?
Did the spirit move out and come back? Did he go and come?
Was this manís life like a hotel room?
The spirit of God would check in and then he would check out."
The spirit of God, when he comes, Jesus said he "abides with us forever."
This is a fresh anointing.
This is a fresh filling.
>Now listen to me.
There is one baptism of the Holy Spirit...
And it has nothing to do with speaking in tongues or any other miraculous signs or gifts.
The Bible says that every Christian, all of us, are baptized by the Holy Spirit into the body of Christ.
It doesnít matter who you are.
It doesnít matter what color you are.
It doesnít matter what spiritual gift you may or may not have.
All believers are baptized by the Holy Spirit into the body of Christ.
That happens the very moment you are saved.
It is a lifetime happening.
It happens once and once only.
There is only one baptism of the Holy Spirit.
But listen, there are many fillings of the Holy Spirit.
You can be filled with the Holy Spirit today and then you can be filled with the Holy Spirit again tomorrow.
There are many different fillings of the Holy Spirit...
And thatís what we find here in Ezekielís life.
God revealed his glory to him again so that he might have a fresh anointing.
Why? Because weíre to walk in the spirit.
>Now wouldnít it be wonderful if we just walked in the spirit all the time?
Iíve known a few men in my life, very few...
But Iíve known a few men in my life that I really did think walked in the spirit all the time.
And then I made the mistake of asking their wives, and I found out they are as sorry as I am.
Wouldnít it be wonderful if we would walk in the spirit all the time?
I suppose that possibility is there but the reality is we donít.
So what does that mean?
That means we continually need fresh fillings.
Do you remember when Jesus on the night before he was crucified he had the disciples there in the room?
And he said, "Men, Iím going to wash your feet."
Well Peter, he wasnít going to have anything to do with that.
"Youíre not gonna wash my feet."
Man, can you imagine how humbling that is?
You say, "Well it was an act of humility on the part of Jesus."
Well thatís true.
But Iím telling you, it was an act of humility on the part of those other folks to let him wash their feet.
And so Peter said, "Lord, Iím not gonna do it. Iím not gonna let you wash my feet."
And Jesus said, "Well if I donít wash your feet, then Iím not going to have anything else to do with you."
And Peter said, "Well Lord, if youíre gonna wash, donít just wash my feet. Wash me all over."
And Jesus said, "Peter, you donít need to be washed all over. I did that when you got saved."
You see, thereís a part of you thatís not ever going to get dirty anymore.
But as you walk through this world you get your feet dirty and so your feet need to be washed.
You see if we walked in the spirit all the time there wouldnít be any need to have our feet spiritually washed.
But because we donít walk in the spirit, thatís why we have to have times of confessing...
And times of refreshing and times of spiritual revival so that we can again walk in the spirit of God.
And so the glory of God comes to strengthen our spiritual life.
It helps us in our worship.
It helps us in our walk.
>But thirdly, it helps us in our witness.
Put this in your margin.
Here is one of the grandest pictures of the glory of God in all the Bible.
In the year that king Uzziah died.
Now Uzziah was a good king.
He really was.
He was a man of God.
He loved the Lord and he did a lot of good things.
But he died.
In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne.
You see, earthly kings come and go, but the heavenly king just stays enthroned forever.
In the year that king Uzziah died I saw the King.
Thatís what Isaiah says, "and he was high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple....
Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he did fly.
And one cried to another, and said, ĎHoly, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory.í
And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke."
>Now here was Isaiah in a time of sadness.
Isaiah loved king Uzziah.
Isaiah was a man of God and he knew that king Uzziah was good for the men of God.
And when he died his heart was broken...
And God allowed Isaiah to see this wonderful heavenly vision of the glory of God.
And he said, "I saw this vision of the whole earth was full of his glory."
Oh, it was a sight to behold.
But then look at what he said in verse 5.
"Then said I, ĎWoe is me! For I am undone.í"
You see, you donít find him jumping up and down.
You donít find him speaking in tongues.
You donít find him seeing visions.
You donít find him being slain in the spirit.
He is overwhelmed with all the sin in his own life.
He said, "Woe is me. I am undone. I am a man of unclean lips."
You see, the glory of God comes so that we might see our unworthiness, our wickedness.
Sometimes, especially those of us that are Christians, we get so caught up in doing things for God.
We go to this meeting and that meeting and this class and that class...
And this church and that church and this service and that service.
Sometimes we get so caught up in doing church things that we lose sight of the fact that sin can affect our lives.
But the glory of God drives us to examine our hearts.
Oh, the glory of God lets us see the uncleanness of our lives so that we can confess it...
So that our witness will be what it ought to be.
The glory of God is revealed to us so that it might strengthen our spiritual life, our worship, our walk and our witness.
>And then one last thing.
God reveals his glory to strengthen our spiritual lives...
But finally God reveals his glory to deepen our understanding of his purpose in our life.
Now I want to tell you something.
There are a lot of things I know.
There are a lot of things I donít know.
But I can just about tell you when somebody is getting ready to get a fresh glimpse of the glory of God...
Because here is what they will begin to ask me.
"Bro. Joe, how can I know what God wants to do with my life?"
The slips that you tear off and turn in week after week...
There has never been a week go by since day one...
Thereís never been a day go by when somebody has not turned in as a prayer request...
"Please pray that I would know Godís will for my life."
Folks, let me tell you something.
As long as you are contented youíll hardly ever see the glory of God.
But when you begin to hunger and when you begin to pray...
And when you begin to wake up at night and wonder, "Oh, God, what is it you have for me to do?
Lord I feel like Iím just spinning my wheels.
Lord I feel like Iím not doing anything of serious accomplishment.
Oh, God, what is it that youíd have me to do?"
Iím telling you folks, when you get that hunger get ready, the glory is going to come.
Because you see, thatís what the glory of God does.
The glory of God is revealed to us so that we might more adequately understand Godís purpose for us.
>Now look again in Ezekiel chapter 3.
(3:24) Then the spirit came into me and raised me to my feet. He spoke to me and said, "Go, shut yourself inside your house.
(Verse 25) And you, son of man, they will tie with ropes; you will be bound so that you cannot go out among the people."
Now isnít that strange?
Just last Sunday, what did I talk to you about?
God said to Ezekiel, "I have set the as a watchman."
What did a watchman do?
A watchman perched himself up on a tower and when he saw trouble coming...
He shouted out and warned all the people.
Now thatís what God had called Ezekiel to do.
God had called him to be a prophet.
Do you know who Ezekielís role model was?
I can tell you...no doubt about it.
It was Jeremiah.
Jeremiah was a prophet of God already before Ezekiel was called.
Jeremiah had greatly influenced the life of Ezekiel.
If you read the book of Ezekiel and then read the book of Jeremiah...
Youíll find a lot of similarity because Jeremiah had greatly influenced Ezekielís life.
What kind of a prophet was Jeremiah?
Well man, he was out there where the people are.
He was out in the streets.
He was out in the highways.
I mean he was always in the midst of people.
And I suppose when God said, "Ezekiel, Iím going to call you to be a prophet"...
I have an idea that Ezekiel in his mind envisioned himself being like Jeremiah.
"Well, Iím gonna be out here in the streets and out in the public. Iím gonna be doing this."
But God said, "No. Iím going to shot you up in your house."
And folks, thatís where he spent most of his life.
Thatís where he spent most of his ministry.
God said, "Iím going to cleave your tongue to the top of your mouth."
You know how long that lasted?
About seven years.
I mean for seven years he didnít come out of his house and he didnít say a word.
Because thatís what God wanted to do in his life.
Can you imagine Ezekiel saying, "Now Lord, wait a minute. This is not what I signed up to do.
Lord, I signed up to be like Jeremiah. Lord, Iím a people person.
I want to be out there in the crowds.
I want to be out there in the county fairs.
I want to be out there milling with the folks."
God said, "No, thatís not what I want you to do.
Thatís not the kind of ministry Iíve called you to be.
Iím calling you to stay in your house.
You donít have to get out to the people, Ezekiel.
Iím going to send the people to you."
Praise God. Isnít that wonderful?
>Now how did he know that?
Because thatís how the glory of God was revealed to him.
God didnít tell him that in chapter 1.
God didnít tell him that in chapter 2.
God tells him that at the end of chapter 3.
When God saved me...God saved me when I was ____.
God called me to preach when I was ____.
When God called me to preach, if he had told me everything that has happened to me was going to happen to me...
I would have said, "That you very much. Go to the next person."
But God doesnít do that.
God doesnít reveal to us the whole pie at the beginning.
God gives us little flakes of it.
God gives us little slivers of it, just little bits of it.
And so here God has called Ezekiel to be a prophet.
But God is now preparing him to be the kind of prophet he wants him to be.
"Ezekiel, youíre not going to be a Jeremiah...
Ezekiel, youíre not going to be like Isaiah...
Ezekiel, youíre not going to be like Amos, that preacher from the south who went up north and said...
ĎYou bunch of Yankees. You bunch of ungodly pagan heathens. God is going to french fry all of you."í
Man, I could do that...Iím telling you, I could do that.
But you see, thatís not what God had called Ezekiel to do.
God says, "Ezekiel, youíre going to shut up in your house and the only folks you are going to see...
Are the folks that I send to you.
And youíre not gonna say a word until I tell you to say a word.
And youíre not gonna speak anything except what I tell you to say."
Now how could you possibly be content with a ministry like that?
You could be content with a ministry like that because in it God reveals his glory.
God does reveal his glory.
God reveals his glory to strengthen our spiritual life...
And God reveals his glory to deepen our understanding of his purpose in and through our very lives.
"And behold there stood the glory of the Lord."
>You say, "Bro. Joe, what I do for the Lord doesnít seem very important."
Do you see the glory of God in it?
"Bro. Joe, all I am is a housewife."
Oh, dear housewife.
Thatís where God will reveal his glory to you.
"Bro. Joe, Iím just a lowly usher in the church."
Oh, but thereís where God will reveal his glory to you.
"Bro. Joe, I donít teach adults. I teach little one-year-old children.
Most of the time itís just holding them and burping them and changing their diaper."
Oh, but thatís where the glory of God will show up for you.
Friend, all of it, all of it is wonderful and glorious and preeminent when the glory of God shines on it.
Oh, the glory of his presence!