AND SAW THE GLORY
Acts 7:54 When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth. 55 But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, 56 And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God. 57 Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, 58 And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man’s feet, whose name was Saul. 59 And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. 60 And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.
In his infinite and glorious wisdom our Sovereign Lord has designed that the revealing of the glory of his Person provides the complete recovery of the elect from their sinful state, and raises them up into a glorified state to dwell with him eternally! John 17:3 And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.
Each ‘stage’ in the process of spiritual development is solely reliant upon the revelation of his glory! Regeneration and justification depend upon it! John 2:11 This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him. 6:40 And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.
It is the provider of sanctification as well! 2 Corinthians 3:18 But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord. One is only changed from one degree of glory to a higher degree in sanctification by beholding the glory of God in the revelation of Christ by the Holy Spirit.
And finally, the eternal glorification of every saint is dependent upon seeing the Lord Jesus return to us in his eternally glorified body! And this glory has here-to-fore never been seen! For now he sits at the right hand of the Majesty on high in his mediatorial glory. But upon his return he shall have then assumed the “God all in all” glory. (1 Corin. 15:28). And as seeing him spiritually gave us the faith of regeneration, seeing him then in his most glorious bodily state, shall change all the elect in a moment! 1 John 3:2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. For it is only as he appears in that glory that we shall appear with him in our glorified state! Colossians 3:4 When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.
These religious boy’s indictment against Stephen included this Jesus of Nazareth, and levels against them the charge of changing Moses’ customs and blaspheming the temple in Jerusalem. But that is, of course a complete lie! For being of their father, the devil, they also were liars and murderers! John 8:44 Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it. You can always depend on those involved with only religion to seek to murder those who are spiritual, especially to murder their reputations by lies!
But listen at the Person of the Truth as he addresses this subject. Matthew 5:17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. 18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. 19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. The last word of both those first two verses is Christ’s relationship to the law! – It is to fulfill, not to change!
If you would take the time to read down through the rest of this chapter you would encounter several time the phrases, Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, and, But I say unto you! After that first phrase the Lord quotes a portion of the law. Then after each listing of that second phrase you will have the blessed benefit of the Lawgiver Himself interpreting that law from the spiritual meaning in which he both gave it, and meant it to be understood! For the righteousness which God requires, and provides by the imputation of our sin to Christ, and his righteousness to us (2 Corin. 5:21), is the true spiritual righteousness that always excels the moral, right winged, conservative, legal righteous of religion! (See Matt. 5:20). Dear Soul, God is spirit and must be worshipped in the spirit of truth! (John 4:24).
But was there not a glory to be seen in the law? Yes, for God’s law is holy, just and good! (Rom. 7:12). The glory of God in the law was a limited glory as it was established on the platform of the blood of bulls and goats! And we know that no man is justified by the law in the sight of god! (Gal. 3:11). For those sacrifices can never take away sins! (Heb. 10:11). But a lesser quantity of glory is not a glory of a lesser quality! A glass of ocean water is exactly of the same content as the ocean from which it was drawn! But, of course, it is no where near the same quantity! Thus it was with God’s glory in the law!
For although it is the pure glory of God filtering through the law’s shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things (Heb. 10:1), it was none-the-less the Light of the world revealing Himself! The difference is in how much restriction is hindering that Light, for there is no restriction in Him dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto. (1 Tim. 6:16). And even now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. (1 Corin. 13:12). It is the restriction of the penetration, not at all any diminishing of the purity of the Light which penetrates!
Let us now see some of the similarities In Moses and Stephen seeing the glory of God.
First, both saw the glory in the threat of being stoned by a religious group.
Numbers 14:10 But all the congregation bade stone them with stones. And the glory of the LORD appeared in the tabernacle of the congregation before all the children of Israel. Acts 7:55 But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, 58 And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man’s feet, whose name was Saul.
Dear soul, both Hell and Heaven have their characteristics supplied and sustained from the revealing of the glory of God! Heaven, of course, is all glorious by the unhindered glory of the precious Lamb of God. Rev. 21:23 And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.
And Hell shall be the ultimate torment as there shall be no redemptive shield of Christ and his mercy from the all-penetrating awareness of God and his glory. Their “worm” shall never die, (Mark 9:44,46,48), therefore they shall, due to the revelation of this glory, eternally writhe in the heightened, constant awareness of their sin, and the One whom it was that they sinned against! Psalm 139:8 If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.
Secondly, both Moses and Stephen petitioned heaven for the pardon of their tormentors! Numbers 14:19 Pardon, I beseech thee, the iniquity of this people according unto the greatness of thy mercy, and as thou hast forgiven this people, from Egypt even until now. Acts 7:60 And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.
And these were in the very spirit of their Master in the hour of his sacrifice! For there we read in Luke 23:34, Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots. And except for this prayer of the Great Intercessor there would have been no hope for mankind, and especially for these particular people who cried out for his crucifixion. But afterward we can hear Peter preach to them in Acts 3:17, And now, brethren, I wot that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers.
And then we can hear Peter preach, Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: (Acts 3:19,20).
Thirdly, both Moses and Stephen’s face shone in the reflection of the glory! Exodus 34:30 And when Aaron and all the children of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone; and they were afraid to come nigh him. 33 And till Moses had done speaking with them, he put a vail on his face. 34 But when Moses went in before the LORD to speak with him, he took the vail off, until he came out. And he came out, and spake unto the children of Israel that which he was commanded. 35 And the children of Israel saw the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses’ face shone: and Moses put the vail upon his face again, until he went in to speak with him. Acts 6:15 And all that sat in the council, looking stedfastly on him, saw his face as it had been the face of an angel.
And the pattern for these happenings are found in that which the Alpha set forth in his awareness of the glory while on his earthly journey. Matthew 17:2 And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light.
We have already dealt with the difference in the manifestation of the glory between Moses and Stephen in this article. But let us yet look at another aspect of their seeing the glory in their own particular day.
Moses could only see the glory of God from his “back parts.” Exodus 33:20 And he said, Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live. 23 And I will take away mine hand, and thou shalt see my back parts: but my face shall not be seen. Just as in the garden of Eden after the fall and rejection of man, God prohibited the man from reentering by stationing Cherubim and a flaming sword for man’s protection in any attempt to approach the glory of God in their fallen state. So the man Moses, not yet having redemption accomplished, was prohibited from seeing the face of the Lord. He could only see God as he walked away from him!
For the glory of the law was a diminishing glory! 2 Corinthians 3:7 But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not stedfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which glory was to be done away: 13 And not as Moses, which put a vail over his face, that the children of Israel could not stedfastly look to the end of that which is abolished:
But the glory of Stephen’s awareness WAS in seeing the very face of God! See verses 55 and 56 listed above. And THAT glory is God’s highest glory! Luke 2:14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
Therefore the shining face of Moses in the reflection of God in his law, is of no comparison to the glory of God manifest in the sending forth of his face to be seen in his Son’s gospel redemption! 2 Corinthians 3:10 For even that which was made glorious had no glory in this respect, by reason of the glory that excelleth. 11 For if that which is done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious.
2 Corinthians 4:6 For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
Therefore, why in heaven’s name would anyone in a clear mind want to go back to a temple in which Jesus was not allowed into the sanctuary, seeing he was of the “wrong tribe?” Hebrews 7:13 For he of whom these things are spoken pertaineth to another tribe, of which no man gave attendance at the altar.
And why would anyone want to return to a far lesser degree of God’s revealed glory, hindered by animal’s blood being unable to afford the new and living way for man’s approach to God, when under the gospel provision of the Lamb’s blood, (which ended all sacrifice forever), the glory that excelleth is to be seen?
It can only be that religious man is blinded by the letter of the law, which killeth! For if ever this hidden wisdom of God were to shine in his heart, he would be eternally changed and be allowed to even see his own glory afforded him in Christ! 1 Corinthians 2:7 But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory:
And then shall it be accomplished which God has purposed from all eternity, that sin, which must first abound in order that grace would much more abound, should forever be abolished in elect man’s never coming short of the glory again! For sin is the coming short of that glory! (Rom. 3:23).
Pastor Gene Breed, October 6, 2012