The GLORY OF GOD Departing & Returning to “The Church”
Section #2: Divine Acceptance or Divine Rejection
Divine Acceptance or Divine Rejection
“I will receive you” – 2 Corinthians 6:17
In so many words, the doctrine heretofore laid forth can be understood in terms of God’s acceptance or God’s rejection. Recognizing this, the apostle Paul underscored the four themes of 2 Corinthians 6:16-7:1 on this wise. How? In what way? Paul reminded the Gentile Church of this doctrine by recalling it in this phrase, “I will receive you” (2 Cor. 6:17). What Paul had in mind when he quoted these words was, of course, observable in the aforementioned scriptures addressed in the former section. Do you remember when God Almighty communicated salvation or damnation to His people, The Church, through the following statements?
“I will have respect unto you” – Leviticus 26:9
“I will not accept them” – Amos 5:22
“the LORD doth not accept them” – Jer. 14:10
“there will I accept them” – Ezek. 20:40
“I will accept you” – Ezek. 20:41
“I will accept you” – Ezek. 43:27
Looking back at the contextual surrounding of these six verses, to name a few, the intent of the phrase “I will receive you” (2 Cor. 6:17) takes life and meaning! Paul’s usage of the inspired text is indisputably clear, my reader, with all things considered. The clarity the LORD has provided to all men via inspired scripture would be marveled at if only we are granted eyes to see the plain truth of Divine argumentation. What argument, you wonder? Paul was reckoning with the conditions of Divine Acceptance as they relate to the glory of the LORD in the Gentile Church! This doctrine (communicated by the phrase “I will receive you” in 2 Corinthians 6:17) could be titled, “The Glory of the LORD via Divine Acceptance”, because these two entities are inseparable one from another. To disclose this, my reader, a meaningful overview of “The Glory of the LORD” as it is defined by scripture is necessary. At the first thought of such a topic, “The Glory of the LORD”, the imagination is left to roam a scope of biblical ideas as numerous and expanding as stars in their galaxies. To narrow the topic of study, let us consider “The Glory of the LORD” as it appeared and disappeared, as it abode with and abandoned the people of Israel, The Church. Beginning with the Book of Exodus, it was written,
“ye shall see the glory of the LORD” – Exodus 16:7
“behold, the glory of the LORD appeared in the cloud” – Exodus 16:10
This is the first place in scripture where “the glory of the LORD” is used phraseologically to describe something in real time, a “glory” that appears and disappears. When most people think of “the glory of the LORD” they are not thinking of this – something visual that can appear and disappear. In this instance, “the glory of the LORD” appeared in response to the murmuring of God’s people… but to what end? Upon appearing before their very eyes, the LORD performed miracles of salvation for them (typologically speaking)! Therefore, apparently, this appearance of God’s glory was to save the people of Israel from their present situation of sin and unbelief via the operation of the miraculous. This appearance was a work of present-progressive grace to win the heart of Israel unto the LORD forevermore, eradicating their unbelief. It worked, my reader! …at least for a while. Reminiscent of this time, the Lord said, “I remember thee, the kindness of thy youth, the love of thine espousals, when thou wentest after Me in the wilderness, in a Land that was not sown. Israel was holiness unto the LORD…” (Jer. 2:2-3). So also, the work of salvation in Israel, The Church, was soon to be memorialized by this most supreme experience, namely, the appearance of “the glory of the LORD” via Divine Acceptance. Consider it, my reader…
“they saw the God of Israel” – Exodus 24:10
“the glory of the LORD abode upon Mount Sinai” – Exodus 24:16
Indicative of this memorialization (shortly after the events of Exodus 16) the Old Covenant began on this wise: after all the words of the God-to-man agreement were vocalized before the hearing of the entire congregation of Israel, they responded with an oath, saying, “All the words which the LORD hath said will we do”, and an altar was built and the necessary sacrifices and offerings were made thereon. The altar and people were sprinkled with the blood of the sacrifices while Moses said, “Behold the blood of the Covenant which the LORD hath made with you concerning all these words”, and then… what happened? Moses, Aaron, Nadab, Abihu, and seventy of the Elders of Israel went up partway up the Mountain of God and, shockingly, they saw God, they ate and drank in the sight of the LORD until at last, Moses was seen going up further into the Mountain where “a cloud covered the Mount”, where “the glory of the LORD abode upon Mount Sinai”, “And the sight of the glory of the LORD was like devouring fire on the top of the Mount in the eyes of the children of Israel”, thus “Moses went into the midst of the cloud and gat him up into the Mount” (Exodus 24:1-18). The day in which the Covenant was officially made by blood-sprinkling and congregational oath, the glory of the LORD appeared unto the people, The Church, but it was afar off - still yet - abiding at the peaks of Mount Sinai; it was not near the whole congregation so as to abide in their midst like it will be thereafter. Therefore in Exodus 40, it was written,
“the glory of the LORD filled the Tabernacle” – Exodus 40:34
“the cloud of the LORD” – Exodus 40:38
After God communed with Moses for forty days and nights so as to commit to him the means by which this Covenant of salvation will be manifest and operative among the people, it behooved the people that they would build for GOD Almighty a material house to abide in because He was coming into their midst! Here, at last, a good while after the events of Exodus 24, the Tabernacle was reared up in full completion, which meant: the ark, the vail, the table, the showbread, the candlesticks, the altar of gold for incense, the altar for burnt-offerings, the laver for washing, the outer court, the anointing of oil, the hallowing of all things, and the holy garments of the priesthood were all prepared and ready just as God had commanded the people. “So Moses finished the work…”, and what happened? “Then a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the LORD filled the Tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter into the tent of the congregation, because the cloud abode thereon, and the glory of the LORD filled the Tabernacle” (Exodus 40:1-35)! Furthermore, from thenceforth, because the LORD did then, at last, dwell among His people via a material housing (a means of sanctifying the fact that He was in their midst), the cloud of God’s glory did continuously abide among them for diverse purposes. How astonishing is this!? The mobility of “the glory of God” was operative among them in such a special and peculiar way that, for example, “when the cloud was taken up from over the Tabernacle, the children of Israel went onward in all their journeys: But if the cloud were not taken up, then they journeyed not till the day that it was taken up. For the cloud of the LORD was upon the Tabernacle by day, and fire was on it by night, in the sight of all the House of Israel, throughout all their journeys” (Exodus 40:36-38)! Oh, how we need the glory of the LORD to return to the Gentile Church so that in like manner, yet again, “with great power” and “great grace” Christians would bear witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, The King, thus infallibly proving and demonstrating that Jesus of Nazareth is alive and in the midst of His people, The Church (Acts 4:31-33, 5:12-16, Heb. 2:3-4)!
My reader, why did the glory of God come and appear to Israel in Exodus 40:34? Why did the glory of the LORD continually abide among Israel in Exodus 40:36-38? Because the people existed before God in a condition of Divine Acceptance, that’s why! These things happened unto Israel, The Church, because they were ceremonially, legally, and graciously (via an atonement) made ready for God’s glory… and so it came! These things happened unto Israel, The Church, as a fulfillment of the Old Testament promise, “I will receive you” (2 Cor. 6:17). The token of Divine Acceptance was the manifest and abiding presence of God via “the glory of the LORD”! Demonstrating this, yet again (similarly to Exodus 40:1-35), the commencement of the priesthood is recounted in Leviticus 9:6-24. Very clearly, Moses charged the priests to gauge their efforts in aim for one supreme purpose… and what was it?
“And Moses said, This is the thing which the LORD commanded that ye should do: and the glory of the LORD shall appear unto you.” – Leviticus 9:6
After it was all said and done, what did the priests do so that the glory of God would appear unto them and Israel, The Church? They, in alignment with what Exodus 40:1-35 rehearsed, commenced all ceremonial and sacrificial preparations (see Lev. 9:6-22) until at last, “Moses and Aaron went into the Tabernacle of the congregation, and came out, and blessed the people: and the glory of the LORD appeared unto all the people. And there came fire out from before the LORD, and consumed upon the altar the burnt-offering and the fat: which when the people saw, they shouted, and fell on their faces” (Lev. 9:23-24)! This meant in other words, “I will receive you” (2 Cor. 6:17), thus was the glory of God manifest!
An identical situation can be seen in another stage of The Church as it existed in Solomon’s day (see 1 Kings 8:1-11). At the completion of the Temple, Solomon assembled the elders and heads of Israel “that they might bring up the ark of the Covenant of the LORD out of the city of David, which is Zion” (1 Kings 8:1). This event marked the restoration of the glory of God which faded from the memory of Israel since the days of Joshua… but why and how was the glory of God absent for so long? Rampant apostasy marked the generations of the Judges until, at last, the Tabernacle which was pitched at Shiloh became God-forsaken in the days of Eli the high priest. This was a fearful time! In a matter of hours all the foremost ministers of the Tabernacle died (the high priest and his two sons, the priests) and the ark of the LORD God of Israel was taken by the Philistines! This event was marked by the terrifying name, “Ichabod” – “And she named the child Ichabod, saying, The glory is departed from Israel: because the ark of God was taken, and because of her father in law and her husband. And she said, The glory is departed from Israel: for the ark of God is taken” (1 Sam. 4:21-22).
The Lord made an example of the people and place of His dwelling place at that time to memorialize the potentials of Divine anger for generations thereafter (according Lev. 26:27-39). Speaking in memory of this event in a later generation, the LORD said, “go ye now unto My place which was in Shiloh, where I set My Name at the first, and see what I did to it for the wickedness of My people Israel…I will cast you out of My sight” (Jer. 7:12-16). The implications of this Divine judgment were communicated to Jeremiah in that God said, “Therefore pray not thou for this people, neither lift up cry nor prayer for them, neither make intercession to Me: for I WILL NOT HEAR THEE” (Jer. 7:16). Truly, this was a fearful judgment! Albeit after so long a time in which the glory of the LORD disappeared from Israel… it appeared once again! The Lord abandoned Israel and then returned to Israel! The glory departed and the glory returned! Why? King Solomon obeyed the charges given to him of God (1 Kings 6:11-13) whereby the LORD promised to dwell among Israel once again, my reader! The Lord said, “I will dwell among the children of Israel”, in agreement with the following conditions:
“And the word of the LORD came to Solomon, saying, Concerning this House which thou art in building, IF thou wilt walk in My statutes, and execute My judgments, and keep all My commandments to walk in them; THEN will I perform My word with thee, which I spake unto David thy father: And I will dwell among the children of Israel, and will not forsake My people Israel. So Solomon built the House, and finished it.” – 1 Kings 6:11-14
Solomon took heed to the “IF” and the “THEN”, my reader… and what happened? Solomon fulfilled the conditions whereby the glory of the LORD would return to Israel! For the Lord to fulfill the promise, “I will dwell among the children of Israel”, means that “the glory of the LORD” would return to Israel! Therefore upon finishing the House of God (according to 1 Kings 8:1-11) Solomon gathered the elders and the heads of Israel to bring the ark into the House which was completed. Truly this was a fearful task, and not easily accomplished. Therefore as the priests and Levites took up the ark and holy vessels of the Tabernacle, King Solomon and all the congregation of Israel were assembled before the caravan in which the ark of God was being transported, there to offer an innumerable multitude of sacrifices and offerings in honor of and supplication to God for mercy for the accomplishment of so great an occasion – namely, the return of the glory of God! Finally, when the ark of God was put into its resting place in the holy of holies, it was written,
“And it came to pass, when the priests were come out of the holy place, that the cloud filled the House of the LORD, So that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud: for the glory of the LORD had filled the House of the LORD.” – 1 Kings 8:10-11
After the earthly throne of God (the ark) was taken to its place in the House of the LORD and the glory of God appeared, Solomon preached a sermon and led the congregation in prayer to God with the cloud of the LORD’s presence in very sight! At the close of the prayer Solomon reckoned upon the Divine promises with holy boldness… and what do you think happened? Beginning with the closing statements of the prayer to God by Solomon, it was written,
“Now therefore arise, O LORD God, into thy resting place, Thou, and the ark of Thy strength: let Thy priests, O LORD God, be clothed with salvation, and let Thy saints rejoice in goodness. O LORD God, turn not away the face of Thine anointed: remember the mercies of David Thy servant. Now when Solomon had made an end of praying, the fire came down from heaven, and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices; and the glory of the LORD filled the House. And the priests could not enter into the House of the LORD, because the glory of the LORD had filled the LORD'S House. And when all the children of Israel saw how the fire came down, and the glory of the LORD upon the House, they bowed themselves with their faces to the ground upon the pavement, and worshipped, and praised the LORD, saying, For He is good; for His mercy endureth for ever.” – 2 Chron. 6:41-7:3
Mark it, my reader, the appearance of the glory of the LORD was the token of Divine Acceptance! The material housing, the Temple, the Levites and the priests, the ministers, and all associated furniture, objects, instruments, and things which needed to undergo ceremonial preparations were so that the sacrifices and offerings would be accepted of God for an atonement (the absorption of wrath), without which damnation would ensue. I repeat, all things in and around the House of God existed so that the LORD would look down upon it, and say, “I will accept you” (Ezek. 43:27). After all the House of God was ordered, cleansed, anointed, and sanctified in its entirety (the living people and the material property), the Lord said, “I will accept you” (Ezek. 43:27), just as He did in the days of the Tabernacle and the Temple (Exodus 40:33-38, 1 Kings 8:1-11). If, on the other hand, there was disarray or defilement at any significant point in the whole operation, then the means of sacrificial atonement was rendered Divinely Unacceptable. Upon occasions like these, the Lord said,
“To what purpose cometh there to Me incense from Sheba, and the sweet cane from a far country? Your burnt offerings are not acceptable, nor your sacrifices sweet unto Me.” – Jer. 6:20
“Though ye offer Me burnt offerings and your meat offerings, I will not accept them: neither will I regard the peace offerings of your fat beasts.” – Amos 5:22
“Who is there even among you that would shut the doors for nought? Neither do ye kindle fire on Mine altar for nought. I have no pleasure in you, saith the LORD of hosts, neither will I accept an offering at your hand.” – Malachi 1:10
“They shall not dwell in the LORD'S Land; but Ephraim shall return to Egypt, and they shall eat unclean things in Assyria. They shall not offer wine offerings to the LORD, neither shall they be pleasing unto Him: their sacrifices shall be unto them as the bread of mourners; all that eat thereof shall be polluted: for their bread for their soul shall not come into the House of the LORD.” – Hosea 9:3-4
“Thus saith the LORD unto this people, Thus have they loved to wander, they have not refrained their feet, therefore the LORD doth not accept them; he will now remember their iniquity, and visit their sins. Then said the LORD unto me, Pray not for this people for their good. When they fast, I will not hear their cry; and when they offer burnt offering and an oblation, I will not accept them: but I will consume them by the sword, and by the famine, and by the pestilence.” – Jer. 14:10-12
The aforementioned Divine Rejection (except in the reference from the prophet Malachi) culminated in the Assyrian and Babylonian Captivities which lasted for at least 70 years (a fulfillment of Leviticus 26:27-39). The people and place that was not accepted by God, was not protected by God. The people and place that was rejected by God, was odious to and at enmity against God. The people and place which was not receivable to God, was at war against God! Therefore, my reader, God assembled heathen armies to meet Israel on the battlefield and eradicate them from the Promised Land! At this time, yet again, the glory of the LORD departed from Israel and Judah, for how shall He dwell in the midst of a people whom His soul abhors (Lev. 26:30)? After God had departed from Israel, the King of Judah (Hezekiah by name), understood the language of what was going on. Displaying Hezekiah’s frantic attempt to pacify the wrath of God before it came upon Judah like it did Israel, it was written,
“He in the first year of his reign, in the first month, opened the doors of the House of the LORD, and repaired them. And he brought in the Priests and the Levites, and gathered them together into the east street, And said unto them, Hear me, ye Levites, sanctify now yourselves, and sanctify the House of the LORD God of your fathers, and carry forth the filthiness out of the holy place. For our fathers have trespassed, and done that which was evil in the eyes of the LORD our God, and have forsaken Him, and have turned away their faces from the Habitation of the LORD, and turned their backs. Also they have shut up the doors of the porch, and put out the lamps, and have not burned incense nor offered burnt offerings in the holy place unto the God of Israel. Wherefore the wrath of the LORD was upon Judah and Jerusalem, and he hath delivered them to trouble, to astonishment, and to hissing, as ye see with your eyes. For, lo, our fathers have fallen by the sword, and our sons and our daughters and our wives are in captivity for this. Now it is in mine heart to make a Covenant with the LORD God of Israel, that His fierce wrath may turn away from us.” – 2 Chronicles 29:3-10
Very near unto the day when God would forsake Judah like He did Israel, King Hezekiah and King Josiah made noble attempts to restore cleanliness and perfect holiness before the Living God of Israel. Nevertheless at the appointed generation, the time came. Ezekiel bore witness of the glory of God departing in Ezekiel 11:22-25, saying,
“Then did the cherubims lift up their wings, and the wheels beside them; and the glory of the God of Israel was over them above. And the glory of the LORD went up from the midst of the City, and stood upon the mountain which is on the east side of the City. Afterwards the spirit took me up, and brought me in a vision by the Spirit of God into Chaldea, to them of the captivity. So the vision that I had seen went up from me. Then I spake unto them of the captivity all the things that the LORD had shewed me.” – Ezekiel 11:22-25
This was the end result of Divine Rejection, my reader. Anytime the Lord looked upon a sacrifice or an offering presented to God as a potential atonement, the Lord decided upon its receivableness or acceptability. There were a host of ordinances whereby the Israelites, Levites, and Priests were enabled to discern an offering’s acceptability: God saying, “it shall be accepted” (Lev. 1:4), or God saying, “it shall not be accepted” (Lev. 7:18, 19:7, 10:19). The whole of ceremonial obedience could be summarized in a term of Divine Acceptance for every kind of offering or sacrifice presented, God saying, “it shall be perfect to be accepted” (Lev. 22:21, 23, 25, 27). Just like how the sacrifices must be thus judged in the aforementioned example, so must the people be judged (“Thou shalt be perfect with the LORD thy God”-Deut.18:13). This is significant because, when and if God looked upon the people of Israel, and said, “I will be your God, and ye shall be My people” (Jer. 7:23), this was another way to express the acceptability of the people’s sacrifices and offerings for an atonement! But if the God looked upon the people of Israel and through prophets, said, “the LORD doth not accept them” (Jer. 14:10), this meant that God refused their sacrifice and offerings for an atonement and, thus, the wrath of God was kindled over their unforgiven sin (“He will now remember their iniquity and visit their sins”- Jer.14:10). This Divine Rejection meant, in other words, God refused to hear their prayers, their fasting, and their crying which they made in an attempt to accomplish atoning sacrifices! “When they offer burnt offering and an oblation, I will not accept them”, the LORD said (Jer. 14:10-12). When God does not accept a people, He does not accept their sacrifices and offerings… and what use is the Temple if there is no atonement? If there is no atonement then the joining together of God-to-man is not for friendship or family, rather enmity! All this is true despite the fact that apostate and backslidden Israel did cleave to the hope of atonement with undaunted steadfastness! The Lord upbraided them, saying,
“Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Put your burnt offerings unto your sacrifices, and eat flesh. For I spake not unto your fathers, nor commanded them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings or sacrifices: But this thing commanded I them, saying, Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and ye shall be my people: and walk ye in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well unto you.” – Jeremiah 7:21-23
An Israelite people without godliness would end up without God! Therefore for what purpose was the multitude of their sacrifices, truly! As the LORD said, “To what purpose cometh there to Me incense from Sheba, and the sweet cane from a far country? Your burnt offerings are not acceptable, nor your sacrifices sweet unto Me” (Jer. 6:20). To what purpose is the multitude of sacrifices by a God-less people? The language of salvation would be, the rather, “I will have respect unto you” (Lev. 26:9) or “I will accept you” (Ezek. 20:41). The LORD foretold of the time when He would revive the Covenant and restore the scattered people back into the Land of Israel to rebuild the Temple and reinstate sacrificial atonement, to what end? That the glory of the LORD would return to the House of God in Israel, my reader! Ezekiel saw the vision of what was to come, and prophesied, “the glory of the LORD came into the House by the way of the Gate whose prospect is toward the East…and, behold, the glory of the LORD filled the House” (Ezek. 43:2-6)! Shockingly, the LORD said, “The glory of this latter House shall be greater than of the former, saith the LORD of hosts: and in this place will I give peace, saith the LORD of hosts” (Haggai 2:9)! Rightly did the LORD say, therefore, “According to the word that I Covenanted with you when ye came out of Egypt, so My Spirit remaineth among you” (Haggai 2:5). The Lord had long since departed… then returned! This return of God’s glory meant, in other words, “Neither shall the priests the Levites want a man before Me to offer burnt offerings, and to kindle meat offerings, and to do sacrifice continually” (Jer. 33:18), namely for an atonement, for a stedfast God-to-man friendship and Family! This was a fulfillment of the age-old teaching, “I will have respect unto you” (Lev. 26:9), thus in so many other words, the prophets expounded,
“Even them will I bring to My holy Mountain, and make the joyful in My House of prayer: their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon Mine altar; for Mine House shall be called an House of prayer for all people.” – Isaiah 56:7
“For in mine holy Mountain, in the Mountain of the height of Israel, saith the Lord GOD, there shall all the House of Israel, all of them in the Land, serve me: there will I accept them, and there will I require your offerings, and the firstfruits of your oblations, with all your holy things. I will accept you with your sweet savour, when I bring you out from the people, and gather you out of the countries wherein ye have been scattered; and I will be sanctified in you before the heathen” (Ezek. 20:40-41).
“And when these days are expired, it shall be, that upon the eighth day, and so forward, the priests shall make your burnt offerings upon the altar, and your peace offerings; and I will accept you, saith the Lord GOD.” – Ezek. 43:27
“All the flocks of Kedar shall be gathered together unto thee, the rams of Nebaioth shall minister unto thee: they shall come up with acceptance on Mine altar, and I will glorify the House of My glory.” – Isaiah 60:7
The implications and tokens of Divine Acceptance are very clear in that they are exhaustively confirmed! We can have no doubt what the LORD meant by what Paul quoted and applied to the Gentile Church, saying, “I will receive you” (2 Cor. 6:17), seeing that the doctrine of Divine Acceptance and Divine Rejection of The Church has been displayed for centuries. Upon the fulfillment of the promise, “I will accept you” or “I will receive you”, the glory of God appeared, filled, and abode in the House of God, The Church! Howbeit, are we ready to reckon with the implications of the glory of the LORD in The Church of the 21st century? Seeing that it has been absent for so long a time… can we even comprehend what the glory of the LORD is in a 21st century context, let alone all of the implications therewith? Certainly we can see how in Old Testament typology, the glory of God was subsequent the Divine Acceptance of atoning sacrifices which means, furthermore, the prayers of the people would be gloriously answered! But there are further implications to be reckoned with, my reader. If the glory of God returns to The Church in any century, there is a revival of judgment as it should exist in the House of God (“judgment must begin in the House of God”-1Pet.4:17). Take, for example, the Exodus Generation (formerly titled “The Church Defined”), and consider the following prophecy which speaks of a revival of judgment as it was once defined in the Exodus Generation. The God of Israel said, speaking to Israel (howbeit speaking simultaneously and with inferiority to the Gentile Church like as in Jeremiah 31:31-34),
“As I live, saith the Lord GOD, surely with a mighty hand, and with a stretched out arm, and with fury poured out, will I rule over you: And I will bring you out from the people, and will gather you out of the countries wherein ye are scattered, with a mighty hand, and with a stretched out arm, and with fury poured out. And I will bring you into the wilderness of the people, and there will I plead with you face to face. Like as I pleaded with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so will I plead with you, saith the Lord GOD. And I will cause you to pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the Covenant: And I will purge out from among you the rebels, and them that transgress against me: I will bring them forth out of the country where they sojourn, and they shall not enter into the Land of Israel: and ye shall know that I am the LORD…there will I accept them…I will accept you” – Ezekiel 20:33-42
This prophecy which foretells The Revival of Judgment conveys to us the very language of actual events: the renewal of God’s outstretched arm with fury outpoured to rule over the people of Israel, Divine acts which were said to be, in other words, Divine pleading with Israel face-to-face like as He exemplified with the Exodus Generation in the wilderness – the kind of pleading and judging which brought the people under the rod and into the bond of the Covenant which was, namely, that all the people of Israel, The Church, might be a rebel-free society of individuals perfected in holiness and accepted before God Almighty so that, of course, God’s glory would presently and continuously abide forevermore. Take note of this, my reader! This very specific form of judgment will be alive and active when and if the glory of God returns to The Church, as the LORD made reference to the Exodus Generation, “The Church Defined”. It is certain that “the glory of the LORD” present in Israel forced the spiritual environment to be saturated with Divine pleading, living judgment, and glorious fury to rule over the Exodus Generation when and if impurity, rebellion, uncleanness, and profanation sprung up; thus they were kept in holiness and empowered to conquer in Joshua’s Generation. Take, for example, the following Divine pleadings of real-time judgments observable in the Exodus Generation, but be very careful to notice how the judgments were inextricably connected to “the glory of the LORD” which was in and among The Church at that time.
A Devouring Fire Slaying Men: Leviticus 9:23-10:3 --- “the glory of the LORD appeared unto all the people…and there went out fire from the LORD, and devoured them, and they died before the LORD. Then Moses said unto Aaron, This is it that the LORD spake, saying, I will be sanctified in them that come nigh Me, and before all the people I will be glorified…”
The Smiting of Leprosy: Numbers 12:4-10 --- “the LORD came down in the pillar of the cloud, and stood in the door of the Tabernacle, and called Aaron and Miriam: and they both came forth…And the anger of the LORD was kindled against them; and He departed. And the cloud departed from off the Tabernacle; and, behold, Miriam became leprous…”
The Death Sentence for 600,000 Church Members: Numbers 14:10-35 --- “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. And the LORD said unto Moses…I will smite them with pestilence… [their] carcases, they shall fall in this wilderness”
Earth-Swallowing and Fire-Devouring Judgments upon Hundreds: Numbers 16:19-40, 42 --- “Korah gathered all the congregation against them unto the door of the Tabernacle of the congregation: and the glory of the LORD appeared unto all the congregation… [so to] consume them… [and later] the ground clave asunder that was under them: and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed them up, and their houses, and all the men that appertained unto Korah, and all their goods…they perished from among the congregation…and there came out a fire from the LORD and consumed the two hundred and fifty men that offered incense…”
A Tempestuous Plague Whirling About an Angry God Slaying Thousands: Numbers 16:42-50 --- “they looked toward the Tabernacle of the congregation: and, behold, the cloud covered it, and the glory of the LORD appeared…And Moses said unto Aaron…there is wrath gone out from the LORD; the plague is begun…now they that died in the plague were fourteen thousand and seven hundred…”
A Miracle of Provision and Mercy: Numbers 20:2-13 --- “they gathered themselves together against Moses and against Aaron…and the glory of the LORD appeared unto them…and Moses lifted up his hand, and with his rod he smote the rock twice: and the water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their beasts also…”
Here we see it! The terrifying reality… The Revival of Judgment! When the glory of God is present and abiding in The Church of God in any century, salvific mercy and holiness-perfecting judgment thrives! If saints would not judge themselves, God would judge them! After all, “judgment must begin at the House of God” (1 Pet. 4:17). For God to be “in the midst” and “dwelling among” Israel, this meant that “the glory of the LORD” was abiding in The Church. This being the case, how is the glory of God “in the midst” of the Gentile Church according to the New Testament? A 1st century Christian named John, the apostle, saw a vision of the Lord Jesus in all His glory walking “in the midst” of the Gentile Churches, do you remember? The glory of the LORD was not conveyed by a pillar of cloud or a pillar of fire, but a Person! It is written that Jesus of Nazareth is “the image of the invisible God” (Col. 1:15), even so, how does He appear to The Churches of the New Testament in all of His glory? The apostle John said,
“And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks; And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle. His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and His eyes were as a flame of fire; And His feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and His voice as the sound of many waters. And He had in His right hand seven stars: and out of His mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and His countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength. And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. And He laid His right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the First and the Last: I am He that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death. Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter; The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven Churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven Churches.” – Revelation 1:12-20
When the Lord Jesus did thus speak to the 1st century Churches, it is obvious to them that He was not afar off from them! Jesus Christ was, in fact, very nigh to them! What was uttered by the living, ascended, and glorified Christ was forerun by the title, “These things saith He that holdeth the seven stars in His right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks” (Rev. 2:1), The Churches. This was a glorious vision indeed, and a 1st century reality for The Churches… but do we understand the implications yet? Consider the following parallels, for example.
The Old Testament à
The New Testament à
The Consummation à
“Behold, I send an Angel before thee, to keep thee in the way, and to bring thee into the place which I have prepared. Beware of him, and obey his voice, provoke him not; for he will not pardon your transgressions: for My Name is in him.” - Exodus 23:20-21
“and He had in His right hand seven stars: and out of His mouth went a sharp twoedged sword” “…the seven stars are the angels of the seven Churches” – Rev. 1:16, 20
“And I heard a great voice out of the temple saying to the seven angels, Go your ways, and pour out the vials of the wrath of God upon the earth.” - Revelation 16:1
“And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He shall send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” – Matthew 24:30-31
God’s holy angels, they are messengers to the elect and damned (Dan. 4:13, 23, 5:5-6, 9:21-23). They are sin-accountants, heaven’s-reporters, and God’s-investigators (Gen. 18:20-22, 19:1), and they, going to and fro as lightening, attend the court on High for orders. They are human-watchers who suddenly kill men (Acts 12:23, Dan. 4:17)! Did you not know? Have you not heard? They go about the world and The Church, but especially they remain among us, The Church.
The LORD, who smote the city of the Philistines “with a very great destruction” until “the cry of the city went up to heaven” (1 Sam. 5:9, 12), returned to Israel, yes…. but He suddenly turned His anger upon Israel and smote them “with a great slaughter” (1 Sam. 6:19)! Yes, my reader, He that attacked the Philistines “with a very great destruction”, did also, furthermore, smite His own people “with a great slaughter” (1 Sam. 6:19)! Israel, long awaiting the ark of God’s return, welcomed it with too much haste. They, becoming too friendly with the Holy, offended GOD… and He, infuriated at their profanation, did “a terrifying thing” (Heb. 10:31)! Suddenly, the destroyer of the Philistines destroyed Israel! He smote 50,070 men to death! The glory of God returned to the Israelite borders and this was the result, my reader; soberly consider it!
As God dealt with the Philistines, my reader, consider the Assyrians: “The angel of the LORD went forth” into the Assyrian army one night and 185,000 men were found dead in the morning (Isa. 37:36, 2 Chron. 32:21)! Yes, this is true, but God’s angel, yet at another time, “stretched out his hand upon Jerusalem to destroy it” (2 Sam. 24:16), and this angel, going to and fro from Dan to Beer-sheba, “destroyed the people”! My reader, 70,000 Israelite men died in one day (2 Sam. 24:15), and the Lord would have continued to destroy Israel like as at former times (Num. 14:35) – killing and killing – going upward in numbers beyond 600,000 Israelites doomed for hell… but for God’s elect mercies sake then, in 2 Samuel 24, God’s wrath was stayed! But my reader, let us reckon with the possibilities! What is 185,000 to 600,000? The angel would not stop killing Israelites until God said to him, “stay now thine hand” (2 Sam. 24:16)! Oh the terror! Oh the fear! In Jesus Christ’s right hand are seven stars! What if God Almighty says to the Gentile Church rebels (now called spiritual Israelites), “let the angel of the LORD chase them”, “let their way be dark and slippery: and let the angel of the LORD persecute them” (Ps. 35:5-6)!? The angels of the Lord can camp round about you to shield you and deliver you (Ex. 14:19, Ps. 34:7, 91:11-12), but also to destroy you (Num. 22:22-23, 2 Pet. 2:15, Jude 11)! God, who sent His angels out to destroy and scatter the enemies of Israel (Ex. 33:2), can become an enemy to you and me (Jas. 4:4, Heb. 10:27)! What if “the Lord of Sabaoth” (Jas. 5:4) did in like manner turn upon us, my reader? Think of GOD, exceedingly exalted in the High-court of Heaven, speaking about you… saying, “I will set My face against that man, and against his family, and will cut him off” (Lev. 20:5)! Imagine God’s angels, standing at attention before their Majesty, flying into action at any charge, appearing and disappearing like cracks of lighting flash in the sky! Oh, let us soberly consider it! God has sent destroying angels after many saints “who were before of old ordained to this condemnation” (Jude 4), who “ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward” (Jude 11)! Yes, against them the angel of the Lord encamped – “the angel of the LORD stood in the way for an adversary” against them, “sword drawn in hand” (Num. 22:22-23)! My reader, in Jesus Christ’s right hand are seven stars!
“Let them be as chaff before the wind: and let the angel of the LORD chase them. Let their way be dark and slippery: and let the angel of the LORD persecute them.” – Psalm 35:5-6
“And God's anger was kindled because he went: and the angel of the LORD stood in the way for an adversary against him. Now he was riding upon his ass, and his two servants were with him. And the ass saw the angel of the LORD standing in the way, and his sword drawn in his hand: and the ass turned aside out of the way, and went into the field: and Balaam smote the ass, to turn her into the way.” – Num. 22:22-23
The Old Testament Church was forewarned of their star. The Lord said, “Beware of him, and obey his voice, provoke him not; for he will not pardon your transgressions: for My Name is in him” (Exodus 23:20-21), but how much more should we, in the New Testament, beware of the Son of God, in whose hand are seven stars? Yes, the angels, let us beware of them (Heb. 2:2), but how shall we escape if we anger the Lord of Armies (Heb. 2:3)? Jesus of Nazareth, let us beware of Him! Lest we “tempt Christ”, “as some of them tempted, and were destroyed” (1 Cor. 10:9)! Should we not rather, ON SUNDAY ASSEMBLIES, “prepare to meet [our] God” (Amos 4:12)! Or do you not know that the Sunday Assembly is gathered together to stand before the living, ascended, and enthroned Christ! There, my reader, in God’s House, the New Testament Priesthood is assembled to stand and minister! In the Old Testament God said that the saints should conscientiously, “stand before Me” (Ezek. 44:15), but for what reason do you, as a New Testament Priest, enter into His Sanctuary (Ezek. 44:16)? Church is a ministry to God foremost of all! Come here and speak, and it is “before the angel” (Ecc. 5:6) and “before God” (Ecc. 5:2)! Yes, my reader, for the assembly THEY have come! God, angels, and men gather together on Resurrection Sunday (1 Cor. 11:10, 1 Pet. 1:12, Eph. 3:10, Matt. 18:10, Heb. 1:14)! The scriptures indicate that here, in the Sunday Assembly, we stand in the New Testament most holy place (Heb. 10:19-23), and we, positionally placed at the center of visible and invisible creation – The Throne of God (Eph. 1:3, 2:6) – are fortified by a citadel of Angelic Beings! Around us the Seraphims FLY and CRY – “HOLY, HOLY, HOLY is the LORD of hosts!” Yes, it is true! “Blessed be the glory of the LORD from His place” (Ezek. 3:12)! “Bless the LORD, ye His angels, that excel in strength, that do His commandments, hearkening unto the voice of His word” (Ps. 103:20)! “He also exalteth the horn of His people, the praise of all His saints; even of the children of Israel, a people near unto Him. Praise ye the LORD” (Ps. 148:14)! Oh, my reader! If God opened our eyes, this is what we would see (2 Kings 6:17)!
Angels will be the “End Time” reapers, the worldwide harvest gatherers, but will we understand that they are employed among us right now, in the New Testament? The seven stars are among us right now! …the same angels which will pour out the vials of God’s unfathomable wrath (Rev. 16:1)! At the end of the world they will come, “For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works” (Matthew 16:27), but take heed Church, among us now they have already come. The Judgments that they will do then Christ does now, through them – He gathers together from within The Church “all things that offend, and them which do iniquity” (Matt. 13:41), and in so doing He “severs the wicked from among the just” (Matt. 13:49). Many fear standing before these angels one day when they will, as seen in Revelation 14:14-20, lay hold upon “a sharp sickle”, “and reap”, casting the clusters of humanity into “the great winepress of the wrath of God” that is “without the city”, but what about the New Testament hand of Christ – stretched out – multiplying upon our souls and bodies His wonderful judgments (i.e. wonderful chastisements and melting-hot trials: eye-blinding, ear-stopping, mind-incapacitating, desert-drying, water-drowning, soul-intoxicating , mind-darkening, and spirit-sleeping plagues!) until all things that offend are “cut”, “plucked”, and “cast” away from the Kingdom of Christ, The Church (Matt. 18:8-9)! If men in the Old Testament could scarcely stand before angels, and they, slaying thousands, were utterly saturated in the power and holiness of God, how shall we stand before Christ, in whose hand is seven stars?
“Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.” – Luke 21:36
“I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.” – Rev. 1:8
Holy fear grips us to “watch” and “pray” that we might be accounted worthy to “stand before the Son of Man” (Lk. 21:36), but what about standing before Him right now, on earth, when you attend the local assembly? He is there! Yes, He is! …if it is a true Church. Christ’s Kingdom and Final Judgment “is to come” (Rev. 1:8), and then He shall judge between the living and the dead (2 Tim. 4:1, 1 Pet. 4:5), but will you come to the trembling awareness that His Kingdom and judgment has come right now in The Church? That “which is to come”, the Lord Almighty… He is the Lord Almighty “which is” right now in The Church (Rev. 1:8)! Who shall stand before God how it was in the Old Testament!? Who shall stand before God in how it will be in the consummation!? But who shall stand before God how it is now in the New Testament Church?
Who shall stand before God Almighty? I mean, the same God who is “in the midst of the seven candlesticks” (Rev. 1:13)… do you know Him? My reader, will you be able to stand before Him? Are you a burning one? Are you one which emanates light, whose lamp is aflame because of God’s holy oil within? Or are you of the number who said, “Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out” (Matt. 25:8)? Are you worthy to be immediately and especially in His Presence – Jesus Christ – “who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks” (Rev. 2:1)? The individuals there, in this place – they are known of God (1 Cor. 8:3). That is to say, His eyes are immediately upon them, for, God said, “I will dwell in them and walk in them” (2 Cor. 6:16), and so it is said that He “walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks” (Rev. 2:1). They, being especially and immediately in His presence, are those to whom Christ speaks, saying, “I know thy works” (Rev. 2:2, 9, 13, 19, 3:1, 8, 15). This is because, He says, “I will give unto every one of you according to your works” (Rev. 2:23). What is Jesus Christ doing when He “walketh in the midst” of the saints? He is judging them. He said, “I have somewhat”, “a few things”, “a few things against thee” (Rev. 2:4, 14, 20). Jesus Christ, “whose Name is Jealous” (Ex. 34:14), is jealous to be glorified and admired as the Darling of the Bride. “The Spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy” (Jas. 4:5), and rightly so… we are His wife! From the Bride, Christ requires glory, honor, praise, admiration, and love right now! He requires it now, in this life, but He will require it of the heathen in the life to come (Php. 2:10). God judgeth the righteous now (Ps. 7:11) in this life (1 Pet. 4:17), and He, wielding such forcible blows upon our bodies and souls, causes us to bow down and know that He is the Lord! He judges us here to save us from the Judgment to come (1 Cor. 11:32)! Jesus Christ makes demands upon His people, warning them, “I will come unto thee quickly and will remove thy candlestick out of his place”, and again, “I will come unto thee quickly and will fight against them with the sword of My mouth” (Rev. 2:5, 16). Jesus Christ is He that liveth and moveth amongst His people, and He, being immediately and especially in the presence of His people, warns them - He “WILL FIGHT” (Rev. 2:16), He “WILL CAST” (Rev. 2:22), He “WILL KILL” (Rev. 2:23)! He does these things because in this place, among His people, He is the one that FINDS THINGS OUT (like when He said, “I have not found thy works perfect before God” – Rev. 3:2)! He is the Judge, and those who are circled about His Throne, He judges! He is God, and how it was in the OT when He said, “BEHOLD, ye have sinned against the LORD and be sure your sin will FIND YOU OUT” (Num. 32:23), even so, my reader, this is how it is now! Jesus Christ is right now, as always, searching and finding out sin in His people (“searching the reins and hearts”)… none escape it! Christ will JUDGE us in proportion to each person’s work - judgments so attention-getting, life-altering, and fearful that Christ said, “ALL The Churches” will give Him the glory! Have you given Him the glory? By beholding His judgments The Churches will know that He is in their midst, the manifest token being – “And I WILL KILL her children with death; and all The Churches shall know that I am He which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works” (Rev. 2:23)! Soberly consider it, my reader.
He who speaks with “a great voice as of a trumpet” (Rev. 1:10), whose “head and hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; and His feet like unto brass, as if they have been burned in a furnace; and His voice as the sound of many waters. And He had in His right hand seven stars: and out of His mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and His countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength” (Rev. 1:14-16), are you ready to be in His midst!? Have you prepared yourself? “WHO”, “WHO”, “WHO” are you (Ps. 24:3, 15:1)? Are you able to stand before God? The Judgment of God that will consummate in the final separation between the wicked and the righteous…it has begun right now, in The Church – by King Jesus and His seven stars!
“For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son…For as the Father hath life in Himself; so hath He given to the Son to have life in Himself; and hath given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man.” – John 5:22, 26-27
Yes, my reader, He that will finally Judge between the living and the dead (2 Tim. 4:1, 1 Pet. 4:5) – commending and glorifying the one, binding, severing, and casting away the other – He is judging the living and the dead right now, in The Church (Rev. 3:1)! He that will finally judge between the sheep and the goats (Matt. 25:32) – saying to the one, “Come ye blessed”, saying to the other, “Depart ye cursed" (Matt. 25:34, 41) – He is judging His flock right now (1 Cor. 5:3-4, 9-13)! He is dividing and separating right now, in The Church, just as He finally will (Matt. 25:32)! Let us reckon with the aforementioned implications to wit we might comprehend this most noble pursuit, for “the glory of the LORD” to return to The Church of the 21st century, lest we offer the sacrifices of fools by considering not that we do evil. Help us LORD!...
Even so, Lord Jesus, come!