Isa 60:15-22 "Although you have been forsaken and hated, with no one traveling through, I will make you the everlasting pride and the joy of all generations. You will drink the milk of nations and be nursed at royal breasts. Then you will know that I, the Lord, am your Savior, your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob. Instead of bronze I will bring you gold, and silver in place of iron. Instead of wood I will bring you bronze, and iron in place of stones. I will make peace your governor and righteousness your ruler. No longer will violence be heard in your land, nor ruin or destruction within your borders, but you will call your walls Salvation and your gates Praise. The sun will no more be your light by day, nor will the brightness of the moon shine on you, for the Lord will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory. Your sun will never set again, and your moon will wane no more; the Lord will be your everlasting light, and your days of sorrow will end. Then will all your people be righteous and they will possess the land forever. They are the shoot I have planted, the work of my hands, for the display of my splendor. The least of you will become a thousand, the smallest a mighty nation. I am the Lord; in its time I will do this swiftly."
When the glory of the Lord rises over His people, beautiful things happen. We don't have to endure imperfection and failure in the churches. We can arise and shine! Even though our surrounding may be filled with darkness, when the glory of the Lord is over His people, we expect things to be different: "See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the Lord rises upon you and his glory appears over you" (Isa 60:2). The idea of being witnesses is that we are children of light and the glory of God can be experienced among God's people: "Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn" (Isa 60:3).
When God's glory is present in a place among His people, light shines from that place into the darkness. And people dwelling in darkness will be drawn to our light to take shelter in that light. Churches can talk about God and discuss theology. But that will not transform the churches into places of light. Only the glory of God can transform churches into lighthouses. The glory of the Lord is God's manifested Presence in a particular place among a particular people.
In the OT, the glory appears as a cloud:
- Ex 16:10 While Aaron was speaking to the whole Israelite community, they looked toward the desert, and there was the glory of the Lord appearing in the cloud.
- Ex 24:15-16 When Moses went up on the mountain, the cloud covered it, and the glory of the Lord settled on Mount Sinai.
- Ex 40:34 Then the cloud covered the Tent of Meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.
- 1 Kings 8:10-11 When the priests withdrew from the Holy Place, the cloud filled the temple of the Lord. And the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled his temple.
Real worship can only take place when the Spirit of glory is manifested in a place among God's people. It's not just about musical genres, state-of-art instrumentation or state-of-art audio-visual technology. It's the Spirit of God that transforms people, not human arts or human technology. We can have the best arts and the latest technology but it will not bring down the glory onto that gathering. Only the Holy Spirit can do that. But we have to do more than just pay lip service to Him--we have to let Him take over and move to manifest His presence and power among us.
We can't have the glory of God and still be in control.
Father, thank You that You have given us the Spirit not to make us feel good but to fill us with Your gifts and power to heal the sick among us, to cast out demons and to transform lives. Amen.