Christmas: The Glory of the Lord!
 Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, who alone does wondrous things.  Blessed be his glorious name forever; may the whole earth be filled with his glory! Amen and Amen! (ESV)
As Christmas day approaches, I love to watch a lot of the Christmas movies. If you talk to ten different people, you will probably get ten different favorites. My favorite has to be It's a Wonderful Life. It is such a great story. But, one of my favorite scenes from any Christmas movie has to be when Linus, from A Charlie Brown Christmas, recites the birth of Jesus as told in Luke chapter two.... "and the glory of the Lord shone round them and they were sore afraid."
In my opinion, when you read the Christmas story it has to be in the King James version like Linus does it. There is just something about it. Maybe, it's because that is what I grew up on.
This week I want us to walk through the Bible and follow the glory of the Lord. I pray that you will be sore afraid....or at least worship this King of glory! I want us to follow the word “glory” through the Old Testament (OT) and maybe you will look at the Christmas story a little different this year.
First, when I talk about the phrase “glory of the Lord," I am talking about the manifest goodness and greatness that flows like rays of sunlight from His being. There is nothing that you can compare it to perfectly. All comparisons will break down at some point because they can not describe that which is perfect and infinite. But, for the purpose of what I want to try and describe today, I want you to think of God's glory being similar to that of the rays of light that flow from the sun. It is a visible glory, or, at least you can see the effects of this glory. With that in mind, let's begin.
If you do a quick survey of the Old Testament, you will find that often the “glory of the Lord” appears in the form of fire, smoke or great light. Here are just a few quick verses but there are many more.
 And as soon as Aaron spoke to the whole congregation of the people of Israel, they looked toward the wilderness, and behold, the glory of the LORD appeared in the cloud. (ESV)
 The glory of the LORD dwelt on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days. And on the seventh day he called to Moses out of the midst of the cloud.  Now the appearance of the glory of the LORD was like a devouring fire on the top of the mountain in the sight of the people of Israel. (ESV)
 Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.  And Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud settled on it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.  Throughout all their journeys, whenever the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the people of Israel would set out.  But if the cloud was not taken up, then they did not set out till the day that it was taken up.  For the cloud of the LORD was on the tabernacle by day, and fire was in it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel throughout all their journeys. (ESV)
And this was Israel's experience. Wherever the Ark of the Covenant would go, that is where the glory would be. So much so, that one day the ark was captured by the Philistines and this is what happened.
1 Samuel 4:20–22
 And about the time of her death the women attending her said to her, “Do not be afraid, for you have borne a son.” But she did not answer or pay attention.  And she named the child Ichabod, saying, “The glory has departed from Israel!” because the ark of God had been captured and because of her father-in-law and her husband.  And she said, “The glory has departed from Israel, for the ark of God has been captured.” (ESV)
The people of God finally return the ark and the glory of the LORD would come to rest in the Temple that Solomon builds.
1 Kings 8:1–11
 Then Solomon assembled the elders of Israel and all the heads of the tribes, the leaders of the fathers' houses of the people of Israel, before King Solomon in Jerusalem, to bring up the ark of the covenant of the LORD out of the city of David, which is Zion.  And all the men of Israel assembled to King Solomon at the feast in the month Ethanim, which is the seventh month.  And all the elders of Israel came, and the priests took up the ark.  And they brought up the ark of the LORD, the tent of meeting, and all the holy vessels that were in the tent; the priests and the Levites brought them up.  And King Solomon and all the congregation of Israel, who had assembled before him, were with him before the ark, sacrificing so many sheep and oxen that they could not be counted or numbered.  Then the priests brought the ark of the covenant of the LORD to its place in the inner sanctuary of the house, in the Most Holy Place, underneath the wings of the cherubim.  For the cherubim spread out their wings over the place of the ark, so that the cherubim overshadowed the ark and its poles.  And the poles were so long that the ends of the poles were seen from the Holy Place before the inner sanctuary; but they could not be seen from outside. And they are there to this day.  There was nothing in the ark except the two tablets of stone that Moses put there at Horeb, where the LORD made a covenant with the people of Israel, when they came out of the land of Egypt.  And when the priests came out of the Holy Place, a 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 filled the house of the LORD. (ESV)
Then the people of God drift away, start worshiping other gods, and turn their backs on God. Now notice what happens to the glory of God In Ezekiel.
 Then the glory of the LORD went out from the threshold of the house, and stood over the cherubim.  And the cherubim lifted up their wings and mounted up from the earth before my eyes as they went out, with the wheels beside them. And they stood at the entrance of the east gate of the house of the LORD, and the glory of the God of Israel was over them. (ESV)
 Then the cherubim lifted up their wings, with the wheels beside them, and the glory of the God of Israel was over them.  And the glory of the LORD went up from the midst of the city and stood on the mountain that is on the east side of the city.  And the Spirit lifted me up and brought me in the vision by the Spirit of God into Chaldea, to the exiles. Then the vision that I had seen went up from me.  And I told the exiles all the things that the LORD had shown me. (ESV)
Did you see that the glory of God leaves the Temple and eventually the planet? Then for 400 years, there is no glory, no presence of God, no word from the LORD....just silence for 400 years.
And then one night 400 years later....read this as if it were you waiting for the promise of God....
And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.
And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.
 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (ESV)
The Greek word for “dwelt” is the the same word that they used for tabernacle. Do you see it? God is in His Tabernacle all over again...Jesus.
Then Jesus goes to the cross, dies for our sin, raises on the third day, ascends to heaven and the glory of God once again departs. But, He gives a promise.
 And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me;  for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”
 So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?”  He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority.  But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”  And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. (ESV)
Now, some 2000 years later, where is the “glory of the Lord”? If you are born again and Know Jesus as Lord, read the next verse out loud and listen with fresh ears.
 To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. (ESV)
Did you hear it? Oh I pray that you hear what God is doing in you, in His church, and throughout the whole Earth. He is filling the whole Earth because you, Christian, have been given His Spirit. His glory is in you. You are the temple of God where His glory resides.
 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.  Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. (ESV)
This Christmas may the light that dwells in you overshadow any light that hangs on a tree.
Blessed be His glorious name forever; may the whole earth be filled with His glory!
I invite you to join us this Sunday as we continue our series, Christmas in the Psalms. We will also have our Christmas Eve service on Monday, December 24th at 4:00 pm. See you there!