“Oh, God, send your glory! Let your glory fall! Show your glory in this place! Come with your glory and fill this place like you filled the temple in the days of Solomon! Father, fill the earth with your glory!”
Have you ever prayed something like that?
I wonder, if we knew what we were asking, would we really ask for his glory to come?
God’s glory is not a slight thing. It is not a trivial thing. It is weighty. It has presence. It has impact. His glory kills.
In 1 Samuel 4, the people of Israel are involved in a hasty and foolish war against the Philistines. They’re doing poorly in battle, so the people decide it’s time to bring out their secret weapon: the ark of the covenant, the throne of God, the seat of his glory.
They’re bringing down the glory.
Well, the glory comes, and the glory goes. God’s not one to be used like a toy (or a giant cosmic vending machine in the sky), so he allows the ark to be captured by Philistia.
But he’s still God, and it’s still the seat of his glory that was taken.
You probably guessed things didn’t go so well for the Philistines after God’s glory comes to them. In 1 Samuel 5, we get to see just what happens. First, the idol of their own god Dagon is mysteriously found toppled over and mutilated, though no one was around to do it. Next, a whole bunch of tumors started appearing on the people in the vicinity of the ark. Then, an entire city was brought to panic and once again tumors appear all over the place. After that, another city has a whole bunch of people start randomly dying, and those that didn’t die got… you guessed it, tumors! Seven months with the glory of God in their midst, and the people of Philistia couldn’t take it any more. They sent the ark back home in 1 Samuel 6.
So the people of Israel are pretty psyched to have the ark back. “ Now the people of Beth Shemesh were harvesting their wheat in the valley, and when they looked up and saw the ark, they rejoiced at the sight” (1 Samuel 6:13). If they only knew…
A few idiots decide to look in the ark (a pretty darn irreverent thing to do), and anywhere from 7o to 50,000 end up dead, depending on which translation is more accurate. All because the glory came down.
The word “glory” in Hebrew literally means “weight,” as in the weighty presence of the king of the universe. It’s like when a general would walk into a room, and everyone present would know this man has power and authority, and you’d better listen up. But add a sense of beauty and grandeur, and you’re starting to get the picture. Then multiply the feeling by a million, and we’re getting pretty close to what God’s glory would be like. His presence would fill the room with a sense of his importance, his majesty, his splendor, his greatness, his authority…
God’s glory is a weighty thing, a dangerous thing. God’s glory set a whole mountain on fire (Exodus 19).
Lord, may I never treat your glory as a trivial or insignificant thing, as something I can hold onto. May I always walk with a sense of awe in your presence and a trembling before you. May I keep all unrighteousness and impurity far from me that your glory would be my greatest joy rather than my deepest fear. Lord, keep my heart awakened to the greatness of your glory and the majesty of your name.