In part one, we had a lot of questions as to why two different groups of people had the same encounters, yet had different reactions to it. It is my prayer this morning that through the help of the Holy Spirit we will be able to answer those questions today.
Among the questions was why was it that the people of Israel were afraid of the glory of the Lord, while the 3 disciples of Jesus were not afraid of it. Well, these might be some of the reasons:
The Israelites had not walked with God, so they would not recognize the glory of the Lord. The Israelites had been slaves in Egypt for 430years. They were used to worshipping the idols in Egypt. Actually, when Moses was called, he was told by God that he would be the one to bring the people of Israel back to God. He would teach them about God and they would also know about the saving power and hand of the Lord through the way He (the Lord) shall deliver them from Egypt into the Promised Land. (Exodus 3:7-10).
One would say that these people had seen the miracles that God had done through Moses so by that time they would have known him already. Well, let me pause a question, suppose you are stranded somewhere and someone decides to come to your rescue, does it mean that you have walked with that person and you know them really well? Of course, you would be grateful for the fact that they helped you but you just do not know them. I tend to think this was the reason why they did not recognize the glory of the Lord and thus were terribly afraid of it.
On the other hand, look at the disciples; these people were among the first disciples of Jesus, they had walked with him, eaten with him, interacted with him. Everywhere that Jesus went they were sure to be there. Jesus was their teacher; they even used to call him “Rabbi” (Mark 9:5). Jesus had taught them about Himself and God and even the Holy Spirit. So when He finally manifested himself to them as the Son of God, they were able to recognize him in his majesty and splendor. So there was no way they would have been afraid. They were even overjoyed for such a great manifestation; they even wanted to build an altar as an act of worship.
In the same way, if we walk with and in Christ, we shall not be afraid of the glory of the Lord when it manifests in our lives. We shall not be afraid of his power, beauty and greatness over our lives. Actually, I tend to believe we shall want more and more of him. We shall just want to dwell in his presence, worshipping and exalting his holy and mighty name. We shall never want to depart from his presence. How do we walk in Christ, someone would ask? First, it is by accepting him in your life as your personal savior, by studying and meditating upon his word, through prayer and fasting, through fellowshipping with brethren. This way you shall have such an encounter with God and you will not run away from it. I’m realizing that I am actually talking about intimacy with God. Desire the level where you eat of his bread and drink of his cup and being at the feet of Christ as he teaches, moulds, refines and works in you. It also means fellowshipping with him, casting everything and everyone else aside. This kind of fellowship reminds me of the story of Mary the sister of Lazarus; of how she sat at the feet of Jesus just listening from him (Luke 10:39)
The Israelites knew about God but did not know God. The Israelites did not have a personal relationship with God. They knew God through Moses. Moses was the mediator between them and God. The Lord would give instructions to them through Moses. (Exodus 25:1-2). It was Moses who talked to God for them. So they lacked that personal touch with God. They did not know this God; they only saw his deeds and heard about what he had done for their ancestors. It is like they knew the hand that provided for them but did not know the giver. So when the glory of the Lord came down through Moses they were afraid. They could not embrace that which they did not know but only knew about. When you know about God it is more than being told about him. It means meeting him personally and having fellowship with him.
The disciples knew this very well. They had read about the coming of the Messiah i.e. Jesus, and when He came, they wanted to know him. They chose to walk with him. They were interested in knowing what he did, what he said, how he viewed and regarded things. They were interested in a personal relationship with Christ. They wanted to know him. This is why when Christ manifested in his glory, they knew who he was and were not afraid. They actually embraced him and were glad. They had no room for fear because they knew who it was that had revealed himself to them.
In the same way, my brothers and sisters, if you want to experience the glory of the Lord upon your life, you have to know this God. It is not enough that you hear sermons about him every Sunday in church; it is not enough that someone shared a testimony of how great the Lord is. NO! You have to know this God. How do you know this God? Through studying his word. I love John 1:1, “In the beginning was the word and the word was God and the word was with God”. We do have the word; this word is God in written form. Study it day and night, meditate upon it and you shall know this God.
The Israelites, I tend to believe were more after the miracles of God, more than his manifestation. They were more interested in the hand of God and not God himself. Exodus 16:2-34, these people used to complain so much. Moses had so much grace so as to be able to handle them. If it were me, I think I would have just abandoned them and gone back to Jethro! In this chapter, they complained they that they had no food to eat and God provided them with manner and quails. Isn’t our God just loving and caring and very slow to anger? In another incident, Exodus 15:22-27, they complained about water and God gave them water. When we also look back at the story of crossing the red sea, God parted the sea for them! Yet with such miracles these people still failed to recognize the glory of the Lord. So sad! I think after such miracles you should be glad to see the glory of the Lord. As in God would be showing more of himself to you!
However, for the disciples, it was a different case. Yes, they had seen so many miracles that Jesus had done, feeding 5000 people with 2 fish and 5 loaves of bread, casting out demons, raising the death and healing the sick etc, but they were not after the miracles of the Lord. They were after the Lord himself. Being with and in the Lord was a miracle in itself. Jesus Christ revealing his glory to them was the greatest miracle of them all. It is such an amazing thing! How could they afford to be afraid?
This is the same thing that happens to us Christians, we are so into the miracles of that the Lord that we forget Him. We are so much after the hand that giveth that we forget the giver himself. So we end up missing out on his glory, manifestation, and presence. We should fix our eyes on Jesus, not on the things that Jesus gives us; otherwise, we will miss out.
Another thing is that the Israelites always kept back going to Egypt. As much as the Lord had delivered them and set them free they always kept going back. They never followed God 100%. Read Exodus 16:1-3 and 32:1-6. In this case, they could never have recognized the glory of the Lord.
As for the disciples, the moment Christ entered their lives, they decided never to look back! They let go of the life of fishing for they knew the Lord had better things for them. Matthew 4:18-22, The Lord would make them fishers of men. The disciples focused fully on Christ.
Matthew 17:24 says “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me”. The Israelites wanted to go back to the life that they were used to. A life of slavery, idolatry and being under the rule of a man who had no fear of God. The disciples, on the other hand left a life of being fishermen and followed Christ. They wanted to be made fishers of men. You find that as much as we are saved, and have accepted Christ, we tend to compromise so many times. We tend to want to go back to the life we used to live without knowing Christ. A life of sexual immorality, gossip, slander, jealousy, judgment etc. We tend to go back to a life of slavery. We do not focus on Christ! By doing this, the glory of the Lord will never come upon you. You will never experience his presence and manifestation in your life. You are like a double-minded person. One foot is in Christ and the other foot in the world. Guess what the Lord says about this! Revelation 3:16 “So because you are lukewarm-neither hot or cold-I am about to spit you out of my mouth”. Yes! That is what the Lord says, if your one foot is in Christ and another in the world, you will not see the glory of the Lord, instead, he shall spit you out. Let us decide once and for all my dear friends, it is either you are in God or not!
Finally, my lovely friend! You find that the Israelites were still caught up in their idolatry worship. Exodus 32:1-6. These people after God did all he had done for them, they still saw it as it not being enough. They raised up an altar other than God. They cast a calf idol and called it their god. They called that god the same god that led them out of Egypt. What sort of blasphemy was this? These people had forgotten that the Lord does not share his glory with anyone. That he is a jealous God! A consuming fire for that matter. If you worship an idol you can never stand the presence of the Lord. In fact, when the presence comes down it will just consume you! You will die my friend!
However, look at what the disciples did. After seeing the glory of the Lord what Peter wanted to do was to build an altar (Matthew 17:4). An altar for the honor and glory of the Lord God Almighty. They did not want to share the glory of the Lord with anything and anyone else. The glory was to go to God and to Him alone! Blessed be the name of the Holy Lord.
In order for us too to experience the glory of the Lord and build an altar of worship for him, we just have to die to idolatry. Someone would tell me idolatry does not exist today because people do not cast idols and start worshipping them. Well, idolatry is not necessarily coming up with something and bowing down to it. Idolatry is when you exalt anything that you have more than God. When you exalt the things God has given you more than himself, when you love your partner more than God. It is also when you spend most of your time doing other things other than spending it with God. It is when you share the glory of the Lord than allowing him to have it all. That my dear one is idolatry. This will definitely prevent the glory of the Lord from manifesting in your life.
Just a little bonus then we conclude this article; sorry for eating into your time, though I am sure you will be blessed, that, I am sure! Note that Jesus had 12 disciples, actually apostles but he took only three of them and revealed to them his glory. The Israelites were so many when Moses came to them full of the glory of the glory of the Lord. This made me realize one thing: God does not work with crowds. He works with individuals. He works with those who have decided to set apart themselves for Him. The only way you will be set apart is if you are serious with the things of God. It is if you seek this God and his righteousness and sincerely seek and walk with and in him. God has to set you apart to reveal to you his glory. He does not work with crowds.
So, my dear friends I would like to urge us to set ourselves apart for God, and to sincerely seek him, to walk with him, to cast aside anything that may distract us from him so as to be able to see his glory and manifestation. This will transform your life. I assure you it will never be the same again!
Baraka tele kutoka kwangu!! May the Lord keep and sustain you till we read and write again.