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Who Can Bear the Weight of God’s Glory?

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April 2021 - Who Can Bear the Weight of God’s Glory?

Issue #393
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Issue #393April 2021

Who Can Bear the Weight of God’s Glory?

2 Corinthians 3:18 says,

18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as for the Lord, the Spirit.

Being transformed “from glory to glory” indicates not a single event but a process which takes time. We look for the day when we are fully transformed into the image of Christ, often without realizing that we should already bear His image on some level before we reach perfection.

God usually works His will in three steps which are set forth in the three main feasts: Passover, Pentecost, and the feast of Tabernacles. These are the three steps that we take toward the goal of manifesting His glory. As individuals, we are justified, then sanctified, then glorified.

In the big picture, these three steps are also seen in three ages: the Passover Age (Moses to Christ), the Pentecost Age (First coming to second coming), and the Tabernacles Age (1000 years).

There was a glory in the time of Moses, which was seen in his face, and this glory faded over time (1 Cor. 3:7). This characterized the glory manifested in the Passover Age, culminating in the transfiguration of Christ (Matt. 17:1, 2). Just as Moses was transfigured on Mount Sinai, so also was Jesus transfigured on Mount Hermon (or Sion).

The Pentecostal glory began in Acts 2:3 with the tongues of fire on the disciples’ heads. As we have seen, the fire of God is His glory. The Pentecost Age technically ended after 40 Jubilees of Church history in 1993, but we are still in a transitionary period into the Tabernacles Age. Hence, it appears that this time the Pentecostal glory will climax with another outpouring of the Spirit on His disciples.

This will prepare us for the third manifestation of glory at the start and finish of the Tabernacles Age to come.

The Glory of Tabernacles

Technically, the Tabernacles Age has already begun. However, the practical beginning point comes with the second coming of Christ. Paul describes this in terms of manifesting His glory in 2 Thess. 1:10-12,

10 when He comes to be glorified in His saints on that day, and to be marveled at among all who have believed—for our testimony to you was believed. 11 To this end also we pray for you always, that our God will count you worthy of your calling and fulfill every desire for goodness and the work of faith with power, 12 so that the name of our Lord Jesus will be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.

The purpose of the second coming of Christ is for His glory to be manifested in those who believe, so that the unbelievers will see, marvel at this glory, and also believe. Their belief will come too late to experience the same glory at that time, but their example will give them hope that they too will manifest His glory at the Great White Throne.

Hence, there is benefit in believing NOW, but if not, all is not lost. At the White Throne judgment, every knee will bow, and every tongue will “swear allegiance” (Isaiah 45:23) to Christ, “to the glory of God the Father,” Paul adds in Phil. 2:11.

During the Tabernacles Age, “our Lord Jesus” will be glorified in the overcomers, and the unbelievers will marvel at them. The New Agers, who have long sought to become what they call an Ascended Master will run to inquire how they too might manifest the glory of God.

That Age, then, will be the greatest Age of Evangelism in the history of the world. It will eclipse the glory seen in the book of Acts. Isaiah 2:3 tells us that representatives from all nations will come to learn God’s ways and His laws.

Daniel tells us that God’s Kingdom—pictured as a stone—crushed the kingdoms of men and then grew until it filled the whole earth (Dan. 2:34, 45). That too indicates a process of growth, where the Kingdom of God continues to encroach upon the kingdoms of men.

Jesus talked about the “outer darkness,” which is any place where the Kingdom of Light does not shine (Matt. 8:12; 22:13; 25:30). In those nations which accept Christ as their King, any citizen who fails to swear allegiance to Him will be exiled to another country (i.e., “outer darkness”).

“Outer darkness” is not “hell,” as many in the church have been led to believe. The church throws many terms into the same basket with hades, Gehenna, the lake of fire, the abyss, and outer darkness, causing much confusion.

As the Kingdom of Light increases, the kingdom of darkness decreases. As more and more people come to believe in Christ, the Kingdom of Light spreads throughout the whole earth, and those in darkness become fewer.

The Weight of Glory

The Hebrew word kabod means “glory.” It comes from the root word kabad, “to be heavy, weighty.” Hence, Paul tells the persecuted Christians in 2 Cor. 4:17,

17 For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison.

Though Paul used the Greek term doxa, he applied its Hebrew definition by adding the word baros, “weight.”

The glory of God is weighty. It cannot be carried by the weak (i.e., unworthy people). The weight of God’s glory is something that we cannot carry all at once. Either we must grow in strength or we must carry only a portion suited to our weak condition.

When we study Scripture, we find that God has divided the ages into three categories, represented by the three feast days. There is a small weight of glory given to Passover believers; there is a greater weight of glory given to Pentecost believers; and the full weight of His glory will be given to the Tabernacles believers.

Likewise, in the big picture, the weight of glory that Moses experienced on the Mount was small compared to the weight of glory experienced by Jesus on the Mount. The Pentecostal glory is greater, but it is still not the full weight of glory that is yet to be seen at Christ’s second coming and in the Age of Tabernacles.

We move from glory to glory, from the lesser to the greater, in three steps. Those living in the Passover Age would envy those living in the Pentecost Age, had not God (in His mercy) blinded their eyes. Likewise, those living in the Pentecost Age have seen great glory but their anointing is not strong enough to contain the glory yet to come. But God has blinded most of them to the glory of the third feast, for very few know anything about the feast of Tabernacles.

Therefore, they have developed the Rapture theory in the 1800’s without any real knowledge of Tabernacles. But we know that the feast of Tabernacles is the foundational prophecy of the second coming of Christ. The “catching away” (Greek: harpazo; Latin: rapto) in 1 Thess. 4:17 is actually scheduled for the eighth day of Tabernacles, when the overcomers are to be presented to the Father as the firstborn sons of God.

The church, being largely ignorant of the feast days, sees the Rapture as an escape from tribulation. But the catching away is an ascension to be presented to our heavenly Father, so that we may be manifested to the world as His sons. When this occurs, then many will marvel at His glory.

It takes immortality and incorruption to carry the full weight of God’s glory. Even so, let us now carry all that is available to us through Pentecost.

The Failure of Israel

When the glory of God dwelt in the tabernacle at Shiloh, the Israelites degenerated into apostasy. While we might blame the corrupted priesthood of Eli, we should understand that Eli’s sons were merely reflecting the heart-condition of the corrupted nation itself. Hosea 4:9 says,

9 And it will be, like people, like priest; so I will punish them for their ways and repay them for their deeds.

In other words, if the people are corrupt, God will give them corrupt priests (and kings, too). We cannot merely blame the priests and rulers. God gives corrupt leaders to lawless people, presenting to the nations a pageant of corruption to illustrate and teach them the consequences of lawlessness. Even the righteous suffer for this.

Israel was corrupt, as the prophet Samuel tells us in his earlier book called Judges. That book ends with Judges 21:25,

25 In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.

They failed to take heed to the warning of God through Moses, who said in Deut. 12:8,

8 You shall not do at all what we are doing here today, every man doing whatever is right in his own eyes.

In other words, they were following their own man-made conscience, which is largely a product of man’s culture, instead of changing one’s mind and conscience to reflect God’s mind as established in His laws. Man can be taught to think that immorality is good or even that murder is good. Man can be taught that good things are evil, and if they do those good things, they develop a guilty conscience.

Proverbs 14:12 says,

12 There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.

In presenting God’s law to Israel, Moses told them in Deut. 30:15, 16,

15 See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, and death and adversity; 16 in that I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in His ways and to keep His commandments and His statutes and His judgments, that you may live….

Men think that their own way leads to life and liberty, when in fact it leads to death and adversity. This was never more evident than what we see in the world today, as the Babylonian governments of men impose their culture of death upon the people.

The Glory Departs

In the days of Samuel, the nation of Israel as a whole had gone its own way. God gave them corrupt priests, but the people did not repent and cry out to God. They accepted those corrupt priests because their own hearts had been corrupted as well. Therefore, the nation, the tabernacle, and the people themselves did not have the strength to carry the weight of God’s glory.

So God raised up the Philistines against Israel and caused the priests to carry the Ark into battle, where it was captured by the Philistines who did not worship the true God. When word was sent to the high priest that his sons were dead and that the Ark had been captured, Eli fell backward and broke his neck. His daughter-in-law went into labor, and they named the boy Ichabod, “The Glory Has Departed” (1 Sam. 4:21).

The Philistines Carry the Glory

The Philistines put their trophy in the temple of Dagon at Ashdod (1 Sam. 5:1). But the weight of glory was too much for them. The glory judged them. 1 Sam. 5:6 says,

6 Now the hand of the Lord was heavy [kabad] on the Ashdodites, and He ravaged them and smote them with tumors, both Ashdod and its territories.

As long as the Philistines possessed the Ark of His glory, “the hand of the Lord was kabad” on them. They were trying to carry a great “weight of glory,” and it was soon crushing them.

So they inquired of the priests, who had the sense to tell them to give it back to Israel along with an offering “and you shall give glory [kabod] to the God of Israel” (1 Sam. 6:5).

In other words, the Philistines gave the glory (i.e., the Ark) back to God, because they could not carry the weight.

The lesson here is that unbelievers cannot carry the glory of God. In the biblical types and shadows, the Philistines also represent the carnal mind in general. So we see that those who are carnally minded are also incapable of carrying the glory of God.

But the Philistines were not the only ones. Israel could not carry that glory either. So when the Ark was sent back, the oxen took it to the border of the tribe of Dan. The town of Beth-shemesh was on the ridge overlooking the plain of the Philistines. Below Beth-shemesh was the Sorek Valley, through which the Brook Sorek flowed from the hills of Judah past Timnah and continued toward the sea.

In the other direction, a short distance up the valley was the Rock of Etam, where Samson later hid.

The Philistines had followed the ox cart to see where the oxen would take the Ark. When they took the Ark to the Sorek Valley, where the Beth-shemites were harvesting their wheat, they knew that the Ark was meant to be returned to the Israelites.

Wheat Harvesters Carry the Glory

When the Ark arrived at Beth-shemesh, the people were harvesting their wheat. This associates them prophetically with Pentecost, because the day of wheat harvest is the day of Pentecost. The term “Pentecost” is a Greek word that began to be used after the Grecian Empire began to rule the world.

Prophetically speaking, then, when the Ark came to the wheat harvesters, the event was a Pentecostal prophecy. On the positive side, it prophesied how the presence of God was to come upon the 120 disciples in the Upper Room.

We read in 1 Sam. 6:13, 14,

13 Now the people of Beth-shemesh were reaping their wheat harvest in the valley, and they raised their eyes and saw the ark and were glad to see it. 14 The cart came into the field of Joshua the Beth-shemite and stood there where there was a large stone; and they split the wood of the cart and offered the cows as a burnt offering to the Lord.

The account tells us that the Ark was taken specifically to “the field of Joshua the Beth-shemite.” This was not the field of the Joshua who had led Israel into the Promised Land, but the name was meant to portray a type of Christ. We also know that “the field is the world” (Matt. 13:38). Hence, this tells us that Yeshua-Jesus owns the world, and that the sacrifice of Christ on the cross was made in His world.

Furthermore, Samuel was led to tell us that in this field “there was a large stone.” Perhaps, in ages past, it had tumbled down from the nearby mountain. It appears that this stone prophetically represented the stone that Daniel saw, which was cut out of the mountains without human hands, and which was the fifth Kingdom to rise (Dan. 2:35, 44).

The King of that Kingdom is Yeshua, or Joshua, or Jesus.

When the Ark arrived at Beth-shemesh, the Levites placed the Ark on the large stone and made a sacrifice, using the wood of the cart and the oxen which had brought the Ark to them. 1 Sam. 6:18 concludes,

18 … The large stone on which they set the Ark of the Lord is a witness to this day in the field of Joshua the Beth-shemite.

However, later “some of the men of Beth-shemesh” transgressed the law by looking into the Ark. No doubt they were checking to see if the tablets of the law and the pot of manna were still inside or if the Philistines in Ashdod had removed them. 1 Sam. 6:19, 20 says,

19 He struck down some of the men of Beth-shemesh because they had looked into the Ark of the Lord. He struck down of all the people, 50,070 men, and the people mourned because the Lord had struck the people with a great slaughter. 20 The men of Beth-shemesh said, “Who is able to stand before the Lord, this holy God? And to whom shall He [“it,” that is, the Ark] go up from us?”

Beth-shemesh was a small town, and it was hardly possible that there were more than 50,000 people at the scene. Dr. Bullinger’s notes tell us:

“This number being out of all proportion to the size of Beth-shemesh, has led to various readings… The Heb. text reads, “seventy men two fifties and one thousand.”

By adding these numbers together, the total is 1,170. This is probably the actual number of casualties that day.

The people’s initial joy thus turned into mourning. So also in the big prophetic picture, the joy that the disciples had on the day of Pentecost was turned into mourning in later years when the church became lawless.

The Leaven of Pentecost

The first question that the men of Beth-shemesh asked was “Who is able to stand before the Lord, this holy God?”

This was a confession of Pentecostal inadequacy. It is not that Pentecost is evil, nor does it have to be lawless. The feast called for an offering of two loaves of bread baked with leaven (Lev. 23:17). Leaven was forbidden in every other offering, because it represents corruption and sin. The only reason leaven was allowed in the Pentecostal offering was because it was to be baked in the fire to kill the leaven.

Without the baptism of fire, the Pentecostal offering of our heart is unacceptable to a holy God. Without the true fire of God, the church is leavened (lawless) and in danger of divine judgment.

The Israelites had been justified by the blood of the Lamb as they came out of Egypt at Passover. But Passover, their “salvation” experience, by itself, could not bring them into the Promised Land. Most died in the wilderness.

Their time of discipline, learning to hear God and obey the leading of the Spirit, also proved to be too much for them. They rejected God’s voice at Mount Sinai, disqualifying that generation from entering the Kingdom.

They were unable to carry the weight of God’s glory. The same is true of the church during the Pentecost Age. Only the Calebs and Joshuas have qualified, and these are the overcomers who hear and obey.

The Overcomers Open the Ark

In Rev. 15:5 we read,

5 After these things I looked, and the temple of the tabernacle of testimony in heaven was opened.

On this occasion no one was killed, because all who were present were qualified and could carry the full presence of a holy God. Verse 2 speaks of “those who had been victorious over the beast and his image… standing on the sea of glass.”

The only ones who can bear the full weight of God’s glory are the overcomers. When the Ark is opened, they are not killed. Meanwhile, every true believers bears the weight of glory that is measured to each according to his ability.