132 - Holy and Glory [c]
Holy and Glory
1 Chronicles 15:1–16, Isaiah 6:1–4
Samuel Lesson #132
May 15, 2018
“Father, thank You again that we can be here tonight that we can study Your Word, reflect upon Your Word, probe it, think deeply about what You have revealed to us and why you have revealed it to us. Help us to understand it and especially as these passages relate to our personal worship of You and our corporate worship of You.
“Father, help us to understand that so often we are so busy and so absorbed with our own schedules and our own activities that we fail to take into account our relationship with You. Father, I pray that we would all be learning to enjoy our ongoing relationship with You and excited about what we’re reading and studying and learning in Your Word.
“I pray that we might continue to press on because this is simply laying the foundation for all eternity. We pray this in Christ’s name. Amen.”
Open your Bible with me to Isaiah 6 where we are studying about worship. It’s interesting that today I was cleaning out a drawer and I found a tape. The tape was titled “Developing Quality Worship”. The date on the tape was like March 9, 1989 and I was the speaker and the Scripture was 1 Chronicles 15 and 16.
If we can figure out how to take that analog tape and make it digital, we may have a legacy message to put up on the website. That way, you can hear something from twenty-nine years ago. I remember when I was studying through that because it was the first time I really began to develop what I’ve been teaching now.
Tonight we’re going to be looking at a little bit more in Isaiah and focusing a lot on two key words that are often misunderstood today. They’re words that are so common and ones we use so often. They’ve almost lost their significance and the impact they should have.
These are the words “holy” and “glory”. We’ll get into that because both of these words are used when we look at Isaiah 6:3.
Just a reminder. Allen Ross in his book Recalling the Hope of Glory says “Our attention to the Lord must not be an ordinary part of life; our worship of Him should be the most momentous, urgent, and glorious activity in our lives.”
Notice he uses the word “glorious” there but when he uses the word “ordinary” that’s really the opposite of what “holy” means. The word that is used as an opposite or as an antonym for “holy” in the Scripture is a word that means, “that which is common or profane”.
Profane doesn’t mean profanity. It means that which has everyday use. So you can have bowls and various other articles that have a profane or common use. You just use it every day at every meal, but there were those bowls that were only used on Shabbat when you were worshipping God. There would be those bowls that were used as furniture or articles in the Tabernacle or the Temple. They were holy.
It doesn’t mean they were morally pure. As you’ve heard me say many times we tend to think of holy as moral purity. The place where that word kicks up the nuance is in this passage. Now when does this happen? It happens around 740 BC.
When did the word “holy” first get used? You have to go all the way back into Genesis. Genesis takes place around 4000 BC and this is 740 BC so you have three thousand years that have gone by and only now is that additional nuance being added to the word.
The core idea of holy is to be set apart to the service of God. We’ll get into those details when we get there.
In this statement Al [Ross] picks up both ideas that worship is distinct from that which is ordinary. Again as I say, when we look at what normally takes place in a lot of churches it’s the idea from the philosophy that’s going around that we should make people feel comfortable with what they normally experience. That’s like the same kind of music they listen to on the radio all the time and the same kind of other activities that should make them feel comfortable because it’s normal.
The reality is that worship is to be set apart and distinct because it’s holy. There’s a younger pastor that’s been listening to me about twenty years. He texted me on Monday telling me that was an outstanding message about faith and evidence on Sunday.
He said, “I’ve heard you teach this many times but I finally understood that you don’t teach that faith is another way of knowing as opposed to empiricism and rationalism and that faith undergirds all of them. It was like a big wake-up call and I just hadn’t realized that because if you make faith, reason, and experience three different systems of knowing then you’re juxtaposing faith versus reason.”
That’s paganism and it’s not what the Bible teaches. The Bible teaches that faith is rational and it fits experience. But revelation has to precede our understanding of faith and reason so if that individual who is exceptionally bright and educated and well trained and has been studying this for at least twenty years has a wake-up call after hearing it the umpteenth time, that’s why we do repetition.
I don’t want to get boring in the repetition.
As we get into Isaiah 6 we talk about angels. We’re going to go to Revelation and talk about angels there. Let’s just review this classification of angels.
In the Old Testament you have all of the angels referred to as sons of God. It means they were originally created by God. That means all the angels, holy angels versus fallen angels, are all the sons of God.
The army of God is called the host of God. Host is just that archaic English word meaning army so there’s that emphasis in the psalms especially about the Lord of hosts. This refers to the angelic army and also sometimes they’re identified as the chariots of God.
The cherub or cherubim (which is plural) have four wings according to Genesis 3:24, Ezekiel 1:5–24, Ezekiel 10:1–15, and Hebrews 9:5. Ezekiel 1:5–24 describes the cherubs but it doesn’t name them or identify them as cherubs. It just says they’re beings. Then in Ezekiel 10 it describes them again but names them as cherubs there.
They are these incredible warrior-type angels who stand very close to the Throne of God. They’re not only described in Ezekiel 1 but in chapter 10. I want to go there. In Ezekiel 10, Ezekiel is another one who gets a look at the Throne Room of God.
Isaiah does in Isaiah 6. We see Ezekiel in Ezekiel 10 and John in Revelation 4. Ezekiel says, “I look and there in the firmament which was above the head of the cherubim there appeared something like a sapphire stone, having the appearance of the likeness of a Throne.”
I want you to keep that image in mind because when we go to Revelation 4 we’re going to see a very similar description. “Then he [God] spoke to the man clothed with linen, and said ‘Go in among the wheels…’ .” The man clothed with linen is Ezekiel. He is a prophet and God told him to go in among the wheels of the cherubim and to fill his hands with coals of fire from among the cherubim.
We have this picture of fire there which is very similar to what we see in Isaiah. Remember in Isaiah 6:4 we see that he says, “Woe to me a man of unclean lips” and one of the seraphim picks up a coal of fire and flies over and cleanses or purges the lips of Isaiah.
Here we see the same kind of thing, that there is a fire in the midst of the cherubim so they are different. They have four wings. Seraphim have six wings so they’re different but they’re similar and have a similar function.
“Now the cherubim were standing on the south side of the temple when the man went in. A cloud filled the inner part of the court, then the glory of the Lord went up from the cherub, and paused over the threshold of the Temple; and the house was filled with the cloud, and the court was filled with the brightness of the Lord’s glory.” Now that’s how we normally think of the Lord’s glory.
We use the phrase “shekinah glory” from the Hebrew word shakan, which means to dwell, so it’s really the dwelling glory of God. What we see is the effect of who God is. That’s the bright light. John tells us in 1 John that God is light so when God appears, He is a brilliant, pure light.
The point I am making is that light is a manifestation of who He is in His character. This word “glory” doesn’t mean a bright and shining light. It is really a word that emphasizes the centrality and significance and importance of God.
As a result of who He is and being the most important in the universe, the most significant, for without God there is nothing, then that is manifested secondarily through this light, this effulgence that comes out from His character.
In Ezekiel 10:5 we hear about the wings of the cherubs and the voice of Almighty God when He speaks and it mentions in Ezekiel 10:7 the cherub stretched out his hand from among the cherubim so it’s like there’s a tight group. So he stretched out his hand from among the cherubim to the fire that was among the cherubim and took some of it and put it in the hands of the man clothed with linen and he took it and went out.
Again, this is similar to the purification of Isaiah in chapter 6. Then it describes that the cherubim appeared to have the form of a man’s hand under their wings. We’re going to see that with the living creatures or beings in Revelation 4. Then we see this other description coming up with this wheeled thing that is part of what they’re carrying in.
Then in Ezekiel 10:10 we read that all four looked alike as it were, a wheel in the middle of a wheel. A lot of people try to understand what that means. When they went they went toward the four directions, so there are four of them like we’ll see four living creatures in Revelation but they’re described differently. They’re not identical. Their bodies have hands. They have wings and they’re full of eyes all around. This is an interesting imagery of eyes because the eye is the gate of light into the soul. Eyes are used as a metaphor for learning, for knowledge, and for enlightenment.
When it talks about all of these eyes there’s an emphasis there on their knowledge. Being full of eyes means they’re filled with knowledge. They’re not omniscient but they’re filled with knowledge.
In Ezekiel 10:14 each one had four faces. The first looked like the face of a cherub. That communicates a lot, doesn’t it? No, we don’t know what a cherub looks like. So the first had the face of a cherub. The second the face like that of a man, the third the face of a lion, and the fourth is the face of an eagle.
There are other descriptions where there’s an ox in there, so they are clearly different from the living beasts who just have one face instead of four. It’s important that we understand about these creatures. They’re very close to the Throne of God. And Satan before his fall was the head of the cherubim.
He is the anointed cherub who covered, which indicates he had a particular role next to the Throne of God. He would have covered the Throne of God with his wings. He’s called the “anointed one”, which is the same word used for the Messiah. It just means there are different people identified as those specifically appointed by God to a mission.
Cyrus, the Persian, was called anointed by God. It doesn’t means he was a believer. It just means he was appointed to a position. Just because Satan was an anointed cherub doesn’t mean he’s always going to be like that. He fell after that.
So, this is the picture of the cherubim. They have four wings and four faces. Then we have the seraphim in Isaiah 6:1–4. They have six wings and then there’s the third group, the living creatures who are like seraphim in that they have six wings, but they are similar to cherubs in their different faces.
The four that are before the Throne of God in Revelation 4, one has the face of a man. One has the face of an ox and so on. They don’t each have four faces. It appears that these are three distinct categories of angels and they’re all focused on worship of God.
In looking at these passages what we’re trying to do is understand what the Scripture teaches and what we can learn about worship. We know that singing started in the mind of God and that all the angels, the sons of God, sang for joy when God laid the foundation of the earth. That indicates that there’s some standard ultimately for singing.
We looked at a definition last time and that emphasizes this idea of this response, the reverent admiration, the spontaneous praise of God’s characters and works, and the express commitment of trust and obedience to biblically revealed responsibility. There’s something inherent that happens and that should happen in public corporate worship.
We have an informal worship setting which means that we don’t have a formal liturgical type of service where there’s a lot of pomp and circumstance, where there’s public reading or a repetition of the creeds. I think that can be helpful at times, but when you’re never taught what the creeds mean, that becomes just rote and a format without meaning or significance.
What that’s supposed to do is represent the second idea here and that is that when you hear God’s Word there is supposed to be a response. That’s why we sing a hymn at the end of the message. This is to help focus our attention in terms of a response to what we have heard from God’s Word previously.
As part of worship, we remember God’s gracious work of salvation, the Person and the work of the Lord Jesus Christ at the Lord’s Table, and we remember that we are positionally identified with Christ in baptism so all of this then looks forward to its future fulfillment.
We read last time that in the year King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting on a Throne high and lifted up and the train of His robe filled the Temple. This describes the setting. It’s a time when there is international instability.
There is a threat to Israel because Assyria is now looming on the horizon and Assyria will indeed invade from the east and they will destroy the Northern Kingdom of Israel in about 18 to 20 years. Then they’ll go down into Judah and they are going to lay waste to most of Judah and finally stop just outside the walls of Jerusalem.
The point of all this is that Isaiah recognizes that though the king is dead and Azariah has been a source of stability, the real stability is the true Sovereign of Israel who is God. That’s the same thing for us. No matter how unstable things may look on our horizon, whether it’s a narrow horizon such as personal health, personal finances, or whatever the personal traumas might be at any given time, God is greater than all of that.
Our focus needs to be on Him and when our focus is on Him as Isaiah’s focus is on God here then those other problems fade into insignificance. They are not insignificant but we realize that God really is in control.
Then in Isaiah 6:2 we have the real meaning. “Above the Throne of God stood the seraphim. Each one had six wings; with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew.”
The two that allowed him to fly keep him elevated above the throne. There has been speculation that it may be such that the seraphim are now over the Throne so they’re covering the throne of God. That was originally Lucifer’s role but because of his fall he’s been replaced by these seraphs.
With two wings he covered his face. With two wings he covered his feet. They’re not looking upon God. What we see when we look at these other passages is that when there is a theophany and God appears, you can’t actually see His essence, who He is in terms of His true inner glory.
Moses is not allowed to see that. God has him get back in the cleft of a rock and God is going to pass by and Moses is going to see the back of God, as it were. The point is that no one, not even these angels who surround His Throne, look directly at God.
They’re covering their faces. This again points out that we shouldn’t treat God as our common buddy, best friend, which is where we’ve gone in our very lazy, informal culture. It is not that in some sense that Jesus isn’t our friend, but in another sense when Jesus speaks, the unrighteous dead are going to flee into the Lake of Fire.
As someone once said, “It’s really hard to be a buddy with a consuming fire.” We have to think of God in these elevated terms.
What is happening historically in Isaiah 6 is that Isaiah is realizing that faith and trust shouldn’t be in who is king or who the next king will be, but our faith and trust needs to be in God. It exemplifies the principle in Jeremiah 17:5–6, “Thus says the Lord, ‘Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart depart from the Lord.’ ”
That doesn’t mean that you’re juxtaposing trust in God with a measure of trust and reliance with political leaders. God instituted governments. They are ministers of righteousness. You have to keep this in the appropriate order. God, indeed, rules over the affairs of men but He does it through the government officials who are said by Paul in Romans 13 to be the ministers of righteousness.
They are the intermediate means by which God rules and interferes in the affairs of men, but we don’t put our ultimate trust in men or in the flesh but in God. He is the God who controls things. We can’t trust in man.
Man is going to fail us. Whether it’s your parents who will and have failed you. Whether it’s your children. They will and have failed you. Whether it’s your spouse. They will and have failed you to one degree or another because we’re all human. We all have sin natures.
We can’t ultimately put our trust in human beings. We have to put our trust in the Lord and that’s the verse, “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord and whose hope is in the Lord.” Notice the parallelism between hope and trust because hope is an extension of trust.
Hope is relying upon and confidence in the future. A certainty that something will happen. That’s not how we normally use the word, which is some sort of wishful thinking or wishful optimism.
Then we see what these seraphs are saying to one another surrounding and flying over and hovering over the Throne of God. “One cried to another and said, ‘Holy. Holy. Holy is the Lord of hosts, the Lord of the armies.’ ” They are saying God is the chief over all of the angelic armies. “The whole earth is full of His glory.”
What is going on here? What does it mean to be holy? What does it mean that God has glory? We look at the impact of this on the posts of the door surrounding the Temple, which are shaken by him who cried out and the house was filled with smoke.
What we see here, as I pointed out last time, is that God has opened up a portal between His Throne and between the cherubs on the ark of the covenant and His Throne in Heaven so that Isaiah is looking from the earthly Temple straight into the heavenly Temple and the Throne of God.
Let’s look at a parallel passage in Revelation 4 and 5. Here we’re going to see another type of angel. We’ve talked about cherubs and seraphs. Now we’re going to talk about the living creatures, the living beings. Turn with me to Revelation 4, which along with chapter 5, represent the Throne of God prior to the opening of the first seal, the beginning of the Tribulation. It’s between the Rapture of the Church and the beginning of the Tribulation.
This can take place in a nanosecond in Heaven—all of these events. On the earth some period of time will take place. We don’t know how long. It could be a few days, a few weeks, a few months, or maybe even a few years. It’s a transition period.
Once the Church goes there’s going to be transition until the rise of the Antichrist and he signs a peace treaty with Israel. That’s Daniel 9:24–27. What we see here is this picture where John in Revelation 4:1 is taken up into heaven. He sees the Throne set in Heaven. And notice that in this artist rendition you see that emerald that’s depicted in Ezekiel 10 that we just looked at.
The picture of all the jewel tones that are mentioned there are described by John. He was in the Spirit and he saw the Throne set in Heaven and on the Throne One sitting. This is God the Father. This isn’t a presentation of the Trinity at this point, because when we get to Revelation 5 we’re going to see that there is in the right hand of “Him who sat on the Throne”, and if you trace that phrase throughout Revelation, it is always God the Father.
Jesus isn’t sitting on His own Throne. That means Jesus is not now a king. He is not the Davidic king. There’s no New Covenant in effect today. All this talk you hear today, which is so, so very popular in Christianity, that we are in some form of the Kingdom is completely wrong. Jesus is waiting for the Kingdom to be given to Him. When the Kingdom is given to Him, according to Daniel 7, He will return at the Second Coming.
In the meantime, He is seated at the right hand of God on the Father’s Throne. [Revelation 3:21] So the one sitting on the throne is God the Father. He has a scroll in His hand and it’s going to be the Lamb in Revelation 5 who comes up and takes the scroll.
We don’t have a representation of the full Godhead on the Throne. In Revelation 4:3 we read, “And He who sat there was like jasper and sardius stone in appearance and there was a rainbow around the throne in appearance like an emerald.” This is very similar to what we see in Ezekiel 3:1.
Then in Revelation 4:4 we read, “Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and on the thrones I saw twenty-four elders sitting, clothed in white robes; and they had crowns of gold on their heads.” I’m not going to go into detail about this, but these represent the Church.
The crown that they have is the Greek word STEPHANOS crowns. It’s not a DIADEMA crown, which is the crown of a ruler. A STEPHANOS crown is a reward. An athlete would get a wreath and that was called a STEPHANOS crown. So, this is a rewarded person. They have these crowns that represent a reward and the only ones that have been rewarded at this point are the Church Age believers who are raptured.
Furthermore, when we get into Revelation 5 it talks about a song of praise to the Lamb who is worthy to take the seal because “You were slain and have redeemed them [us] to God”. (Because no one could figure out how any believers are in Heaven, yet the translators went with one minority manuscript. But all the other manuscripts have them saying that the Lamb has redeemed “us” to God.)
Guess what, folks. Angels aren’t redeemed, so angels can’t be praising the Lamb for being redeemed. It has to be human beings who have been redeemed, so this must be Church Age believers. Because they have STEPHANOS crowns it means that they are raptured and rewarded at this point.
In the Old Testament there were 24 divisions of the Levitical priesthood. Each time they would choose those who would serve they would cast lots and choose one from each of the twenty-four divisions so there would be twenty-four who would represent all of the Levitical priests. This is the same idea. It’s like when we elect congressmen and we send them to Washington, D.C. they represent us. They are working on our behalf.
This is the idea here. You have these twenty-four elders clothed in white robes who have been purified and are in resurrection bodies. They have STEPHANOS crowns of gold on their heads. And from the Throne proceeded lightning, thunder, and voices.
This is very, very similar to the kind of things that Moses describes in the Theophany of God in Exodus 19 and 20. There’s lightning and thundering and all of this on Mount Sinai as God appears there.
Then it says there are “seven lamps of fire burning before the Throne”. In Isaiah 61 it talks about the seven spirits of God and this is an emphasis on the role of the Holy Spirit. They are the light that has to do with illumination, which has to do with the Holy Spirit.
They are illuminating and making known the revelation of God. So the reason the Holy Spirit is pictured as these seven lamps is a reference to the fact He is the One who illuminates the world to a knowledge of God. It’s His role. He’s the prime agent in revelation and illumination and in the teaching of the Word.
In Revelation 4:6 we read that, “Before the throne there is a sea of glass. like crystal. And in the midst of the Throne and around the Throne were four living creatures full of eyes in front and in back.” So again, eyes recognize illumination. They represent knowledge, so it’s emphasizing knowledge. See it’s very similar to what we read in Ezekiel 10. Yet their description will be different.
In Revelation 4:7 we read, “The first living creature was like a lion, the second living creature like a calf, the third living creature had a face like a man, and the fourth living creature was like a flying eagle.” Each individual has a different face, unlike the cherubs, where each individual has four faces.
They’re not the same as the cherubs. They have six wings like seraphim, but they’re different from seraphim. Apparently there are these three classes of angels who focus on God and have formed this inner circle who surround the Throne of God and are always associated with His righteousness and His justice. They seem to have a relationship to the judicial function of God, to His justice.
The many eyes that are mentioned here in this passage would symbolize their complete knowledge of all things. They’re not omniscient, but it relates to their knowledge of all things and their relationship in terms of justice.
In Revelation 4:8 we see that “each have six wings and are full of eyes around and within. And they do not rest day or night.” Listen to what they say. It’s the same thing we read in Isaiah. How long has this been going on? Today we would say it’s boring that they keep singing the same song. That’s because today we have lost the content of worship.
What’s happened today in the present environment is that people have taken a phrase out of context in Scripture and say they’re singing this song. They’ve interpreted that to mean that every generation has their own music. That’s not true. It’s not true historically and that’s not what it’s talking about.
As God intervenes in history new hymns and songs were written to celebrate that intervention in a person’s individual life or in the history of Israel. That’s what is meant by a “new song”. It’s not saying a new song. It’s not saying a new kind of music for a new generation.
Once you buy into the concept of modern, contemporary worship, what you’re basically saying is that everything else is second rate. We’re first rate now. We have something better and then the next generation comes along and thinks they have something better. It disconnects you from the historical body of Christ and their worship.
When we sing hymns like “A Mighty Fortress is our God”, “Amazing Grace”, “Holy, Holy, Holy,” which have stood the test of time, one wonders how long some of these choruses that are sung today will stand the test of time.
Back in the 80s when I was first really studying this, there were what I would call contemporary choruses at that time, and they were much more biblical than the ones today, but you don’t hear them being sung today. Few or very, very few of them have stood the test of thirty years, much less centuries.
So, when we sing these tried-and-true friends we are connected. We are “locking shields” with generations of believers who have sung these hymns to God. When we take a view that somehow what we are singing today is better or means more to us we’re setting ourselves apart in some arrogant manner as being better than the other generations.
We’re not locking shields with all the generations of Christians who have gone before. You see examples of what they are singing here. They’re singing “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come!”
Revelation 4:11expands on this and tells why they are singing this. They are singing this because “You are worthy, O Lord,” and this connects with their praise in Revelation 5:9 to the Lamb who they say is worthy to take the scroll and again in Revelation 9:12, which says only God is worthy. He is holy and His worthiness and His holiness is expressed through His importance.
He is distinct and that is expressed through the word glory as we shall see. Revelation 4:11 says, “You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power.” Glory is a word that emphasizes God’s importance.
It expresses His uniqueness, His distinctiveness, His significance in all of creation and we honor Him, which is respect Him because of Who He is and what He has done. What are we praising Him for? Because He fired off an electrical discharge in a sea of protoplasm some millions of years ago and somehow through a random chain of events it eventually brought forth human beings?
Is that what is going on here? No. Creation is so important. It is central to who God is and what distinguishes the God of the Bible from all of the pagan gods and goddesses. We can’t escape that and that’s why there’s such a battle over creation versus evolution.
“For You created all things, and by Your will they exist and were created.” “Exist” here is present tense. They continue to exist. Each moment God lets us exist. If God relaxed that sustaining power for a nanosecond we would just disappear. All of the universe would disappear and be gone. He sustains His creation. He created all things and “by Your will they exist and were created”.
Then compare that to Isaiah 6:3, “And one cried to another and said, ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts, The whole earth is full of His glory!’ ”
Holy is qadosh in Hebrew. It means that which is holy, but what does that really mean? Yes, most people will say that it means you’re good. That’s not what it means. It means to be unique and distinct, one of a kind or set apart.
The other word for glory is the word kavod. Now if you were around back in the 70s or the 80s there was an idiom that if you were impressed with someone or what someone said or did, something that just impressed you, you’d say, “Man, that’s really heavy.”
What you’re saying is that it important, significant, and powerful. This concept of impressing importance or something being important has often been expressed through this concept of being heavy. That’s what kavod means. Its root meaning is heavy.
It came to mean to express that which was weighty and that which was important. We talk a lot about the heart. In the ancient world people didn’t talk about the heart as much as they talked about the liver. The liver is the heaviest organ in the body. All the heart does is pump stuff through your body, but the liver was much more important.
In fact, they would kill an animal in something called a heptomancy and they would cut open the liver and read the liver to foretell the future. They wouldn’t do that with the heart. They did that with the liver, which was considered the most significant organ because it was the heaviest organ.
Another thing just to tie some loose ends together. For some years I’ve been asking questions about why the fat is so important in the sacrifices. God says He wants the fat. He wants the fat around the internal organs. You don’t get the fat.
It’s not because God wants you on a fat-free diet. A lot of people think it’s because the fat is what gives flavor and taste to the meat, so God wants the fat. I’ve talked to Jay Collins about it. He’s a veterinarian and he’s talked about this and that, but nothing explained why God put so much emphasis on fat.
The other day I’m listening to some lectures on biblical archeology by Allen Ross. He’s talking about these pagan gods and goddesses of fertility, which are represented as fat. It’s prosperity theology. It’s fertility. If you lived in an agricultural environment, you want things to be productive.
If things are productive, you’re going to have more food. If you have more food you’re going to eat more food and you’re going to be fat. Your animals are going to be fat. Your cattle are going to be fat. Your sheep are going to be fat and you’re going to be fat.
People who are prosperous are going to be heavy. They’re fat and they’re important. Do you see how all of these things connect together? This is where this idiom on kavod comes from. It’s weighty. You’re important. You’re fat.
Back to the sacrifices, the reason God wants the fat is that God is the One who has brought the prosperity to you as a farmer and you are giving Him the first fruit, the first of your flocks and your herds. You’re giving Him the fat that symbolizes that God is the One who made you prosperous and He’s the One who made you fat.
We even have that in English. We talk about someone who is very successful and they have a lot of power and we call them a “fat cat”. We still use that kind of imagery.
If you’re living on a farm and you’re not doing so well, you get thin. If you get successful, then you’re going to put on a little weight because you have more.
Let’s talk about holy. Holy means unique, one of a kind, and distinct. That’s what it’s emphasizing here with God. God is holy. God is unique. 1 Samuel 2:2 states, “No one is holy like the Lord.” That really emphasizes the core semantic value of that word.
It means God is one of a kind. You can’t understand God because even though you have some analogies, they’re all going to fall apart because nothing is like God. That’s why worship needs to be different from everything else we do in life, because God is different from anything else we can imagine.
“No one is holy like the Lord, for there is none besides You, nor is there any rock like our God.” God is unique. God is one of a kind.
Psalm 86:8, “Among the gods there is none like You, O Lord; Nor are there any works like Your works.” God is one of a kind. He’s distinct. No one can do what God does.
Jeremiah 10:6, “Inasmuch as there is none like You O Lord. (You are great, and Your name is great in might.)” Again and again you get this idea reverberating through Scripture that God is one of a kind and distinct and He doesn’t need to be treated or approached like you would treat or approach anyone else or anything else.
Isaiah 44:6, “Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel, and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts; ‘I am the First and I am the Last: Besides Me there is no God.” Notice there are two personages there just as a side point. There’s Yahweh the King of Israel and His Redeemer, the Lord of hosts. You have God the Father, the King of Israel and His Redeemer, the Second Person of the Trinity. His Redeemer says “I am the First and I am the Last: Besides Me there is no God.” This is the same drumbeat you get all the way through the Book of Revelation.
Isaiah 44:7, “And who can proclaim as I do? Then let him declare it and set it in order for Me, since I appointed the ancient people. And the things that are coming and shall come, let them show these to them.”
Isaiah 44:8, “ ‘Do not fear, nor be afraid; Have I not told you from that time, and declared it? You are My witnesses. Is there a God besides Me? Indeed there is no other rock; I know not one.’ ” Again we have that idea that He’s a Rock as we saw with 1 Samuel 2.
So we look at the essence of God. We talk about them all the time. God is sovereign, righteousness, justice, love, and eternal life. He’s omniscience, omnipresent, omnipotent, veracity, and immutability. In each of those areas, God is unique and distinct. For many years I heard theologians say that holiness basically summarizes righteousness and justice. I think that’s wrong. God is distinctively righteous. He is uniquely just. He is holy in His righteousness and holy in His justice.
Holiness applies to every attribute. He is one of a kind in the way He rules and why He rules, because He is the Creator of everything. He is unique. He alone is love. No one else is love, so He is holy in His love. He’s one of a kind. He is the only One who is eternal; therefore, He is holy in His eternality.
He is unique in His knowledge, unique in His omnipresence, unique in His power, unique in His truthfulness. He never changes but everything else does. Holiness applies to every other attribute and it summarizes the totality of God as distinct.
When we go back to Isaiah 6:3 we come to the second word which is kavod. I said earlier it has the idea of literally meaning that which is heavy, but it came to mean that which is important, that which is significant. Think about this. When we put this into the way it’s used in various passages, such as in Genesis 45:13 where Joseph is in Egypt.
Joseph’s brothers have come to him. There’s famine in the land of Canaan so Jacob has sent them down to Egypt where there’s food so they can get food and bring it back. Joseph is sending them back to Jacob and tells them, “So you shall tell my father of all my glory in Egypt.”
Is he saying that you’re to brag about me? That’s what some people would say, but what he’s saying is that you’re going to tell my father how important I have become in Egypt. See, that’s what glory means. He’s second in command of all of Egypt. He’s the viceroy under the Pharaoh. “So you shall tell my father of all my glory.”
In Isaiah 5:13 God is speaking and this is a foreshadowing of the prophecy of the captivity of the people when they’re taken out of the land. “Therefore my people have gone into captivity because they have no knowledge. Their honorable men are famished.” The word translated “honorable” there is kavod. It’s the important men.
They’re leaders. They’re hungry. If the leaders are going hungry, everyone else is in worse shape. Those are just two examples I picked out because they showed the use of the word as meaning those who are important and significant.
In Deuteronomy 5:24 we read, “And you said: ‘Surely the Lord our God has shown us His glory and His greatness.’ ” The word there for greatness is the word gohdel which means great or powerful and it’s used as a synonym for glory. It’s talking about God’s importance.
When we glorify God, we are stressing the centrality of God to everything in our life and the importance of God to everything in our life. He is unique and distinct and He is central to everything. He is the most important thing in our life.
In Isaiah 42:8 we read, “I am the Lord [Yahweh], that is My name; And My glory [My importance] I will not give [share] to another.” He is saying, “I alone am the most significant Being in the universe because I am the source of all beings in the universe.” God’s glory is not shared.
He’s not going to share it with idols and carved images. That’s the idea in Jeremiah 2:11, “Has a nation changed its gods, which are not gods? But My people have changed their glory for what does not profit.” Glory there stands for that which is important to them.
Glory is all that God is that sets Him apart from everything else. It is His distinctiveness and His centrality. “They have changed their glory for that which does not profit.”
In Isaiah 43:7 we read, “Everyone who is called by My name, whom I have created for My glory; I have formed him, yes, I have made him.” This demonstrated God’s significance and centrality.
Then in Psalm 19:1, “The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork.” The heavens declare the importance of God. If God can create all the stars and keep the whole universe running, He’s really important. Without Him, it all falls apart.
See how that changes your whole concept. It brings out a whole new focus in your understanding of glory. “The heavens declare the glory of God.”
We’ll see some other aspects of this. In Psalm 24:8 we see, “Who is this King of glory?” It picks up something else. Because He is central. Because He is the priority and because He’s the most important, it should be translated “Who is this glorious King?” “Who is this important King?” “Who is this central King?” That’s the idea there.
“The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord [Yahweh] mighty in battle. Lift up your heads, O you gates! Lift up, you everlasting doors! And the glorious King [the important King, the central King, the only One who matters] will come in. Who is this glorious King? The Lord of hosts. He is the glorious King. Selah.”
Psalm 29:2 says, “Give unto the Lord [Yahweh] the glory [the importance, the centrality in your life] that is due His name.” He is the anchor that should hold together every detail in our life. “Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.” Your worship is distinct there and that distinctiveness is what is beautiful. It’s distinct from everything else.
We see glory used in the New Testament. John 1:14 says, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” When we read that we think of glory as this effulgent light that is coming out from God. That is not what it’s saying.
When you get to John 2:11, Jesus has come to the wedding at Cana. He’s pretty much nondescript and the disciples He has with Him don’t stand out. They look like everyone else and they’re running out of wine. Mary comes to Jesus and tells Him He can solve the problem, that they need more wine.
He tells her that it’s not His time yet because He hasn’t reached the age of public service, which was around 30. He changes the water to wine and at the end of that episode we read, “This beginning of signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory.” Did anyone there know what He did other than Mary and the disciples? No, but it manifested His glory.
There’s no bright and shining light. Flashbulbs didn’t go off and everyone saying, “Wow. There’s a miracle today.” No one knew that. That’s because we have the wrong idea of glory. When you substitute the idea of importance there, John says we beheld the importance and significance of Jesus of Nazareth.
Now you have a different idea of this. The first thing He did that manifests or shows us His importance and significance is that He changed the water to wine. That demonstrated He was the Creator. Only the Creator could change water into wine.
We’re going to stop there and come back next time to press this a little further. But now I’ve massaged and shaped your thinking of what holy means and your idea of what glory means. From now on when you read those words you’re going to do those word substitutions and talk about the uniqueness and distinctiveness of God and the importance and centrality of God. Now things are going to take on a new significance as you read through the Scriptures.
“Father, thank You for this time we’ve had together. May we get a fresh understanding of Who You are and Your centrality in our lives. Father, as we study and as we probe Your Word we pray that we might have a response that heightens and focuses our worship.
“We want to realize Who You are and who we are and that You are worthy of all glory. You should be the center, the most important thing in our life. We pray this in Christ’s name. Amen.”