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God's Irrepressible Gloryby Dr. Ralph F. Wilson
I was camping at Lake Tahoe last week, enjoying the beauty of this world-class recreation area. Then one morning, the Lord spoke strongly to my mind the words:
"The whole earth is filled with His glory."
Again and again the words came. Stronger and stronger.
I could see the Creator's glory in the beautiful trees and rocks. In the morning light shimmering on the water. In the grains of sand on the beaches, the gentle wildflowers, and the persistent snow on the peaks and shaded canyons of the high country. You have to be blind not to see beauty in a place like this, to deny that it is the handiwork of a wonderful Creator.
But this verse from Isaiah's vision and calling that God spoke to my heart that morning doesn't limit God's glory to the beautiful places only. In Yahweh's grand throne room the six-winged seraphim are calling to each other.
"Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts;
the whole earth is full of His glory!" (Isaiah 6:3)
I wonder about the searing heat of the deserts. I guess there is a beauty there, a glory, a grandeur in this delicate, arid ecosystem, if only you have eyes to see it.
But what about the city? Not just the manicured parks and public works. What about the grimy tenement buildings, the shattered glass and litter and decay? The polluted waterways? The unclean air? What about the broken, homeless, addicted people? Where is the beauty in their desperate lives? Where is the glory? The whole earth is full of His glory, the seraphs chant. But where is it?
It is in the blades of grass that grow between the cracks in the crumbling sidewalk. It is in the shining eyes of a teenage girl who has felt Jesus lift her out of a life destroyed by drugs. The glory of God is found in the hope that the Spirit instills in those who call out to Him. The glory of God is seen in the present footsteps of a Savior who still lives to make us whole.
Jesus walks the roads of Galilee and meets people in the village streets. He befriends the tax collectors and sinners and prostitutes. He hasn't given up on them. Though the beauty is befouled, yet somehow a bit remains to be made whole. And so Jesus touches bodies and lives and heals them. He speaks words of hope and love with clarity. He says, "Let there be light," and there is light. Jesus changes the lives of the people whom he touches -- then and now -- and fills them with God's glory.
Man can so corrupt God's glory that it is scarcely visible to the untrained eye. When we give ourselves to the passions that wage war against our souls, we destroy and degrade and defile, but we cannot fully obliterate his glory, his mark, his image, his hope, no matter how hard we try.
God's glory is neither fragile nor ephemeral. Despite the fact that our world is fallen, it has once been created by God and declared "good." And even though our lives can grow so dark and clouded, yet somewhere in us is the image of God in whom we are created.
California has experienced some terrible fires in recent years. On November 8, 2018, the Sierra Nevada foothill town of Paradise, less than 90 miles north of me, was nearly wiped off the map by a raging wildfire that consumed 240 square miles of timberland, killed at least 85 people, and destroyed 14,000 homes.
Yet after the spring rains, green begins to sprout here and there amidst the charred earth, growing from seeds dropped by birds upon the blackened ground. Wildflowers will soon flourish in the thin soil of disturbed places, and glow with their fresh beauty once again. Before too long, Paradise will see shrubs, and then tree saplings. Followed by birds flitting in their branches and squirrels running up and down their trunks. And field mice and foxes, coyotes and deer, and here and there the black bear and her cub. In twenty years or so, you'll only see the remnants of the fire if you know where to look.
God's glory is irrepressible. The whole earth is full of his glory. Oh, the light can seem to flicker and almost go out. But Christ is risen. He reigns. And after all is said and done, this world belongs to Him. Despite the darkness and brokenness, and the ragings of the prince of darkness, the King of Glory will return and fulfill the prophet's vision.
"They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy
for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD
as the waters cover the sea." (Isaiah 11:8-9)
Come soon, Lord Jesus, and make it so.
In-depth Bible study books
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- Disciple's Guide to the Holy Spirit
- 1, 2, and 3 John
- 1 Peter
- 2 Peter & Jude
- 1 & 2 Thessalonians
- 1 & 2 Timothy
- 1 Corinthians
- 2 Corinthians
- Abraham, Faith of
- Christ Powered Life (Romans 5-8)
- Christmas Incarnation
- Colossians and Philemon
- David, Life of
- Glorious Kingdom, The
- Great Prayers of the Bible
- Jacob, Life of
- Jesus and the Kingdom of God
- JesusWalk: Beginning the Journey
- John's Gospel
- Lamb of God
- Listening for God's Voice
- Lord's Supper
- Luke's Gospel
- Moses the Reluctant Leader
- Names and Titles of God
- Names and Titles of Jesus
- Rebuild & Renew: Post-Exilic Books
- Resurrection and Easter Faith
- Sermon on the Mount
- Seven Last Words of Christ