People Who Say Such Things: Share in the Glory of God

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April 4, 2020

Exodus 14:15-18 (NIV)

15 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on. 16 Raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea to divide the water so that the Israelites can go through the sea on dry ground. 17 I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they will go in after them. And I will gain glory through Pharaoh and all his army, through his chariots and his horsemen. 18 The Egyptians will know that I am the Lord when I gain glory through Pharaoh, his chariots and his horsemen.”

CONSIDER THIS

I absolutely love this moment. Moses has just given his best BraveHeart speech:

“Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. 14 The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

Then, in an apparent contradiction of Moses’ uber cinematically spiritual message to the Israelites, God says this:

“Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on.

Based on what he said, it appears Moses expected God was going to hurl bolts of lightening and destroy the Egyptian army. He expected God would slay the Egyptians as the Israelites stood by and watched. Clearly, the notion of parting the waters of the sea would not have crossed even their wildest imaginings. There was no category for such a thing. Even more surprising than this is how it would happen.

Raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea to divide the water so that the Israelites can go through the sea on dry ground.

God called Moses to part the sea. God would give the power, but he wanted Moses to do it. Raise YOUR STAFF and stretch out YOUR HAND. This is truly extraordinary. Moses was not an interested bystander or onlooker. He was an agent of the deliverance of God. Second only to the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, the deliverance of the Israelites through the Red Sea is the single most incredible mighty act of God in human history. 

So why didn’t God just do it himself? Why Moses and his staff and his outstretched hand? I have a theory: God wanted to share his glory with Moses. I know many will not be comfortable with this idea, but let me make the case. Throughout Scripture, we see three primary dimensions of the grace of God. We see saving grace; most often referred to as justifying grace or the gift of the salvation of God.  We see purifying grace; most often referred to as sanctifying grace or the gift of the holiness of God. We see radiant grace; most often referred to as glorifying grace or the gift of the glory of God. 

If God wants to gift us with justifying grace and sanctifying grace, why would he not want to gift us with glorifying grace? He would. The problem is not with God but with us. We do not have a category for such a thing, unless we consider it something reserved for a Christian’s death. These graces and gifts are sequential and progressive in nature. We should not expect to see glorifying grace among the young and less mature believers. We should expect to see it in the older and more mature believers (in the period of life I call one’s “Kingdom Prime.”) Moses was 80 years old after all. 

Hear me clearly. Glorifying grace does not mean we get the glory. The glory is God’s. He empowers us to share and participate in his glory; to do glorious things in the earth by the power of his holy love. The problem most of us have in accepting such teaching is we think glory is a zero sum game. There is only so much glory and to the extent that I get any glory it robs God of his glory. This is a misconception. We don’t “get” glory, rather we are given the gift of participating and sharing in God’s glory. It is of infinite quantity and quality. Just like the gift of holiness requires the prerequisite gift of redemption, so the gift of glory requires the prerequisite gift of holiness. And all of this is the gift of God in Christ Jesus; plain to see in Scripture.

With Moses we get an extraordinary precursor glimpse of glorifying grace; of a human being participating in the glory of God. I am not for one second even slightly inclined to give the glory to Moses. I just want to revel in it all and maybe hold the staff for a minute! In Jesus we see what God intends it to look like when a human being participates fully in the glorifying grace of God. It is the gift of God for those who are willing to believe that union with God is not only possible, but the plan. 

Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. John 14:12

Now hear this in Jesus “High Priestly Prayer” in John 17:

I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. John 17:22-23

I know. These are big ideas over coffee on a Saturday morning. They are God-sized Ideas. 

Raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea to divide the water so that the Israelites can go through the sea on dry ground.

People who say such things. . . .

THE PRAYER

Father, I want to be a person who says such things. Thank you for the gift of saving grace. Because of this I am redeemed. Thank you for the gift of sanctifying grace. Because of this I am being made holy like you are holy. And thank you for the gift of glorifying grace. I struggle with this one and yet I welcome it. Lead me into the country of deep union with you and your people such that I can revel in participating in your glory—on Earth as it is in Heaven. I will dare to believe. Come Holy Spirit, and train me to be such a person of faith. I pray in Jesus name, Amen. 

THE QUESTION

Do you struggle with this teaching about glorifying grace? Why? Do you aspire to it? Will you stretch to believe it? 

For the Awakening,
J.D. Walt
Sower-in-Chief
seedbed.com

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Farmer. Poet. Theologian. Jurist. Publisher. Seedbed's Sower-in-Chief.

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