I’m a visual learner. I can read something or even hear a speech and be moderately moved by it, but when I see it I get sucked in. It’s like movies in a big screen theater. I’m there in the middle of the action. So as I’ve been reading through the book of Isaiah, it hit me for the first time: Several times it says “the vision of Isaiah, which he saw,” like in Isaiah 1:1, 2:1, and 6:1. Isaiah actually saw Jesus sitting on His throne, glorified in Heaven, just like John saw in his visions in Revelation 4 and 5. God didn’t just tell Isaiah a message to go repeat–He showed Him Jesus on His throne, being beaten and crucified in chapter 53 and in His real kingdom of the Millennium in chapters 55-56. He saw it.
Isaiah saw Jesus’ glory and then went out and preached about it to people who were blind and dull of heart. Ezekiel saw the glory of the Lord, so he would know how big of a deal it was when the Spirit left the Temple before Babylon destroyed it. It was probably the worst day in Israel’s history, the glory of God leaving dwelling among them and protecting them. John saw Jesus’ glory too, so did Peter and Paul. Paul saw it on the Damascus road and it made him do a big U Turn. He got beat up for it again and again because people were jealous of him and tried to invalidate his authority. The road is narrow and few there be that find it, the rest are like Isaiah’s audience: dull and hard hearted.
I’ve been thinking about how seeing God’s glory via seeing Jesus had to have changed Isaiah, John and Paul. In 2 Corinthians 3:12-18 it talks about how Moses’ face glowed after he was on Mt. Sinai and he had to wear a veil because the people couldn’t look at it. Then in verse 18 Paul writes that we all have unveiled faces, like Moses and reflect God’s glory like a mirror because we’ve seen God’s glory. It changes us from one degree of glory to another, through His Holy Spirit. ‘So how does that work?’ I wonder.
Well, we see God’s glory through looking at Jesus and it changes us too. And then we tell others about it. We can’t look with our physical eyes, but we “see” with our spiritual eyes and with our minds. In Ephesians 1:17 Paul prayed that God would open the eyes of the Ephesians’ hearts so they could know God and know the hope to which He called them, His riches in the saints, and His incredibly great power that is at work for us who believe. In 2 Corinthians 4:4-6 Paul wrote about how our minds are veiled by Satan but God shines in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.
In my everyday life of work and marriage and life, that really gets grueling at points, I need to see God’s glory in the face of Christ, to be changed by it to become more like Jesus by the Spirit’s work in and through me, and then to communicate it somehow to dull and hard hearted people around me. When Peter saw Jesus’ glory on the Mount of Transfiguration, he wanted to camp out there. But Jesus told him they couldn’t, not yet, and they had to go back down to normal life. Peter had to take that picture of Jesus’ glory to fuel him to live out the rest of his life as a witness for Jesus who would eventually get killed because of it.
So I can’t just worship and never leave my house and hoard the glory. It has to fuel me to get off the mountain and on to work. But I should be different because of it–Not sucked into gossip or revenge or just my own agenda. It should make me humble and patient, loving and kind. And I should have a message of hope when the news gives only rotten news.
In 2 Corinthians 11:3 Paul urged them to not get deceived by Satan to be lured away from a sincere and a pure devotion to Christ. Same for me. I need to keep gazing on Jesus, to look into His face with the eyes of my heart and my mind as I read Scripture and worship. It will help me to not lose heart, to stand when the enemy seems to be pouncing, and to be changed to become more like Jesus. I can’t turn away to other things, even a more marketable Gospel that’s watered down, or to just living life and being a good person.
“We all with unveiled faces beholding the glory of the Lord are being transformed into His image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” 2 Corinthians 3:18