The Glory of God is Frightening

Daily Scripture readings for November, set #5:

1 Kings 8
Psalm 119:33-40
Luke 1:67-80
Ephesians 3:1-13

King Solomon captures well the paradox of “doing” something for God, as if he needs anything from us, or as if we could actually contribute anything to Him. 1 Kings 8, verse 27: “But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you; how much less this house that I have built!” 

Psalm 119:36-37 is a passage I memorized a few years ago, and I’ve found preaching these verses to myself to be helpful and relevant in almost every situation. “Incline my ear to your testimonies, and not toward selfish gain. Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things, and give me life in your ways.”

Zechariah’s description of his son John in Luke 1:76-77 is unique to John in one sense, but in a more broad sense it is a description of all Christians: “And you, child, will be called prophet of the Most High, for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways.”

Theologians and Biblical scholars use the phrase “salvation history” to describe the progressive revelation of God’s plan over time. Paul touches on this reality in Ephesians 3 when he speaks of the “mystery” of Christ: “When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus though the gospel” (vs 5-6).

Daily Scripture readings for November, set #6:

1 Kings 9-10
Psalm 119:41-48
Luke 2:1-20
Ephesians 3:14-21

1 Kings 9:8-9 are some sobering verses for a Christian, as one who bears the name of God. Obviously Christians in 2012 are not in the Old Covenant, but the seriousness of the issue still stands. “Everyone passing by it will be astonished and will hiss, and they will say, ‘Why has the Lord done this to this land and this house?’ Then they will say ‘Because they abandoned the Lord their God who brought their fathers out of the land of Egypt and laid hold on other gods and worshiped them and served them. Therefore the Lord has brought all this disaster upon them.'”

The Psalmist’s confidence in the Lord: “I will also speak of your testimonies before kings and shall not be put to shame” (1 Kings 119:46).

The Luke 2 “Christmas story” is such a familiar passage. I don’t have any notes written for these verses from my reading last year, but today I noticed something about the shepherds I had seen before. Verse 9: “And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were… FILLED WITH FEAR.” Now, verse 20 records that ultimately the shepherds were pumped about everything that took place that night, but it’s noteworthy to me that their first reaction to seeing God’s glory shining all around them was to be afraid. Beholding God’s glory, apparently, is not the warm-fuzzy-chicken-soup-for-the-soul kind of experience that many Christian radio songs make it out to be.

I wonder why the parenthetical thought in Ephesians 3:15 is included in Paul’s statement in this section. “For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named…” (vs 14-15). Is it to again drive home the reconciliation of human ethnicities that is found in the gospel?

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