The Glory of the Lord (continued)
The Vision of the Glory Saves Us From Despair (continued)
Strategic Revelations of the Glory
To reveal the glory is always a strategic movement of God in a difficult and unpromising day and situation. I think that was the meaning of the Transfiguration. It was a difficult day; things were closing in on the Lord and His little band of men; the atmosphere was impregnated with hatred; and the Cross was there immediately before. How will they meet it? How will they survive it? The strategy was the Transfiguration - they "saw His glory." And although for a time afterward it seemed to be eclipsed, nevertheless, when He was risen from the dead, they understood all things. In the light of the resurrection the Transfiguration took on its full meaning.
Things were going very badly for the church in Jerusalem on the day that that wonderful young man, Stephen, was dragged outside and stoned to death, with that so vicious hatred of the Lord Jesus. But Stephen saw the Heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God (Acts 7:56). It saved the situation for him, and I think it had a much farther reach than just himself. At any rate, one man there became a very potent factor in the Church for all time. He was tremendously affected by what he saw in the face of Stephen, and heard through the lips of Stephen; he never got over it. And he never forgave himself. He confessed afterwards: "And I, I was standing by and giving my vote, my consent!" (Acts 22:20). The seeing of the glory was a saving thing in a dark and difficult day.
Paul is in prison; he is nearing the end of his long, full life and ministry. He thinks of all those many churches - far more than we have tabulated by letters addressed to them - which he had been used to bring into being; of all his many converts, and of the many who owed everything spiritually to him and his ministry. Now he is in prison, shut up, and he cannot go to them; the churches are in a state of decline; many are turning against him and away from him as he is there. He is a lonely man - "only Luke is with me"; a man in difficulty, if ever a man was, speaking naturally. What a situation, what an end, for a man like that! What saves him?
It is astoundingly impressive, that, in the midst of all that, knowing it all - knowing his own position, knowing his own prospects, which were pretty poor for this life; knowing the state of things far away in the churches; getting news of these secessions; faced with the seeming breakdown of his work; disappointed with believers and with churches - I say that it is an amazing that that with all that, out of that, in the midst of that, enough to crush a man in despair, he was an open Heaven, and says: "To Him be the glory unto the ages of the ages!" (2 Timothy 4:18). He is saved by the glory; he is delivered by the glory. What a different end it might have been but for this apprehension of the glory!
(continued with # 46)