Monday, August 1, 2005

The Knowledge of the Glory

For the earth will be filled
With the knowledge of the glory of the LORD,
As the waters cover the sea.
(Habakkuk 2:14)
Notice that the prophet is talking, not just about the glory of the LORD, but of the knowledge of the glory of the LORD. The earth is already filled with the glory of the LORD. We see this in Isaiah’s vision, where the angels cry out,
Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Hosts;
The whole earth is full of His glory.
(Isaiah 6:3)
The glory of God is already here — always has been, always will be. What is really needed is the knowledge of His glory. And that is what Habakkuk is prosphesying — that the knowledge of His glory will fill the earth.

Knowledge is awareness, perception, acknowledgement, discernment, wisdom or understanding concerning a thing. The knowledge of the glory of the LORD comes by revelation. That is how it came to Isaiah, that is how it comes to you and me. Paul’s prayer for believers in Ephesians was that the Father of Glory would give them wisdom and revelation by the Holy Spirit, so that they could know Him more and more (Ephesians 1:17).

The Hebrew word for “fill,” mala, means to accomplish, confirm, consecrate, or fulfill. When the earth is filled with the knowledge of God’s glory, there is a setting apart for the purposes of God, and a completion of those purposes.

Notice the extent of this revelation that is to come upon the earth: “As the waters cover the sea.” Now, we know that seventy percent of the earth’s surface is covered with water, but one hundred percent of the seas are covered with water. Either way you want to take it, the point is that this revelation of God’s glory is going to be all around us.

But how shall this be, and when? Habakkuk gives us a clue:
Behold, is it not of the LORD of Hosts
That the peoples labor to feed the fire,
And nations weary themselves in vain?
(Habakkuk 3:13)
There is a feeding of the fire, the vanities of peoples and nations being revealed as God comes to set things right. In the Bible, fire is a judgment which purifies the good and destroys the evil.
  • “For our God is a consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:29). But also, “God is love” (1 John 4:8). So the fire is ultimately an expression of His love.
  • Speaking of Jesus, John the Baptist said, “He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire” (Matthew 3:11).
  • Paul said, “No other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is” (1 Corinthians 3:11-13).
  • Peter concluded, “Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness; looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells” (2 Peter 3:11-13).
Whenever the vanity of man is burned up in the fire, the knowledge of God’s glory comes forth. For it is the goodness of God which not only reveals the sinfulness of man, but also deals with it.

When Isaiah had his vision, as he became aware of the glory of the LORD, it would have killed him, had it not been veiled by smoke. In that moment, Isaiah also became aware of his sinfulness.
Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of Hosts. (Isaiah 6:5)
But the love of God had a solution — fire!
Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a live coal which he had taken with the tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth with it, and said, “Behold, this has touched your lips. Your iniquity is taken away, and your sin purged.” (Isaiah 6:6-7)
The revelation of the glory of the LORD is an “end time” event, but in Bible terms, we have been in the “last days” ever since Jesus came. For it is ultimately in Him that we come to the knowledge of the glory of God. Paul said,
But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age had blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them. For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your bondservants for Jesus’ sake. For it is God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. (2 Corinthians 4:3-6)
It is when the gospel of Jesus Christ is proclaimed — and believed — that we begin to see the glory of God made known. For the fire of His love reveals the vanity of our own works and points us to the Lord Jesus Christ, who took the judgment of our sin upon Himself.

Those who reject Him will be totally unprepared when the glory of God is revealed, and the brightness of that glory will be as a fire that torments them. But those who receive Him will be baptized with the Holy Spirit and with fire, cleansed and set apart for the divine destiny for which they were created. For in the face of the Lord Jesus Christ we behold the glory of God.