Brethren Archive
EZEKIEL 1: 4-12, 23·28; 2: 1, 2, 7, 8; 10: 8, 9,13,14; 43: 1-7

The Glory of God.

by G.A. Lucas

I DESIRE to refer to the manifestations of the glory of God.  There are many glories He loves to manifest, whether it be His glory in grace, or as moving amongst His beloved people in power, ministry, and authority.  He may also have to manifest His glory in judgment. But every manifestation of the glory is to the end that we might believe on Him.  In the incident in John 2, it is said of the Lord Jesus: ''This beginning of signs did Jesus in Cana of Galilee and manifested his glory; and his disciples believed on him.''
The Lord is speaking to us thus in our time by the Holy Spirit through the Scriptures in order that the knowledge of God with us might be real, intelligent, and sympathetic, so that we might be at one with God in all His operations, whether in the sphere of universal government, or in grace in the gospel, or in ministry in the assembly, or in the government of nations.  At the close of this dispensation, God is calling for a people taught of Himself, a people who know Him, and understand His mind, and are sympathetic with Him in all He is about to do, for God is about to do great things.
This book of Ezekiel has an important place in prophecy, because it comes in at a time when there is no further appeal to the nation of Israel as such.  The most gentle and tender appeals had been made on the part of God and all had been ignored.  God loved nothing better than to manifest Himself from the throne, upon the mercy-seat in the tabernacle, speaking to Moses face to face, the glory coming down and covering all.  But Israel provoked Him in the wilderness, and He had to manifest His glory in judgment.  Now this has its answering counterpart in Christendom; man having proved unfaithful to a testimony of grace, God has to manifest His glory in judgment.  He would seek the intelligent interest of those who would be with Him in this great matter, that we might understand, before it comes to pass, how the whole matter stands in relation to God.  The Lord said to His disciples: "I tell you it now before it happens, that when it happens, ye may believe that I am," John 13: 19.  So the Lord is instructing His saints to-day, telling us things before they come to pass so that we might believe on Him.
The state of things that prevailed at this particular part of Israel's history, when God took up the prophet Ezekiel, has its counterpart in Christendom to-day.  The whole hierarchical system has been judged.  The Lord Jesus has appealed in wonderful grace, but alas, the movement that began with the loss of first love at Ephesus has developed almost to the time when the Lord is about to spue the false profession out of His mouth.  Of Thyatira He says, "I gave her time that she should repent, and she will not repent of her fornication." Thyatira speaks of that aspect of Christendom that is governed by popery, and the Lord says: "thou permittest the woman Jezebel, . . . who calls herself prophetess, and she teaches and leads astray my servants to commit fornication and eat of idol sacrifices.  And I gave her time that she should repent, and she will not repent."  In her hands the truth of Christianity has been corrupted, and He holds her responsible accordingly.  So, He speaks of His coming, showing that this phase of the assembly goes on to the end of the dispensation. There is no corporate recovery of the great public profession.  Then with regard to Sardis, speaking of Protestantism, what a sad state of affairs it is!  The truth of God is sadly corrupted, and the Lord says, "thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead."  The Lord would engage our deep sympathies with Him in this great matter, so that we ourselves might be able to judge of these things and be absolutely free from them in our own spirits.  So, as listening to the voice of Christ, we see His deep feeling in His pronouncing these judgments. He has to say to Sardis, "I will come upon thee as a thief."  Think of the Lord having to speak to the assembly as He spoke to the world! Then to Laodicea, He says, "thou art the wretched and the miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked . . . I am about to spue thee out of my mouth."
In Ezekiel, we see a man having holy sensibilities and right feelings as to the corrupt state of the people, one who felt with God.  It is a great thing to feel with God about things, and to be intelligent as to what God is doing, because the more intelligent we are in relation to these movements on the throne in chapter 1, the more intelligent will be our apprehension of the glory that is presented in chapter 43.
In chapter 1, the prophet is among the captives by the river Chebar.  Nebuchadnezzar had carried away a large part of Judah captive, and the rest of the people were left to receive a final testimony from God through His servants the prophets, a testimony, alas, which evidenced the incorrigible wickedness of the people.  The ten tribes had long ago been carried away by a king of Assyria.  So, Ezekiel the priest was by the river Chebar, a captive, feeling the situation with God, and he was given to see visions of God.  The Spirit of God opened up to his gaze a wonderful manifestation of the glory of God, by which he would understand how absolutely God had the whole situation in hand in spite of the failure of the people.  Now, that is how the Lord would appeal to us.  As judging the whole position by the authority of His Word, and accepting what Christendom has become publicly, He would give us a manifestation of His glory with a view to strengthening our hands as we are found in the ranks of the testimony.  The Lord loves to give us these manifestations of His glory, so that we might understand the truth from the divine side.
So there was the ''great cloud, and a fire enfolding itself, and a brightness was about it, and . . . out of the midst thereof, the likeness of four living creatures."  There are two parts in this manifestation of glory.  There was the firmament, and a part above the firmament, and a part below the firmament; above the firmament was the throne and He who sat upon it; below were four living creatures and wheels full of eyes.  We have the light of what is above the firmament; the throne and Christ upon it.  Thank God for that!  But then there are the living creatures below the firmament, which refer to certain agents by which the testimony of God is carried through.  The saints have a great place amongst these agents.  God, in carrying out the great thoughts of His government, may employ profane kings, ambitious emperors, or dictators, but beyond all, He loves to employ His saints.  Angels, too, have their intelligent part in service in regard of this great matter, as is seen in the service of Gabriel in the book of Daniel.  The powers that be, the rulers of the world, have little conception that they are instruments in the hands of Christ, who is upon the throne above the firmament; and while He may see fit to allow scope for their ambitions in view of the final heading up of evil, they are not able to move one step before the time and not one step after!
These living creatures are the great instruments of His government here below.  Now it says first of all, "And this was their appearance: they had the likeness of a man."  The first thing is that this manifestation of God has the likeness of a man.  How completely the Lord Jesus filled all that out when down here!  The manifestation of God was complete in Jesus, whether in grace or in judgment; all was fully presented in Christ personally.  The Lord in John's gospel speaks of Himself to the Jews as "a man who has spoken the truth to you."  Then in Luke's gospel we see all the grace of God in a man; God has come near to us in that way.  Think of all the feelings of God! The thought is seen in Christ Himself first, and then in the saints as brought into the matter by the Holy Spirit, because God would testify of what is in His heart and mind, so that all can understand it, if they will believe it.  The truth is brought out in a way which appeals to us, a way by which we can understand the operations of God.
It continues: "their feet were straight feet; and the sole of their feet was like the sole of a calf's foot; and they sparkled as the look of burnished brass."  That is a question of going straight forward, of moving in a straight line; calves' feet stand for separation from evil, and "burnished" shows it is God's movements in His saints in righteousness in the testimony.  Then it says, "they had the hands of a man under their wings on their four sides; and they four had their faces and their wings; their wings were joined one to another.  This speaks of power for administration and movement in the testimony of God, maintained in cherub character.  While the man presents God in grace and sympathy, it is as one jealous of all the rights of God.  We should be jealous for the rights of God in our daily movements in the world; if not, we can never be so among our brethren.  It is a matter of jealousy for what belongs to God.  When we speak to men, do we speak to them as representative of God, jealous of His rights, and yet in all the grace and sympathy of Christ, and as custodians of the glory committed to us by the Holy Spirit?
Then we read: “the likeness of their faces was the face of a man; and they four had the face of a lion . . . the face of an ox . . . the face of an eagle."   "The face of a man" represents intelligence, also love and grace, God having come near to us in such fashion in Jesus.  The next thing is "the face of a lion," involving the authority and rights of God, especially His rights in judgment.  We ought to be able to assert these rights in testimony, and to show that they are all based on His rights in creation and redemption.  So "the face of a lion" brings out in testimony the majesty of God as pursuing His own thoughts in government, in spite of all the opposition of the creature as animated by Satan.  The testimony of Scripture from beginning to end is one complete whole, showing how God arrives at the thoughts He had in His mind from the beginning.  He created the heavens and the earth with a view to filling them by the display of His glory, and He carries His thoughts right through to their accomplishment, in spite of every hindrance.  Is that not "the face of a lion''?  So, the Lord Jesus when here ''turned not aside for any."  Standing before Pilate, when he said, "knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and have power to release thee?"  He said, "Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above," John 19: 10, 11.  He moved here in absolute power and dignity and glory, testifying to the majesty and rights of God in every position.  Oh, that we might be so near to God that we might move in the character of a "lion that turneth not aside for any"!
Then there is ''the face of an ox," speaking to us of strength, endurance, and longsuffering.  Perhaps some young brothers or sisters may find things very difficult in the office or at school; and they wonder whether their faith will stand it.  But we are to acquire the patience and strength of the ox.  Think of the meekness and the grace of Jesus, all His wonderful longsuffering as He waits for His glory!  Would we like to have public glory before Christ has His?  Those who suffer with Him will reign with Him.  I believe all the discipline of God with us as Father, making us partakers of His holiness, promoting in us features of sonship, is to bring us out in this character.  The groaning creation awaits the manifestation of the sons of God, but in the meantime, we are to go on in perfect patience as available under the hand of God in testimony, living witnesses of all the attributes of His throne of glory.
Then the fourth is “the face of an eagle.” Many people deny that there is a judgment to come.  If God is what He is said to be, then, say they, there can be no judgment.  But the eagle speaks of the swiftness and unerring action of God in judgment; that is a feature of His throne.  Suppose the creature could challenge God and remain unjudged!  The authority of God's throne would be eternally impaired. We know that this is impossible.  Paul preached to the Athenians that God "has set a day in which he is going to judge the habitable earth in righteousness by the man whom he has appointed," giving the proof of it to all, in having raised Him from among the dead.  So, this has to be maintained.  We see this awful error in the Old Testament, in the book of Exodus, when the people lost sight of Moses. They made a calf and said, "This is thy god, Israel, who has brought thee up out of the land of Egypt," Exod. 32: 4.  It is not that they went into apostasy, but into idolatry; in the absence of faith, they personified God according to their human understanding of Him.  That is what the calf suggests, just one attribute of God to the exclusion of all the rest; tenderness and gentleness, but no righteousness, no holiness, no majesty in judgment.  That is the way many in Christendom to-day think of God.  It is utterly false.  Moses came down from the mount and immediately asserted God's rights and authority; and so the Lord Jesus will be manifested from Heaven as He who judges and makes war in righteousness; who treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty.
Then there are the "wheels," which are the agents of God's government providentially, angels are involved in that—and they are "full of eyes."  Nothing escapes the vigilance of God.  "When the living creatures went, the wheels went beside them," v. 19, showing how, as down here in the scene of the testimony of God, while we move in outward weakness, there is all the power of God's all-seeing providential government exercised for our immediate support.  Publicly, things may seem very dismal and threatening, but have we seen this great vision?  I believe that Satan is too successful in harassing the saints through overmuch occupation with political tidings. It is unsettling many minds, so that they cannot feed on spiritual food, and in the end, the service of God suffers.  But these wheels of providential government move with the living creatures; the whole situation is in the hands of God; no one can move one step against the saints except as God may allow.  So, the testimony to all the attributes of the throne is to be maintained, as the saints are moving in the light of this great vision.
Looking above the firmament, we see the throne of God and Christ upon it, the blessed Lord Jesus whom we have learned to know and love; He sits upon it in the most absolute supremacy, and He sits there until He receives the Father's word to rise up from it and come for His saints.  In that position, He is maintaining things for God.  He is viewed "from . . . his loins and upward, and from . . . his loins and downward.''  The Lord Jesus is maintaining the service of God in the assembly in spite of the failure of Christendom.  God has mercifully recovered to us the light of the greatness of His assembly, and if, like Ezekiel, we are true priests of God, we shall see the great range of spiritual truth and privilege which is being unfolded by the Holy Spirit.  As we move in the consciousness of being of "the assembly of the living God, the pillar and base of the truth," we see with what remarkable dignity the whole position is invested.  The glory of Christ is seen, in spite of all the failure publicly on earth, both upward in praise to God, and downward in His service in the ministry, giving gifts to the assembly in view of its being perfected by the ministry.  We need faith to see what is above the firmament, where Christ is on the throne maintaining everything Godward, and serving us, that our affections and intelligence may be stimulated in view of the service of God.  How deep are His affections for His beloved people below!  How the Lord longs for the time when He will have the saints there with Him!
Now I refer to chapter 10.  Judgment has begun at the house of God in chapter 9, and the men with the slaughter-weapon have gone out. The whole position is polluted with idolatry and sun-worship, and God is dealing with the situation judicially.  This should prepare us for what we may have to meet personally in our day in the development of apostate teaching.  In connection with the four living creatures referred to in chapter 10, the ox is omitted and the cherub is brought in.  It shows the character of the testimony at the last.  If you take the case of Israel on the occasion of the final presentation to the nation of the testimony of the Holy Spirit by Stephen, it says that his face shone as the face of an angel.  It was no longer an appeal—Peter in chapter 2 was appealing in presenting the grace of God and His long-suffering—but it is the face of an angel with Stephen, answering to the cherub in Ezekiel's vision here.  Judgment is definitely pronounced and he goes to be with his Master.
Finally, I refer to chapter 43.  We have been considering the manifestations of the glory in relation to what is closed up in judgment, but one is thankful to turn to chapter 43, for it is the manifestation of the glory in regard of what is opened up, the judgment of all that is contrary, having been completed.  The wisdom and power of God are seen in His righteous government; even Satan himself, as typified in the prince of Tyre, is judged. Now we come to the side of privilege.  Ezekiel is taken up into a very high mountain.  He looks at the divine structure, the great system of glory, typically the heavenly system which is formed by God and has the glory of God.  It corresponds, I think, with what is opened up in spiritual power now to saints in the assembly.  If we are with God in matters of testimony in respect of that which is to be judged, the Lord will see to it that we are with Him in heavenly privilege in the assembly.  I believe the reason we are so slow to rise to the thought of the ministry of the sanctuary on the Lord's day, is because we are not too faithful as to our testimony during the week.
So it says, "he brought me unto the gate, the gate which looked toward the east.  And behold, the glory of the God of Israel came from the way of the east."  We are not now in the presence of God as Judge of what is contrary, but God, in His wonderful relations of grace with His people.  To us He would be "the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ."  It says, He "came from the way of the east; and his voice was like the voice of many waters, and the earth was lit up with his glory.”  Think of God taking possession of His house like that, and of being in assembly with Christ in the presence of such a manifestation of the glory.  God is not moving now in the judgment of what is evil, but in the infinitude of His love and grace.  "His voice . . . like the voice of many waters" bespeaks His majesty, but "the God of Israel" refers to our relations with Him and sets us at rest in His presence.  It is the same God that appeared by the river Chebar, and this is most intimately connected with the previous manifestation of His glory in government.  He is seen now moving in power and grace in His relationships with His saints in the assembly on the ground of divine counsel.
''The glory of Jehovah came into the house by the way of the gate whose front was toward the east."  I believe the Lord desires to serve us so that we should realize the full joy of assembly privilege when we come together on the first day of the week.  We cannot formally change our position from the wilderness to the Father's presence merely by changing the terms we use.  It is a matter of faith and of the Spirit.  First of all, it is a matter of faith as being circumcised in the circumcision of the Christ, buried with Him in baptism and raised with Him through faith of the working of God who raised Him from among the dead, Col. 2: 12, and then realizing what it is to be quickened together with Him out of a state of death.  It says in Ezekiel 43: 5, "And the Spirit lifted me up, and brought me into the inner court."  It is a movement from earth to Heaven that He has in mind.  I know we cannot go there in body because our bodies are not yet redeemed, but the exercise is to be there in the Spirit.  The great thought of glory to God in the assembly in Christ Jesus is not merely to be held in terms, but it is to be realized in spiritual power.  It is a question of faith.  It is a question of affection for Christ.  But above all, it is a question of the mighty power of God.  If we believe in the mighty power that God is exercising on the throne, it will, I believe, make way in our hearts for the mighty power of God spoken of in Ephesians 1. "Being enlightened in the eyes of your heart, so that ye should know what is the hope of his calling"—that is sonship—"and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints."  Do you think it would be out of place in Heaven to recognize that the saints are His inheritance?  "And what the surpassing greatness of his power towards us who believe, according to the working of the might of his strength, in which he wrought in the Christ, in raising him from among the dead, and he set him down at his right hand in the heavenlies."  Now, that is the power which we want to know.  The Lord would love to serve us thus.  Ezekiel was caught up by the Spirit of God, into the presence of God, into the inner court, ''and behold the glory of Jehovah filled the house."  That is what is in mind to know, the mighty power of God ''which he wrought in the Christ in raising him from among the dead, and he set him down at his right hand in the heavenlies, above every principality, and authority, and power, and dominion, and every name named, not only in this age, but also in that to come; and has put all things under his feet, and gave him to be head over all things to the assembly, which is his body, the fulness of him who fills all in all.”  The Lord would greatly help us in relation to our position in Heaven.  It is a question of having the thing in power in the soul, of being in His holy presence consciously in sonship's grace, God thus finding His inheritance in the saints.
Then we read: "the glory of Jehovah filled the house.  And I heard one speaking unto me out of the house; and a man was standing by me.''  Complementary to the mighty power of God which is exercised in raising Christ from among the dead—a power that we are to know, that we might be lifted up in Spirit into heavenly places—there is the personal service of Christ, the way the Lord would support us and maintain us in that position.  This is touched in the second prayer: "strengthened with power by his Spirit in the inner man . . . and to know the love of the Christ which surpasses knowledge." Sometimes we touch a little of this and we are there in spiritual enjoyment, but how long can we remain there?  What will sustain us in the position?  Only the strengthening power of the Father's Spirit in the inner man, and the knowledge of the love of the Christ which surpasses knowledge.  So, the apostle goes on to say, "that ye may be filled even to all the fulness of God.''  That is the consummation of the matter.
In this manifestation in Ezekiel 43—the manifestation of God in connection with His house—the whole sphere of privilege opened up. We have it brought out typically here in Ezekiel's day, and the Spirit of God would greatly impress our hearts with the fulness of it in our day.  It is not a matter of trying to work up to it.  It is a matter of divine revelation and of divine power.  We cannot work up to it.  It is for us to open our hearts to the truth as the flower unfolds to the sun, and to embrace it in faith, to believe God, so that the truth might shine in, and its mighty power be realized.
"E'en now we taste the love,
And know the mighty power
By which we'll rise to realms above
When waiting time is o'er."
Carshalton, February 4th, 1939.           
“Words of Grace and Comfort” 1939


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