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The Glory of the Lord Revealed
“If a soul commit a trespass, and sin through ignorance, in the holy things of the LORD; then he shall bring for his trespass unto the LORD a ram without blemish out of the flocks, with thy estimation by shekels of silver, after the shekel of the sanctuary, for a trespass offering: And he shall make amends for the harm that he hath done in the holy thing, and shall add the fifth part thereto, and give it unto the priest: and the priest shall make an atonement for him with the ram of the trespass offering, and it shall be forgiven him...If a soul sin, and commit a trespass against the LORD, and lie unto his neighbour in that which was delivered him to keep, or in fellowship, or in a thing taken away by violence, or hath deceived his neighbour; Or have found that which was lost, and lieth concerning it, and sweareth falsely; in any of all these that a man doeth, sinning therein: Then it shall be, because he hath sinned, and is guilty, that he shall restore that which he took violently away, or the thing which he hath deceitfully gotten, or that which was delivered him to keep, or the lost thing which he found, Or all that about which he hath sworn falsely; he shall even restore it in the principal, and shall add the fifth part more thereto, and give it unto him to whom it appertaineth, in the day of his trespass offering. And he shall bring his trespass offering unto the LORD, a ram without blemish out of the flock, with thy estimation, for a trespass offering, unto the priest: And the priest shall make an atonement for him before the LORD: and it shall be forgiven him for any thing of all that he hath done in trespassing therein.” (Leviticus 5:15-6:7)
Blessed is that enlightened soul who, by the grace of God, is able to see Christ in the Old Testament as well as in the New. Blessed are those eyes that behold the Lord Jesus Christ in all the promises, precepts, and prophecies of the Old Testament, as well as in the proclamations of the New. Blessed are those hearts that can see the beauty and glory of Christ in the ordinances, types, and shadows of the law, as well as in the shining light of the gospel.
It is a sad fact, but a fact it is, that most who read the Bible and most who preach and teach from it see nothing in the Old Testament but historic facts, legal precepts, carnal ceremonies, and moral ethics. To the vast majority of the religious people I know, the Old Testament is a sealed Book, without meaning or message. They simply cannot unlock it, because they do not have the key. They are like those Isaiah describes in Isaiah 6. Seeing, they see not. Hearing, they hear not. Understanding, they understand not the things written in Old Testament Scripture.
The key to the Old Testament is Christ. What a great blessing it is to have the key. Yet, there is no room for boasting here. If we see, hear, and understand the Scriptures, it is because God has graciously caused the light of his glory and grace to shine in our hearts by his Spirit. It is because we have been taught of God. It is because the Lord God has opened our understanding that we might understand the Scriptures (Luke 24:45). It is written, “Blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear” (Matthew 13:16).
Nowhere is man’s spiritual blindness more evident than in the things written about the Mosaic law and the Levitical sacrifices. Reading the things written by various commentators about the laws of restitution given in Exodus 21-23 and the requirement of restitution to make atonement here in the book of Leviticus, I was as amazed as I was disappointed to see so very few make even a gospel application of them, much less give a gospel interpretation.
The law of God requiring restitution for any wrong done by one person to another and the sacrifices requiring restitution for atonement were not intended merely to teach a moral precept of restitution. Rather, these things were written to teach by precept and by picture that the Lord Jesus Christ would, by his great work of redemption, turn the tables and make a full restitution of all things to the everlasting praise and glory of the triune God. They all testify of that which is written of him in Psalm 69:4. — “Then I restored that which I took not away” (Acts 3:18-21; Ephesians 2:4-7).
The law of God demanded that anyone wronged by another should not only have the wrong repaired but also be made to benefit and gain by the injury done. It is God primarily who has been wronged in all his rights by sin. Yet, man too has been wronged. But the Lord God has, in infinite wisdom, fixed it so that both he and his people shall be made gainers by the injury done. As the fall of Israel has been overruled by our heavenly Father for the riches of the world and the glory of his own great name (Romans 11:33-36), so the fall of Satan and the entrance of sin into the world by the fall of our father Adam has been, is being, and shall yet be made to redound to the everlasting riches of God’s elect and the glory of his great name.
Yes, the God of glory works all things (All Things!) together for the good of his people and the everlasting glory of his own great name. Satan will gain nothing by the havoc he has wrought in the world. He will achieve absolutely nothing!
Here is the glory of the cross. — “Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound!” The trespass offering declares, “Because sin abounded grace did much more abound!” Yes, I have chosen my words deliberately. Both God and man have gained more by the forgiveness of sin through the blood of Christ than was lost by the sin and fall of our father Adam.
The Lord God has arranged all things, even the sin and fall of our father Adam, for the everlasting good and happiness of his people. We shall lose nothing, but only gain by what happened in the Garden. The gain is obtained not by sin but by redemption. Indeed, the sin and fall of Adam was itself, by divine purpose, a picture of redemption by Christ (Romans 5:12-20).
With regard to Adam’s sin in the Garden, Martin Luther rightly observed, “O blessed fall!” Had there been no fall, no sin, no condemnation, we could never have known the wonders of redemption. Had there been no fall, no sin, no condemnation, we could never have known the glories of grace. Grace not only cuts up sin by the roots and ultimately destroys it, grace makes chosen sinners to be eternal beneficiaries of Satan’s work!
Still, there is more. The holy Lord God has gained more by redemption than ever he lost (if I can be permitted to use such language) by the fall. The Lord God reaps a richer harvest of glory in the fields of grace than he could ever have reaped in the Garden of innocence (Ephesians 1:3-14; 2:7). The sons of God raise a more lofty song of praise around the empty tomb of the crucified Christ than we could ever have raised in the Garden of Eden. The injury done by sin has not only been perfectly atoned for and remedied by the blood of Christ; but God has gained by the cross the praise of the glory of his grace. — “Surely the wrath of man shall praise thee: the remainder of wrath shalt thou restrain!” (Psalms 76:10)
This is a stupendous truth. God, the eternal, triune, holy Lord God, has gotten himself great gain by the work accomplished by our all-glorious Christ at Calvary!
Who could ever have conceived such a thing? When we see man and the creation over which he was lord laid in a heap of ruins at the feet of Satan, how could we ever imagine that from amid those ruins the great God of Glory would gather a crown for his holy head which could not be gotten in any other way?
It was ever the immutable purpose of the all-wise God to glorify himself and reveal his glory to all creation by the accomplishments of his darling Son at Calvary.
God’s prophet Isaiah declared that the glory of the Lord would be revealed in our Lord Jesus Christ and his accomplishments of redemption as our Surety (Isaiah 40:1-5). The glory of the Lord is the Lord Jesus Christ, the incarnate God-man, our Mediator, our Surety, our Substitute, our Savior. Christ is the embodiment of “the glory of the Lord;” but he is more. The Lord Jesus Christ is essentially and emphatically “the glory of the Lord,” for in him dwells all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. When Isaiah said, “the glory of the Lord shall be revealed,” he spoke prophetically of the incarnation of Christ. He was saying, “God the Son shall come in human flesh possessing all the glory of the glorious God; and in him, God shall be seen of all men, for this man is God.” God’s glory was revealed in his Son when he was sent here on the mission of mercy to redeem and save his people. Yet, the meaning of Isaiah’s words is fuller still.
The glory of the Lord is displayed in the attributes of his being. His glory is that which sets him apart from all his creatures and identifies him as God over all, blessed forever. Isaiah declared that the glory of God, all the glory of all his attributes, would be revealed in the accomplishments of Christ at Calvary.
David said, “The heavens declare the glory of God;” and they do, but only in part. Great as the glory of God revealed in the heavens is, believing sinners see a display of that glory that is so great, so stupendous, and so wonderful that the glory of his wisdom and power in creation pales into insignificance by comparison. The glory of the cross, the glory of the Lord revealed in the crucified Christ, the glory of the Lord revealed in the salvation of poor, fallen, helpless, doomed, damned sinners, that is the glory of the Lord! Sin had blinded us to the glory of God; but grace reveals it far more fully than it could ever have been known otherwise in our crucified Savior. The glory of God is revealed in the gospel; but it is hidden from them that are lost…
“In whom the God of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” (2 Corinthians 4:4-6)
Look to Christ, the crucified, risen, exalted saving Christ, and behold the glory of God. In him and by him restitution has been made; and both God and man have gained more in him than ever was lost by the sin and fall of Adam, for in him “the glory of the Lord is revealed!”
Wisdom and Knowledge
I see in the cross of Christ the glory of the Lord’s wisdom and knowledge more fully than it could ever have been seen in any other way.
“O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor? Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory forever. Amen.” (Romans 11:33-36)
Adam saw the wisdom of God in creation more clearly than any man has seen it or could see it since the fall. But Adam did not and could not see the glory of God’s wisdom in redemption until he experienced it.
I know, caviling will-worshippers cry, “If that is true, if God has ordained all things, then let us sin that grace may abound.” Let none be so foolish. Though it is the wisdom of God that ordained sin, it is the justice of God that punishes it. Believing hearts do not challenge God’s wisdom. We adore it?
Here is the glory of God’s wisdom. It is written, “By mercy and truth iniquity is purged” (Proverbs 16:6). But iniquity could never be purged and truth maintained, unless some way known only to infinite wisdom is found to do it, unless some infinitely wise arrangement could be made to both satisfy the infinite rigid requirements of truth while exercising absolute mercy. Righteousness and peace could never have kissed each other had not God in infinite wisdom found a way to make it happen. The glory of God’s wisdom is revealed in that way. It is called “Substitution.” Salvation by a Substitute of infinite worth makes it possible and certain that iniquity shall be purged by mercy and by truth. Behold the cross of Christ and sing…
“Surely his salvation is nigh them that fear him; that glory may dwell in our land. Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other. Truth shall spring out of the earth; and righteousness shall look down from heaven.” (Psalms 85:9-11)
Creation’s open volume stands,
And speaks God’s praise abroad,
And everything, made by His hands,
Declares that He is God.
But in the grace that rescued man
God’s brightest glory shines,
For on the cross (How wise the plan!)
It’s drawn in crimson lines!
Behold, the wonders of the cross,
Where God our Savior died.
My spirit life eternal draws
From Jesus’ bleeding side!
I shall forever praise the name
Of God all-wise alone,
Whose glory’s seen in Christ the Lamb,
Whose blood for sin atoned!
Mercy, Love, and Grace
In the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ the glory of the Lord’s mercy, love, and grace is also revealed. I do not suggest that the love of God is not revealed in other ways, in other acts of his goodness, or in other places. It is. I am certain that Adam, before the fall, knew God’s love in benevolence, goodness, and sweet communion. He knew the love of God as his Creator, his Maker, and his Companion, just as the holy angels know it. But Adam did not know and could not know the glory of God’s love. Indeed, it would not have been possible for anyone to know the glory of God’s love had there been no fall. The glory of God’s love is revealed in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.
We read of God’s everlasting, electing love and rejoice. We give thanks to our God for his eternal, adopting love (Jeremiah 31:3; 1 John 3:1). But the glory of the love of God is revealed at Calvary (John 3:16; Romans 5:6-8; 1 John 3:16; 4:9-10). The Son of God loved me and gave himself for me!
“Could we with ink the oceans fill,
And were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade, —
To write the love of God above
Would drain the oceans dry,
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Though stretched from sky to sky!”
Love is known by its deeds. But love is also known by comparison. Those who vainly imagine that they are wiser than God would tell us that God loves all men. Others among them would have us believe that the love of God would have been more greatly revealed had there been no entrance of sin into the world. But it was the wisdom of God that ordained the entrance of sin into the world. That wisdom is displayed here. By the sin and fall of our father Adam and the ruin of all the human race in him, the Lord God shows the glory of his love in saving some.
If the Lord God had kept all from sinning, or if he had saved all, how could we know the intensity, devotion, and freeness of his love for us? Love is displayed by these two things: self-sacrifice and comparison. I know the love of God because he loved me and gave himself for me; and I know the love of God, the glory of his love, because he loved me. If God loved every creature as he loves his elect, where can we see the glory of his love? But once a sinner is made to see that the Lord God has loved him and loved him immutably from all eternity, passing by many more noble, more useful, more appealing than him, then the chosen, redeemed, called sinner sees the surpassing glory of the love of God in the face of Christ, and is conquered by his love. We see the glory of God’s love in the fact that God’s love is discriminating love. — “We love him, because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19) Well did Horatius Bonar write…
“O love of God, how strong and true!
Eternal, and yet ever new,
Uncomprehended and unbought,
Beyond all knowledge and all thought!
We read thee best in Him Who came
To bear for us the cross of shame;
Sent by the Father from on high,
Our life to live, our death to die!
O love of God, our shield and stay,
Through all the perils of our way:
Eternal love, in thee we rest,
Forever safe, forever blest!”
Truth, Justice, and Holiness
As I behold the Son of God hanging upon the cursed tree, made to be sin, bearing all the terror of God’s holy wrath, forsaken of God and slain, I see the glory of God’s absolute truth, infinite, inflexible justice, and infinite, immaculate holiness.
In Christ crucified, the glory of God’s justice is revealed as it could not be revealed in any other way. Adam knew the threat of justice before he fell. Sinners in hell know the severity of God’s justice. We see tokens of justice every day. Justice demands punishment, a just and righteous punishment for every offense. Justice demands a victim. No pleadings, no tears, no repentance, no works of restitution can turn away the sword of justice. Mercy may implore leniency and love beg for pardon, but justice is unaffected and unbending. Justice “will by no means clear the guilty.” But God, in infinite wisdom and love, found a way to both punish the sinner and forgive him.
Behold the glory of God’s justice in the face of his darling Son, when he was made to be sin for us! Believing sinners are justified freely by the grace of God through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus (Romans 3:25-26).
When the holy Lord God looks on the shed blood of his darling Son, he says, “Enough!” Here the glory of God’s justice is revealed. Oh, how holy, how just, how true the God of glory must be! When the holy Lord God found sin on his own beloved Son, he spared him not. When God the Son bore the wrath of God in his own body, in his soul, and in his heart on the cursed tree, he satisfied the justice of God. God, the holy Lord God will (He must!) punish sin. Justice demands it.
Sovereignty and Goodness
In the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, in the face of our crucified Redeemer, in the redemption accomplished by God our Savior at Calvary, we see the glory of the Lord’s universal sovereignty and absolute goodness revealed, and revealed in such full splendor, as it could never have been known otherwise.
When Moses asked the Lord to show him his glory, he said “I will make all my goodness to pass before thee; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious.” Here is the glory of God’s sovereign goodness, the glory of his grace. God is gracious. God will be gracious to whom he will be gracious. God makes even the wrath of man to praise him and work for the good of his chosen (Psalm 76:10). Satan, who dared imagine he could thwart the purpose of the Almighty, led a rebellion in heaven, and leads the rebellion of men and demons on earth and in hell, is but the servant of our God to accomplish his purpose of grace toward his elect.
God’s glory is great in salvation, indescribably greater than ever it could have been had Adam not fallen, had sin never entered into the world, had the Lord Jesus Christ not died at Calvary, had he not saved his people from their sins. This is what the laws and sacrifices of restitution tell us. Behold the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ and understand, when you hear the Son of God cry, “It is finished!”, that restitution has been made and the glory of God is revealed!
If the glory of God is most fully and perfectly revealed in the salvation of sinners, how that fact ought to inspire poor, needy sinners with hope. Surely, if God is glorified in saving sinners, he would be glorified in saving me! I will, upon that grounds, like David of old, sue for mercy. — “For thy name’s sake, O Lord, pardon mine iniquity; for it is great” (Psalm 25:11).
“Come, humble sinner, in whose breast
A thousand thoughts revolve,
Come with your guilt and sin oppressed,
And make this last resolve
‘I’ll go to Jesus, though my sin
Hath like a mountain rose;
I know His courts I’ll enter in,
Whatever may oppose.
Prostrate I’ll lie before His throne,
And there my guilt confess;
I’ll tell Him I’m a wretch undone,
Without His sovereign grace.
I’ll to the gracious King approach,
Whose scepter pardon gives;
Perhaps He may command my touch,
And then the suppliant lives!
Perhaps He will admit my plea,
Perhaps will hear my prayer;
But if I perish, I will pray,
And perish only there.
I can but perish if I go,
I am resolved to try;
For if I stay away, I know,
I must forever die.
But, if I die with mercy sought,
When I the King have tried,
This were to die (Delightful thought!)
As sinner never died.’”