Then the glory of the Lord departed from the threshold of the temple and stood over the cherubim, (10:18).
No words can adequately describe what Ezekiel saw, but again he finds himself in the place to witness the Indescribable Glory of God. Much of what he describes of the Glory of God, the cherubim with four wings, the four wheels full of eyes, and the four faces, repeat what he had observed during the inception of his call from the Lord.
Now it came about in the thirtieth year, on the fifth day of the fourth month, while I was by the river Chebar among the exiles, the heavens were opened and I saw visions of God, (Ezekiel 1:1).
“The repetition of the vision here signified that the heavy and terrible judgments of God were drawing nearer and nearer,” Benson Commentary.
And as Ezekiel perceived God’s judgment drawing nearer, I wondered which was more disheartening, the dread of knowing His wrath was soon in coming, or the dismay at the sight of His Glory Departing.
Consider His Glory Departing
Ezekiel who had been conferred with the great privilege of being called as God’s prophet, and granted the greater honor of seeing His Indescribable Glory, was now confronted with the distressing reality of His Glory Departing.
Even reading about it stirs up a woe that is, dare I say, indescribable. And as I read of His Glory Departing, I was reminded of another servant of Almighty God, Moses, who had asked God to show him His Glory.
Moses was called to lead God’s children out of bondage in Egypt and into their inheritance in the Promise Land with great signs and wonders. But in every challenge, rather than walking by faith, the people chose to grumble and lean on their own understanding. Remember the golden calf (Exodus 32)?
And Moses would intercede and plead that God’s wrath would be turned away, begging God for His Presence to continue to lead them to His Promise. And God turned away from His wrath in response to the one who had found favor in His sight.
And He said, “My presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest.” 15 Then he said to Him, “If Your presence does not go with us, do not lead us up from here. 16 For how then can it be known that I have found favor in Your sight, I and Your people? Is it not by Your going with us, so that we, I and Your people, may be distinguished from all the other people who are upon the face of the earth?” 17 The Lord said to Moses, “I will also do this thing of which you have spoken; for you have found favor in My sight and I have known you by name,” (Exodus 33:14-17).
And upon hearing this, Moses presents the boldest of requests; he asks to see God’s Indescribable Glory.
Then Moses said, “I pray You, show me Your glory!” 19 And He said, “I Myself will make all My goodness pass before you, and will proclaim the name of the Lord before you; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show compassion on whom I will show compassion.” 20 But He said, “You cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live!” (Exodus 33:18-20).
But His Indescribable Glory is incapable of truly being seen, for in the light of His Glory we would be consumed. Even Ezekiel, caught up in the vision from God, could not sufficiently describe the Indescribable.
And to Moses, God revealed His Indescribable Glory as He proclaimed His Name.
The Lord descended in the cloud and stood there with him as he called upon the name of the Lord. 6 Then the Lord passed by in front of him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; 7 who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, visiting the iniquity of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations.” 8 Moses made haste to bow low toward the earth and worship. 9 He said, “If now I have found favor in Your sight, O Lord, I pray, let the Lord go along in our midst, even though the people are so obstinate, and pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us as Your own possession.” (Exodus 34:5).
And as I thought on His Indescribable Glory revealed in His Incomparable Name, I felt a terrible sense of despair as I wondered if His Glory Departing meant His compassion and grace, His long-suffering, His abounding lovingkindness and truth, His forgiveness and His discipline were Departing as well.
And that is truly a terrifying thought to consider.
How do we respond to His Glory Departing?
Moses asked to see His Glory and God responded favorably because Moses had found favor in His sight.
The Lord said to Moses, “I will also do this thing of which you have spoken; for you have found favor in My sight and I have known you by name,” (Exodus 33:17).
I was once again reminded that Almighty God does not force Himself upon anyone, but He will look upon the one who has found favor in His sight, coming before Him in trembling humility and faith in His Word.
“For My hand made all these things,
Thus all these things came into being,” declares the Lord.
“But to this one I will look,
To him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word,” (Isaiah 66:2).
And He sent His Son, the Living Word to become flesh and to reveal His Indescribable Glory.
God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, 2 in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. 3 And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power… (Hebrews 1:1-3).
And all who believe and receive Him, will see the Indescribable Glory of His Name.
But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. 14 And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth, (John 1:12-14).
…God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father, (Philippians 2:9-11).
And through faith in Christ, we have the assurance that He will never leave and His Glory will never Depart.
…for He Himself has said, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,” 6 so that we confidently say,
“The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid.
What will man do to me?” (Hebrews 13:5-6).
So the question is posed. Since we have the assurance of His amazing grace and the promise of His Glory Never Departing, do we neglect holiness and live without concern over sin? Of course not!
What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? 2 May it never be!… (Romans 6:1-2).
And Scripture exhorts us that whatever we do should always be done for His Glory.
Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God, (1 Corinthians 10:31).
We often speak of living for the Glory of God as living in such a way that shines the spotlight on Him. And yes, we definitely should want to live like that! But in light of today’s passages, I wonder if it doesn’t also mean that we are to live our life to intentionally demonstrate His compassion and grace, His long-suffering, His abounding lovingkindness and truth, His forgiveness and His discipline?
Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; 2 and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma, (Ephesians 5:1-2).
Oh, let us never take His Glory in Jesus for granted, that we would always live to demonstrate to a lost and dying world the love and forgiveness available in Christ and the eternal security we have in knowing that His Glory Departing will never be the reality for those have been born again through faith in Him.
Oh, Lord Jesus, thank You for securing our eternity through Your blood shed for us. Please give us a hunger to know You as You are Gloriously revealed in Your Word, that we would grow in Your grace and truth and that our lives would be lived with an all-consuming gratitude for Your Glory that is Never Departing.
but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen, (2 Peter 3:18).