There’s a certain protocol around heads of state. If the President of the United States, or the Prime Minister of Canada walks in a room it’s expected people will stand. If you’re military, it’s expected you’ll salute. If you’re a British subject, should you meet the Queen a head bow is appropriate from a man, a small curtsy from a woman. The presence of leaders commands a certain respect and an expected response. There’s a place for protocol.
But then there’s the response that comes not from written, or unwritten rules of proper decorum, but is born from an internal, almost visceral reaction born out of proper discernment. No one tells you what you need to do, the person entering the room just evokes an innate response proportionate to their position or presence. Such came to mind as I was reading in Ezekiel this morning. Glory present, assume face position!
And behold, the glory of the God of Israel was coming from the east. And the sound of His coming was like the sound of many waters, and the earth shone with his glory. And the vision I saw was just like the vision that I had seen when he came to destroy the city, and just like the vision that I had seen by the Chebar canal. And I fell on my face. . . . Then He brought me by way of the north gate to the front of the temple, and I looked, and behold, the glory of the LORD filled the temple of the LORD. And I fell on my face. (Ezekiel 43:2-3, 44:4 ESV)
I encountered it twice in this morning’s reading. Ezekiel meets up with the glory of God and he falls on his face. Through the Spirit he sees something of the splendor of heavenly majesty and he’s checking out the floor. He is exposed to the light of unfeigned holiness and he’s wholly humbled and the back of his head is towards the ceiling.
That’s not some protocol response. That’s not just propriety in practice. That’s what happens when mortal men catch a glimpse of immortal God. When the creation encounters, up close and personal, their Creator. And, I’m thinking, when undeserving recipients of grace find themselves with a renewed vision of the glory that sources such grace–the glory of the cross.
The glory that filled the temple must have been magnificent. Even seeing through the glory via a vision, you got to think that it had a palpable presence . . . that Ezekiel not only saw the glory but felt the glory. The glory shone. The light was blinding. Glory present, assume face position.
But Ezekiel couldn’t even conceive of the glory of the cross. The manifestation not only of God’s holy nature, the presentation not only of God holy Son, but the declaration that God so loved the world that He would justly and fully make a way of redemption and reconciliation for all who believe. Even in the darkness, the glory came down as wrath was poured out. Even in Jesus’ final cry, the light shone as the once for all work of atonement was finished. Even in His substitutionary death for sin, the King ushered in His heavenly kingdom.
He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of His nature, and He upholds the universe by the word of His power. After making purification for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high (Hebrews 1:3 ESV)
O the glory of the cross! Where the Radiance of God’s glory made purification for sins. And behold the glory of the EMPTY cross! The Imprint of God’s exact nature, having died and been buried, rose from death on the third day that He might ascend and intercede at the right hand of the Majesty on high.
Assume face position!
Because of grace . . . for His glory.