From Glory to More Glory!
By Gary Amirault
My first experience with the Bible was not a pleasant or enlightening experience. I don't remember how old I was, but I remember reading a few pages from the book of Genesis and discarding it thinking it was all a bunch of mythological nonsense.
I think I was about 12 years when I decided, while attending a Sunday service at a Methodist church, that there could not be a God. It seemed to me that everyone in that church was pretending, going through a ritual just for the sake of the ritual. It didn't seem sincere. The pastor was clearly not really interested in what he was saying. If what they were doing was worshipping the Creator of the Universe Who can form thousands of stars by just opening His mouth, they certainly did not express the awe and reverence I would expect at such an occasion. God did not show up for me, and from the expressions of the congregation and pastor, God did not show up for their "worship" service either.
When I was 37 years old, my wife, who was raised Jewish, all of a sudden "got saved." Do you have any idea what kind of a horror that might be for an atheist? Well, it wasn't too long before little tracts, booklets, and yes, a Bible would find itself in locations which were certain to get my attention. (Some of you know what I'm talking about.) Well, I decided to fall into her little trap to catch her in her own foolishness. I was going to use against her the very Bible she was trying to trap me with, the Living Bible.
I knew enough about the Bible to know that the God in the Old Testament and the God of the New Testament seemed to be two entirely different Gods. The one in the Old Testament seemed like a pretty bad dude. So I went to Deuteronomy, Leviticus, Numbers, etc., for two main reasons: 1. To find out why Jews seemed to be so materialistic-- perhaps the answer was in their religion; and, 2. To show my wife who kept talking about this "loving" God, that He was no such thing. It seemed every time this Old Testament God breathed, He killed thousands of people. I looked for some of the most inhumane, gruesome accounts of Jehovah's dealings with man and passages which described how God told Israel to kill innocent women and children, etc. I wanted to show my wife that her new-found "loving" God was anything but loving.
Occasionally (while she wasn't looking, of course) I would sneak into the New Testament to see what was there. Well, not too long after this time, I "got saved." I began to read the Bible hours on end and never tiring. In those first couple years, I must admit, I had a real difficulty reconciling the Jehovah of the Old Testament with the Jesus Christ of the New Testament. I could see why most Christians spent most of their time in the New Testament. The kinds of denominations which I attended did not make it easy for me reconcile the two, but over a period of time, I began to see Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God, not only in the New Testament, but literally on most pages of the Old Testament! As the spirit of revelation began to remove the scales from my eyes, the Son of God was greatly magnified. And with that, the loving God of the New Testament began to show forth in the pages of the Old Testament. Below is a short list of some of the references to Jesus Christ contained in the Old Testament:
My Son (Psalm 2:7), the Lord our Righteousness (Jer. 23:6), everlasting Father (Isaiah 9:6), the seed of the woman (Gen 3:15) My servant, the Branch (Zech. 3:8), a servant of Rulers (Isaiah 49:7), a stranger and alien (Psalm 69:8), a man of sorrows (Isaiah 53:3), a worm, and no man (Psalm 22:6), the shepherd of Israel (Ezek. 34:23), the root of Jesse (Isaiah 11:10), a rod out of the stem of Jesse (Isaiah 11:1), a branch out of his roots (Isaiah 11:1), the branch (Zech. 6:12), a plant of renown (Ezek. 34:29), a bundle of myrrh (S of S 1:13), a cluster of Camshire (S of S 1:14), the sun of righteousness (Malachi 4:2) the strength of the children of Israel (Joel 3:16), the hope of His people (Joel 3:16), the Rock of Ages (Isaiah 26:4 margin), my Rock and my Fortress (Psalm 31:3), the Rock of my heart (Psalm 73:26, margin), a shadow from the heat (Isaiah 25:4), a sure foundation (Isaiah 28:16), a tried stone (Isaiah 28:16), the Redeemer (Isaiah 59:20), my firstborn (Psalm 89:27), a leader (Isaiah 55:4), an ensign of the people (Isaiah 11:10), the shield (Psalm 84:9), a polished shaft (Isaiah 49:2), the Messiah, the Prince (Daniel 9:25), the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6), the Prince of Princes (Daniel 8:25), the King (Zechariah 14:16), the King's Son (Psalm 72:1), King over all the earth (Zechariah 14:4,5,9), the King in his beauty (Isaiah 33:17).
I have by no means even come close to exhausting the list. As His presence began to pervade the whole Bible, the powerful words of Paul, the apostle seemed to ring through the entire universe. "Of Him, and to Him, and through Him are all things." No wonder Paul could say, as he did in Romans chapter one, "since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead (divine nature), so they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened." He is the tree, the rock, the river, the rose, the morning star, the lion of the tribe of Judah. All these and more. Yet all these things, when seen apart from Jesus, the Living Word through Whom all was created, become nothing more than objects to be turned into idols. But when we see that apart from Him was not anything made, then we can begin to gain better understanding of the invisible God by the visible things created. We do not fall into the trap of creature and creation worship--they become expressions of Him and our goal becomes knowing Him in His fullness.
And so, another new dimension of glory, from the New Testament, to the Old, and from the Old through its symbols pointing to the universe, we begin to see the Son in all things without entering into idolatry. And once delivered from physical idolatry, seeing the Word in all things, He begins to reveal who we are in Him. "Ye are the light of the world," "a city on a hill," "trees of righteousness," "sons of god," "salt of the earth," "crucified with Him," "seated in heavenly places," "more than conquerers," "judges of angels," "rulers with him," "servants," out of our bellies shall flow "rivers of living water," and oh, yes, "saviors on Mount Zion."
And the beautiful thing about it all is that it is possible to enter into this wonderful realm of glory without entering into idolatry. We can look at a tree and it will bring us to many passages in the Scriptures Old and New and it can teach us about our Father and about ourselves. Only through Jesus Christ, the Living Word, is this possible. And only through His inworkings. No religion, no denomination, no system of thought, no mantra, no guru, and no one can devise a method or a "ten step" program. All these other methods, even the best ones devised by well-meaning Christian leaders, will result in idolatry. Most Christian idolatry centers on the idols in our hearts which are perhaps much more dangerous than physical idols. It can only come about through an individual relational walk through glory with His Son, Jesus Christ. Glory in the Highest! Hosanna!!!