Handel's Messiah: The Person and Work of Christ

4. 'The Glory of the Lord Shall Be Revealed'

By Dr. Paul M. Elliott
The glory of Christ's first coming holds the promise of future glory for His saints.

From the TeachingtheWord Bible Knowledgebase

Part 4 of a series. Read part 3.

The glory of Christ's first coming holds the promise of future glory for His saints.

After the tenor soloist's recitation of the prophecy of John the Baptist's ministry as Christ's forerunner, Handel's Messiah continues with the words that follow in Isaiah chapter 40, which are sung by the chorus:

And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it. (Isaiah 40:5)

The Prophecy's Near-Term and Ultimate Fulfillment

Once again, the Lord's message through the prophet Isaiah applies not merely to Judah's captivity. Indeed, the glory of the Lord would be revealed in Judah's return from Babylon and the rebuilding of the temple. And Christ's glory would be further revealed at His first advent. But the ultimate glory of God is yet to be revealed in the consummation of His plan for the redemption of a people for Himself, and of the entire created order from the Fall, when all things are made subject to Jesus the Messiah.

In chapter 52, God through Isaiah speaks of these events that were in the relatively near future for Judah, as well as the far greater scope of this prophecy that they foreshadow in the grand plan of redemption in Christ. Once again, Isaiah speaks as though they were already accomplished facts:

Break forth into joy, sing together, you waste places of Jerusalem! For the Lord has comforted His people, He has redeemed Jerusalem. The Lord has made bare His holy arm in the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God. (Isaiah 52:9-10)

Christ's Glory at His First Coming

And so, at Christ's first coming into the world, the Apostle John writes,

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)

On the night before He went to the cross, Jesus prayed to the Father concerning His glory in Heaven, and His glorification in the saints on earth:

I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do. And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was. I have manifested Your name to the men whom You have given Me out of the world. They were Yours, You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your Word. Now they have known that all things which You have given Me are from You. For I have given to them the words which You have given Me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came forth from You; and they have believed that You sent Me. I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours. And all Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine, and I am glorified in them. (John 17:4-10)

The apostles Peter, James, and John saw a glimpse of Messiah's glory on the Mount of Transfiguration:

Now it came to pass, about eight days after these sayings, that He took Peter, John, and James and went up on the mountain to pray. As He prayed, the appearance of His face was altered, and His robe became white and glistening. And behold, two men talked with Him, who were Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory and spoke of His decease [literally, His exodus] which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. (Luke 9:28-31)

John writes of this in his first epistle:

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life - the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us - that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. And these things we write to you that your joy may be full. This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. (1 John 1:1-5)

Peter likewise writes of the transfiguration in his second epistle, and relates it to Isaiah's prophecy:

For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For He received from God the Father honor and glory when such a voice came to Him from the Excellent Glory: "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." And we heard this voice which came from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain. And so we have the prophetic word confirmed... (2 Peter 1:16-19)

The Sure Promise of Future Glory

In Revelation we find the culmination of the prophecy of Messiah's revealed glory and Jerusalem's ultimate redemption that are first given to us in Isaiah:

Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away."

Then He who sat on the throne said, "Behold, I make all things new." And He said to me, "Write, for these words are true and faithful."

And He said to me, "It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son. But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death." (Revelation 21:1-8)

The unbelieving scoff at these things. In our day, even many who profess to be saved live as though God's promises were not sure, and these coming events not certain. But the Holy Spirit rebukes them through Peter:

Beloved, I now write to you this second epistle (in both of which I stir up your pure minds by way of reminder), that you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us, the apostles of the Lord and Savior, knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, "Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation."

For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water, by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water. But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.

But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.

But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.

Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless; and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation... (2 Peter 3:1-15)

The Future Revelation of Messiah's Glory: A Day You Welcome - Or Dread?

Once again let me ask: How is it with you? The glory of Christ the Savior was revealed at His first coming. The glory of Christ the King will be revealed at His second coming. Do you look forward to the revelation of the glory of the Lord?

More to the point, can you look forward to it? For the believer, it is a day to be welcomed with confidence because it holds the promise of eternal life:

When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory. (Colossians 3:4)

But for the unbeliever, it is a day of dread that one would hope will never come, because it holds the promise of eternal damnation:

When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on His right hand, "Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world..."

Then He will also say to those on the left hand, "Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels...

And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life." (Matthew 25:31-34, 41, 46)

Which is it for you? "The glory of the Lord shall be revealed." Is the coming day of the final revelation of the glory of God one you welcome, or dread? If you must honestly say it is the latter, I urge you to turn to the Messiah now, and by His grace be freed from the dreadful certainty of eternal condemnation apart from Him.

 

Next: "And I will shake all nations"

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