Every Sunday we put up on our screen that if anyone has a question about anything that gets said in a sermon, they can text that question in and get an answer on this blog. We haven’t gotten any questions for awhile, but this week we received these two:
Question #1: What was the origin of the word/phrase you used for the glory of God?
On Sunday I spoke on Luke 2:1-20 and in verse 9 when the angels appeared to the shepherds it says that the “glory of God shown around them.” There are several words used for God’s glory in scripture. The word that is used here is “Shekinah”. God’s shekinah glory is the glory of his manifested presence. I gave the history of where we see this in scripture during my sermon, but here’s a quick recap. This is first implied in Genesis 3 when it talks about God walking with Adam and Eve in the cool of the garden. It is first used explicitly in Exodus 13 as God leads the Israelites in the pillar of fire and cloud of smoke. It gets used in Exodus 40 as God comes to dwell in the tabernacle and again when the Temple is built. It’s final appearance in the OT is in Ezekiel 14 when the Shekinah glory of God leaves the temple and departs from Israel. The next time it is seen is on this Holy Night in Bethlehem. It wasn’t just the angels who showed up to announce the birth of Christ. God Himself had come again to His people to announce the entrance of His Son into the world.
Question 2 You tied "fear not" from the angels to the shepherds as them addressing the "fear of death". A couple weeks ago, you talked about the angels proclamation of "fear not" to Mary and Joseph because of the immediate fear anyone would have at even looking at the majesty of an angel. Can you draw out the correlation between the two "fear not" explanations possibly... if there is one? Or was there two different definitions from these "fear nots".
This is why I like this opportunity to interact, because sometimes people mishear things and it is good to be able to clarify. I actually didn’t say that the angels message of “Fear Not” was addressing the shepherd’s “fear of death.” The shepherds fear of the Angels was certainly the same as Zechariah's fear and Mary’s fear and almost every person in the Bible’s fear when they see Angels. For sinful people to look on the majestic beings of heaven is a fearful sight. However, what I said was that the angel’s message of Fear Not to the Shepherds was God giving a message to all of us stretching out through history, for the angels went on to speak about how peace had come. It wasn’t just about the shepherds not needing to fear them, but now that Christ came, there is no longer any reason to fear anything. There are not different definitions, but layered meaning. And that’s when I tied in this quote from John Piper,
God sends Jesus with the word: Fear not! Hebrews 2:14 says: Jesus became man "that through death he might destroy him who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death have been held in lifelong bondage." Doesn't this last phrase imply something tremendously liberating for our daily life? If the worst fear—fear of death—has been taken away through the death of Christ, then surely God does not want us to fear the lesser things in life: job insecurity, not having enough time to finish a sermon, failing a test in school, being rejected by your friends, etc. The message of Christmas is fear not!- John Piper
I hope that clarifies. Thanks for asking!