The Elements Of Glory (Part 1): Sermon By Bishop Gobanga
Then a man of Benjamin ran from the battle line the same day, and came to Shiloh with his clothes torn and dirt on his head. Now when he came, there was Eli, sitting on a seat by the wayside watching, for his heart trembled for the ark of God. And when the man came into the city and told it, all the city cried out. When Eli heard the noise of the outcry, he said, “What does the sound of this tumult mean?” And the man came quickly and told Eli. Eli was ninety-eight years old, and his eyes were so dim that he could not see.
Then the man said to Eli, “I am he who came from the battle. And I fled today from the battle line.” And he said, “What happened, my son?” So the messenger answered and said, “Israel has fled before the Philistines, and there has been a great slaughter among the people. Also your two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, are dead; and the ark of God has been captured.” Then it happened, when he made mention of the ark of God, that Eli fell off the seat backward by the side of the gate; and his neck was broken and he died, for the man was old and heavy. And he had judged Israel forty years.
Now his daughter-in-law, Phinehas’ wife, was with child, due to be delivered; and when she heard the news that the ark of God was captured, and that her father-in-law and her husband were dead, she bowed herself and gave birth, for her labor pains came upon her. And about the time of her death the women who stood by her said to her, “Do not fear, for you have borne a son.” But she did not answer, nor did she regard it. Then she named the child Ichabod, saying, “The glory has departed from Israel!” because the ark of God had been captured and because of her father-in-law and her husband. And she said, “The glory has departed from Israel, for the ark of God has been captured.”1 Samuel 4:10-22 (NIV)
Religion is not enigmatic – there is no wonder or glory. Nowadays mere liturgy has taken centerstage and the Holy Spirit is not revered. Worship in various denominations has been defined by what was passed on from the men of old (fathers of faith). Rituals and entertainment are characteristic of today’s Church.
The Church is a place where we are to offer sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving. The business of the Church is to worship God. The problem of the Church today is that it has ritualistic activities that have led people to go through the motions. People also think that being dignified is a sign of worshipping God.
Worship should be conducted as God has defined it. We need to go back to the rudiments of our faith – worship is an attitude of the heart whose transport is faith.
An Ichabod Church is one that glorifies systems and not the person of Christ. This kind of Church has no glory.
From the time of Martin Luther in the Middle Ages, God has been restoring grace and truth to the Body of Christ. What is happening now is that Churches and people have camped around the former moves of God and they end up fighting the new move of God.
People need to be careful not to camp around certain elements like moving in the gifts of the Spirit and yet there is more to God than that. People forget that God is not limited to gifts He has bestowed in the Church.
Ichabod Churches always want certain things in the Church to always run in a particular way. The system may not be a problem as every system is preceded by an experience. They fail because they do not regard Christ as foremost before their systems.
Eli’s sons Hophni and Phinehas had no regard for God. They sinned without restraint till their sin reached the heart of God.
Religion makes one busy and lacking in personal devotion and commitment to the Saviour.
One can be faithful in everything but in one thing you might not be faithful. In this day, we need to be careful not to be more committed to programs than to God.
Just because one may have good intentions doesn’t mean one is walking righteousness. Righteousness is doing what God wants in the way He wants.
Eli was faithful to the Torah and he did everything right in his priestly function. However, he honoured his sons more than God. The sin of Eli’s sons affected the entire nation which goes to show that disobedience to God is not only a personal thing but it can affect everyone.
Eli’s sons thought by taking the Ark Of the Covenant, they were safe. They thought it was a good luck charm. Eli’s sons thought that the Ark of the Covenant carried God. They gave no thought to their need for repentance.
When the Ark was taken away – it was a representation of God’s very presence and manifestation of His glory. Israel thought that when they had the covenant they were invincible. Yet God was looking at their heart.
The problem of the Church is that we pray with our mouths and also curse with the same mouth.
In the times of Prophet Ezekiel, there was normal life in the temple but no transformation in the lives of the people of God.
The Church must be a place where the glory of God rests. It needs to be a place where our lives are changed. Where there is no transformation, there is no worship. There has got to be a change.
Sacrifice is what causes one not to fall short of glory. When you place an animal on the altar, what is left is fire on the altar. The only way to carry the nature of God is to lay your life as a living sacrifice at the Cross.
This is the same parallel we draw for our lives as we offer our lives on the altar of the cross. You cannot see Him and live. Glory does not manifest in the life of one that is alive in their carnality.
When you have a false conviction, you will have a false glory. God wants us to deal with the corruption resident deep within us.
In the times of Ezekiel, the glory did not want to depart. The grace of God helps us to say no to ungodliness.
If we [freely] admit that we have sinned and confess our sins, He is faithful and just (true to His own nature and promises) and will forgive our sins [dismiss our lawlessness] and [continuously] cleanse us from all unrighteousness [everything not in conformity to His will in purpose, thought, and action].1 John 1:9 (AMPC)
Authentic encounter with the person of Christ leads to lasting fruit in one’s life as the Holy Spirit leads.
Using religion a good-luck charm will not work. God wants us to deal with the corruption that is vested in the womb of our spirit – just like Hophni and Phinehas.
God wants us to pursue what He wants and not what we want. We need to delight in the desires of God; therein our desires are met and considered. God’s priorities are what ensure we are satisfied.
When we continue with corrupted behaviour, the glory of God will not be present in our lives.
Lucifer was full of the wisdom of God and he was the seal of perfection but Jesus was humble and contrite: 100% God and 100% man. Jesus didn’t think equality with the Father as something to be apprehended.
The desire of Christ has always been to please the Father. Lucifer experienced the glory of God but forgot that having access to the glory doesn’t make you a stakeholder in God’s glory.
There is something glorious about the human form of Christ. God the Father used the image of man in Christ to project Himself throughout eternity. Man is meant to reflect the image and glory of God in the order of Christ.
God will always look for a man to use as well as Christ. God used Christ to redeem man while the devil used Adam to frustrate the purpose of God.
If we are to access the glory of God, the glory of God must touch base with the mercy seat. The mercy seat is where the blood sacrifice of Christ was offered for the remission of our sins.
God wants our lives to be consecrated to Him. We are to present to God our moral and spiritual excellence. Our gifts, talents and abilities must be anointed by God. Gifts must never replace ones character. Religion makes people be impenitent in sin. This is what drives away the Glory of God in our lives.
God wants us to have a readiness to worship him in spirit and in truth in our lives. The moral and spiritual perfection of Christ in us should be made manifest in our lives.