The Glories of Christ – His Pre-Incarnate Glories

The Glories of Christ – His Pre-Incarnate Glories

In the early chapters of the book of Revelation, the apostle John emphasizes the critical importance of having their focus directed upon the glorified Christ. In Revelation chapter one the Lord is seen in all of His awesome glory in the midst of the golden candlesticks – the seven churches. When we come to chapters two and three, the apostle John looks into each of the seven churches in turn, and without exception, he shows that the panacea for all of their ills, or the source of encouragement midst their trials, can only be found in a fresh focus on the glorified Christ. Undoubtedly this is the much needed, highest priority, in the assemblies today, and with this in mind, we will consider the glory of Christ in three different aspects.

  • His Pre-incarnate Glory
  • His Incarnate Glory
  • His Eternal Glory

The Pre-Incarnate Glory Of Christ

In John 17 the Lord Jesus speaking to His Father says: “And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was” (John 17:5). Evidently, at the moment of incarnation, whilst retaining all of His Deity, the Lord had divested Himself of the outward manifestations of the Glory that had belonged to Him before the world was. Our knowledge of that glory is limited, but there are a few occasions when we are given a glimpse ‘behind the veil’ so to speak, and it is to such passages that we wish to turn our attention.

His Creatorial Glory

Proverbs chapter eight affords us a unique glimpse of the creatorial glory of Christ, where we read: “The LORD possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old.” “I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was.” (Prov. 8:22 & 23). The chapter describes the great happenings when the universe was created, and to show that Christ was there at the moment of creation. (vs. 27 “I was there.”) Later revelation shows that not only was He present at the moment of creation, but that He was the great Creator of the Universe. For example we read: “For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth…:” (Col 1:16). Again,“All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.” (John 1:3). “(God) Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son…, by whom also he made the worlds;” (Heb 1:2).

The Glory of Christ as the Creator of our Universe is one that strikes us with awe and wonder. When visiting with our son Colin – when he was labouring in Chitokoloki, in the Zambezi valley – in the absence of any pollution, the night skies were a constant source of wonder. Looking up into the black velvety sky, some stars were like great shining diamonds suspended in space, but far beyond these great shining orbs, countless millions of pinpoints of light could be seen reaching out into the infinitudes of space, many of them representing galaxies much bigger than ours. One was made to worship, and to exclaim “How great Thou art, How great Thou art” Yes indeed, “the heavens declare the Glory of God, and the firmament showeth forth His handiwork…” It should not surprise us therefore to find that in eternal scenes, one of the great anthems that will fill the vault of heaven is the ultimate recognition of the Godhead Glory of the creator, before whom the four and twenty elders cast their crowns before the Throne and cry “Thou are worthy O Lord to receive Glory and Honour and Power, for Thou has created all things, and for Thy pleasure they are and were created.” (Rev. 4. 11). May we with them, be provoked to worship by this glimpse of the pre-incarnate glory of Christ as the Creator, and to cast our crowns at His feet.

O Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder,
Consider all the worlds thy hand have made,
I see the stars; I hear the mighty thunder,
Thy power throughout the universe displayed.
Then sings my soul, my saviour God to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art

The Glory Of His Deity

The writer to the Hebrews gives us a glimpse of the Godhead Glory of Christ as he writes “Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power…” (Heb 1:3).
Here we find ourselves confronted with the essential deity of the Lord Jesus. The NIV translates the term “brightness of His Glory” as “the radiance of God’s Glory.” The amplified New Testament puts it this way “He is the sole expression of the Glory of God – the outraying of the divine.” J. B. Phillips translates it this way: “This Son, radiance of the Glory of God, flawless expression of the nature of God.” The writer of Hebrews then goes on to say that Christ is “the express image of His (God’s) person.” The NIV translates this “the exact representation of His being.” The picture is taken from the commercial world where a seal was used to identify a document. A metal seal bearing an imprint unique to author was pressed into melted wax on a document, meaning that the document would bear the exact replica of the author’s identity in every possible way. How true this was of Christ. Many excellent men had crossed the stage of time prior to His coming, and they were able in a fragmentary way, to display, the Glory of God, but John records concerning Christ “No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.” (John 1:18). It is only in Christ that we see the perfect representation of Godhead Glory. The poet has well written:

In Thee most perfectly expressed,
The Father’s glories shine,
Of the full deity possessed,
Eternally Divine.

His Kingly Glory

The prophet Isaiah had that wonderful vision of the Lord in His pre-incarnate Glory, and he tells us: “In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. Above it stood the seraphim: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. And they cried one to another, and said, Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of His Glory. And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke.” (Isaiah 6:1-4). The death of Uzziah marked a time of uncertainty and insecurity throughout the nation. The Throne – that symbol of power, security and authority – had been vacated. But Isaiah lifted his eyes heavenward to see a throne that would never be vacated, and whose authority could never be challenged. As we look around our world with its crumbling thrones and wicked, corrupt leaders, it is wonderful to know that in the final analysis, the final outcome does not lie in the hands of men. Our God has never abdicated His place on the throne of the universe, and soon the day will come, when “His will be done on earth, as it is in Heaven.” Notice the threefold effect of the vision upon those who were in close proximity to the Throne.

The Effect On The Angelic Hosts:

First, the unfallen creatures nearest the throne – the Seraphim – were affected. Confronted with the awesome glory of the pre-incarnate Christ, they covered their faces and their feet, and they were provoked to dry “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord of Hosts: the whole earth is full of His glory.” (Isaiah 6:3). How does this compare with our worship today? Do we have that sense of awe and wonder as we come into His presence? May we be delivered from irreverence and undue familiarity in our worship, and ever and always keep in mind the Glory of the God. Our God is still seated upon His throne, high and lifted up, and our attitude in His presence should reflect due homage and humility.

The Effect On The Physical Creation:

Secondly, the vision affected the Physical Creation: “The posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke.” The effects of the Glory of the King affected all around. The shaking of the posts of the doors, and the smoke filled temple is indicative of the power behind the throne. We learn here and from subsequent revelation that the time will come when the power and the glory of the Lord upon His Throne will extend into the entire universe of God. The book of Revelation gives us a display of fearsome power as the judgments of God are unleashed upon a world that has altogether rejected God and His Christ. Horseman after horseman, vial after vial, trumpet after trumpet come forth to display the Glory of God – for even in His judgments His Glory is seen. But of course, following the display of His Glory in His judgments, His Glory will be seen in a restored creation with Christ as King over all the earth.

The Effect On The Prophet Isaiah:

Thirdly, the prophet Isaiah was affected. He cried: “Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.” (Isaiah 6:5). Sometimes we might think that seeing the glory of God would be a wonderful experience, but here Isaiah sees that glory and literally says, “I am ruined.” The vision of the Glory of God made Isaiah aware as never before, of the iniquity of his own heart. So it is with us, if we would assume to be servants of God, and to say boldly “Here am I, send me,” it must only be after we have come to the place where we can say with the apostle “For I know that in me, (that is in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing.” (Rom. 7:18). Nothing will serve to make us realize just what we really are, and remove from us any idea that we ourselves are anything, after we have seen the King in all His beauty.

Conclusion

When the apostle Paul was caught up to the seventh heaven he could only say “How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.” (2 Cor. 12:4, AV). He had been so overwhelmed by the scenes of Glory that he was quite unable to speak about his experience. Similarly, the apostle John confronted with the Glory of the Risen Lord in the midst of the churches, “he fell at His feet as one dead.” We also are conscious of our need to see His Glory, yet conscious that whilst in the flesh, it will always be a chastening experience. Today, we only “see through a glass darkly,” but we look forward to that day “when he shall appear, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.” Meantime, we take our shoes off our feet and bow in worship and adoration before the Pre-incarnate Glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

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William Burnett

William Burnett was born and raised in Scotland, and spent his entire professional life in the Oil refining industry. He was seconded to Canada by his employer in 1972, and accepted early retirement in 1994. He has been a "tentmaker," - working in business, whilst ministering among the assemblies - since his late teen years. Early retirement has enabled him to undertake a much wider sphere of itinerant ministry throughout North America, and abroad. He also sits on the board of Counsel Magazine, and contributes regularly to various publication, including Uplook, Precious Seed and the Choice Gleanings Calendar. He and his wife Beth reside in Oakville, Ontario, where they are in happy fellowship in Hopedale Assembly. They have three married sons, and eight grandchildren.