We left off our exposition of 1 Samuel with the birth of Ichabod (1Samuel 4:19-22), a name which asks the question, “Where is the glory?” This Lord’s Day, on the eve of the day when much of Christendom pauses to remember the birth of Jesus, we will seek to answer that question by tracing the history of God’s glory through the Scripture, taking off in the Garden of Eden and landing on Jesus Christ. The glory (in Hebrew, kavode) of God appears and disappears throughout the Old Testament at key moments in the history of Israel; but it finally comes to rest upon Jesus Christ in the incarnation in Bethlehem, where the eternal Son of God took on flesh to dwell among us. As common as the story of Christmas has become, few consider the exchange and appearance of glory that came to earth on that “Silent” and “Holy” night.
Charles Wesley’s hymn expresses this well. In the second verse of Hark the Herald Angels Sing, he writes: Christ by highest heaven adored, Christ the everlasting Lord. Jesus Christ, the Son of God and Word of the Father, left a place where he was glorified and adored by angels, to come to earth, where he would be despised and rejected by men. As the hymn continues, the majesty of the Son portrayed in these first lines stands in marked contrast to the humanity of Jesus portrayed in the next line: Late in time behold him come, offspring of the Virgin’s womb. In “the fulness of time” (Gal 4:4-5), eternity stepped into time as Jesus veiled His eternal glory in flesh and became the offspring of the virgin’s womb. Veiled in flesh the Godhead see; Hail the incarnate Deity. Jesus is both fully man and fully God. Although his “Godhead” (his divine nature) was “veiled” (concealed) in his human nature, it was not diminished. He was the incarnation – the very embodiment of God in flesh!
Christmas is about the coming of Christ into the world. It’s about the Son of God, who existed eternally with the Father as “the radiance of his glory and the exact representation of his nature,” taking on human nature and becoming a man (Hebrews 1:3). It’s about the birth of a baby by a virgin conceived miraculously by the Holy Spirit, so that he is the Son of God (Luke 1:35). It’s about the coming of a man named Jesus in whom “all the fullness of deity was pleased to dwell” (Colossians 2:9). Christmas answers the question of Ichabod’s mother. Where is the glory? It is found in Jesus is our Immanuel (a Hebrew sentence meaning, God is with us)!