When God said “let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness,” (Genesis 1:26) God created man in His own image, male and female created He them, and gave them dominion over all the earth. Furthermore the Bible tells us that “they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed” Genesis 2:25. In this state of innocence, man was to bear God’s image, both in outward resemblance and in character. But when man disobeyed God, the result was nakedness and shame.
His relationship to God could only be summarized in these words, “I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.” Genesis 3:10. What was it that man lost which made him realize that he was naked? As man came forth from the hand of the Creator, he had no artificial garments, but was clad with the light of God. This robe of light was a symbol of their spiritual garments of heavenly innocence. They were clad with the righteousness of Christ, which is His own unblemished character.
And so the Bible says, “I put on righteousness, and it clothed me.” Job 29:14. “I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for He hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, He hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels.” Isaiah 61:10. His nature was in harmony with the will of God. His mind was capable of comprehending divine things. But when he chose to betray his trust in the Lord, to disobey a plain command, the righteousness of the Lord departed from him.
So we find that through the ages, the human race has sewed together fig leaves - garments of their own devising, by works of their own - to cover the nakedness caused by transgression in an attempt to cover their sins, and make themselves acceptable to God. “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags.” Isaiah 64:9. Nothing that man can device can supply the righteousness of Christ. For this, we must be wholly dependent upon God.
The entrance of sin has drawn the affections of mankind from his Creator to himself. Man has prided himself in his achievements, his wisdom and his might. But scripture declares: “Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD.” Jeremiah 9: 23, 24. This knowledge is so vital to our salvation that Christ in His prayer to His Father said “This is life eternal that they might know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent.” John 17:3. In His plan to restore us back to our former state, God sends us a message which calls us to give glory to Him; to reflect the righteous character of Christ that man had before the fall.
How can we know how to give glory to God, “the glory that is due unto His name?” (Psalm 96:8). Since the fall, man could not of himself know, understand and love the things of God for “the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” 2 Corinthians 2:14.Thus it was necessary that One who knew the height, the depth and the breadth of God’s love, One who was and is one with Him, declare unto us who God truly is, that we may know Him and through that knowledge glorify Him. So, God became flesh and dwelt among us and we beheld His glory as the glory of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.
It has always been God’s desire that we may behold His glory. When upon Mount Sinai, Moses requested to see the glory of God, God said “Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live.” Exodus 33:20. The Bible says God “only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see.” 1Timothy 6:16. Since the fall, man lost all the privileges of holding open communion with his Creator. The unveiled glory of God no man could look upon and live, “for our God is a consuming fire.” Hebrews 12:29.
But Moses is assured that he shall behold as much of the divine glory as he can bear in his present, mortal state. That Hand that made the world, that holds the mountains in their places, takes this man of dust - this man of mighty faith - and mercifully covers him in the cleft of the rock, while the glory of God and all His goodness pass before him. “Behold, there is a place by me, and thou shalt stand upon a rock: And it shall come to pass, while my glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a clift of the rock, and will cover thee with my hand while I pass by: And I will take away mine hand, and thou shalt see my back parts: but my face shall not be seen.” Exodus 33:21-23.
“And the LORD descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the LORD. And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children's children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.” Exodus 34:5-7.
God revealed to Moses the attributes of His character. He proclaimed His name - His character. This is the glory, which the rest of the world beheld in Christ. At the cross, we behold God being just and the justifier of them that believe and trust in Him. We see how He - our heavenly Father - is willing to forgive iniquity and sin. At the same time we see how He will not clear the guilty, for Christ though the Son, and knew no sin; when He became sin for us, was not excused from the penalty of transgressing God’s law. At the cross mercy and justice met together, righteousness and peace kissed each other.
Christ magnified the law and made it more honorable. In so doing, He magnified the character of God and made it more honorable, for the law is but a transcript of His character. When Moses heard and saw this, he “made haste, and bowed his head toward the earth, and worshipped.” Exodus 34:8. Nothing on earth can be equated to being in the immediate presence of God.
This mighty man of God, after beholding the glory of God, he reflected that which he saw. When “we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord,” the Bible assures us that we shall be, “changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” 2 Corinthians 3:18. The character of God, full of grace and truth, which the Saviour revealed to men on earth, is what God calls upon us to reveal, through the strength and grace we have been given through faith in Christ. The first angel’s message is a call to behold His glory and to reflect it. Will you heed the call today?