John 1:14-18 – The Glory of God

In John 1:14-18 the John uses a metaphor to describe how the Word, as the Creator God and true light, could be the human Jesus. The Word “became flesh and tabernacled among us.” This is an allusion to the Wilderness period when God lived amidst his people at the Tabernacle (Numbers 35:34, also in the Temple, 1 Kings 6:13). Most important, the Tent of Meeting is called the Test of Testimony (σκηνὴ μαρτυρίου) in LXX Exodus 33:7. This combines two key themes in John 1, the Word dwelt with men, and the Word is a witness to God. The Tent of Meeting is the place where God revealed himself in the wilderness and revealed himself to Moses.

The TabernacleThe “glory of God” may also allude to the Wilderness period (Numbers 16:19, Psalm 102:16, referring to the first Temple and Ezekiel10:4, the glory of God departing from the Temple). In the Gospel of John, Jesus reveals God’s glory in several ways. The seven signs in John reveal Jesus as God’s glory (2:11, 11:4, framing the seven signs.) Jesus says he has his own glory (17:5, 24). Jesus is glorified during his public ministry, but ultimately in the crucifixion (11:4, 12:28, 13:31-32).

John also alludes to Moses and the Law in verse 17. When the Law was given the people saw the glory of God on the mountain and were terrified, they could not stand to see the power and the glory of God. Even the phrase “no one has ever seen God” is an allusion to Moses at Sinai. Moses saw only the effects of the glory of God, not God himself (Exodus 33:20).

Perhaps the most surprising allusion to the wilderness period here is the statement that The word was “full of grace and truth.” Commentaries usually get bogged down on “fullness” as a potential allusion to Gnosticism. But I think the phrase “grace and truth” is more important since this is a way in which God described himself to Moses in Exodus. In Exodus 34 God reveals his glory to Moses. When he does, the Lord himself proclaims that he is the LORD, abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, using two words in Hebrew, hesed and ‘emet. These are well-known from the theology of the Hebrew Bible and are roughly equivalent to grace and truth in John 1:14.

John is therefore claiming that the Word is the true Light of God and that he is a complete revelation of the steadfast love and faithfulness of God, using the same words that God himself used in his self-revelation in Exodus 34:6.

Why the Wilderness? First, it was in the wilderness that Israel first became the “people of God.” He had rescued them out of Egypt and brought them into the wilderness to initiate their relationship through a covenant at Sinai. Isaiah 40-55 describes the end of the exile as a return to the wilderness. When God rescues his people from exile, they will once again travel the wilderness back to the land of the Promise. Third, as N. T. Wright often says, Second Temple Period Judaism thought of themselves as still in the exile. The Word, therefore, is inaugurating a new wilderness period. He is God dwelling among his people in a tent (of flesh this time), leading them into the wilderness where he will care for them (John 6).

In the Gospel of John, Israel will encounter the glory of God through Jesus, but they will once again rebel and reject him, preferring to remain in the darkness.

24 thoughts on “John 1:14-18 – The Glory of God

  1. Jesus was born the son of Man as well as the son of God. He was born in order to dwell among man. Because of his divine nature and status he was God among his creation. With the use of the tabernacle metaphor, God was with the Israelites in the desert. The Israelites were wandering the desert for forty years, and because of their constant wandering they never had a fixed temple to worship God in. So, because of this God was with them in the form of a smoke cloud that represented his presence among the Israelites. But when Jesus came the Israelites were established in the nation of Israel. Unlike their ancestors they had a fixed temple. But because the Israelites had strayed from God that God came from heaven to earth in order to salvation for the Jews first and then the Gentile’s. And Christ revealed himself to everyone but only a few heard and understood what he meant.

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    • Jesus is the word of God. He is as you stated divine and even Kostenberger explains that “God’s word is also the vehicle for divine action,” (Kostenberger, 38). This means not only that he has the divine status that you explain, but rather he can speak and miracles happen. Only things that you could only imagine take place when he says one word. Just as in Genesis, God said “let there be light, and there was light,” (Genesis 1:3, NIV). Jesus and God are one person. so they both have the power to speak and their words can cause divine action. Through this divine action, Jesus can reveal certain things that he wants people to know about himself. I feel like that is why the people were not understanding what he meant, but rather that he was not showing them everything that he can do. So with your point of Christ revealing himself. I believe that they did understand, but he only revealed so much through his words, but rather his actions showed the whole story. Some of these actions were through his signs to which he revealed himself to people the things that he wanted them to see. So all in all, God is divine through his nature and actions and through these actions, we can see his revelations.

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  2. its amazing to me just how much John alludes to old testement passages. this very fact seems to be in order to show just who he was speaking to and what kind of background he had. while the other gospels do point to the old testement john seems to have a strong focus on it. this seems important as even today people argue the usefulness of the old testement in the light of what Christ has done. in many ways the same idea in early Christianity could have caused John to feel the need to write a gospel that heavily alluded to the old testement in order to show its importance even after Christ sacrificed himself for us.

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  3. its interesting to me just how much John uses the old testement in his gospel. while the other gospels allude to it some John’s gospel constantly from the very beginning is pointing back to the old testement as if to make a point about it specifically. it could be to point out the fact that Jesus’s mission was first and foremost to the Jews or it also could be to point out an issue that still exists today. this issue is the question of the usefulness of the old testement in light of the events that occur in the gospels. if we struggle with this today than surely the early church being gentile and Jew would have been working through this question as well. by pointing to the old testement over and over John is showing the importance of the old testement in how it influenced Jesus and how it played into what he would do while on earth.

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    • I agree that people today struggle with how useful the Old Testament really is because throughout the Old Testament, it all about establishing the Law. Of course, there may be some things we do not follow today like the sacrificing of clean animals, but I believe the Old Testament is useful by teaching us the history of the Jewish people and all the things they had to endure through. By understanding the Jewish struggles, we might be able to learn from their mistakes if we choose to listen. For instance, whenever the Israelites did not obey God or they became cocky, God sent a nation to overpower them. Today, if we choose to not listen to God’s teachings, we will end up struggling through life until we learn to put our trust into God. Back in the Old Testament times, the Israelites’ consequence would either be they were captured or they were made to wander in the desert where if they did not rely on God they might starve or die from thirst. After Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt, they wanted food so God made it rain bread. Then he made quail come to them so the Israelites would have bread and meat. All God asked was they remember the Sabbath which some did not. God always provided so his promise to Abraham was still in effect.

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  4. In the Bible, John uses this phrase “the word” and it somehow relates to Jesus through this use of effective speech. This metaphor lays out some theological themes that John uses to express the glory of God. The two themes pointed out in John 1 are true as they relate to how the word is in us and is also a witness to God, but there is another underlying theological theme that John uses throughout his entire Gospel that reflects back to this term “the word”. This theme is “everything Jesus does is revelation, his works as well as his words, because everything Jesus says and does points beyond mere external appearances to who Jesus is,” (Kostenberger, 39). Jesus is the word and his words are what opens our eyes as he reveals what he wants to about himself, his human nature, his internal feelings, and who God is. The word is a gateway to revealing the glory of God as stated in John 1:14, “the word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth,” (NIV). This theme that the word reveals more than just his external appearance shows us that he is more than flesh and bone, even though he is 100% human. He is human, the Son of God, and is grace and through his words, he reveals the glory of God.

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    • Ever since God created creation, he has shown himself clearly to the ones he chooses to share it with. In the garden, we see that he walked with Adam and Eve before sin was even in the picture. I always did wonder just how appealing that fruit had to be to make Adam and Eve sin and be cursed for the remainder of their life. You mentioned that Israel was going to reject Christ and choose to remain in darkness just like Adam and Eve chose to eat the fruit because it looked “good” (Genesis 3:7). This makes me think about sin as appealing to the eye. If I were one of the members of Israel following Jesus in the wilderness, I have to admit I would think about following just based on whether or not it was “good” to me. When sin entered the world, that marred our image of God, creating this darkness within us that we now carry with us wherever we go. The fall created this separation between us and God. Although Israel made the decisions to reject God, I have to wonder if it was just them responding to their natural instincts of sin, instead of just deliberately rejecting Jesus because he didn’t seem “good’ at the time. Although John refers to Jesus as being the light, choosing darkness is only the natural response to Israel at the moment because it is what they are most familiar with. As sinners today we are still most familiar with sinning. If there’s one thing that comes normally to us since birth, since creation, it’s knowing how to sin, and keeping that separation between God and us.

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      • Jordan, I like that you said how ever since God created the world he had appointed the ones that God would share things with and let certain people now. there is multiple examples of this throughout the Bible. but with that God gave us free will and with that we are able to make our own choices but with that have its own circumstances. I like how you wrote this post it really makes you think about how we are so familiar with how we sin, act and respond to our actions

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  5. Ever since God created creation, he has shown himself clearly to the ones he chooses to share it with. In the garden, we see that he walked with Adam and Eve before sin was even in the picture. I always did wonder just how appealing that fruit had to be to make Adam and Eve sin and be cursed for the remainder of their life. You mentioned that Israel was going to reject Christ and choose to remain in darkness just like Adam and Eve chose to eat the fruit because it looked “good” (Genesis 3:7). This makes me think about sin as appealing to the eye. If I were one of the members of Israel following Jesus in the wilderness, I have to admit I would think about following just based on whether or not it was “good” to me. When sin entered the world, that marred our image of God, creating this darkness within us that we now carry with us wherever we go. The fall created this separation between us and God. Although Israel made the decisions to reject God, I have to wonder if it was just them responding to their natural instincts of sin, instead of just deliberately rejecting Jesus because he didn’t seem “good’ at the time. Although John refers to Jesus as being the light, choosing darkness is only the natural response to Israel at the moment because it is what they are most familiar with. As sinners today we are still most familiar with sinning. If there’s one thing that comes normally to us since birth, since creation, it’s knowing how to sin, and keeping that separation between God and us.

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    • Jordan, I appreciate how you went back to Genesis and compared Adam and Eve’s sin to the sin of Israel. Adam and Eve rejecting God’s good fruit in the garden just like Jesus was rejected by his own people when he came to earth. We constantly reject God’s will and plan for our lives even when it is the best thing that he could offer us, like his very own Son.

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    • The idea of man choosing darkness because it is a natural instinct, and not a conscience choice is an interesting idea, but I am not sure how much weight we should give instinct over choice. Since the Garden, we all have sin. We are all born with it and I agree that it makes us prone to choose things that aren’t of God. But when people sin or disobey God, they are choosing to do that. People do what is familiar to them and they tend to “do what is right in their own eyes” (Judges 17:6). They like what is comfortable and familiar so they go back to those things that are not pleasing to the Lord. But that is still a choice. They can choose to do what is comfortable, or they can break free of the cycle that has them trapped and be in the light. John 3:20 says “everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed” (John 3:20). Because we do what we want, we don’t want the light because it will expose us for who we are. It takes courage and faith to break into the light and have nothing to be hidden. It is a choice. Darkness or light. Good or evil. What God wants or what I want. It is all a choice to go back to what is wrong, or to move past that and accept the light. So while man is more prone to the darkness, he still chooses it.

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  6. I find it incredible that the highest form of awe that a human being can experience is when he glimpses the truth of the Gospel, which can be found in the person of Jesus Christ. That God, being discontent with relating to His people through holy objects, would send His invaluable and precious Son to suffer so that we could have access to Him ubiquitously. The Gospel of John, while drawing upon the traditional Hebrew Scriptures and proving to be very focused on reaching proselytes and Jews, was extremely inclusive–especially considering the story of when Jesus cleared out the Temple. Part of His outrage had to do with the fact that the Jews had made the temple exclusive and insular, only allowing certain people to enter and benefit from the sacraments. Nevertheless, particularly in chapter one of His gospel, it is obvious that John is intentionally making multiple allusions to the Old Testament, appealing to a refined Jewish audience. Jesus is the Son of God, but this claim is not random or arbitrary; John proves through His clever allusions that it was always in the heart of God to send Jesus. It was always in the heart of God to change our hearts through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Jesus, it turns out, is God–the same God that the Israelites feared in the Old Testament.

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  7. As I read and think about the parallel between Jesus and the wilderness period, several come to mind. Most of those include what Professor Long mentioned, but one that was not included in this blog post in that Jesus is the nex pillar of cloud and pillar of fire (Exodus 13:21). During the wilderness period, God manifested Himself as a pillar of cloud and fire for His children to follow. This reminds me of Jesus and how He became a pillar of light for not only the Jews but also to the Gentiles. Jesus now becomes the guide for the people to follow who want to find the fullness of what God has for them.

    The cloud during the wilderness period was a reminder to the people of the constant presence of God. It was the provision for them so they could keep moving forward through light and darkness. I see Jesus vividly in this illustration. God walked among His people through Jesus and promised an even nearer presence through the Holy Spirit when it was time for Him to leave. Jesus is our hope so that we can keep moving forward in our relationships with God through the dark and light moments in our lives because of the resurrection.

    I am so deeply grateful that God was a pillar of cloud and fire for the Israelites and that Jesus is a pillar of light and hope for me.

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  8. Jesus being the tabernacle is a parallel that I’ve never heard of before. I’ve been familiar with the connection of Jesus being the new temple, but the idea that he came to dwell on this earth lining up with God dwelling in the tabernacle of the Old Testament is a new concept. It is a refreshing way of looking at Jesus as God walking on earth and interacting with mankind.
    The wilderness side is a little lost to me though (no pun intended). I understand the correlation to the Old Testament with the Israelites wandering in the wilderness for 40 years and the Jews believing that they are still in exile, but I guess the phrase “leading them into the wilderness” referring to the way Jesus is taking care of his people is what I find to be off-putting. I associate the word wilderness with the long amount of wandering that was done in Exodus. I know I’m not fully understanding what the wilderness is for “Jesus’s wilderness” and that is my missing key. It could be translated to the idea that life is full of trials and uncertainty and we have to trust Jesus to guide us though as scripture says he will (Ps. 32:8, Ps. 48:14, Prob. 1:33), which I find quite plausible, but I’m not sure if this is exactly what the author had in mind.

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  9. I love what you said about how Jesus is the complete revelation of steadfast love and faithfulness! Before Christ, we could never provide full and long-lasting atonement for our sins. The sacrifices that we gave to God would not be long lasting, because our faithfulness in our relationship with God was not steadfast, but thankfully Jesus holds such a pure and ongoing relationship with the Father! You also said how Jesus is the complete revelation of love and faithfulness because He is the true Light of God. Kostenberger adds to this thought by saying, “As the incarnate Word, Jesus is the Lamb of God providing atonement for all sins, a rabbi, a jewish religious teacher, and, as the Son of Man, the place of superior revelation.. ”(Kostenberger, 58). Because He provided atonement for our sins, we now can share in His righteousness, the same righteousness that the Son shares with His Father. This is incredible! “This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe…”(Rom. 3:22, NIV). Therefore, just by believing in Him, that He is who He says He is, we share in Jesus’ right standing relationship with the Father.

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  10. I resonate with the sentiments of algwheeler “The wilderness side is a little lost to me though (no pun intended).” The whole concept of location in the bible was quite lost on me until, this last year I went on the Israel trip with Grace Christian University. It opened the scriptures, and presented them in a whole new light but I digress. Verse 17 seems to me to be the most salient. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. This verse gets at the heart of the Gospel, and reminds me of Matthew 5:17 it is interesting that Christ makes the extra effort to pronounce he is not abolishing the law nor is he keeping the law as status quo but he was here to bring the law to its ultimate purpose, the salvation of “all”. The whole purpose of the law being to show us the need for a savior, unfortunately the nation of Israel was unable to see the savior, being caught up in the legalism of the seduces and pharisees, and they would never know Christ which is sad-you-see.

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  11. I often wrestle with the stories of the Israelites being told directly by God that He is glorious and good and has a love that is steadfast for all of His children but still turning away from Him. The reason why this troubles me so much is because I see this behavior exhibited not only by 2019 Christian culture, but by myself and my peers.

    But, I find hope in the expression and celebration of God’s glory that we find throughout the Bible, and the willingness to be washed clean of the ignorance we choose every day. A passage in which I see this celebration is Psalm 139, which begins with David speaking to the Lord, saying: “O Lord, you have searched me and known me…”. In this verse, David is acknowledging God’s omnipotence; and, at the end of the Psalm, David says: “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” David knows that God can see every part of his heart – and he asked Him to illuminate the darkness of sin in his life! This humility and celebration of God’s justice and redemption of sin in our lives in encouraging to me. I want to be able to celebrate God’s redemptive power, instead of turning away and being afraid of the change of heart He has to offer to me.

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  12. Apparently I never caught on or understood John’s allusion to the tabernacle when he says the word tabernacled among us (John1:14). However, this allusion makes perfect sense because God was among the Israelites in the Old Testament in a cloud of smoke and was always present with them. Although personally I do not think that it was only an allusion to God’s presence in the Old Testament but it also a literal statement that the “Word” Jesus came to earth in human flesh and lived among humans.
    It is interesting to think that in Eygpt God called his people the Israelites his own and then they started their journey into the wilderness where the Lord was with them in a cloud of smoke (Exodus 13:21). And then in the New Testament Jesus God’s only Son comes down to earth and became a man and dwelt among his own people even though they did not accept him (Long, paragraph 7).

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  13. This post was very interesting to read and engage in with what we have been learning in class with how the gospel of John came to be. One thing that this article stated that stood out to me was that John wrote this in the wilderness stage. As I think about this and how John wrote and followed Christ throughout his life and throughout his ministry. As I think of wilderness and Jesus the one thing, I think about is how Jesus came to this world completely perfect, sinless and fully God. He still came down into our world our sinful world which can also be known as wilderness. The article then goes on to state this, “John is therefore claiming that the Word is the true Light of God and that he is a complete revelation of the steadfast love and faithfulness of God, using the same words that God himself used in his self-revelation in Exodus 34:6.” (Long, para. 5). I take this as Jesus came down into this world to be the light, the truthful, perfect and only true light that came down to save us from our wilderness. In Kostenbergers book “Encountering John” he talked a lot about how many times in John Jesus is described as “True Light” and I believe that Kostenbereger was able to pick up a little bit about how John was trying to describe to us on how God is so holy in the gospel of John.

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  14. At the beginning of the article it talks about the Word becoming flesh, and I think we need to focus on who or what the Word is. This is something I had not previously paid much attention to, but the Word as said in John 1:1 is God, and is with God. This means that there has to be another being that is equal to God, and now we know that there is the Word in a human form. I think this shows the true connection between man and God. The flesh is naturally sinful, and the Word is without fault, and the thought of having these two combined into one seems impossible. To me, this shows the power that God has. I think the second sentence in verse 14 shows His true character. “made his dwelling among us”. The verse doesn’t say that He lived on earth, but instead it says among us, showing that there was not a separation, but instead that Jesus was coming down to our level. This is seen later in the Gospel of John as well, such as when Jesus washes the disciple’s feet in John 13. This act of lowering Himself for others is not just for Him to build relationships with these people but is also an example of how we should be acting. When we accept Christ into our lives, the Holy Spirit is in us, and because the Holy Spirit is God, and God is the Word, we can relate to John 1:9 when we live for the Lord.

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  15. John’s use of Old Testament imagery is something that is truly impressive. Because John was writing to Jewish people in an attempt to show them who Jesus was, he alluded to elements of Old Testament stories so that they would better understand and be able to see his points with much more clarity. He weaves Scripture seamlessly into his writing, and people unfamiliar with Scriptures would potentially miss some statements he is making with this imagery. The idea of the Word dwelling or tenting among men ,while it makes sense to non-Jewish readers, does not have the same effect as if you were Jewish and could recall the time when the Spirit of God would dwell in the Tabernacle, which was a tent. Many things John says could easily be glossed over; “the glory of God,” “full of grace and truth,” “no one has ever seen God.” Even this comment that no one has ever seen the face of God can recall ideas from the Pentateuch. Even Moses, who is considered one of the closest people to God, was allowed to “see my (God’s) back, but my face shall not be seen” (Exodus 33:23). All throughout John’s prologue to his Gospel, these allusions keep popping up. Some of the connections are easier to make than others, and whether or not the reader notices all of them, these “Easter eggs” are there for the astute reader to catch. John uses these phrases to his advantage when showing people how great Jesus truly was.

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  16. First off, I just want to say that I absolutely Love the story of Moses and in Exodus 33. What an amazing look at how amazing our God is. That we cannot even see all His power at one time, He is just that amazing. I would also like to talk about your mentioning of grace and truth. I have actually been thinking upon this in the past week, I listened to a sermon that was talking about this very thing. He gave this illustration of how God balances grace, and truth that I really enjoyed hearing, and it actually really helped me understand it better. He used the very big topic of the L.G.B.T.Q in saying how there are some Christians that raise picket signs and say “Gay people go to hell”, and on the other hand there are Christians that say “God loves gay, Gay is ok” both complete opposite sides, and both are supposedly Christian people. he was making the statement that Jesus would not have really held up either of those signs, but in some ways parts of them can be true. We need to understand that God loves all people, God wants all people to tern to Him and acknowledge him as savior. However, God has also given us free will to choose to Love him, or in some ways chose to stray away from the path. God is 100% truth, and 100% grave. This is something that is so hard for us to understand as people, and we need to understand that God will work the things out that He needs to work out, and wee need to do our best as Christians to live in Grace, and Truth just as Jesus did.

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    • Good post Alan, your example of the sermon you heard where the preacher talked about L.G.B.T.Q topic and the two types of Christians holding very different signs. I personally have thought about this exact topic and how Jesus would react. On one hand I would think that He would be openly against it holding that sign, but on the other hand our God is love, which would put Jesus on the other side. This is where His great powers come into play, He is able to show love, for example to the L.G.B.T.Q. group, and at the same time still preach the truth to them. This is a balance that I do not believe we as sinful humans are able to control, but God has more power than we can comprehend. Something I question about the power of Jesus is, is Jesus capable of having the perfect balance of love and grace because He is God, and God has the perfect balance, or is He truly fully human and is able to control the human nature to find the perfect balance of grace and love? John 1:18 says that Jesus, the one and only son, is God himself. Not only did the Word take up human form, but this human form is God.

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  17. Both our class notes, and our class readings over “the Word” of God have put me in this ultra-reality of how significant God’s word is to creation and our lives as Christians, that I don’t even have a word for it. We can read in scripture that God’s glory is like a light, and how bright this light can be, even in the darkest of places God’s light can shine and sometimes it shines for a very long time, and sometimes we only choose it to shine for a little. When I think of this account in John, Israel is encountering the Light (Glory of God) they accepted it, and now return back to the darkness of rebelling against God and are wanting to stay in the darkness. I think of the verse in John, John 1:5 “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” and how darkness is being overpowered by the light that it has no chance to be overcome. However, Israel allowed darkness to enter their moment with the light that they were soon overcome by the darkness. Which is easy in our lives for this to happen, we can be on such a good strong path where our God’s light shines bright in us, but sometimes we let our batteries run low, or just let the darkness in just a little bit, where it starts to look better than light sometimes.

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