"And Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud settled on it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle" (Exodus 40:35).
Through the Bible: Exodus 39-40
It’s amazing to me that Moses wasn’t able to enter the Tabernacle. Was it because Moses was too human, or was it because God’s glory was too holy? I think both.
The Hebrew word for glory (kavod) originally meant heaviness or weight. God’s glory was and is a tangible, substantial, weighty thing.
Maybe it’s like the ocean. We can enjoy a day at the beach and splash in the shallows. We can dive to the bottom and brush away the sand to look for sand dollars. But after doing so, would any of us say that we had explored the bottom of the ocean? That would be laughable.
We know that the real treasures lay much deeper. But if we were to actually dive to the bottom of the ocean, the weight of the water above us would crush us. In order to truly explore all the treasures on the sea floor, we would need a pressurized suit so we could carry the atmosphere of our world with us.
Moses literally couldn’t handle the change in pressure. God knew this a few chapters earlier, when Moses asked Him, “Please show me your glory.” (Exodus 33:18). The weight of glory (kavod) would crush him.
When it comes to experiencing the fullness of God’s glory, we’re at an impasse. We could only survive it if we pressurized it to our atmosphere. But God doesn’t permit His holiness to be equalized to our worldliness.
So, maybe our worship experiences are like a really great day at the beach. Nothing refreshes our spirits more than immersing ourselves in the shallows of God’s glory. But as we are wiggling our toes in the sand, letting the waves break at our waist; or going a little further and feeling our entire bodies rise and fall on the incoming swells, we look out at the horizon, and something in our spirits longs to go deeper. We feel the pull of the undertow, and there is something thrilling and terrifying about the constant tug.
I think that’s the Spirit whispering to my spirit, “Not yet, My child. But someday, when I’ve perfected my good work in you (Phil. 1:6); someday when your earthly body has been transformed into your resurrection body (1 Cor. 15:42-44), you will be able to go into the deepest depths of my Presence, and you won’t be crushed by the weight of my glory.
And oh, the treasures you will find there!”
Note: The title “The Weight of Glory” is borrowed from one of CS Lewis’s most famous lectures. You can check out the book for yourself here.