On June 3, 1953, millions of people watched the inauguration of Queen Elizabeth II on television. Amidst much fanfare and pomp she slowly and elegantly processed down the aisle of Westminster Abbey. Behind her trailed a robe of royal purple velvet, eighteen feet long. Six maids of honor supported the weight of the magnificent train.
But even Queen Elizabeth’s grand, stately robe does not begin to compare to one mentioned in scripture:
“In the year that King Uzziah died,
I saw the Lord seated on a throne,
High and exalted,
And the train of his robe
Filled the temple.”
I have to wonder: What might the train of the Lord’s robe symbolize? Is there significance to the expansiveness of this robe? Why would Isaiah include the detail that it “filled the temple?”
A bit of research revealed interesting, heart-stirring answers.
The train of his robe: In ancient times, the flowing train on a monarch’s robe was a symbol of glory and splendor. To understand the importance of a train, we have to remember that in those days, all clothing had to be constructed “from scratch”—fibers of cotton, linen, or wool had to be spun into thread, threads had to be woven into cloth, cloth had to be cut and sewn into garments by hand. It was a time-consuming process.
Only the rich and powerful could afford to add extra length to their robes. The longer the train, the more glorious and splendid the king. And as he paraded past his subjects, the length of his robe was meant to impress.
Filled the temple: Isaiah’s statement conveys the magnitude of God’s glory compared to any earthly king or queen. Symbolically, the robe represents God’s infinite splendor and majesty—his glory. As one preacher explained, “air is the atmosphere of earth, God’s glory is the atmosphere of heaven.” One day we will breathe God’s glory! That gives me goosebumps.
God’s glorious robe that fills the temple signifies:
• his absolute authority. “There is no room for anyone else in this high-exalted place. God is all in all” –Selwyn Hughes (1928-2006, Welsh pastor, theologian, author).
• his divine perfections. There is no one else who is all-powerful, all-knowing, unhindered by the limitations of time and space, and absolutely righteous in all he does.
• his incomparable splendor. Isaiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, and John the Revelator gave us glimpses of their heavenly visions. They saw a high and exalted throne encircled by an ethereal rainbow, seraphs crying “Holy, holy, holy,” lamps blazing, lightning flashing, thunder rumbling, angels and saints worshiping.
Artists have tried to imagine the sight:
But God’s authority, perfection, and incomparable splendor are not only on display in heaven. His glory is on display in creation–all around us. Consider these few examples:
• The delicate wing of the butterfly, emblazoned with brilliant colors in intricate patterns.
• The intriguing double-spiral of sunflower seeds—one spiral in a clockwise direction, the other, counter-clockwise.
• Lacey feathers of frost gathering on a window.
• The graceful curl of the wentletrap shell.
• The jewel-like qualities of grains of sand.
“Our God is lavish in splendor. His creative fullness spills over in excessive beauty” (John Piper, pastor and author).
And why is that important to embrace and celebrate? Because we are so often distracted by the concerns of life. We allow them to consume too much of our attention. There’s a better way to live that many people never discover.
“Many people gaze at their problems and glance at the Lord. But I tell you to gaze at the Lord and glance at your problems” (Ted Smith, pianist for Billy Graham Crusades).
Let’s visualize God’s grandeur–every day, as we prepare ourselves to pray. Let’s become enthralled in the throne room of heaven of God’s splendor and majesty. And let’s bow down in humble gratitude that our magnificent God is also our loving Heavenly Father. Think of it. The glorious, almighty King of the universe is our Abba–our Dad! Can any realization be more comforting, strengthening, or empowering than that?
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Dearest Abba, too often my thoughts are a tangled mess of concerns. I need a fresh vision of your glory to supersede the “what-ifs.” Remind me that with you, the God of all authority and might, I have nothing to fear. You are all I need.
(Photo and art credits: www.petersengland.blogspot.com; http://www.pinterest.com; http://www.forums.thesims.com; http://www.allposters.com; http://www.publicdomainpictures.net; http://www.wikipedia.org; http://www.sandgrains.com.)