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A Treasure in Earthen Vessels

God’s Glory in the Epistles

4 min

How is the glory of God manifested today? The heavens still are declaring the glory of God. The Bible reveals the glory of God in the many wondrous works that He has done and is doing for His people. History shows us God’s glory demonstrated in many remarkable events. But one of the most dramatic and personal ways that God’s glory is revealed is in the lives of His children.

When the Apostle Paul was discussing the glory of God with the Christians at Corinth, he wrote, “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (II Corinthians 4:6). The face of Jesus Christ reveals the glory of God.

In the Old Testament, only brief glimpses are given of this glory. In the days of the Incarnation, the glory of God was on full display in the miracles, the teachings, the death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord. But, one may wonder “What about today?” Indeed, did the “knowledge of the glory of God” depart this world when Jesus ascended to sit at the right hand of His Father’s throne? Has the glory departed as in the days of Ezekiel when the glory of the Lord left the Temple (see Ezekiel 10:18)? Is this planet guilty of the condemning word Ichabod, meaning that “the glory is departed” (see I Samuel 4:21)?

No! God’s glory has not departed from planet earth! The “light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” still shines today! Where? His glory shines in the hearts and in the countenances of His redeemed people.

The Apostle Paul continued with these astonishing words, “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us” (II Corinthians 4:7). What is this “treasure in earthen vessels”? The “treasure” is the glory of God. The “earthen vessels” are redeemed men and women who are empowered by the Holy Spirit to bear the image of God and reflect His glory in this dark world.

Have you ever considered a clay lamp? A humble pottery piece, it is a basic, common item. Clay lamps are among the household items most often found today in any archaeological dig in Bible lands. This lump of ordinary clay taken from a pit and fashioned into an earthen vessel to carry light is remarkable!

A clay lamp could light the window of a dwelling to welcome a weary traveler to a hospitable home. A clay lamp could be carried along a dangerous path by a herald bringing a message of hope and joy. A clay lamp could be used to search dark corners for a lost coin. A clay lamp could be lit by a weary mother and joyful father to illuminate the features of a newborn baby! The common clay lamp was employed for many important uses. In each one of the previously listed instances, this lowly earthen vessel had one very important job—to shine forth light.

Such is our great privilege in this dark world of sin and sorrow! We are to bear in our hearts, our actions, and our countenances the light of the glory of God! According to the Book of Acts, the elders in the Sanhedrin were astonished by the boldness of Peter and John, ordinary fishermen from Galilee, when they “took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13).

How about you? Does your family, your coworkers, and your neighbors know that you have been with Jesus? Do His words flow from your lips? Does His light shine in your heart? Is His character stamped into your character?

Does your “earthen vessel”—your being—impart light to your community? When did you last welcome a widow or orphan into your home? When have you shared the Gospel of the Lord Jesus with a neighbor? Have you ever considered that God desires to use you to demonstrate His glory to that person?

Do your words or actions give light to your workplace? Or are you ashamed to place your light—your witness—in view of others, such as when demeaning jokes or gossip are told in the breakroom? At home, are you struggling to explain to your wife or children the websites that you had open before they entered the room? When someone uses the name of the Lord Jesus in vain, do you speak up to defend the honor of His name? Before eating or performing a task, whether among others or alone, do you bow your head and pray? You have nothing to be ashamed of because you, as a believer, have this treasure in your “earthen vessel”! Welcome every opportunity God gives you to share that treasure with others!

In these exciting days in which we live, we have been granted a great opportunity. The glory of God is not revealed today in a cloud of fire above the Temple. It is not revealed in a temporary vision to a select few prophetic heralds. Nor is His glory revealed in a miracle on the Sea of Galilee. Today, God’s glory is revealed in your life as you carry the reflection of Jesus Christ wherever you go! The glory of almighty God is your “treasure in earthen vessels.” For the sake of His glory, carry it wisely!

This article is from our Matters of Life & Death teaching series.

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