The Renown of His Lowliness

Covered Glory

“He humbled Himself” (Phil. 2:8). “Made Himself of no reputation” (Phil. 2:7).

“And he brought the ark into the tabernacle, and set up the vail of the covering, and covered the ark of the testimony; as the Lord commanded Moses.” (Exodus 40:21).

“And thou shalt make curtains of goats’ hair to be a covering upon the tabernacle … and thou shalt make a covering for the tent of rams’ skins dyed red, and a covering above of badgers’ skins” (Exodus 26:7, 14).

In the tabernacle, where “every whit of it uttereth His glory” (Psalms 29:9), the gold, the glory, and the preciousness were completely covered. The vail had a definite reference to the shekinah glory that rested on the mercy seat of the ark of the covenant, for it was called “the vail of the covering.”

The priest who daily ministered in the holy place could look up at the lovely curtains overhead and see cherubim of glory in the woven beauty of the blue and purple and scarlet. He could look forward to the vail and see the same cherubim of glory woven there; but the glory beyond the vail he could not see. The vail which represented the flesh of our Lord (Hebrews 10:20) was a covering upon the brightness of glory that resided in the innermost sanctuary. This all tells in a striking way the story of the hidden, and of the revealed glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

It was impossible for the glory of Hebrews 1 to be seen by men in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. But it was there. “Who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person and upholding all things by the word of His power” (Hebrews 1:3). This was the hidden glory of His person. The vail of His flesh covered this shekinah glory of Christ from men. His flesh was “the vail of the covering.”

In the vail was both “glory and honor” in the cherubim, and “glory and beauty” in the blue and purple and scarlet of the woven linen.

In the cherubim of glory were four distinct forms, (1) “the face of a lion,” (2) “the face of an ox,” (3) “the face of a man,” (4) “the face of a flying eagle.” These four were representations of the honor of Christ. The four colors, (1) “fine linen,” (2) “blue,” (3) “purple,” (4) “scarlet” were representations of His loveliness. This is what the priest saw before and above him as he stood to worship or to minister in the holy place. In those curtains and in that vail the consecrated priest saw “His glory full of grace and truth.” But the life that revealed His lovely glory covered, like the vail, the “glory” that was His “before the world was.”

The whole story of Christ in the Gospels and in the epistles of the New Testament is told in pictures in the books of Exodus and Leviticus in the Old Testament. No chapter is missing, no line is omitted; the whole story is told in the things Moses made as perfectly as in the things the apostles wrote. Moses, with Aholiab and Bezaleel, made with metals, with wood, and with embroidery, for the eye to see, the very same pattern of Christ and His work, as Matthew, with Paul, John and others, wrote for the heart to hear; so that those whose eyes are not blinded can clearly see that the One Spirit controlled both. The “salvation” of the New Testament in all its marvelous outworkings has its blue prints in the books Moses wrote in the wilderness. This is known best by those who with reverent minds have studied both the plans and the masterpiece. In the tabernacle, not an item is superfluous and not a detail is omitted.

There was then a “vail of the covering” even for the privileged priest in the holy place. There was glory that was hidden even from him. He could see much, both before and above him, but beyond the vail was a glory he could not behold. The only one who beheld the inner glory was the High Priest once a year on the day of atonement; then the High Priest typified Christ alone.

There was glory in Christ that only God could know. “No man knoweth the Son but the Father” (Matthew 11:27).

The vail of Christ’s flesh was too heavy for the eyes of men to penetrate. They could see the glory in it but not the glory beyond it. We shall some day be in the presence of His glory, that glory which He had with the Father before the world was, but even then the glory we shall see will be the glory His Father has given to Him. (John 17:24).

The glory the disciples saw in His life was the moral glory of grace and truth. The glory Peter, James and John saw on the Mount of Transfiguration was the glory of His countenance and the glory of His garments. (Luke 9). We know there was a glory of His being, of the express image of God’s person that was covered by the vail from the eyes of all men. That glory was too exalted for man to reach, too intense for us to look upon.

The glories that priests could look upon were covered from the outside. Above the beautiful curtains called the tabernacle was a covering of curtains of goats’ hair. It was a scape-goat that carried away the sins of the people on the day of atonement; there was also a goat that died on that day. (Leviticus 16:15).

Above the covering of the tent of goat’s hair was a covering of rams’ skins dyed red. This ram was the “ram of consecration” (Leviticus 8:22). These skins would never have been red had they not been dyed. The red of blood shedding was upon the skins that covered the tent of the tabernacle. Above the covering of rams’ skins dyed red was a covering of badgers’ skins.

Thus the glory was covered, covered, covered, till from the outside it was without form or comeliness. The outside covering is called badgers’ skins, but no one today knows for certainty what kind of common covering that outside one of the tabernacle was. There are as many divided opinions as there were of Christ in the days of His flesh, or as there are of Christ among men today. Those outside skins were the final covering of His glory under the form of a servant as He appeared in the likeness of men. This then is the true picture of what God delights in—covered glory. It is glory that can only be found by finding God. It is glory that can only be seen by coming as a sinner to the altar and to the laver through the door.

In Christ on earth there was covered glory. Christ could no more lay aside His glory than I could lay aside my heart or my personality. He covered His glory. For thirty years in Nazareth there lived in a Man perfect obedience and perfect submission to God. That Man was Jehovah’s fellow. That lowly, laboring One was the Creator of all, God’s only Son. He was without honor among men. Not a shred of blue, purple or scarlet was seen, nothing but badgers’ skins. Even Mary and Joseph had looked so long upon the humble exterior that they seemed to have forgotten what the angels of heaven had gloriously announced at His birth. His brethren could not understand why nothing should be said and nothing should be done till He was thirty years of age. He never once declared His preincarnate glory to them. There was not a single revelation of the glory of the tabernacle; the badgers’ skins covered all.

This was what pleased God. When He who was higher than the angels was made in the likeness of men, He acted so differently from all others. When men coveted glory that they could not attain unto, and tried to parade glory they did not possess, the Lord Jesus completely covered all the glory that was His to be unnoticed in the world. This is how He humbled Himself. This is why God hath highly exalted Him.

There is too much paraded glory today. Too many men and women want to show themselves to the world. For men to search their own glory is not glory. Lovely grace hides its beauty that it may only be betrayed by its fragrance. Our Lord never sought a crowd. Like charity, He vaunted not Himself. Christ had no one campaign for Him. There was no stage and no glamor. Herod might have wondered had he seen a miracle performed by Him. But the way of God is not the way of man. When God gave a manifestation of that which delighted His heart, it is pictured in the Tabernacle and seen in the life and death of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The One who was crucified in weakness; the One who for us became poor; the One who never staged His wisdom; the One who seemed to be helpless and who was forsaken; the One who bore the deepest shame and curse; the One who was hated without a cause, is the One who alone is worthy to receive “power and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessing.” The world showed its utter estrangement from God in that it never attributed any of these honors to Him. The world today shows its besotted ignorance in that covered glory is still detested and unknown.