I recently read Vanished in the Mountains by Tanya Stowe and the main character’s favorite verse was Romans 9:23. She repeated it often as a way to encourage herself and as a reminder that God is with her. The character referenced the verse so many times I wanted to know more about the meaning of Romans 9:23 and the glory of God.
What is the Glory of God?
If we are going to talk about the glory of God, we must first understand what the word glory means. The Oxford Dictionary defines glory in the following ways:
- high renown or honour won by notable achievements.
- magnificence or great beauty.
- take great pride or pleasure in.
Glory is both a noun and a verb. When we talk about God’s glory, we are talking about His majesty: the beauty and magnificence that is wholly His. The glory of God is intrinsic to His nature. It is both a quality He possesses and a depiction of who He is.
Yet, God wants His people to partake in this glory. He wants to give us the riches of His glory.
This is where we talk about the verse I’m all excited about:
And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory,Romans 9:23 KJV
In Paul’s letter to the Romans, he wanted them to understand all the benefits that came from being in Christ. Romans 9 begins with Paul’s heartfelt pledge that he would choose separation from God if he thought it would save his Jewish brothers and sisters.
He continues by recounting the history of Israel. He talks about the promise God had made to Abraham and gives an abbreviated genealogy.
His express purpose was to point out that though Abraham had multiple sons, the promise came through Isaac.
He goes on to explain that God decides who to show mercy to–it cannot be earned by anything anyone could do. And now we get to the focal point of this Bible study lesson,
In the same way, even though God has the right to show his anger and his power, he is very patient with those on whom his anger falls, who are destined for destruction. He does this to make the riches of his glory shine even brighter on those to whom he shows mercy, who were prepared in advance for glory.Romans 9:22-23 NLT
Romans 9:23 Meaning
The Israelites hadn’t done anything for God to choose them as His people over all the other nations in the world. They weren’t the largest population or the most powerful (Deuteronomy 7:7-8). They weren’t even the most righteous (Deuteronomy 9:6). He simply chose them.
God’s mercy is given to us not because of who we are but because of who He is. We can’t earn, barter, or exchange anything for it. God has ultimate power over everything and everyone. He can choose to exert His dominance over us at any time yet He doesn’t. God chooses to share the riches of His glory with us.
What are the Benefits of God’s Glory?
Now we get to the fun part. We have already discovered that God’s glory is an intrinsic part of His character. But what are the riches in glory that Romans 9:23 alluded to?
1. The promise to Abraham
The first of the riches in glory that was received is linked to the promise made to Abraham in Genesis 12:1-2. God told Abraham that through him all the families of the earth would be blessed. We saw that happen when the promised Messiah came through Abraham’s lineage. It is in Christ that all the riches of God’s glory are fulfilled.
2. The privilege of worship
Romans 9:4 refers to the privilege we have to worship God and to receive His promises. Many times we don’t think about what an honor it is to worship God. But whether we choose to acknowledge it or not, worship is a gift. God could easily have destroyed the human race when Adam and Eve sinned. Instead, He continues to pursue us and seeks ways to reconcile us unto Himself.
3. The covenant and the Law
This is another benefit that was tied to the promise made to Abraham. When God made a covenant with Moses that He would make him the father of many nations, God made a binding contract; He even went so far as to mimic the practices of the time to show how binding the contract was (Genesis 15:7-20).
The Ten Commandments, also known as the Law of Moses or simply the Law, were also a display of God’s glory. In fact, the entire time they spent camped out at Mount Sinai the first year after they left Egypt was to educate them about what God expected from His people. The book of Leviticus gives a pretty detailed explanation of what it meant to serve God.
4. Adoption into God’s family
Romans 9:4-13 talks about what it means to be the children of God. This is one of the riches we have received through the glory of God. When we accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, we become adopted into the family of God (Ephesians 1:5).
5. God’s mercy and compassion
I believe I’ve said this before but it bears repeating: God has ultimate power over each of us. He does not have to be compassionate towards us, but He shows us grace and kindness anyway (Romans 9:15-18). What a God we serve!
6. The opportunity to become like Christ
We are justified through Christ. Justification is the process through which we are made righteous in God’s eyes. This righteousness does not come from us. It comes from God and is one of the riches of His glory that we access through the blood of Jesus (Romans 8:28-30, Colossians 1:27, Ephesians 5:1).
7. The Holy Spirit
Through Christ, we have access to the Holy Spirit. We are able to commune with God and have His Spirit dwell within us (1 Corinthians 2:6-16). If that’s not riches in glory I don’t know what is.
8. Redemption from death
When Jesus died on the cross, He paid the price we should have paid for sin: the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23) but Jesus died so we didn’t have to. Our sins were forgiven through Christ and we didn’t have to pay the death penalty (Ephesians 1:7-10).
9. An inheritance
I saved the best for last. One of the riches of God’s glory is the inheritance we will receive as children of God. God has promised His children an inheritance. Initially, the inheritance was the Promised Land which was given to the Israelites. But when Christ came, God’s children were promised the gift of eternal life (Ephesians 5:5). This rich gift is available to anyone who remains faithful until the Second Coming.
We will be given a new name (Revelation 3:12), a new heaven and a new earth, and the opportunity to spend eternity with God (Revelation 21:1-4).
Vanished in the Mountains by Tanya Stowe is a fast-paced tale. When Dulcie gets a threatening letter telling her to back off on a case she’s handling, she’s scared but backing off is not an answer. She takes her fears to Deputy Sheriff Austin Turner hoping he’ll be able to help her.
My Review of Vanished in the Mountains
I loved these two characters! Dulcie was this fierce champion of women who also battled her own fears. Her combination of vulnerability and strength was touching. Austin was the taciturn hero who had no idea of what he was capable of because of things that happened in his past. Together, they were an unbeatable team.
Know God: Dulcie had an issue with fear because of what she had experienced in the past. But she understood that she needed God’s strength to survive and she called on Him often Austin, on the other hand, was having a crisis of faith. His wife’s death had caused him to feel abandoned by God. He had to realize that God had not left him alone. His Heavenly Father continued to watch over him even when he didn’t acknowledge him.
Know yourself: Both Austin and Dulcie had an incomplete knowledge of themselves. They only saw their weaknesses without fully understanding their strengths. I liked that they were able to see the good in each other and to encourage the other to believe in themselves.
Run your race: Both Dulcie and Austin did a good job of running their races. Each faced opposition but they kept doing what needed to be done because they understood that the task had been assigned to them and would not be done by anyone else Sometimes we need people to highlight our strengths so we can see the good in ourselves.
The Characters in Vanished in the Mountains
Dulcie was a great, multi-layered character. At first glance, she appears to be a mouse because she insists on dressing in such a way that she blends in. Couple that with her fear of anyone getting into her personal space and you get a character that seems dismissible.
But Dulcie becomes a warrior when she believes anyone, especially a woman or a child is in danger. She doesn’t let her fears for herself stop her from doing what she has to do to help. I liked the way she goes out of her way to put others at ease. Austin recognized the passion Dulcie felt for marginalized women because it was one he felt himself.
But where Dulcie embraced that part of her personality, Austin tried to bury his passion deep inside. I enjoyed watching Dulcie bring him back to life again. There were a number of other secondary characters and Ms. Stowe did a good job of portraying them based on the role they played in the novel.
The Themes in Vanished in the Mountains
Dulcie’s father did not value her or her sister. He hurt them when he should have protected and shielded them. But when our earthly parents fail, our Heavenly Father values and treasures us. He prepared riches in glory for us long before we were born. The reader is also reminded that God is always there. Though He may feel absent, He will never leave us alone.
Final Thoughts on Vanished in the Mountains
The faith element was evident from the opening scene. The reader is reminded that regardless of what life is currently like, God has prepared something better, all you have to do is trust Him. Vanished in the Mountains is a reminder of what can happen when people don’t give up on each other and when we allow God to work through us. I received an advanced reader’s copy from the publishers through Celebrate Lit; a positive review was not required.
About Vanished in the Mountains
A search for missing women leads to a deadly pursuit. When domestic violence counselor Dulcie Parker uncovers evidence of a human trafficking ring in the Four Corners area, she’s determined to stop it or die trying. With corruption all around her and killers on her trail, Deputy Sheriff Austin Turner’s the one person she can trust. But can they work together to expose the crime ring before she becomes the next victim? Purchase Vanished in the Mountains: Amazon | Harlequin Books
About Tanya Stowe
Tanya Stowe is an author of Christian Fiction with an unexpected edge. She fills her stories with the unusual…mysteries and exotic adventures, even a murder or two. No matter where Tanya takes you…on a trip to foreign lands or a suspenseful journey filled with danger…be prepared for the extraordinary.
Riches in His Glory
Life will not always go as we have planned or imagined. Sin has changed a lot of things for humanity and because everyone has freedom of choice, bad things are going to happen. People will hurt us or treat us in ways that God didn’t intend. But when we choose to accept Jesus as Lord of our lives, we know that those things won’t last forever.
Through Christ, we have riches in glory which God Himself has prepared for us. I’m looking forward to those riches, aren’t you?
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