Pastor P. J. Daniel Thiruvananthapuram Faculty India Bible College and Seminary Kumbanad
The glory of God is the beauty of His Spirit. It is not an aesthetic beauty or a material beauty, but it is the beauty that emanates from His character, from all that He is (James 1: 10). We are the vessels which contain His glory 2 Cori 4: 7. Natures exhibits God’s glory. Psalms 19: 1 – 4 says, the heavens declare the glory of God and their expanse are telling the works of His hands. Psalms 73: 24 calls heaven itself glory. “You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory (heaven)”. So the glory of God fills the whole Universe both heaven and on earth. Paul says to the Ephesian church that when the times reach their fulfillment – to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ (Ephesians 1: 10).
The word “glory” is a fascinating word. It has been derived from the Latin word “Gloria”, which is used to describe the manifestation of God’s presence. Sometimes it is used for God Himself. Italso referred to the brightness of Heavenly bodies (Acts 22: 11; 1 Corinthians 15: 41). Glory is referred in some places as a position (Genesis 45: 13) -like royal positions (Psalms 21: 5; Numbers 27: 20). Material possessions are also considered as glory (Genesis 30: 43). To comprehend the glory of God, we have to consider all these characteristics together, mentioned above. Our God is God of all glory, which includes his brightness, royal position, and possessions.
The Hebrew word ‘Kahbowd’ refers to the brilliant splendor of God’s appearances. The Greek word ‘Doxa’ can also refer to the brilliant splendor of God’s appearance. The writer of Hebrew records that Jesus is “brightness of His glory”. (Hebrew 1: 3) Jesus, who is now at the right hand of God, possesses the glory that He had with the Father when He was with Him in the beginning as the Word (John 1: 1-2, 14; 17: 5)
God’s Glory in the Old Testament
After God delivered Israel from their bondage in Egypt, Moses led them to Mount Sinai, where God had planned to give them the Decalogue. Then God told Moses to come up on the mountain to receive the tablet. The account continues: “Now the glory of the Lord rested on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days. And on the seventh day He called to Moses out of the midst of the cloud. The sight of the glory of the LORD was like a consuming fire on the top of the mountain in the eyes of the children of Israel. The people of Israel saw God’s glory as devouring fire on the top of the mountain. They could not comprehend that Glory. Instead of praising God they trembled before Him.
In the later account Moses asked to see God’s glory (Exodus 33: 18) God replied in verses 20 -22; “You cannot see my face: for no man shall see me, and live…Here is a place by Me, and you shall stand on the rock. So it shall be, while my glory passes by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock, and will cover you with my hand while I pass by. Then I will take away my hand, and you shall see my back; but my face shall not be seen”.
When Moses was coming down from the Mountain after forty days, his face was shining with glory, the Israelites afraid to come near him. So Moses spoke to them by covering his face with a veil.
When the prophets had seen His glory they trembled and fell down before God in a prostrate posture. “When Ezekiel saw the glory of God, he fell facedown. (Ezekiel 1: 28). When Daniel had seen the vision of the glory of God, he bowed with his face toward the ground and speechless (Daniel 10:14 – 15)
From these accounts, it is clear that the people of the Old Testaments could not comprehend the glory of God. They feared and trembled to see God’s glory.
God’s glory in the New Testament
The glory of God is manifested in the New Testament in manifold ways. Jesus Himself was the true revelation of God’s glory (John 1: 1-2, 14). The glory of God is revealed partially through Jesus Christ on the mount of transfiguration.The apostle Peter, James and John were given the opportunity to have a vision of Jesus in His glorified state when He was transfigured before them on a high mountain. Mathew tells us: His face shone like sun, and his clothes became as white as the light.” This is similar to the description given in Revelation 1: 16 of the glorified Jesus, whose “countenance was like the sun shining in its strength”.
When the people of Israel saw the glory of God on the Mount Sinai, they were frightened and trembled. When the disciples saw the glory of God at the Mount of transfiguration, they said it is good for them to be there.
Jesus Christ is the Replica of God’s glory. God’s glory is the same yesterday today and forever. It cannot be diminished nor decreased like the shifting shadows (James 1: 17). It will continue even in the future. 1 Corinthians 13: 12 says “ For we see his glory now in a mirror dimly, but then face to face, now I know in part but then I shall know fully just as also have been fully known”.
God’s glory in the Future
God’s glory in the future is vividly described in the Book of Revelation. The first chapter of Revelation itself reveals the fascinating seven fold glory of risen Lord Jesus Christ. While John the Apostle was in the island of Patmos, He was in the Spirit and could see the vision of the glorified risen Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ was standing in the midst of seven golden lamp stands, like a son of man, dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. The hair on his head was white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. In his right hand he had seven stars, and coming out of his mouth was a sharp, double edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance. (Revelation 1: 12 -16)
In Revelation 15: 8 we read of an effect of God’s glory: “the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from his power, and no one was able to enter the temple till the seven plagues of the seven angles were completed”.
We also read in Revelation 21: 23 “The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it for the glory of God illuminated it, The Lamb is its light’ Therefore, an important attribute of God’s very being is that He is glorious – shining with brilliant splendor. The city of New Jerusalem reflects the glory God. There will not be any sun or moon or stars to give light in the city. God’s glory will be shining in brilliance in the city.
There are many other scriptures that refer to the brightness of God’s glory. But what does this mean to us? It helps us to understand our own future. God created humankind to give us the opportunity to become the very sons and daughters of God (2Cointhians 6: `17 – 18). If we are to become members of God’s own family, one of the attributes we will receive is the very glory of God. Paul records that we are to “walk worthy of God who calls you in to His own kingdom and glory”.(1 Thessalonians 2: 12) Paul further writes in 2 Thessalonians 2: 14 “He called you by the gospel, for the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ”. Jesus Christ now has the very glory of God. He is the brightness of His glory (Hebrews 1:3). We are to obtain the same glory (2 Thessalonians 2: 14) as sons or daughters of God.
In Romans Paul emphasis that “If children, then heirs, heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ. If so be that we suffer with him, that we may also be glorified together” Romans 8: 16-18 Apostle John further explains “ Beloved now we are the children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is” (1 John 3: 1-2) To receive the very glory of God is a part of our inheritance as children of God.