There are many references in the Bible to God’s glory, both in the Old the New Testaments, but what is meant by the glory of God?
I know that when I look at the world and the universe He created (Genesis 1:31; John 1:3) I am presented with things of great beauty and majesty. His galaxies are mind-boggling, and it is difficult to imagine anything more glorious, except for the Master Designer who brought them into being. He rules over His creation (Psalm 22:28; 103:19) and sustains it according to His will. (Daniel 4:35)
My previous article was based on 1 Corinthians 10:31: ‘Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.’
This got me thinking – Can God use me to point to Him and His glory? And what exactly is God’s glory? I obviously cannot add to His glory, but I can point others to it, and in so doing, help them to have a better understanding of the Creator.
In Luke 2:9 we read the words, ‘And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid.’ The shepherds were terrified when they were unexpectedly confronted with the Lord’s glory. The angel told them not to be afraid, and he went on to say that Christ the Lord and Saviour would be born in the City of David. (v 11)
God’s glory was to be seen in His Son, that tiny baby who was placed in a manger (v 12), the lowest of positions on earth. Jesus came not only to save (1 Timothy 1:15), but to reveal God’s glory in Himself (John 1:1). God is glorious beyond our imagination.
In Matthew 19:28 we find the words: ‘So Jesus said to them, “Assuredly I say to you, in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. Here, the Greek word ‘glory’ is pronounced ‘dox’-ah.’ This same word is found in several New Testament passages.
In the Hebrew of the Old Testament the word mostly used for ‘glory’ is pronounced ‘kabowd’. Exodus 16:10 gives us an example: ‘Now it came to pass, as Aaron spoke to the whole congregation of the children of Israel, that they looked towards the wilderness, and behold the glory of the LORD appeared in the cloud.’
This passage comes within the context of the Israelites’ complaint against Moses and Aaron. They said they would have been better off back in Egypt, instead of where they were in the wilderness without food. (Exodus 16:2) In Egypt, at least, they would have had food. But God was to reveal to them His glory by supplying them with a miraculous food which He described as, ‘bread from heaven’ (v 4). Later ‘the house of Israel’ named it ‘manna’ (v 31).
So God’s glory can be understood as His essential being – figuratively, everything that is wonderful, rich, great, abundant, powerful, majestic, holy, just and gracious. If we could adequately describe God, we would have an understanding of His glory. Only when we meet Him face to face in the new earth (Revelation 21:1) shall we begin to have a better understanding as to what is meant by His glory.
Meanwhile it is our privilege to point people to Jesus, in whom one can see the glory of God. Only God could have done the glorious miracles performed by Him.