201502 What is glory

By Shari Abbott, Reasons for Hope* Jesus

Q. We read about the glory of God and also that one day we will go to glory.  How much do we know about “glory?”

The question, “what is glory?” can be simply answered in one word—more accurately, with one name…Jesus!  Jesus IS glory and the place of glory is the place where Jesus IS.

Setting aside the definitive answer, let’s try to learn what God tells us about glory in His Word.  Let’s begin by recognizing that glory is something so far beyond our human comprehension that we must accept there will be mystery in our attempts to understand it.  But our gracious God does reveal much to us in the Scriptures.  We’ll start by first defining “glory” in several contexts:  1) the Glory of God and the glory of man 2) the place of glory and 3) the glory we will receive.

1) The Glory of God

Moses asked of the Lord, “I beseech thee, show me thy glory.” (Exodus 33:18)  and the Lord responded by showing Moses His goodness.  The goodness of God is part of His glory, but it is not His full glory.  God’s full glory is seen in His face.  When Moses asked to see God’s glory, God responded with, “You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live.” (Exodus33:20)  So God put Moses into a cleft of a rock and, when the Lord passed by, He sheltered Moses with His hand and allowed him only to see His back.  It’s interesting to note that God instructed Moses to “stand on the rock” that was “by [Him]” (Exodus 33:20) and then God put Moses into the the cleft of that rock.  We know that the Rock is a “picture” of Jesus, who is “by” God, seated at the Father’s right hand (Hebrews 1:3, 10:12), and into the cleft of that Rock (His body) we are placed when we become God’s child.

Even here, when Moses asked to see God’s glory and God revealed some of His glory, His goodness, there still remains much mystery.  No man could see God’s face and live therefore God will not fully reveal His glory to us until our spiritual eyes are fully opened and we see Him face-to-face.

1 Corinthians 13:12  For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

The most commonly used Hebrew word for glory is kabowd.  It means weighty, in a sense of abundance and it conveys the idea of splendor, honor, beauty and magnificence.  When used in reference to God, it conveys an ultimate perfection in all of His attributes.  Just as God is Holy, He is also Glory. Glory speaks of His character, His being and goes beyond what our finite minds can imagine.  True and full glory is ultimate perfection.  It is unique to our amazing God and He has clearly told us that it will remain that way.  He will not share His glory with another:

Isaiah 42:8  I am the LORD, that is My name; And My glory I will not give to another

Knowing God’s words, spoken to the prophet Isaiah, is helpful in understanding the oneness of the Trinity.  God will not share His glory with another, and yet Jesus and the Spirit possess God’s glory.  This further confirms the Trinity.  While they are three distinct Persons, they are one in being.  Therefore the glory is not shared, it is possessed in each Person of the Trinity, and their glory unites them.  Again, this is beyond our full understanding, and yet this unity in glory helps us to understand that our God is One God–Triune in His being.

With our limited understanding of God’s full glory, we are left to stand in awe of Him….just as it should be.

The Glory of Man:  The word “glory” can also be applied to man.  The Bible tells us that Solomon’s glory was his wealth, Samson’s was his strength and Nebuchadnezzar’s was his authority and power.  According to Matthew 4:8 the kingdoms of the world have glory and Exodus 28:2 tells us that Aaron’s priestly garments were said to be “for glory and for beauty.

In understanding glory in the context of the earthly realm, we can define it as recognition of position, power, wealth, dignity, adornment, etc.  All of these are gifts from God and in man’s glory God deserves all the honor and glory.  Man’s glory is certainly not the same as the Glory of God, and therefore Peter clearly tells that human “glory” is fleeting and perishable.

1 Peter 1:24 All flesh is as grass, And all the glory of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withers, And its flower falls away

Peter continues by contrasting the fading glory of man with that which is everlasting, “…the word of the LORD endures forever.” (1 Peter 1:25)  Remember, Jesus is the Word of the Lord and because He IS Glory so also is the Word of God glorified and everlasting.

2) The Place of Glory

Just as the Glory of God is beyond our comprehension and our ability to adequately explain it, so also is the place of glory, Heaven (and also the age to come, the Kingdom on earth and eternity). Once again, the Bible may not reveal everything we would like to know, but it does tell us everything that we need to know.

Heaven is the place of glory, not only because it is a glorious place but first and foremost because of who is there…the Lord Jesus Christ.  In Heaven dwells the Glory of God—in a place of beautiful holiness that we cannot fully understand, a place without sin, a place where the joy of our salvation will be fully received and forever enjoyed.

The Bible tell us that we are being prepared for this place of glory.

2 Corinthians 3:18  But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.

This verse reminds us that we are being changed, conformed to the image of Jesus “from glory to glory.”  Again, this is difficult for us to understand as deeply and as fully as we would like.  Therefore we must rest in Christ, accepting the mystery that remains.

Until the day when we go to the place of glory, we are left to stand in awe of our glorious Saviour and God….just as it should be.

3) The Glory We Will Receive

While we are receiving glory on this earth, through the gifts of God, and it began the moment Jesus resurrected us to newness of life in Him, our glory received will take place fully one day…in a place and with a Person in the fullness of time.  When we leave this earth and go to be with Jesus (either by death or when Christ comes for His church) we will enter into glory, the glory of Heaven and into the presence of the Glory of God.  When the Lord comes for His own, He will bodily resurrect all believers and will give them a glorified body

Philippians 3:20-21  For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.

And in His time, the Lord will set up a glorious earthly kingdom and His glory will fill the earth:

Numbers 14:21  But as truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the LORD.

Habakkuk  2:14  For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.

Finally, at the end of time, the Lord will make all things new, recreating everything to reflect His glory.  In eternity the Lord’s glory will be fully revealed and magnificently manifested.  We will fully understand and experience His glory and He will fill the earth with the light of His glory.

Revelation 21:23  And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.

  • Until that day, when we finally see, experience, reflect and enjoy the full glory of God, we stand in awe of the One who is worthy…just as it should be.
  • Until that day, let us keep our eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2), our blessed Hope (Titus 2:13), that we might live according to His will and for His pleasure, and that we might glorify Him in all we think, say and do.

Revelation 4:11  Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.

  • Until the day, let us glory in only this:

God forbid that I should glory,

save in the cross of 

our Lord Jesus Christ, 

by whom the world is crucified unto me, 

and I unto the world.  

(Galatians 6:14)

 

In the cross of Jesus Christ we see the symbol of our faith, the sorrow of our sins, the sacrifice of our Saviour, the surety of our redemption and the glory of our souls.  Hallelujah, what a Saviour!

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