“To God be the glory.” “May God be glorified.” “For the glory of the Lord.”
We use these phrases, perhaps quite a bit, but we do know what we are saying? Do you know what the glory of the Lord is? Can we glorify God?
As we have walked through some of the attributes of God we have explored his goodness, power, knowledge, holiness, and love. We fittingly end here at his glory, as the glory of the Lord is the splendor and brilliance associated with all of God’s attributes and self-revelation in nature and grace. (Bavinck, Dogmatics, Vol 2, p. 252) His glory is the outward appearance of the inward reality of his worth, majesty, purity, goodness, power, grace, truth, etc.
When the presence of God appeared on top of Mount Sinai in Exodus 24, the presence of God’s glory was said to be like a “devouring fire.” (Ex. 24:17) The Israelites did not see God himself, but God manifested his glory which made his presence known and felt. He is said to be clothed in glory and majesty. (1 Chron. 16:27; Ps. 29:4; 96:6; 104:1; 111:3; 113:4; etc.)
I am grasping for language to describe heavenly realities we will not experience until we die and go to be with Him. Though God is clothed with glory and majesty, he cannot take it off. At best it can be veiled for the benefit of humanity as in the incarnation of Jesus Christ the Son of God. God incarnate. Veiling is not removal. At no point did Christ ever lose his glory or majesty. To do so would be fore Christ to lose that which makes him glorious. As we have studied, God is immutable, he does not change.
In fact, the fullest manifestation of the glory of God is in Jesus Christ. In Christ was God’s justice, mercy, grace, and love in full display to sinful humanity. In him were the attributes of God shining forth for those that could see, those who would hear, those who would believe.
In Exodus 33:18ff Moses pleads with God to show him his glory. God answers that he will make his goodness pass by him and proclaim his name, “YHWH”. Moses cuts two new tablets for the 10 commandments and waits for God on the mountain. Then, “The Lord descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the Lord. The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.” (Ex 34:5–7.)
God himself, in answer to Moses’ plea to see his glory, proclaims his name and goodness. In Exodus 33 God tells Moses he will hide him in the rock and not let him see God’s face. For, “man shall not see my face and live.”
Sin ever stands in the way of the full apprehension (if such a thing is possible) of God’s glory.
The Throne Room
Read Isaiah 6.
The Seraphim cry out that God is Holy! Holy! Holy! From that proceeds, “The whole Earth is full of his glory!” This vision Isaiah was given is the fuel for his commission given in the second half of Isaiah 6. This vision propelled him through the remaining years of hardship. He would proclaim the Lord to his people but they would not hear and would be judged. This one vision propelled years of ministry that many today would call a failure.
How big was his church? Where are all the converts? The Israelites were still judged and cities destroyed and people carried off into exile. What a failure! the modern evangelical cries.
We Are Betrayed (Or betrayers..)
This attitude, though no one would voice it, betrays to whom we would give glory today. We miss the glory of God when we tie it to our success and failure. We miss the glory of God when we completely misunderstand what success and failure in the kingdom of God are. We have bought into a lie when the glory of God is tied to prosperity in the church. Oh, we’re not prosperity gospel folks! Do you measure God’s favor on you by the number of converts, church size, etc.? Is that not prosperity theology? God’s hand was on Isaiah and he was with him, yet Isaiah’s ministry was to proclaim the holiness of God to a stiff-necked people.
One glimpse, one vision of God’s majesty and glory, was enough to propel Isaiah for the rest of his life.
What Of You? What Of Me?
Have you missed the glory of God? I am not saying you must have an ecstatic vision of God on his throne to appreciate his glory. We have the faintest echoes of his glory in the beauty of this world. Our ability to appreciate beauty is, I believe, part of the Imago Dei in us. We can appreciate beauty because what God has made is beautiful. It is beautiful because he is glorious. He is glorious because he is good, pure, just, righteous, holy, love, grace, and truth.
Have you no appreciation for God’s glory shown in the rising sun, green grass, clouds, jagged rock mountains, or the wonderful complexity of your fellow man?
Have you lost an appreciation for the glory of God in Christ? Friend, God did not leave us wallowing in our sin, though he could have. He came down to us, took on flesh, lived with us, taught us perfectly, died unjustly, and rose victoriously death and sin. Jesus is glorious! His substitutionary atonement, though terrible to behold our sin, is glorious! His regenerating sinners from death to life is glorious! His creation that we sinners trod upon every day, insofar as we recognize it is a dim reflection of God’s goodness, is glorious! Glorify him in worship. He is the one true God and worthy of ALL.
Who is this King of glory?
The LORD of hosts,
he is the King of glory! (Psalm 24:10)