The Hebrew word for glory is ‘kabod,’ which has in itself the idea of weighty. The Greek word ‘doxa’ is the equivalent of the Hebrew word, which refers to fame. Though it has a more secular idea, it is translated as weighty as in Hebrew. Christopher Morgan defines it this way, “The glory of God is the magnificence, worth, loveliness, and majesty of his many perfections, which he displays in his creative and redemptive acts to make his glory known to those in his presence.”
In the Old Testament, God’s glory was manifested through supernatural fire, thick clouds, and a great earthquake. We see these phenomena when God gave the law to Moses: “Mount Sinai was covered with smoke because the Lord descended on it in fire. The smoke billowed up from as though it was from a furnace, and the whole mountain trembled violently” (Exodus 19:18; Deuteronomy 5:24–25; 1 Kings 8:10–11; Isaiah 6:1–4). The prophet Ezekiel’s vision of the glory of God was full of fire and lightning and tumultuous sounds, after which he saw “what looked like a throne of lapis lazuli, and high above on the throne was a figure like that of a man. From his waist up, I saw that he looked like glowing metal, as if full of fire, and from there down, he looked like fire; brilliant light surrounded him. Like the appearance of a rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the radiance around him. That was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord” (Ezekiel 1:26–28).
God is Glorious
The nature and character of God is glorious. He shines brighter than all lights, is greater than all greats, and is beyond explanation for the human mind. God is seen as glorious in His attributes, full of majesty, sufficient in and of himself, beautiful beyond words, and full of splendor. The Psalmist calls him the King of Glory (Psalm 24:7-10) and God of Glory in Psalm 29:3. Isaiah 6 tells us that the prophet saw the LORD’s glory filling the Temple. Those who experienced God saw something beyond their basic interpretation.
Moses and the Jews saw the glory of God in the form of a cloud and even in the pillar of fire (Exodus 3-4, 13-14, 32-34) as they journeyed through the wilderness. As God set the Tabernacle worship, the priests and all of Israel saw the glory of God descend upon the tent of meeting (Exodus 29:43, 40:34-38). When Moses asked to see God, God reminded him that no man can see God and live because the LORD is overwhelmingly glorious (Exodus 33:18-19). God had to ask Moses to hide in the cleft of the rock as God’s glory passed (Exodus 33:21-23). When the glory of God comes, man is humbled, for God alone will be exalted (Isaiah 2:10-11)!
God Reveals His Glory
In an article, Christopher Morgan writes, “God communicates his glory through his creation, image-bearers, providence, and redemptive acts. God’s people respond by glorifying him.” In what ways does God reveal his glory to us?
In Creation and Nature
We know that God created all things (Genesis 1:1-27). Scripture reminds us that through him, all things were made, and without him, nothing was made that has been made (John 1:1- 3). The Psalmist declared the heavens and creation display his glory (Psalm 19:1, 29:3-9, 97:1-6). The grass, trees, and beauty of waterfalls, rivers, and lakes express glory! Every cave, deep sea creatures, insects, micro-atomic creatures, and the wild jungle exists to shout one phrase: Glory to God!
The book of Genesis tells us that God created man and woman in his image and likeness (Genesis 1:26-27). Just by that description, we can conclude that God’s glory is evident in humanity’s uniqueness. White, black, colored, Hispanic, Asian, and Caucasian. Diversity cannot be a function of nature and chance. A grand designer is behind the beautiful expressions of race, tribe, and culture. Every man and woman you see- from whatever tribe, nation, people, and tongue, is a reminder that God is glorious beyond our mental understanding. Any prejudice against people cannot align with Scripture because all humanity comes from God (Isaiah 45:12, 64:8, Proverbs 22:2, Acts 17:26) and is evidence of His glory.
On this, we also must take caution about how we treat those around us who are abled differently. Infirmities and inabilities do not make men and women lesser creatures. Our role as believers is to ensure they are accepted and loved because they also bear God’s image.
In Christ and His Redemptive Work
Ultimately, the glory of God is seen in the Son, Jesus Christ (John 3:16). John tells us when Christ came, he was full of glory as the only Son from the Father (John 1:14). No one has ever received such descriptions from the Father. Humanity is created in the image of God and glorifies God as is. However, Jesus isn’t just created in the image of God; he is God in human form. Jesus is the radiance of the glory of God (Hebrews 1:3), and he shines this glory in our hearts (2 Corinthians 4:6). Colossians 1:15-19 is a fantastic expression of who Christ is and what he has done. In him, all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell.
In Christ’s redemptive work, dying on the cross for man’s sin, God’s glory is seen in how he vindicates his holiness by punishing sin (Romans 8:1-3, 2 Corinthians 5:21) and how he throws to man a life-line that he never deserved (John 3:16, Acts 4:12). The perfection of God’s character is displayed on the cross; judgment of and for the sinner, and love unimaginable for the one who turns back in repentance. Whenever a sinner turns to God in faith, they glorify God by affirming God’s might and power to save dead and lost souls. Glory to God for the work of Christ!
God is glorified in judgment. The gospel tells of a God who judges all flesh (Isaiah 3:13, 66:16). At the end of the age, the Lord has set aside a time to bring judgment upon the human race. Those who will love and receive his grace will be welcomed into his Kingdom and those who did not receive into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:11-15). The judgment day will express the perfect faithfulness of God, who has promised to deal with the saint and sinner. Many would suggest that judgment is unfair and does not express a loving God. However, Paul reminds us that no one is without excuse regarding these things (Romans 1:20). All we need to know about life, death, and judgment is evident in Scripture. Man can now turn to God in repentance and faith and avoid wrath and woes at the end of the road.
On the other hand, for those who claim it unfair of God to judge, we should ask ourselves why we would expect wicked people to receive judgment on earth for what they have done against others here. If thieves, murderers, rapists, etc., need to be apprehended, why shouldn’t God judge those who go against His holy Law? The judge of the world will be glorified in judgment just as he is glorified in salvation.
God is to be Glorified
Finally, because of all the above truths, God is to be glorified by all, especially his saints, in how we live. Those whom God has saved should live so that God is seen as magnificent, worthy, and lovely as He says he is. How do we do that?
- Bear fruit for the Kingdom. This can happen in two ways: bearing fruit in our character (Galatians 5:22- 23) and bearing the fruit of souls (Matthew 28:18- 20). God is glorified when we become more like Christ and seek to bring many more into the fold of Christ.
- Handle our bodies in sanctification and not in immorality. We are the Temple of God (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). God is glorified when we do not indulge in sinful things and use our bodies as instruments for sin.
- Praise him with our lips. God wants us to be vocal about who he is and what he has and is doing. We gather to sing before the Lord and unto the Lord to give him glory (Hebrews 13:15). When you lift your voice in song worship, you glorify God as he expects you to.
- Serve others and do good. We have numerous opportunities to do good for people in need. Such actions glorify God because they point to his character as a merciful and benevolent God (Hebrews 13:16).
We can point out many other things that remind us of our opportunities and duties to glorify God. The glory of God is seen in who he is, what he has done, what he is doing, and what he calls us to do in this life. Therefore, may our lives be a fragrance of God’s glory to a dying world. He is worthy of all the glory, honor, and praise! Glory be to God!
Christopher Morgan, TGC article on The Glory of God