What is the Glory of God?
God's Glory: A Misunderstood Concept
If you hang out in Christian circles much, you'll hear a lot about the glory of God. We talk about it , we sing about it and we preach and teach about God's glory. But how many people, if asked, could tell someone what it means?
I. Biblical Terms for Glory
The word "glory" is one of the most common words in Scripture. In the Hebrew Bible, the principle word that is used for God's glory is kabod. This term usually deals with weightiness or substance. So when the Old Testament talks about the glory of God, it is ascribing weight or importance to His name. In other words, it is saying that God possesses supreme dignity and importance. Nothing in creation is greater than He is, and no one deserves more honor than He does.
The translators of the Old Testament into Greek used the word doxa when translating kabod. Doxa originally meant "judgment" or "opinion" and by extension means "good reputation" or "honor." So when one talks of God's glory they are talking about His reputation and the fact that He is worthy of supreme honor.
II. Physical Displays of God's Glory
In Scripture, God's glory is often associated with visible displays of light, such as thunderbolts, fire, and brightness. These types of things often accompanied God when he showed Himself to His people. In leading Israel into the promised land, His glory manifested itself as a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night (Exodus 13:21-22).
Ezekiel talks about a vision of the Lord that He saw and described it like this:
"And I saw as the color of amber, as the appearance of fire round about within it, from the appearance of His loins even upward, and from the appearance of His loins even downward, I saw as it were the appearance of fire, and it had brightness round about. As the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain, so was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord. And when I saw it , I fell upon my face..." (Ezekiel 1:27-28).
Sometimes the Greek Word for glory, doxa, can mean brightness. It must have been this sense of the term that was used when Luke recounted the angelic announcement to the shepherds at the birth of Jesus. He states:
"And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened" (Luke 2:9).
Of course, these are just two of the many examples. In looking at the physical displays of God's glory, it depicts His splendor, majesty, beauty, and brilliance. He is not a Being that you can just ignore. Rather, He is one to be feared, admired and respected.
III. Creation Proclaims the Glory of God
All of creation was designed for one purpose. That is to bring glory to its creator. We see, for example, in Psalm 19:1 that : "The heavens are telling of the glory of God, and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands. The sheer size of our universe alone is enough to make one ponder how great a being God must be to have made such a thing. To give you an idea how vast it is, the speed of light is 186,000 miles per second. A light-year is the distance light can travel in a year. The nearest big galaxy to our Milky Way is the Andromeda Galaxy which is 2 million light years away. The most distant galaxies we can now see are 10 or 12 billion light years away. I look at those numbers and am staggered at a God who could create such immensity. And that is just one area we can look at in creation and say: "What an awesome God we serve!" God's reputation or His fame is declared by all of this.
All creation literally cries out the glory of God. Which leads us to God's ultimate creation, man. What is our part in this symphony of praise to the Lord?
III. Man Created to Glorify His Creator
Man, of all that God made, is the only being actually created in the very image of his creator. In this way, he is uniquely designed to reflect the glory of God. And our chief job in this world is to glorify Him.
It has to been said that when we glorify the Lord, it doesn't mean that we add one thing to Him that He lacks. God is absolutely perfect and self-sufficient, needing nothing to make Him complete. He is not only complete, but He is the source of all things (Colossians 1:15-23).
What it does mean is that we enhance His reputation over everything and everyone else, for He alone is worthy to have this done to Him. He is the creator and the sustainer of the universe and there is no other being besides Him that is worthy of our adoration and praise.
One person gave a rather crude illustration of backing a political candidate. If we believe the candidate is worthy to be elected, we talk him up. We give speeches, we write articles, and carry signs, or have them placed in our yard, telling of the abilities and strengths of the candidate that we endorse. We do everything in our power to let the world know that the man is worthy. In the same way God is worthy. His glory, His reputation, far outshines anything or anyone. By glorifying Him, we are merely pointing that out to the world.
When it comes right down to it, nothing is more important than the Lord and His glory. And the Apostle Paul says: "So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God" (I Corinthians 10:31). Jesus tells us to let our light so shine before men that they may see our works and glorify our Father who is in heaven" (Matthew 5:16). Glorifying God shouldn't be something tedious and hard to do because the Lord has given us everything, right down to the air that we breathe. And on top of all this, He has given us new life in Christ. Indeed we should all be crying: "To God be the glory, great things He has done!
May we all spend our lives bringing glory to the Sovereign Lord of the universe, and in so doing, join with the rest of creation in magnifying His holy name.