I going to attempt to define one of the less tangible and effable aspects of our God. But I warn you it will be an endeavor to define the undefinable. I will probably begin to sound like one of the ancient Christian writers like St. Julian or Ignatius but I will try to make as simple as I can.
According to Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry (CARM), the word Glory means:
In the Old Testament, the word for “glory” is the Hebrew word, כָּבֹוד “kabowd,” which carries the idea of heaviness and weight. In the New Testament, the Greek word is δόξα “doxa,” which carries the idea of opinion, judgment, estimate, splendor, brightness, etc.
It is used to speak of great honor, praise, value, wonder, and splendor.
Glory is spoken of in reference to people (Prov. 16:31) and God (Gen. 49:6, Psa. 3:3). Glory is given by God (Psa. 84:11) and also is a manifestation of God’s greatness and presence that is awesome to behold (Gen. 33:22, Exo. 40:34, Num. 14:10).
What they don’t clearly point out, but merely allude to, is that the word carries two interlocked “layers” of meaning, each relies on the other. The one is the “manifested praiseworthiness” of the Creator; where the other is the praise that is drawn from his Creation. Now, which “layer” is on top depends on whether you are talking about the glory Yahweh has and shows and gives or to that which He is given. Or, who is the one offering the “praiseworthiness.”
For example, out of our gratitude, we bless the God who in grace has blessed us, and this is to glorify the One who is even now glorifying us by remaking us into Christ’s image. Read it until it makes sense.
[For example, out of our gratitude . . . we bless the God who, in grace, has blessed us]. Are you will me so far?
Okay, [and this is to glorify the One . . . who is even now . . . glorifying us].
Okay, so how is He “glorifying us”? [by remaking us into Christ’s image!] Oh!
I wasn’t trying to present a tongue twister, but when I read it back to myself, it sure seems like I was. Take a look at what Paul wrote:
As all of us reflect the Lord’s glory with faces that are not covered with veils, we are being changed into his image with ever-increasing glory. This comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit (II Corinthians 318)
Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! Through Christ, God has blessed us with every spiritual blessing that heaven has to offer (Ephesians 1:3)
But now compare that to what Paul also wrote:
They knew God but did not praise and thank him for being God. Instead, their thoughts were pointless, and their misguided minds were plunged into darkness (Romans 1:21)
For whatever we give to our God’s glory is always something glorious, but the glories that He shows us are always meant to inspire our praise.
Many years ago, Elisabeth Elliot wrote,
When God’s power is manifested in the world, in his creation, or in his people, God is glorified. When we pray that our lives may glorify Him, we are asking that the self may be put down, for it is not possible to show the power of God and at the same time to glorify what George MacDonald called ‘the bastard self.’
In the old Testament, Yahweh displayed his glory in the way we would expect him to, as an awe-inspiring bright light. The Hebrews would call it his Shekinah. This was the sign of his presence in both the tabernacle and the temple. However, the much needed abiding revelation of God’s glory was given by his many great acts of the well-deserved judgment and unmerited love. It was also in his Name. This was not
It was also in his Name. This was not a mere label like our names are, but a declaration of His nature and character. Yahweh means “I am (and I will be) what I am (and will be).” This is what Moses was told when he asked God, “show me your glory.” Not only did he answer his request with a visual manifestation, but also by “my Name ‘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 . . .” (Exodus 33:18-34:7). This moral character is the essential glory of God!
So amazingly, when the Word was made flesh in lowlinglory ess, having emptied himself of the glory he shared with his Father before creation, the breathtaking brilliance of the shekinah was hidden, except for the one isolated time during the transfiguration; yet still Jesus’ disciples were able to testify, “We saw his glory,” the glory of personal deity “full of grace and truth.” The physical glory of shekinah light is great, but not as great as the moral glory of God’s redeeming love! Today, those who God has enlightened to understand the Gospel never see the shekinah, but still behold the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, and in the inner spirit of their being.
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