God’s Glory

By understanding the glory of God one understands the greatest purpose and desire of God with regard to humanity. The springboard for beginning to understand God’s purpose in His glory is found when the Holy Spirit said, “to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen” Ephesians 3:21, NASU.

“Glory” is the key word around which we want to center our thoughts. The first source for our information about the glory of the Lord is found by gleaning the truths from what the Holy Spirit said about this glory in the book of Ephesians.

The immediate context is a prayer in which Paul exalts Jehovah by stating that it is going to be through the church and Christ that God is to receive glory from us. Earlier in the prayer Paul hints at the vastness of this topic by speaking of “the riches of His glory” 3:16. Three times in the first chapter he exalted God and said, “to the praise of His glory” Ephesians 1:6, 12, 14. He also spoke of “the Father of glory” Ephesians 1:17 and later in the book he spoke of “the church in all her glory” Ephesians 5:27.

An early mention of the glory of the Lord in the New Testament is discovered when Stephen said that it was “the God of glory” who appeared to Abraham in Mesopotamia before he lived in Haran, Acts 7:2.

The Shechinah Glory

It is significant that the writer said “the glory” Ephesians 3:21. The article indicates a special kind of glory. It has reference to the glory that is mentioned in the Old Testament. Thus, the only way anyone is going to fully understand the purpose of God in His glory is to study the glory of God as it is revealed in the Old Testament. There are literally hundreds of passages in the Old Testament that give insight into the purpose of God found in the glory of the Lord. The word the Jews used to refer to the glory of the Lord is the word “shechinah.”

“The word Shechinah is not found in the Bible, but used by the later Jews to express the visible majesty of the Divine Presence, especially when resting or dwelling between the cherubim on the mercy-seat in the tabernacle and in the Temple of Solomon” (International Standard Bible Encyclopedia under the topic, “Shechinah). The use of the term is first found in the targums, which were ancient Jewish paraphrases of the Old Testament text. These special appearances of the Lord are always in the form of a great brightness. One such example is when Moses was in the presence of God on the mountain. “The LORD said to Moses, ‘I will also do this thing of which you have spoken; for you have found favor in My sight and I have known you by name.’ Then Moses said, ‘I pray You, show me Your glory!’ And He said, ‘I Myself will make all My goodness pass before you, and will proclaim the name of the LORD before you; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show compassion on whom I will show compassion.’ But He said, ‘You cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live!’ Then the LORD said, ‘Behold, there is a place by Me, and you shall stand there on the rock, and it will come about, while My glory is passing by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock and cover you with My hand until I have passed by. Then I will take My hand away and you shall see My back, but My face shall not be seen’” Exodus 33:17-23.

The brightness that Moses experienced radiated from his face so brightly that when he came down from the mountain the people were afraid to come near him until he covered his face with a veil (Exodus 34:29-35).

The glory of God, like many other attributes, is one of the qualities that is distinctive to Jehovah. The Holy Spirit declared this to be so when He said, “Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, indeed everything that is in the heavens and the earth; Yours is the dominion, O LORD, and You exalt Yourself as head over all” I Chronicle 29:11.

The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia under the topic “glory,” as well as The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament by Harris, Archer and Waltke, under topic number 943 state that the root idea for one of the most common words for ‘glory” means “weight.” In the Bible it is only used literally in two places. Figuratively, a “weighty” person in society is someone who is honorable, and could be spoken of as holding a place of “glory.” An illustration of this usage is found in Genesis 45:13 where Joseph bids his brethren tell their father of his glory in Egypt. “Over against the transience of human and earthly glory stands the unchanging beauty of the manifest God (Psalm 145:5). In this sense the noun kabod (glory) takes on the most unusual and distinctive meaning. Forty-five times this form of the root relates to a visible manifestation of God…and is directly related to God’s self-disclosure and His intent to dwell among men” (TWOT #943).

Purpose of God’s Glory

The grand message of the manifestations of the glory of the Lord is that God wants to dwell with His people. When one thinks about the sinfulness and corruptions of men, it is staggering to think that the holy God, in all of His glory, wants to have fellowship with humanity. God desires fellowship so much that He has removed the barrier of sin that separated man from God’s glory. Involved in that gracious act of God are several other wonderful blessings. These help one understand the overall purpose of God as seen in His glory.

The Glory of God and the Tabernacle

The Bible does not tell us much about the glory of the Lord until the time God called the tribes of Israel out of the Egyptian captivity and made them His special nation. Referring to that time the prophet Isaiah had Israel saying, “He said to Me, ‘You are My Servant, Israel, in whom I will show My glory” Isaiah 49:3. This is why Paul, when writing about the advantages which Israel had, said that it was because to them belonged “the glory” Romans 9:4. Even though the Lord was leading Israel out of Egypt with the pillar of light, it is not said to be the glory of the Lord. “The first definite reference to this phenomenon is found in the record of Moses and Aaron in the desert of Sinai” (Star of Jacob by Wayne Leeper, p. 122). “So Moses and Aaron said to all the sons of Israel, ‘At evening you will know that the LORD has brought you out of the land of Egypt; and in the morning you will see the glory of the LORD, for He hears your grumblings against the LORD; and what are we, that you grumble against us?’ Moses said, ‘This will happen when the LORD gives you meat to eat in the evening, and bread to the full in the morning, for the LORD hears your grumblings which you grumble against Him. And what are we?” Your grumblings are not against us but against the LORD.’ Then Moses said to Aaron, ‘Say to all the congregation of the sons of Israel, ‘Come near before the LORD, for He has heard your grumblings.’ It came about as Aaron spoke to the whole congregation of the sons of Israel, that they looked toward the wilderness, and behold, the glory of the LORD appeared in the cloud” Exodus 16:6-10. Again, when Israel was camped out at Mount Sinai the Bible says, “The glory of the LORD rested on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it for six days; and on the seventh day He called to Moses from the midst of the cloud. And to the eyes of the sons of Israel the appearance of the glory of the LORD was like a consuming fire on the mountain top” Exodus 24:16-17. From that time on, one reads about the Lord of glory as He manifested His interest in dwelling among His people.

The tabernacle was constructed as a place where God could dwell among His people. God said to Moses on the mount, “Let them construct a sanctuary for Me, that I may dwell among them” Exodus 25:8. When it was completed “Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud had settled on it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle” Exodus 40:34-35. When the priesthood and the sacrificial system, which was to be administered in this tabernacle, were about to begin, Moses gathered Aaron, his sons, the elders and the whole congregation to the tent of meeting. Aaron and his sons provided a sacrifice. “Moses said, ‘This is the thing which the LORD has commanded you to do, that the glory of the LORD may appear to you.’ Moses then said to Aaron, ‘Come near to the altar and offer your sin offering and your burnt offering, that you may make atonement for yourself and for the people; then make the offering for the people, that you may make atonement for them, just as the LORD has commanded...Moses and Aaron went into the tent of meeting. When they came out and blessed the people, the glory of the LORD appeared to all the people. Then fire came out from before the LORD and consumed the burnt offering and the portions of fat on the altar; and when all the people saw it, they shouted and fell on their faces” Leviticus 9:6-9, 23-24. Because the glory of the Lord dwelt in the Most Holy Place, the cherubim on the ark of the covenant were called “the cherubim of glory” Hebrews 9:5. Because of Israel’s sin, when the ark of the covenant was captured by the Philistines, Phinehas’ widowed wife named their son “Ichabod, saying, ‘The glory has departed from Israel” I Samuel 4:21. Remember, Kabod means “glory.” The tabernacle and its furniture contained the glory of the Lord so that He could have fellowship with His people.

By Unknown Author

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