In Christian circles we talk about the glory of God. We talk about His glory in the sense of something of honor, or we may tend to think of a great light as in Luke 2:9 “And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear.” Or we talk about doing things for the glory of God. But what is the glory of God?
The following is a quote from John Piper about the glory of God:
“What is it? I believe the glory of God is the going public of his infinite worth. I define the holiness of God as the infinite value of God, the infinite intrinsic worth of God. And when that goes public in creation, the heavens are telling the glory of God, and human beings are manifesting his glory, because we’re created in his image, and we’re trusting his promises so that we make him look gloriously trustworthy.
The public display of the infinite beauty and worth of God is what I mean by “glory,” and I base that partly on Isaiah 6, where the seraphim say, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty. The whole earth is full of his—” and you would expect them to say “holiness” and they say “glory.” They’re ascribing “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty. The whole earth is full of his—” and when that goes public in the earth and fills it, you call it “glory.”
So God’s glory is the radiance of his holiness, the radiance of his manifold, infinitely worthy and valuable perfections.”
I really love how Piper has laid out the concept of God’s glory in this quote. The idea of God’s glory is defined as His holiness, infinite worth, and perfection on display for the world to see. And we can be a part of that. We are called to be a part of that. Not that the world will point to us to say “look at what Becca did”, or “look at what ‘enter your name here’ did”, but that the world will perk up and say “look at what God did”. And for some it will be a realization that there is a God at all.
In Exodus 33, Moses begged for God’s presence to remain with Israel. After God promised to do so, Moses boldly asked “Please, let me see Your glory”(v.18). What a request! But God graciously allowed him to see the tail end of His glory, because it was all Moses could bear. Even that encounter rendered Moses a human torch with the amount of glory that he absorbed by just being near it. He glowed so much that the Israelites were afraid, and he had to wear a veil to cover his face when he came down from the mountain. They missed out because of their fear. Many Jews missed out again on seeing God’s glory manifested in Jesus while He was here on earth. They just did not understand who He was or refused to see it. Many still do. Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 3:15″ Even to this day, whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their hearts,”. But Paul also gave hope to those he was writing to and to those we encounter today: 16 “but whenever a person turns to the Lord, the veil is removed.”
Moses had begged God for His presence to remain with His people. Under the new covenant, we have the privilege of knowing that God’s presence remains with us always because the Holy Spirit resides in our hearts 17 “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” We have freedom because we know He is always with us, that His redemption has covered us. So why is it that we ask for His presence in our worship services, to feel His presence in our midst? Are we like Moses asking to see His glory? I think when we do ask, we may need to take a step back and prepare our hearts. Ask ourselves if we are truly ready for the radiance of His holiness to be revealed to us. I am not saying that we shouldn’t ask…I am just saying that we be truly ready when we do. I think if we as a body of Christ followers were heart ready (not perfect, not going to happen), He would reveal Himself and His glory in a way that He has never done before – like He did Moses. We may not end up like human flashlights, but I do believe we would be crazy-bright Christ-lights to shine into a world of darkness. One in which veiling our faces is just not an option. “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matt 5:16) Go shine your light.