What is God’s Glory and Why Should We Understand it?

glory, Jesus, praiseCan we, as human beings, ever really understand an all powerful, ever-present God?  And as part of that, can we identify and comprehend His majesty and glory?  I say that we can and by doing so we can get to know Him better.

God’s glory is spoken of often in the Bible and in many church settings.  But do we understand what that is and why it is a part of Him?  Or is it just a word we read and then pass over without a second thought?  Has “glory to God” become such a Sunday School term that we no longer consider what we are saying or who we are saying it to?

After much thought and prayer I have decided to define God’s glory as “the sum total of all that God is, all that He has done and all that He ever will do”.  To be sure, this definition is attempting to put an infinite, perfect God into terms that a finite, imperfect human can understand and is therefore not completely accurate.  But I believe it does point us in the right direction.

God is Spirit and God is perfect.  We are flesh and we are imperfect.  We literally cannot comprehend God without major outside help.  And because God’s glory surrounds Him and is part of Him it is inseparable from Him but also too vast and wonderful for us to bear.  In Exodus Moses asked God to show him His glory and this is what God said:

Then He said, “I will make all My goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before you. I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.” But He said, “You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live.” (Exodus 33:19-20)

Moses could not look on God directly but only on the afterimage of His passing.  God had to hide him in the cleft of a rock and then cover the rock with His hand in order for Moses to survive the encounter. (Read Exodus 33:21-23).  This same God who desires to make Himself known to us is also very dangerous to us because of our fallen, fleshly nature.  So in that respect God’s glory presents a big problem to us that was marvelously solved by the coming of Jesus Christ who is God in the flesh.

The writer of Hebrews had this to say:

God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. (Hebrews 1:1-3)

Jesus is God’s glory and God’s character made flesh!  Here then is God Himself in a form that we can understand and comprehend.  Although Jesus was fully man and born of woman He was also fully God and the exact representation of the nature of God the Father.  God’s glory is shown to us by Jesus Christ and we can begin to understand all that God is and all that He has done through our relationship with Jesus.  When we say “Glory to God” what we are really saying is “Praise Jesus who I understand as God!”

This is the season of Advent when we talk about and celebrate the coming of the Christ child.  It is impossible to overstate the importance of Jesus Christ in bridging the relationship between God and man.  Jesus is God that came to meet us and the only way that we can understand the character and nature of God.  We can get to know our creator and the awesome, perfect God of the universe because of Jesus Christ.  God’s glory is revealed in Him and we must know Jesus to know God.

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