Some Thoughts on the Awe-Inspiring Splendor and Magnificence of the Glory of God

Here are my teaching notes for the Bible Fellowship tonight in my home. Enjoy as you consider the great truths of the glory of God.  

Sing to Jehovah, all the earth;
Proclaim good tidings of His salvation from day to day.
Tell of His glory among the nations,
His wonderful deeds among all the peoples.
For great is Jehovah, and greatly to be praised;
He also is to be feared above all gods.
For all the gods of the peoples are idols,
But Jehovah made the heavens.
Splendor and majesty are before Him,
Strength and joy are in His place.
Ascribe to Jehovah, O families of the peoples,
Ascribe to Jehovah glory and strength.
Ascribe to Jehovah the glory due His name;
Bring an offering, and come before Him;
Worship Jehovah in holy array.
Tremble before Him, all the earth;
Indeed, the world is firmly established, it will not be moved.
Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice;
And let them say among the nations, “Jehovah reigns.”
(1Chronicles 16:23, 31).

The deepest longing of the human heart and the deepest meaning of heaven and earth are summed up in this: the glory of God. The universe was made to show it, and we were made to see it and savor it. Nothing less will do. Which is why the world is as disordered and as dysfunctional as it is. We have exchanged the glory of God for other things (Romans 1:23: “and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.”)

We were made to know and treasure the glory of God above all things.

“The heavens declare the glory of God” (Psalm 19:1). That is why all the universe exists. It’s all about glory. The Hubble Space Telescope sends back infrared images of faint galaxies perhaps twelve billion light-years away (twelve billion times six trillion miles). Even within our Milky Way there are stars so great as to defy description, like Eta Carinae, which is five million times brighter than our sun. Sometimes people stumble over this vastness in relation to the apparent insignificance of man. It does seem to make us infinitesimally small. But the meaning of this magnitude is not mainly about us. It’s about God. “The heavens declare the glory of God,” says the Scripture. The reason for “wasting” so much space on a universe to house a speck of humanity is to make a point about our Maker, not us. “Lift up your eyes on high and see: who created these [stars]? He who brings out their host by number, calling them all by name, by the greatness of his might, and because he is strong in power not one is missing” (Isaiah 40:26). The deepest longing of the human heart is to know and enjoy the glory of God. We were made for this. “Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the end of the earth. . . whom I created for my glory,” says the Lord (Isaiah 43:6-7). To see it, to savor it, and to show it—that is why we exist. The untracked, unimaginable stretches of the created universe are a parable about the inexhaustible “riches of his glory” (Romans 9:23). The physical eye is meant to say to the spiritual eye, “Not this, but the Maker of this, is the Desire of your soul.” Saint Paul said, “We rejoice in hope of the glory of God” (Romans 5:2). Or, even more precisely, he said that we were “prepared beforehand for glory” (Romans 9:23). This is why we were created—that he might “make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy” (Romans 9:23). The ache in every human heart is an ache for this. But we suppress it and do not see fit to have God in our knowledge (Romans 1:28). Therefore the entire creation has fallen into disorder.

“Glory” in the Hebrew means: something that renders a nation, person or place respectable, that gives it dignity, a badge of greatness and an excellency that makes it praiseworthy and commendable. It means to make someone important and to cause one honor by putting him or her in an honorable position. In the Greek, it is the appearance of a person or thing that attracts attention and commands recognition. It embodies the idea of brilliance, splendor and radiance. When the word “glory” pertains to God, it is the revelation and manifestation of the full splendor, radiance, and magnificence of everything God is and represents. Glory comprises all that God is for us for our good, and the fullness of all the good that is in Him. 

The world is impressed by appearances. Wealth and position are equated with glory, and fame–the admiration of others–is eagerly sought. The Christian has a different set of values. To the believer, true glory is found only in the splendor of God. It is recognized as His character is displayed in His actions, and it is reflected back to Him as praise. We say with the psalmist David: “You are a shield around me, O LORD; you bestow glory on me and lift up my head” (Ps 3:3). We glorify God by recognizing His presence in His actions and by offering Him our praise. And we glorify God by being channels through which the Holy Spirit, Who lives within us, can communicate God to those whose lives we touch. (Richards, L O: Expository Dictionary of Bible Words: Regency)

Glory  (doxa from dokeo = to think) in simple terms means to give a proper opinion or estimate of something and thus the glory of God expresses all that He is in His Being and in His nature, character, power and acts. He is glorified when He is allowed to be seen as He really is. To be where God is will be glory. To be what God intended will be glory. To do what God purposed will be glory.

Charles Ryrie says that the glory of God

is the manifestation of any or all of His attributes. In other words, it is the displaying of God to the world. Thus, things which glorify God are things which show the characteristics of His being to the world.

Disciple’s Study Bible

The glory of God is a visible, concentrated manifestation of the nature or person of God. Often the glory of God is associated with “shining.” The emphasis is not upon the “shining,” or how the manifestation occurs, but on the sense of awe that it produces in those who perceive it. When people “see” the glory of God, they have a heightened, acute awareness of the presence and power, the majesty and authority of the holy God. See notes on Ex 16:7,10; 40:34, 35, 36, 37, 38. The cry of “glory to God” is the equivalent of praying that nothing will stand in the way of all people seeing how great God is.

Believers today have the holy privilege of living in such a (supernatural, inexplicable to natural thinking) way, that others (believers and unbelievers alike) see this supernatural life which gives a proper opinion of the unseen, supernatural Father in heaven (Mt 5:16note where the verb doxazo is used). As someone has well said a concern for the glory of God is the ultimate motive for Christian living. J Gresham Machen has a similar thought remarking that “The ultimate end of all things that come to pass, including the ultimate end of the great drama of redemption, is found in the glory of the eternal God.” The very fact that the chief aim of God is to glorify Himself, makes it all the more incredible that He would choose to use redeemed sinners to be His lights as windows of His glory in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation (Philippians 2:15 15 so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.”Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky)!

Before Moses was to be sent forth on his important mission he was called first to behold the ineffable glory of the Lord. Beloved, the principle is inescapable, that every servant of Jehovah who would serve acceptably must work with an eye singly set upon God’s glory. Have you taken time to gaze upon His glory? It was so here with Moses. It was thus with Isaiah (Isaiah 6). It was the same in the case of the apostle Paul (Acts 9). Make no mistake fellow co-laborer, a vision of the glory of God is an essential prerequisite if we are to serve Him acceptably. Today we see His glory most completely in His holy word.

Summary of the movement of the glory of God:

The glory of the LORD had initially dwelt in the finished tabernacle in the wilderness (Ex 40:34 Ex 30:34, 35, 36, 37, 38). Apparently, the glory of God departed when the Philistines captured the Ark of the Covenant, which God allowed because of Israel’s sin.

In the next Scriptural occurrence God’s glory came into the temple of Solomon upon completion and consecration (1 Ki 8:10).The glory of the LORD progressively departed the Temple, in preparation from the destruction of the nation of Israel which had turned irrevocably to the worship of abominable idols.

God had clearly declared “I am the LORD, that is My name; I will not give My glory to another, nor My praise to graven images.” (Isa 42:8).

The Temple that was rebuilt after Judah’s seventy years of exile in Babylon did not possess the Shekinah glory of the LORD.

For a brief moment in Israel’s history, the glory did return to the Temple and the land of Israel in Jesus Christ (John 1:1, 14), but His glory “departed” when the nation nailed the glorious One to a Cross.


John 17:22And the glory which Thou hast given Me I have given to them; that they may be one, just as We are one

We are all starved for the glory of God, not self. No one goes to the Grand Canyon to increase self-esteem. Why do we go? Because there is greater healing for the soul in beholding splendor than there is in beholding self. Indeed, what could be more ludicrous in a vast and glorious universe like this than a human being, on the speck called earth, standing in front of a mirror trying to find significance in his own self-image? It is a great sadness that this is the gospel of the modern world. But it is not the Christian Gospel. Into the darkness of petty self-preoccupation has shone “the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Corinthians 4:4). The Christian Gospel is about “the glory of Christ,” not about me. And when it is—in some measure—about me, it is not about my being made much of by God, but about God mercifully enabling me to enjoy making much of him forever. What was the most loving thing Jesus could do for us? What was the endpoint, the highest good, of the Gospel? Redemption? Forgiveness? Justification? Reconciliation? Sanctification? Adoption? Are not all of these great wonders simply means to something greater? Something final? Something that Jesus asked his Father to give us? “Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me” (John 17:24).

The Christian Gospel is “the gospel of the glory of Christ” because its final aim is that we would see and savor and show the glory of Christ. When the light of the Gospel shines in our hearts, it is “the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6).

II Corinthians 3:7-13,18 (ESV): 7 Now if the ministry of death, carved in letters on stone, came with such glory that the Israelites could not gaze at Moses’ face because of its glory, which was being brought to an end, 8will not the ministry of the Spirit have even more glory? 9For if there was glory in the ministry of condemnation, the ministry of righteousness must far exceed it in glory. 10Indeed, in this case, what once had glory has come to have no glory at all, because of the glory that surpasses it. 11For if what was being brought to an end came with glory, much more will what is permanent have glory.  12Since we have such a hope, we are very bold, 13not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face so that the Israelites might not gaze at the outcome of what was being brought to an end. 18And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

II Corinthians 3:18 (Message Bible): Nothing between us and God, our faces shining with the brightness of his face. And so we are transfigured much like the Messiah, our lives gradually becoming brighter and more beautiful as God enters our lives and we become like him.

1Cor 10:31 Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 32 Give no offense either to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God; 33 just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit, but the profit of the many, that they may be saved.

God created man to glorify Himself, and that is man’s purpose in life. Fallen man cannot purpose to glorify God, because he does not know God or have a godly nature through Jesus Christ. Redeemed man, however, is able to glorify the Lord, and he will glorify Him if he is faithful. The Westminster Shorter Catechism asks “What is the chief end of man? Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever.” MacArthur writes “The catechism is right in declaring that the pinnacle of man’s being is glorifying and enjoying God. The highest purpose any individual can have is to be totally absorbed in the person of God, and to view all of life through eyes filled with His wonder and glory. That is the perspective of the true worshiper, the one who truly glorifies God.”The “glory of God” is a practical truth: The context of this verse is “Christian liberty” — and the rule we must follow is that whatever we do gives a proper opinion of (glorifies) God. Ryrie (Ryrie Study Bible) comments that Paul gives us an all inclusive principle stating that believers are to “Test all conduct by whether or not it manifests the characteristics of God. Other principles for guiding the believer’s conduct in this book are (1) is it beneficial (1Cor 6:12)? (2) is it enslaving (1Cor 6:12)? (3) will it hinder the spiritual growth of a brother (1Cor 8:13)? (4) does it “edify” (build up, 1Cor 10:23)? ”

 MacDonald adds that “Christian young people are often faced with decisions as to whether a certain course of action would be right or wrong for them. Here is a good rule to apply: Is there any glory for God in it? Can you bow your head before you participate in it and ask the Lord that He will be magnified by what you are about to do?”

Beet adds that “Since your conduct and the worth of your religion will be estimated by others according to its effect upon themselves, so act in all the details of life that your action may show forth the splendor of God, the Author of all human excellence, and thus exalt Him in the eyes of men.” This conveys a solemn lesson. The practical impression made upon men by the revealed character of God is determined very much by the conduct of His people, even in little things, and especially by the degree to which they take into account the effect of their conduct upon the well-being of others.”

2Cor 4:16 Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. 17 For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison

Ro 5:1-2  (note) Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope (absolute assurance of the reality of future good – so this refers primarily to present hope regarding our future glory) of the glory of God.

A  P R A Y E R 

O Father of glory, this is the cry of our hearts—to be changed from one degree of glory to another, until, in the resurrection, at the last trumpet, we are completely conformed to the image of your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord.

 Until then, we long to grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord, especially the knowledge of his glory. We want to see it as clearly as we see the sun, and to savor it as deeply as our most desired pleasure.

 O merciful God, incline our hearts to your Word and the wonders of your glory. Wean us from our obsession with trivial things.

Open the eyes of our hearts to see each day what the created universe is telling about your glory.

Enlighten our minds to see the glory of your Son

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