What is God's Glory?
Our April devotional shared by Sue Hoyles
What a privilege to be sharing a devotional with you
at this special time of year!
It is also slightly daunting
as there is so much material available online
focussing our thoughts during Holy Week and Easter.
I have been so encouraged recently in my KYB groups
as we have been exploring Jesus of Nazareth,
particularly as we have been looking at Jesus
as fully God and fully man.
One word has become the centre of my thoughts - glory.
What a wonderful word that is! It is one of those words that we become so familiar with and yet do we really understand what it means? It is one of the most beautiful words in the Bible and yet it is one of the most challenging words to define. I want to focus on “glory” as it relates to Jesus and the verse that does that best for me is Hebrews 1:3: “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.”
What is God’s glory? If we take a look at Exodus 33:12-23 (especially verses 18-23), 34:29-35 and 40:34-38 we get a glimpse of the impact on Moses and the Israelites of God’s glory being revealed. But that doesn’t answer the question “What is God’s glory?”. Commentators tell us that the Hebrew and Greek words used that are translated as “glory” reveals several things about what glory is. However, it is a bit like a diamond – multifaceted and the more you explore it the more variety you see as you glimpse different aspects of its beauty! Hence the need to focus this devotional!
What becomes clear is that glory has to do with light (brightness, shining, dazzling, radiant, splendour); it also has weight/value, and glory is visible (it is meant to be seen). When linked to God, glory is primarily the manifested presence of God, it is His character, his attributes/characteristics visibly expressed. It draws our attention and causes us to be amazed, it is awesome and fearful. God’s glory is God’s holiness made visible.
Jesus can truly make God known to us, he brings God’s presence to us, brings God’s glory to us – the full dazzling presence of God! If we know Jesus, then we know God. When we glimpse the glory of Jesus, we glimpse the glory of God. “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory”. This radiance is not a reflection of God’s glory or a similarity to God’s glory – Jesus is exactly God. Our response to this has to be awe and fear. (Fear, but we are not afraid!)
Our verse also says that Jesus is "the exact representation of his being”. The word translated as “exact representation” is only used in this verse in the New Testament – it is like our English word for character but is much stronger making this an emphatic declaration that Jesus Christ is the perfect, visible expression of the fulness of God. We might say that a child is “the image” of their parent, or other family member but when we do that, we are not saying that the child IS that parent or family member, just that there is a resemblance. Here we are told that Jesus is the exact imprint/depiction of God – he perfectly represents God to us. John Calvin said, “God is truly and really known in Christ; for he is not his obscure or shadowy image, but his impress which resembles him.”
Jesus makes God’s character and nature visible to humanity. When you see Jesus, you have seen God. Paul also expresses this in these wonderful passages - Colossians 1:15-20 and Philippians 2:6-8. Glory is also one of the themes of John’s gospel if you would like to explore this further.
Hebrews 1:3 goes on to tell us that everything is sustained by Jesus, that he has provided purification for our sins and that he is seated at the right hand of God – SEATED, his work is complete! There was no seating available for priests in the Temple because their work was never completed. Jesus has completed his work crucified, risen, ascended and glorified – Hallelujah!
Ezekiel describes the glory of Jesus in Ezekiel 1:26 – 28. A sapphire throne, glowing metal, fire, brilliant light what an amazing image of this glorious man! But then Ezekiel says, “like the appearance of a rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day so was the radiance around him.” That bit is easier to picture, isn’t it?
If you would like to respond to this with a hymn of worship, follow the link:https://www.youtube.com/watch? v=_7w-tDjlpgk
This photo was taken in the Outer Hebrides
by a friend of ours during a holiday in 2015.
It helps me to visualise the glory that Ezekiel
was attempting to describe.
Ezekiel 1:28 “Like the appearance of a rainbow in the clouds
on a rainy day, so was the radiance around him.
This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD.
When I saw it, I fell face down…”
As we think about the Son as the radiance of God’s glory
and the exact representation of his being
our only response must be to worship Him!