The glory of God is one of the greatest aspects of God we can understand. It is the phrase that addresses all that God is and does. It is not used for man, because the glory of God is unique only to Him and God is infinite. It is difficult for the finite man to understand this infinite concept. After all, man falls short of God’s glory as Paul wrote, “…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Rom. 3:23 NKJ) What is the glory of God?
The word glory in the Old Testament, “cavod,” means “heaviness,” “weight,” “worthiness” and “honor.” The New Testament word, “doxa,” used to translate the Old Testament word refers to “fame” or “reputation.” Glory belongs intrinsically to God and is the outward expression of His holy character.
Glory belongs to God alone. Moses sang, “Who is like You, O LORD, among the gods? Who is like You, glorious in holiness, Fearful in praises, doing wonders?” (Ex. 15:11 NKJ) God’s glory is great (Ps. 138:5), eternal (Ps. 104:31) and highly exalted (Ps. 8:1; 113:4). Scripture records the majesty of God’s glory (Job 37:22; Is. 2:10). It was for God’s glory that Christ died and was raised that Christians would walk in newness of life (Rom. 6:4). Glory is the character of God and man cannot look straight into the glory of God, because it is beyond his ability to receive it (Ex. 33:18-23; Is. 59:19). God will not share His glory with any other, “I am the LORD, that is My name; And My glory I will not give to another, Nor My praise to carved images.” (Is. 42:8 NKJ).
The whole purpose of creation is for the glory of God. God uses the majesty of His creation to reflect His glory. David wrote, “The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork.” (Ps. 19:1; cf. Ps. 111:3 NKJ) Everything, even eating and drinking, are to be done for God’s glory as Paul wrote, “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Cor. 10:31 NKJ) Paul wrote, that all things are given to us for God’s glory, “For all things are for your sakes, that grace, having spread through the many, may cause thanksgiving to abound to the glory of God.” (2 Cor. 4:15 NKJ) Even sickness is for God’s glory. John wrote, “When Jesus heard that, He said, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” (John 11:4 NKJ) Ultimately, God’s purpose is for every tongue to confess Jesus for His glory, “…and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Phil. 2:11 NKJ) The glory of God is seen in His name, which is to be feared (Deut. 28:58; Neh. 9:5). Israel was commanded to declare His glory among the nations (1 Chron. 16:24). In fact the earth is full of His glory (Is. 6:3) and will be filled with the knowledge of His glory (Hab. 2:14).
The glory of God has a powerful presence. When Solomon dedicated the temple, it was filled with the glory of God. The text records the unity of Israel in worship before God,
13 Indeed it came to pass, when the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the LORD, and when they lifted up their voice with the trumpets and cymbals and instruments of music, and praised the LORD, saying: “For He is good, For His mercy endures forever1,” that the house, the house of the LORD, was filled with a cloud, 14 so that the priests could not continue ministering because of the cloud; for the glory of the LORD filled the house of God. (2Ch 5:13-14 NKJ)
During the tribulation, the glory of God will fill the temple in Israel, “The temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from His power, and no one was able to enter the temple till the seven plagues of the seven angels were completed.” (Rev. 15:8 NKJ) Moses and Israel sang of the power of God’s glory (Ex. 15:6).
God purposed that His glory shine in our hearts for the world to see the face of Jesus. Paul wrote, “For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” (2 Cor. 4:6 NKJ) God’s glory is seen in Jesus (John 1:14; Heb. 1:3). When Stephen was held in condemnation by man, God allowed him to see His glory, “But he [Stephen], being full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.” (Acts 7:55 NKJ)
All of God’s promises are given to us for the glory of God. Paul wrote, “For all the promises of God in Him are yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us.” (2 Cor. 1:20 NKJ) Because of our salvation and the peace of God that exists as a Christian, we hope in His glory as Paul wrote, “…through whom [Jesus] also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” (Rom 5:2 NKJ) When Jesus spoke, He promised that through believing His Word we would see the glory of God, “Jesus said to her, “Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?” (John 11:40 NKJ) Sometimes we do not understand life and it is the glory of God at work to help us become more dependent upon Him, “It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, but the glory of kings is to search out a matter.” (Pro 25:2 NKJ) We should seek the truth and the king was the one who had the most authority and resources to seek that truth and understand God’s purposes, so that we would magnify His name.
We are to act toward one another for God’s glory. There are about 36 “one another” phrases for living the Christian life. One of them is given related to the glory of God. It impacts all of them. Paul wrote an unbelievable word, “Therefore receive one another, just as Christ also received us, to the glory of God.” (Rom 15:7 NKJ) God wants us to consider His character of glory in how we relate to other believers. Man was created in God’s glory and the woman glorifies the man, “For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man.” (1 Cor. 11:7 NKJ) Man should not in any way abuse this position, but use it as a servant leader to bring the woman to Jesus in love and holiness.
Heaven will be illuminated by the glory of God. John recorded that the city of God will be illuminated by the Lord Jesus Christ as the manifestation of God’s glory in eternity, “And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the great city, the holy1 Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, having the glory of God. Her light was like a most precious stone, like a jasper stone, clear as crystal.” (Rev. 21:10-11 NKJ) John also wrote, “The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the gloryof God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light.” (Rev. 21:23 NKJ)
The glory of God is the expression of God’s character and seen in His actions. It is the sum of all that God is and does. It is what every Christian can see by faith as he sees the invisible reality of Jesus as being more real than things, his circumstances and people.