Writer: Hailey Malay; Doxology Journal
What do you think about God? This may be a question you are familiar with. What about this one – what does God think about Himself? God’s revelation of Himself in Scripture is always in glory. His priority is that His glory be known in all the earth. If it were not so, He would not be God.
God created us to rely on Him and give Him glory, and He is glorified when His people worship Him. Who God is in His glory is the foundation of everything in our lives.
God’s Glory in Scripture
So what is God’s glory? Why is it so important to Him? The Hebrew word for glory, kabod, can be translated first as “weight” and second as “magnificence.” It is used in particular to describe the physical manifestation of God’s presence.(1) The Greek word doxa has the simple meaning of “heaviness” and was used to express the worth of a person in terms of majesty, brightness or honor.(2) It is used specifically to describe the greatness of God’s own person and presence. Both Hebrew and Greek translations for glory depend on God’s physical presence with all of His perfect attributes on display.
God’s glory is awesome, holy, indescribable, powerful, just, and true. John Piper said that His glory is “the perfect harmony of all his attributes into one infinitely beautiful and personal being.”(3) This glory is what God desires that all people of all time know and cherish. He does everything for His name’s sake, for His glory in all the earth (Isaiah 48:9-11). God said to Israel, everyone who is called by My name, whom I have created for My glory; I have formed him, yes, I have made him (Isaiah 43:7). The Creator of the Universe created us and lives with us so that His glory and name will be known in all the earth. The center of our lives must remain the glory, and therefore the worship, of God.
God’s glory in His presence can be exemplified in two of many biblical examples: the stories of Moses and Elijah. After Israel worships the false idol of the golden calf and the Lord commands them to leave Sinai, Moses asks to be shown God’s glory (Exodus 33:18). God promises His presence to Moses on the mount the following morning, where He reveals Himself. After Moses cut two new tablets of stone and ascended the mountain, The Lord descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the Lord. And He passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and sin, but by no means clearing the guilty (Exodus 34:5-7a). Moses asks to see God’s glory, and God tells Moses who He is, allowing him to hear and not see through the cloud. God’s glory is in His presence, His person, and His name. In this great and monumental moment, God proclaims His own name, Yahweh: the eternal, self-sufficient, and self-existent God of Israel.
Elijah, prophet and servant of God, ran for his life as the king Ahab’s wife sought to kill him for defeating the prophets of the false god Baal. He came to the wilderness by himself and asked God for death, but the angel of the Lord sustained him for a 40-day journey to Sinai. Elijah stood before God on the mountain, and the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice (1 Kings 19:11-12). After Elijah laments for Israel and his own life, God reveals Himself to Elijah in a low whisper. On the same mount which God descended in a cloud before Moses, He reveals Himself to Elijah in a thin, silent sound. God’s glory is in His very person, His presence.
Both Moses and Elijah desired to see and know God in His glory, yet He chose to reveal Himself in ways they did not expect. So God is with us. Believers and unbelievers alike often cry out to God for a sign, for something to show that He is there, for His glory in some way, but He has already revealed Himself to us. God’s eternal intent for His glory in and through us begins and ends in His Son, Jesus.
Jesus is the very brightness of God’s glory and the express image of His person (Hebrews 1:3). He came to earth to glorify God in His ministry by building His kingdom. He came to die and be raised for God’s glory. Jesus is the alpha and omega, the first and last, the beginning and end of the glory of God.
In Mark 9, Jesus took Peter, James and John on a high mountain, and He was transfigured before them. His clothes became shining, exceedingly white, like snow, such that no launderer on earth could whiten them (Mark 9:3). And in that moment, as the disciples beheld the glory of the Son, Elijah and Moses appeared, and they talked with Him. The glory which Moses knew in the cloud of God’s presence, hearing God’s self-revelation culminated in Jesus. The glory which Elijah knew on Sinai in the thin whisper amidst storm and fire found its fulfillment in Jesus. On the same mountain of God, Peter, James and John saw the glorious Messiah who came to save sinners and reconcile them to the Father. The weight, heaviness, brightness, and honor of God’s glory begins and ends in the Son Jesus, and our response indicates whether we allow His glory to be seen through us.
God’s Glory to Us
God’s presence, God’s glory, is the foundation for everything in our lives. We are changed when we are in His presence. Read Isaiah 43:1-7. God created Israel for His glory. The existence of Israel was planned and achieved because God’s name and glory would be known through her. It is the same with the Church – we exist to bring God glory, and when we do not, it is not only we who suffer.
Romans 1:20-25 outlines the progression of the lives of those who choose not to glorify God. Although God’s invisible attributes are clearly seen, although they (unbelievers) knew God, they did not glorify Him as God. Because they did not glorify Him, their thoughts became worthless, their hearts were darkened, they became fools, and they worshiped idols. So God gave them up to the sin and lusts of their hearts; this is His wrath revealed. The darkened hearts, worthless thoughts, and foolish ways of the world all stem from the absence of glory given to God. We as the body of Christ must be a people oriented forever toward God’s glory.
What should our response be then? Moses’ example in Exodus 34 is a strong one. After God revealed Himself in glory, Moses made haste and bowed his head toward the earth, and worshiped (Exodus 34:8). He prays for God’s continued presence in Israel, for forgiveness, and for a renewal of His covenant promises. Moses’ response is humility, worship, and prayer. This is the proper response to the awesome presence and enduring glory of the Living God.
The chief end of man is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever. (4) Let God’s glory be the center of why we even write and read this journal. Let it be the reason we wake up each day, breathe, and have our being. God created every person for His glory. He intends all people of all time to know His name and His perfect, kind, and just Son. Let our hearts be oriented not toward ourselves or the things of this world, but toward the eternal God who reveals Himself to us in glory.
Not to us, but to Your name alone
Be all the glory, the glory, forever
For Your faithfulness and steadfast love
Receive the glory, the glory belongs to You (5)
(1) Dr. Annechiena Sneller-Vrolijk, “Biblical Vocabulary: God’s Honor and Glory” Biblword.
(2) Euan Fry, “Translating ‘Glory’ in the New Testament” The Bible Translator.
(3) John Piper, “God Created Us for His Glory” Desiring God
(4) Westminster Assembly, Westminster Shorter Chatechism, A
(5) Music and words by Bob Kauflin. © 2004 Sovereign Grace Praise (BMI). Sovereign Grace Music, a division of Sovereign Grace Churches. (admin. worldwide at www.CapitolCMGPublishing.com, excluding the UK which is adm. by Integrity Music), part of the David C Cook family. All rights reserved.
Hailey Malay serves as an Air Force Public Affairs Officer at Beale AFB, CA. She loves her husband Daniel, reading, building deep relationships, and God’s global mission of taking His name to the nations.