When speaking of the glory of God, one of the first thing that will come to the minds of most Christians should be God’s encounter with Moses when Moses asked the best question anyone can ever ask in human history, “Now, show me your glory.” (Exodus 33:18).
So… What exactly is this glory that Moses saw?
God’s response to Moses’ call to see His glory with a magnificent display of all His goodness and a proclamation of His Name (Exodus 33:19). The only thing that was hidden from Moses was God’s face (Exodus 33:20).
Now, a normal reader would usually pause and ask, how is “glory” related to “goodness” and “name”?
The Old Testament Mystery of God’s Glory
The glory of God to the Old Testament reader would likely be something that is impossible to describe. It is something that somehow reflects the perfect manifestations of God, but it isn’t very clear in it descriptions.
In Isaiah’s vision of heaven, Isaiah saw seraphims proclaiming God’s glory as something that is being proclaimed by the whole earth (Isaiah 6:3).
In Psalms, the glory of God is seen to be declared by the “heavens” and the “works of His Hands” (Psalms 19:1).
When Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt, God showed us that He is able to “gain glory” for Himself when the plagues and disasters come down on them. (Exodus 14:4, 17, 18).
When Moses led the Israelites in the desert, the glory of God is used to describe the “cloud” that covered the mountain and filled the tabernacle (Exodus 16:10, 24:15-18, 40:35).
There are many more occurrence of the word “glory” in the Old Testament, but it did not give a definite description of what it really is.
However, from these verses alone, we are able to see a certain trend. Tangible expression of God’s glory can be found in the very Presence of God (or the location where He is), displayed mostly in the form of “cloud” descending onto physical locations such as mountains, tabernacles, pillars, etc.
Drawing this link, we can infer that the glory of God is the very Being of God. Then again, the natural man would ask, how can the very Being of God – who cannot be contained in the highest of heavens (1 Kings 8:27) – be limited to a physical location in our dimension and manifest itself to us?
The Mystery of God Revealed to Us
“I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” – John 17:22-23 (NIV).
I can recall the excitement when I read this verse for the first time. It was God the Son stating explicitly that He has already given us “God’s glory”, answering as well the very question of what this glory is. This glory is for us, as fellow believers, to be one with God Himself.
Building on our limited understanding of glory from the Old Testament, the expression of the Glory of God now takes a more tangible form. The Glory of God is God Himself.
The Glory of God
The Glory of God that Moses saw was a manifestation of His being. In the process, Moses saw all of God’s goodness and God’s proclamation of His Name (Exodus 33:19). It is this exact Name that God the Father gave Christ so that they may become One (John 17:11). And all of these are God’s doing. Through His Power, He shows us who He truly is. Just like how He showed the Israelites and the Egyptians the display of His power through the plagues, He showed us His power in reconciliation and the forgiveness of sins (Colossians 1:20, 2 Corinthians 5:18-19) so that we may be One with God Himself (John 17:22-23).
This mystery is profound.
The Glory of God is God Himself, whom Christ has given us through the shedding of blood and the forgiveness of sins.
Implications for Believers
2 Corinthians 5:20-21 gave us a very good summary of what we should do upon knowing that God Himself has reconciled us to Him through the work of Christ. We are to be His Ambassadors (an official diplomatic agent of the highest rank of GOD HIMSELF, as a representative of GOD’s sovereign Kingdom, appointed for a special and temporary diplomatic assignment – paraphrased from the Merriam Webster dictionary). The apostles collectively implore (or beg) us (as believers) on Christ’s behalf to be reconciled to God. And all these because God Himself has made He who had no sin to be sin for us so that we may be righteous in Him.
We are, the ultimate official diplomatic agent of the highest rank, representing God’s sovereign Heavenly Kingdom, assigned to the World. For this alone, we should be filled with confidence in all that we do, knowing that we represent He who is greater than the universe, and that all that we do, we answer to He who sent us.
Ambassador. (n.d.). Retrieved June 9, 2018, from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ambassador