God is Glorious Part One
The present age is characterized by the encroachment of a secular, humanistic world-life view on society. Many people go to great lengths to deny the existence or relevance of the personal, sovereign God of the Bible and to deify man. They reject God’s revealed truth for a lie and worship and serve the creature rather than the Creator (Rom. 1:23, 25).
Biblical history demonstrates that the cure for this loss of awe, reverence, and fear of the true and living God is to confront the glory of God.
The Meaning of Glory
The Scriptures teach that God is a God of glory. They call Him “the King of glory” (Ps. 24:7–10). Seraphim, referring to God as “the LORD of hosts,” asserted, “the whole earth is full of his glory” (Isa. 6:3). Stephen described Him as “the God of glory” (Acts 7:2), and Paul called God “the Father of glory” (Eph. 1:17).
What is the glory of God? The most basic and frequently used word for “glory” in the Old Testament is kabod. The Hebrew root means “heavy” or “weighty.”1 Thus Paul referred to the “weight of glory” (2 Cor. 4:17).
The Bible uses kabod most frequently in a figurative sense for “the concept of a ‘weighty’ person in society, someone who is honorable, impressive, worthy of respect.”2 Thus the word refers to something weighty concerning a person. An individual’s glory is whatever enables him or her to carry weight with others. It is that which is impressive and demands recognition, gives a person influence, sets him apart, and distinguishes him from others.
For example, the Hebrew text calls Jacob’s great wealth and Joseph’s position in Egypt’s government “glory” (Gen. 31:1, KJV; 45:13). These elements gave these men influence and recognition and impressed their contemporaries.
In light of this meaning of glory, we can conclude that the glory of God is whatever enables Him to carry weight or have influence with His creatures. It is what demands their recognition of Him, impresses them with His greatness, sets Him apart, reveals His uniqueness, and distinguishes Him as the only true God. Because His glory sets Him apart from all others and reveals His uniqueness, God refuses to share His glory with others (Isa. 42:8; 48:11).
Manifestations of God’s Glory
Historically, God has manifested His glory in at least four different ways, two of which we will discuss here.
(1) Through His Created Universe. Israel’s King David wrote, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament showeth his handiwork” (Ps. 19:1).
He thereby declared that the heavens are recounting or telling what is impressive or influential concerning their Creator. They display what should be obvious to the human eye and mind, namely, the conspicuous, distinctive stamp of God’s divine handiwork.
The magnitude, beauty, order, and design of the heavens testify concerning the existence and incredible wisdom and power of the one, true, living, personal God who created them.
Any person who has not been impressed with God after looking at the magnificent heavens on a clear night should consider this information about the universe. The sun in our solar system has a diameter of 860,000 miles3 and is so large that it would take more than one million Earths to equal its volume.4
The sun experiences explosive eruptions of hydrogen and helium that sometimes leap one hundred thousand miles into space with more force than a billion hydrogen bombs.5 Each second five million tons of the sun’s mass escape as energy—more energy in one second than mankind has used throughout history.6 Despite this current rate of depletion, the sun has enough mass to enable it to continue for at least five billion years.7
The distance from the sun to the outer limits of our solar system is 3.5 billion miles.8 In spite of its large size, the solar system is an extremely small part of our galaxy, the Milky Way.
Our galaxy is so gigantic that it possesses more than one hundred billion stars, some of which are many times larger than our sun.9 Astronomers claim that light, traveling about 5.88 trillion miles in a year, would need approximately one hundred thousand years to cross the length of our galaxy.10
Despite its vastness, the Milky Way is only one of at least one hundred billion galaxies, some of which contain two hundred billion or more stars, with stars separated from each other by trillions of miles.11
Recent observations have prompted some astronomers to conjecture that the universe may be so enormous that it may take light, traveling from our sun at the rate of about 5.88 trillion miles in a year, about ten billion years to reach the outer limits of the universe.12
No wonder the Scriptures declare that God, who created the heavens, “stretched them out” (Isa. 42:5).
Why is the universe so overwhelming in size? God designed and created it that way to so impress His creatures with His greatness that He can have life-changing influence on them.
David indicated that God’s glory far exceeds the glory of the heavens and that He is so much greater than the magnificent universe He created that He has to humble Himself to pay attention to it (Ps. 113:4, 6). Observing the vastness of the universe should impress mankind with the infinity of God and the finiteness of humanity.
David expressed such an impression: “When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained, What is man, that thou art mindful of him? And the son of man, that thou visitest him?” (Ps. 8:3–4).
(2) Through Historic Events. God has manifested His glory through unique, historic events that only His supernatural intervention could cause.
For example, in Noah’s time God supernaturally caused a universal flood to remove all unsaved people from the earth in judgment (Gen. 6—7). Several factors indicate that that intervention by God impressed later generations with the fact that God has the authoritative power necessary to judge the unsaved.
First, centuries after the flood Eliphaz asked,
Hast thou marked the old way which wicked men have trod, Who were cut down out of time, whose foundation was overflown with a flood; Who said unto God, Depart from us? And what can the Almighty do for them? (Job 22:15–17).
Second, Jesus Christ indicated that, just as all the unsaved were removed from the earth in judgment by the flood in Noah’s time, so, too, will all the unsaved be taken from the earth in judgment at His Second Coming (Mt. 24:37–41).
Third, the apostle Peter used God’s judgment of the unsaved of Noah’s time as evidence that He has authoritative power to judge the unsaved in the future (2 Pet. 2:4–5, 9; 3:5–7).
God’s supernatural destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah with fire and brimstone from heaven during Abraham’s time (Gen. 18:20—19:29) so impressed future generations that Moses (Dt. 29:23–24), Isaiah (Isa. 13:19), Jeremiah (Jer. 50:40), Amos (Amos 4:11), Jesus (Mt. 10:15), Peter (2 Pet. 2:6), and Jude (v. 7) used it as an example of God’s ability to judge people of their day or later.
God indicated that the supernatural plagues He would bring on Egypt through Moses (Ex. 7:14—12:30) would cause the Egyptians to know that He is the Lord (Ex. 7:5) and Pharaoh to know that there is no other god like Him (Ex. 9:14).
God performed the plagues before the people of Israel so that they (1) might “know that the LORD, he is God; there is none else beside him” (Dt. 4:34–35); (2) would not fear the nations they were to conquer in Canaan (Dt. 7:17–19); (3) would obey His Word that He had given them (Dt. 11:1–9); and (4) would worship Him alone (2 Ki. 17:36–37).
The report of God’s plagues on Egypt so impressed the Gibeonites of Joshua’s time that they used an unusual method to escape destruction by the Israelites (Josh. 9:9).
By supernaturally parting the waters of the Red Sea to enable the people of Israel to cross safely and then closing the waters to destroy the Egyptian military force that pursued Israel (Ex. 14:15–31), God gained honor over Pharaoh (Ex. 14:17); the Egyptians knew that He was the Lord (Ex. 14:18); and the Israelites feared and believed the Lord (Ex. 14:31).
Moses and the Israelites declared that God’s right hand had become “glorious in power” (Ex. 15:6). Miriam asserted that God had “triumphed gloriously” (Ex. 15:21). The Israelites foretold that knowledge of this event would cause fear, sorrow, amazement, trembling, melting away, and dread for other nations (Ex. 15:14–16).
Years later Rahab of Jericho testified to that effect when she told two Israelite spies,
I know that the LORD hath given you the land, and that your terror is fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land faint because of you. For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea for you, when ye came out of Egypt. …And as soon as we had heard these things, our hearts did melt, neither did there remain any more courage in any man, because of you; for the LORD your God, he is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath (Josh. 2:9–11).
Because of His mighty act, this Canaanite woman became so impressed with God that He had life-changing influence upon her. God broke the back of the mighty Assyrian army by supernaturally destroying 185,000 of its soldiers in one night when it threatened Jerusalem during the reign of King Hezekiah of Judah (2 Ki. 19:35). God did this for His own sake (2 Ki. 19:34) to impress all the kingdoms of the world with the fact that Jehovah alone is God (2 Ki. 19:19).
God supernaturally inflicted King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon with a form of mental illness that caused him to act like a wild animal for a time. This illness made it necessary to drive him from his throne and royal palace and turn him loose in the field to live and graze among the animals (Dan. 4:24–25, 31–33).
The purpose of this divine intervention was to impress “the living” with the fact that “the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will, and setteth up over it the basest of men” (Dan. 4:17).
The next article will examine further the manifestation of God’s glory.
- Francis Brown, S. R. Driver, and Charles A. Briggs, A Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1975), 457.
- John N. Oswalt, “kabod,” Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (Chicago: Moody Press. 1980), 1:426.
- Journeys to the Edge of Creation: Our Solar System (video, Moody Institute of Science, 1996).
- Journeys to the Edge of Creation: The Milky Way and Beyond (video, Moody Institute of Science, 1996).
- Kenneth Brecher, “Universe,” The World Book Encyclopedia, 205.
- Journeys to the Edge of Creation: The Milky Way and Beyond.