what I didn’t understand…
Have you ever read something in the Bible that doesn’t fully make sense, but instead of figuring it out, you just gloss over it and keep reading?
I’m sort of embarrassed to admit this, but that was me with the glory of God.
Don’t get me wrong, I understand he is miraculous, majestic, powerful and a light so bright that no human eye can ever see him or ever will. That’s the obvious piece of his glory.
I understand that glory.
But I kept reading about a different kind of glory in the book of John and felt like I didn’t fully grasp it. Here are the verses I am referring to: John 1:14-18 says: “So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only son…From his abundance we have all received one gracious blessing after another. For the law came through Moses, but God’s unfailing love and faithfulness came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God. But the unique One, who is himself God, is near to the Father’s heart. He has revealed God to us.”
Clearly there is more to God’s glory than the miraculous.
I wanted to understand that glory.
The glory that was Jesus: both a miracle worker and a humble man who came to reveal the Father by dying on a cross. The crowds and the Pharisees missed it. They only saw the glory of the miracles. I didn’t want to be like them, so I started to research the glory of God.
No wonder I had the feeling I was missing something; God’s glory is a giant topic.
First, I looked up all the bible verses that mention God’s glory.
Next, I dug up commentaries from trusted sources about the glory of the Father and the Son.
I listened to sermons, took notes, and then tried to organize my thoughts. Seriously, I could write a book about what I learned…and maybe someday I will. I’ve spent the last three weeks immersed in God’s glory.
But of all the things that I found, there is one chapter in the Old Testament about God’s glory that really blew me away. I want to share it with you because it clarified things for me and it gave me direction on how I should live. It helped me grasp the full glory of God and increased my faith.
In Exodus 34, Moses asks God to show him his glory. That’s what I have been asking God, too – please help me understand your glory! God responds to Moses by passing by and shielding his eyes, because no human eye can see the glorious face of God and live. As he passes by, God calls out:
“Yahweh! The Lord!
The God of compassion and mercy!
I am slow to anger
and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness.
I lavish unfailing love to a thousand generations.
I forgive iniquity, rebellion, and sin.
But I do not excuse the guilty.
I lay the sins of the parents upon their children and grandchildren;
the entire family is affected –
even children in the 3rd and 4th generations.”
There it was – the piece of glory I had been missing.
Moses asked to see God’s glory and God revealed these qualities: compassion, mercy, patience, unfailing love, faithfulness, loyalty, forgiveness and justice.
Years later, God sent his Son to reveal these same qualities. In fact, John used two of God’s self-descriptive words, unfailing love and faithfulness, twice in his opening chapter about who Jesus was and how he reflected the Father. I think it’s because he wanted us to understand the glory that Jesus came to reveal: not just the miraculous kind, but the humble kind too.
The same glory God revealed to Moses.
The first time God showed us his glory it was to Moses with words. The second time it was in the person of Jesus. He demonstrated to us the overwhelming glory of the Father. Jonathan Edwards penned it best in his sermon “The Excellency of Christ” in 1884*:
infinite highness and infinite condescension
Infinite justice and infinite grace
Infinite glory and lowest humility
Infinite majesty and transcendent meekness
Deepest reverence for God and equality with God
Infinite spirit of obedience and supreme dominion over heaven and earth
Absolute sovereignty and perfect resignation.
God’s glory is the summation of both sides of the glory coin: full majesty and full humility.
Understanding the full weight of his glory made me feel like I was seeing Jesus for the first time. And in seeing Jesus, glimpsing the real glory of the Father.
I had missed it before by glossing over what I didn’t understand.
It’s so beautiful and oh so glorious.
And it matters for how we live our lives! 2 Corinthians 3:18 says, “So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord – who is the Spirit – makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.”
As believers, we are called to reflect God’s glory. That’s why it is so imperative we see it for what it really is:
That is the kind of glory we should seek. It’s quite the task we have before us, isn’t it? All of those characteristics require us to be completely connected to the love of the Father and empowered by his Spirit. It’s impossible to do on our own.
If I’m being honest, that list feels pretty daunting. I’ve had the least “glorious” week that ever was… so it feels pretty ironic to be posting about glory on a week when I struggled to find most of those things in my heart. But that’s part of the beauty of God’s glory – his mercy still stands even when we fall. It lovingly beckons us to try again.
Join me, friends, in the pursuit of his glory. Let’s see it and reflect it and lavish it on the only One worthy of our praise.
Heavenly Father, All the glory on earth belongs to you. You alone are worthy of all of the honor and praise. Let us be people who give you the glory you deserve and who are marked by your glory; let us reflect the very characteristics that Jesus revealed during his time on earth. FIll us with your Spirit, that we may be empowered to see and reflect you to the world. Amen.
I LOVE HEARING FROM YOU! Message me or comment on the blog and I would love to get on my knees for you. Let’s do this faith journey together.
*Jonathan Edwards, “The Excellency of Christ.” The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Vol 1. Edward Hickman (Carlsle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1834, 1998).
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