The heavens declare the glory of God, and the heavens above proclaim his handiwork. Psalm 19:1Part 8 of 8: The glory of God is a theme pondered by many, yet never fully explained. What is the glory of God?
The glory of God is a theme pondered by many, yet never fully explained. Even today those from all walks of life try to define the glory of God. In the end, they all discover God’s glory is a never-ending story.
How so? Those who begin writing about God’s glory soon discover the task is endless. How do you write about the magnificence of God’s infinite attributes? How do you expound upon the innumerable variety of wondrous things fashioned to exist in unimaginable vastness? How do you describe an invisible and immeasurable being with a finite mind?
The glory of God is beyond our very best imagination. God’s glory is like a book with an introduction that would require an eternity to read; if somehow eternity had an end, chapter 1 would then be in wait and equally long. God’s glory is so unimaginable that such a book would contain an infinite number of chapters.
No one can fully realize the glory of God. While some look heavenward for God’s glory, others gaze earthward for the same. Still others look upon the least of things to see the glory of God.
Jesus shared a profound truth about the least of things, thus framing a small thing as more glorious than the greatest things among men. In what way? He said, “Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these” (Matthew 6:28–29).
The glory of a lily may seem like a stretch when compared to the kingdoms of the world. And yet, this fragile bloom has something Solomon in all his glory could never have. And what might that be? Lilies of the field glorify God by growing where planted; they blossom to adorn the rolling fields and valley floors with soft colors and soothing fragrance. They do not seek fame or fortune like men. They do not glory in themselves. They are lowly life forms entirely given to the glory of God. They perfectly obey their calling.
To most a lily has no value. It’s a plant blossoming for a while and then drying in the sun to be no more. And yet, not one plant will pass without God’s notice. When Jesus walked among men they saw no beauty to desire him (Isaiah 53:2). How so? How is it possible for darkness to look upon light? Jesus had a commanding presence, influenced by a hidden loveliness, masking the glory of God (Hebrews 1:3). Jesus came as God in grace and truth to seek and save that which was lost (John 1:17; Luke 19:10).
Jesus spoke in parables. He opened the ears of believing hearts to hear divine whispers of another kingdom. Gathering about in all manner of fashion, they came to hear parables about the good shepherd (John 10:1–16), the lost sheep (Luke 15:4–7), the narrow gate (Matthew 7:14) and others too numerous to mention. For many listeners, the parables had no value. They walked away. But to the souls who remained to hear, the parables were lilies of the field, pleasant to the eye and refreshing to the soul.
Who is this one that speaks of the glory of God and lilies of the field?
Who speaks of the glory of God?
The man Christ Jesus speaks of the glory of God. “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power” (Hebrews 1:3 ESV).
The apostles saw Jesus face-to-face after his resurrection. Jesus did not display his full glory for one very good reason: he had not yet ascended to be glorified (John 20:17). Later, seeing Christ on the island of Patmos, the apostle John wrote, “And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead” (Revelation 1:17). About John’s reaction, Jon W. Quinn writes:
Seeing Jesus in His glorified state had such an awe-inspiring effect on John that all his muscles lost their strength, his knees buckled and he fell limply to the ground…John’s emotion, upon seeing Jesus, was holy fear. John had spent three years with Jesus in the flesh, and once had even seen Jesus glorified in a cloud when He had been ‘transfigured’ on the mountain, but even that had not prepared him to see Jesus as He was on this day. (Source)
Which Jesus will appear? Will it be the Jesus who walked among men, or the glorified Christ having appeared to John on the island of Patmos? It is my opinion the latter Jesus will appear; and if so then we too will be like the apostle John. His appearing will be an overwhelming event, a divine encounter long awaited.
We can be certain those looking forward to meeting the Lord Jesus face-to-face will be those who’ve already met him heart-to-heart (John 10:27). They will know him intimately and love him passionately (John 10:4–16)! The apostle Paul wrote about this love encounter in an epistle to Corinth.
But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for those who love Him” (1 Corinthians 2:9).
What will it be like to meet the glorified Christ? Will seeing Jesus be like John’s awe-inspiring experience, causing him fall to the ground? Or will the meeting be like a child running to the loving embrace of a long-away parent now home to stay. The reunion could be a blend of many emotions draped in joy and peace never-ending.
What about today?
Until then, there is a verse often overlooked which defines the future glory of the believer with Christ; it appears in the epistle written to the church of Colossae. The apostle Paul says “For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory” (Colossians 3:3–4).
We can’t know exactly what it will be like to appear with Christ in glory. Nor can we know the entirety and wonder of this divine event this side of heaven. But the Bible gives a few subtle hints: First, we will share in the glory of Christ (Romans 8:17), receive a new body (Romans 8:21), and possess the beauty of holiness in Christ to love and enjoy God forever (2 Corinthians 4:16–17).
Of this coming reality the apostle Paul writes, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service” (Romans 12:1).
What is our reasonable service? To live the transforming power of the Gospel and know the full meaning of “follow me! It is to live the resurrected life of Christ in us; it is to Love God and be like lilies of the field: Grow where planted and glorify God by serving as:
- Ambassadors of a far kingdom – 2 Corinthians 5:20
- Guardians of the Great Commission – Matthew 28:16–20
- Heirs with Christ unto eternal life – Titus 3:7
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Got Questions – What is the glory of God?
The True Soul – Jonathan Edwards
The soul of a true Christian, as I then wrote my meditations, appeared like such a little white flower as we see in the spring of the years; low and humble on the ground, opening its bosom to receive the pleasant beams of the sun’s glory; rejoicing as it were in a calm rapture; diffusing around a sweet flagrancy; standing peacefully and lovingly, in the midst of other flowers round about; all in like manner opening their bosoms, to drink in the light of the sun. (Source)