Word Series- “Glory”

When it comes to God’s glory, we may think of many things. We may think of his mighty deeds and great things he has done for us. We may also think of praising God and giving him glory. But what is God’s glory? What does it mean for us? In this word study, we are going to trace the word “glory” in Scripture and let the Bible tell us what it means. 

First off, this word glory is “kabod” in Hebrew which can mean glory, honor, or splendor. This doesn’t give us much to go on but the Bible can make this a little more clear. We first see mention of God’s glory in Exodus 16. Exodus 16:10 says, “While Aaron was speaking to the whole Israelite community, they looked toward the desert, and there was the glory of the Lord appearing in the cloud.” Clearly there was something that the people could see in terms of the glory of Yahweh. They saw a cloud but there was something in the cloud, God’s glory. In Exodus 24:17, the author tells us what the glory looked like to the Israelites who were below the mountain. “To the Israelites the glory of the Lord looked like a consuming fire on top of the mountain” So to the Israelites it looked like a huge fire inside a cloud. A scary sight to see no doubt, but it is a sign of the creator God and his presence. He was with the people and on the mountain, and his glory indicates this. 

The glory of God can also be seen acting and doing certain things. The glory of the Lord can appear (Exodus 16:10), settle (Exodus 24:16), fill (Exodus 40:34), depart (1 Samuel 4:22), and reveal (Isaiah 40:5). This glory is not describing something it is something, namely the presence of God doing all of these things. 

Later on, the prophet Ezekiel sees the glory of God. In Ezekiel 1, he sees a vision. He sees a great storm cloud with thunder and lightning, and he hears a booming voice and the image of a man made with fire and light all around. Ezekiel tells us that, “This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord.” Ezekiel doesn’t say this was the glory of God as Moses and the Israelites saw but he says this was the appearance of the likeness of the glory. Meaning that he saw what looked like God’s glory, not God himself. Moses saw the backside of Yahweh surrounded in his glory. Ezekiel sees a heavenly throne room and sees what looks like the glory of God, a truly majestic sight that made this great prophet fall to the ground.  

The glory of God can be likened to God’s awesome and majestic presence. Jesus talks about the father’s glory and his glory when he comes again. Luke 9:26 says, “Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.” In John 11:40 Jesus tells Martha, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”. Jesus affirms that if we believe in him, we too will see God’s glory. Meaning that we will be in his presence and we will be entered into his marvelous light of salvation and eternity. 

The word glory can take many forms but it is most prominent describing the appearance of Yahweh and the Messiah. We can give God glory and we can glorify him, meaning we can praise Him. Much more than that though, some have seen God’s glory or its likeness and one day we will see it too. We will enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise. We will be in God’s presence and share in his glory (Romans 8:17).     

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