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Psalm 78
. . . we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, his power, and the wonders he has done. .
so the next generation would know them . . . and they in turn would tell their children.
Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands.

Monday, February 1, 2010

What is the Glory of God?

The Glory of God is a concept that seems pretty obvious--until you try to teach it to children or explain it to someone else. What do we mean, anyway, when we speak about the Glory of God? It is such an abstraction; do we really know what we are talking about?

Jonathan Edwards gave the concept careful consideration. It was important to him to get this right, because he believed that God's end in creating the world was for His glory. One cannot understand God's purpose in creating the Universe without first grasping what is meant by the glory of God.

The Hebrew word translated "glory"(kabod) in our Old Testaments comes from a root Hebrew word (kavod) that means "heavy," "gravity," or "weight." Glory, then, is a quality of something--it's fullness or weight of itself. Edwards says that Hebrew idiom describes something good or excellent or valuable as having weight; something worthless as being light. (a)

First, we must understand that the glory of God describes what is internally true and excellent about God. His glory is innate to His character and it also includes that which is possessed by God.

Second, we see that the glory of God is the exhibition or communication of His internal greatness and glory. His glory emanates from Him as light shines from the sun. This is described in Scripture as brightness, as light, as a shining brilliance. Likewise, God's goodness is an emanation of His glory. "So when Moses says, 'I beseech thee show me thy glory;' God granting his request, makes answer, 'I will make all my goodness to pass before thee.' Exodus 33:18, 19." (b)

The salvation of men through the work of Christ on the cross is a supreme example of God's glory as a communication of His internal greatness. Jesus says in John 12:23-24, "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit."

Third, God is given glory when His creation sees or knows His excellency and honors Him for it. Edwards explains, "The manifestation of glory . . . has relation to the eye. Light or brightness is a quality that has relation to the sense of seeing; we see the luminary by its light. And knowledge is often expressed in Scripture by light. The world glory very often in Scripture signifies, or implies, honor, as any one may soon see by casting his eye on a concordance." (c) For example, see Ezekiel 39: 21-23.

Fourth, God's glory in the praise He receives from His creatures. Glory and praise are often used in Scripture interchangeably. Isaiah 42:8, "I am the LORD; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols."

I summarized the major definitions of the glory of God that Edwards identified in The End for Which God Created the World. Hopefully you will take the time to read Edwards's full treatment of the topic and meditate on the Scriptures that Edwards cites.

(a) J. Edwards, The End for Which God Created the World, as reprinted in God's Passion for His Glory, p. 230
(b) Ibid., p. 235
(c) Ibid., p. 237

1 comment:

Laura at By the Bushel said...

this is good stuff. both, your commentary & the original item mentioned.
Have found myself a party to teaching older girls Bible class, whose topics are very catchismic. Slighly dry if one doesn't consider the reasons we do what we do. This was a big help concerning topic for tonight. Many thanks.

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