The Glory of God
We all need the GLORY OF GOD. The question is: WHAT IS the glory of God? We hear it all the time. We use it quite often. And yet is it hard to put it into words, or define it.
It is one of those words that we experience all the time and yet hard to say exactly what it is. It is like “beauty”, “love”, and so on. We know what it is and we use it all the time and yet, it is hard to say exactly what it is. Maybe it is a reality which is too big to describe in a few words.
The Psalmist said,
The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims his handiwork. (Psalm 19:1)
From the poetic imagination of the psalmist, I get a glimpse of what the glory of God is.
Manifestation of God – THAT is the glory of God. When the invisible God manifests himself, we see the glory of God. Heavens are telling the glory of God. Heavens manifest the presence of God. Beautiful nature manifests the glory of God. In the Old Testament, we hear the cloud of Shekhinah. The cloud manifests the presence of God.
When it comes to the New Testament, Jesus Christ, the Word Incarnate, manifested God. That is the glory of God.
This is what John said.
And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)
Two or three gather together in my name, I will be there, Jesus said. Shekhinah will be there. The glory of God will be there. When we pray, when we praise, God’s glory will be there.
The glory of God is the manifestation of God’s presence. When you feel strongly the presence of God, you see the glory of God. It can happen during prayer, during worship, and during Bible studies. Or it can happen when you see a beautiful sunset. Or when you are in the hospital. Or even on your deathbed.
It is not necessarily a miraculous and supernatural phenomenon. It is a moment of sensing God’s presence in your life. That is a glorious moment.
A Veil to Cover Our Minds
Moses saw the glory of God when he received the 10 commandments in Mount Sinai. His face was shining. There was a glow on his face.
Unfortunately, Moses put a veil on his face because he knew that the glow was only temporary. And he didn’t want his people to think that the glory of God was there for a while and faded away. That was how Paul saw Moses’ action.
Paul was using this as a metaphor in today’s passage. Moses covered the glory of God with a veil. That veil was still on the minds of the Israelites and they could not see the glory of God. That was his own personal experience.
He knew God’s commandments very well but these commandments could not remove the veil. Even though he knew the law well, he could not see the glory of God because of the veil.
Do you remember when he first met Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus?
This was what Luke said about Paul’s experience on the road to Damascus.
Saul got up from the ground, and though his eyes were open, he could see nothing; so they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. For three days he was without sight, and neither ate nor drank. (Acts 9:8, 9)
So, God called Ananias and told him to reach out to Saul.
So Ananias went and entered the house. He laid his hands on Saul and said, ‘Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on your way here, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.’And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and his sight was restored. (Acts 9:17, 18)
His veil was removed from him, when he received the Spirit. Now he was able to see the glory of God. Even though he knew the commandment of God, he didn’t see the glory of God. Seeing the glory of God is the work of the Spirit, not the law.
That’s why he said,
…for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. (2 Corinthians 3:6)
Here, the letter meant the law written on stone tablets.
Also, he said,
Now if the ministry of death, chiselled in letters on stone tablets, came in glory so that the people of Israel could not gaze at Moses’ face because of the glory of his face, a glory now set aside, how much more will the ministry of the Spirit come in glory? (2 Corinthians 3:7, 8)
Having knowledge is not enough. Knowing the law is not enough. It can be a veil to cover our minds so that we cannot see the glory of God.
Being a good person is not enough. Our righteousness can be a veil to cover our minds so that we cannot see the glory of God.
Having power is not enough. It can be a veil to cover our minds so that we cannot see the glory of God.
In Our Lives
Our upbringing, our experiences, our education, and our environments shaped us to be who we are. Through these things, we have come to understand our reality better. But we have to realize that they can also limit us. They can be a veil that blinds our eyes and a chain that enslaves us.
This week was a gloomy week. It was hurting to see one country invading another country just like that. The war of greed, the war of intimidation, and the war of domination should not be allowed and yet I saw it happening with my own eyes. It brought tears to my eyes, especially when Zelensky, the president of Ukraine, said “I need ammunition, not a ride.” US offered him to evacuate. That was when he said that. “I need ammunition, not a ride.” He remained there to keep the country. Koreans experienced this kind of invasion twice. I saw the power of darkness there. I prayed for the glory of God to shine in that region.
We see so much darkness around us. We see so much darkness within us.
The Glory of God
We need the glory of God that defeats the darkness and brings light. It is like the strong light that chases away darkness within us and around us.
Jesus came and removed the veil so that we can clearly see the glory of God.
And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:18)
Moses saw the glory of God only briefly. But through Jesus, we are transformed and we see the glory that is eternal. Through Jesus, the veil is removed and the glory of God is revealed to us.
We need the glory of God to fight against evil, to fight against darkness we face in life. When the glory of God fills our heart, we will get confidence. We will get strength and we will prevail.
This is what St. Paul said.
For it is the God who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. (2 Corinthians 4:6)
And he continued,
But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us. (2 Corinthians 4:7)
He connects the glory of God with the extraordinary power we get.
Then he said,
We are afflicted in every way, but not crushes; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down but not destroyed, always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies. (2 Corinthians 4:8-10)
The glory of God gives us the strength and confidence. We live now with the strength and confidence, experiencing God’s glory every day. It is the Spirit who shines the glory of God in our lives. So, when there is the Spirit, there is freedom, freedom from timidity, fear, and darkness. We are not bound any more. Your life will have a glow. Jesus said, you are the light of the world. And now with the glory of God, you have become the light of the world. And you shine the glory of God.