What is God's glory?
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I have heard it said many times that God does what He does for His glory. One must ask then, what is glory? It's important to understand what glory is if we are going to understand how it fits into God's reason for doing what God does.


In regards to creation, in the bible, glory is often an adjective to describe the object of that glory. For example, the strength of man and their physical attributes have been labeled their glory (Prov. 20:29, Job 29:20, Isa. 8:7, Prov. 16:31). The authoritative position of men in power has been ascribed to them as their glory (Gen. 45:13, Psalm 21:5, Jer. 22:18, Num. 27:20). A man's possessions may be their glory (Gen. 31:1, Gen. 30:43, Psalm 49:17, Prov. 31:24-25, Isa. 66:11-12). On a deeper level glory has been the adjective to describe quality characteristics in man (Prov. 19:11, Prov. 20:3). Going even further, glory has been used to describe man in His inherent godly characteristics (1 Cor. 11:7, Psalm 8:5). To a negative connotation glory has been used to describe pride (Prov. 25:27, Isa. 10:12, Isa. 13:19). In all these examples the adjective "glory" is a revelation of man for who he is. In light of this, consider then this analogy. If someone accidentally walks in on you in the bathroom after you had just gotten out of the shower, you might tell someone afterward "there I was in all my glory". If you look at it that way, glory may be defined as who you actually are when you are fully revealed (Heb 1:3, Col. 1:15). But what about the glory of God? For that let's look at the exchange between Moses and God when Moses earnestly entreated God to show him His glory.


18 Then Moses said, “I pray You, show me Your glory!” 19 And He said, “I Myself will make all My goodness pass before you, and will proclaim the name of the Lord before you; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show compassion on whom I will show compassion.” 20 But He said, “You cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live!” 21 Then the Lord said, “Behold, there is a place by Me, and you shall stand there on the rock; 22 and it will come about, while My glory is passing by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock and cover you with My hand until I have passed by. 23 Then I will take My hand away and you shall see My back, but My face shall not be seen.” - Exodus 33:18-23


"...show me Your glory!" There are a few things revealed here about what glory is, specifically the glory of God. First, the more obvious. Moses inquiry is to see God's glory, plain and simple. There's no complexity in that question, there's no clever wording. There is however great wisdom. If I may get side tracked here. Just prior to these verses Moses gives an insightful doxology of the Lord (Exodus 33:14-16) declaring that it is God and God alone that makes men distinguished from all other men in the world. Let that sink in. Moses, in realizing that God is what makes anything worthwhile defines two groups of people, those with God, and those without. Moses is ascribing to God utmost worth and lumping all other attributes of men into a grouping of worthlessness in comparison. On the cusp of this wisdom, realizing it is God that makes men worthwhile, realizing it is God who works in men glorious things, Moses goes straight to the Source and asks for the grand prize. "I pray You, show me Your glory!". We often pray that God will reveal Himself in a hand-out, we pray things like "Lord we pray for this person's healing and that you would show yourself mighty this way". I'm not saying that's a bad prayer, I'm saying such a hand-out is insignificant when you are faced with the presence of the Lord. Everything is insignificant when you are faced with the presence of the Lord. Moses realized this, so did Paul (Romans 8:18, Philippians 3:7-8). What Moses really wanted would not be found in the hands of God but was God Himself. A taste of God's glory will do this to a man. Notice the exclamation on the end of his request. "...show me Your glory!" This was an exuberant request. Moses was asking to know the best thing there is to know. He was asking for the best gift there could ever be. He was asking for God in the fullest measure.


God answers! (Now I'm back on track).


19 And He said, “I Myself will make all My goodness pass before you, and will proclaim the name of the Lord before you; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show compassion on whom I will show compassion.” 20 But He said, “You cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live!” 21 Then the Lord said, “Behold, there is a place by Me, and you shall stand there on the rock; 22 and it will come about, while My glory is passing by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock and cover you with My hand until I have passed by. - Exodus 33:19-20


God's honoring Moses's inquiry to see His glory came about in two ways. The first was to make all His goodness pass before Moses, the second was in proclamation of the name of the Lord. From this we can learn two things. First, God's goodness is synonymous with God's glory which is synonymous with God Himself. We know this not only because it was God's goodness revealed to Moses upon Moses request to see God's glory but we also know this because God uses the three synonymously. "all My goodness pass before you", "while My glory is passing by", "until I have passed by". Goodness, glory, and God are used interchangeably here to describe That which is going to be passing by Moses. Max Lucado in his book "It's not about me" puts it this way: "To ask to see all of God's glory is to ask to see all of God. God's glory carries the full weight of His attributes". There's one more way we know this to be true, one more COLOSSAL way. A mystery that men of old longed to know (Prov. 30:4, Matt. 13:17) that has been made known to us in the new testament, specifically the manifestation of God's glory revealed in Jesus Christ.


3 And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, - Hebrews 1:3 (emphasis mine).


The word goodness when describing God isn't like our traditional use of the word where good is a measurement or a judgment. God's goodness is God's glory. When we speak of God's goodness we are speaking of the fullness of God in all His attributes. God's goodness entails much more than Christians often think it does. When we think of God's goodness we often tend to focus on His attributes we like such as those that resemble what some would describe a good man as having, attributes such as as love, kindness, gentleness, etc. With God there is incomparably more (Isa. 55:8-9). While God is loving (1 John 4:8), gracious (Psalm 145:8), merciful (2 Samuel 24:14), patient (2 Peter 3:9), and kind (Rom. 2:4), God is also perfect (Matthew 5:48), truthful (John 1:14), holy (1 Peter 1:16), just (Isaiah 30:18), and wrathful (Nahum 1:2). These are just to name a few, God's goodness in it's fullest measure is incomprehensible (Romans 11:33-36) and is not withstandable (2 Chr. 20:6, Exo. 33:20, John 18:6).


The second way God honors Moses request is to "proclaim the name of the Lord". Let's look at this proclamation in action in the next chapter of Exodus.


Then the Lord passed by in front of him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, visiting the iniquity of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations.”- Exodus 34:6-7


This is a perfectly accurate proclamation of the name of the Lord from the Lord! This is exactly what Moses sought. As you can see in His self proclamation to Moses, God's name represents God's character, it is synonymous with the Lord Himself. It has no separate existence apart from the Lord. In the old testament God's name took earthly residence in His temple among His people (Psa. 74:7, Deut, 12:5,11, 2 Sam. 7:13). Psalm 5:11 references "those who love Your name". The name of the Lord protects (Psa. 20:1, Prov. 18:10). The Lord saves by His name (Psa. 54:1) and His saving acts testify that His name is near (Psa. 52:9). Accordingly the godly "trust in" His name (Psa. 20:7, 33:21, John 1:12), hope in His name (Psa. 52:9), "sing praise" to His name (Psa. 7:17, 9:2, 18:49), and rejoice in His name (Psa. 89:16).


While men may view names as merely a label, it is not this way with God. God gives names to identify who a person is. God changed Abram's name to Abraham to identify that God had made him the father of a multitude of nations (Gen. 17:5). God changed Jacob's name to Israel because he had striven with God and with men and prevailed." (Gen. 32:28). In the new testament God gave names to identify many of the disciples. Simon became Peter to signify the rock that Jesus would build His church on (Matthew 16:16-18). An angel was sent to ensure John the baptist received his proper name (Luke 1:13,60) which by definition means God is gracious. The name of Jesus was given "...for He will save His people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21). The name of Jesus belongs only to God because "...there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12). Philippians 2:9 and Hebrews 1:4 both link the exalted position of Jesus with the exalted rank of His name which is much higher than that of the angels; the name above every name.


Did you know that someday you will be given a new name from God (Rev. 2:17) and it will be given to you in an intimate and deliberate way. His name for you is not from some grab bag of names. This is God giving you a new name. Therefore you know it will be picked with perfect accuracy and of the highest honor.


Your name is your identifier. It's who you are. Therefore God has many names; Lamb of God (John 1:29), Lord of Lords (1 Tim. 6:15), Man of Sorrows (Isa. 53:3), The Rock (1 Cor. 10:4), High Priest (Heb. 6:20), Living Water (John 4:10), Alpha and Omega (Rev. 22:13), The Beloved (Eph. 1:6), Light of the World (John 8:12), Chief Cornerstone (Eph. 2:20), Savior (John 4:42), The Almighty (Rev. 1:8), King of Kings (1 Tim. 6:15), Prince of Peace (Isa. 9:6), Son of Man (Matt. 20:28), Anchor (Heb. 6:19), Bright Morning Star (Rev. 22:16), The Way, The Truth, and The Life (John 14:6). While God has many names I have found I AM to be the most profound. I've listed many biblically referenced names of God here (and there are many many more) all of which describe who God is but not in His entirety. In fact, the entire bible is about Him and yet we do not know Him in full (1 Cor. 13:12). The name "I AM" stands out from the rest. It offers no modifier and honestly how could it and still be as accurate as it is. There may be no better label in man's language for God than I AM. If I add anything to that name I risk lessening it for there is no better, nor higher, description than to call God... God! "I AM" is God as God (period). There can be nothing more impressive, nothing more amazing, nothing more glorious, more awe-inspiring, more perfect, more holy, more...well you get the picture...or do you? It's ironic but I sit here trying to describe Him who is indescribable to help you comprehend Him who is incomprehensible (Rom. 11:33-36, 2 Cor. 9:15).


Because God's name represents who He is people can call Him by different names (such as those listed in the above paragraph) and still be praying to the same one true God. Even among languages the name of Jesus is different. In Hebrew Jesus our Lord was called Yeshua which is the Hebrew equivalent of "Jesus". Is this ok? Of course it is. On the day of Pentecost people heard Jesus preached in their own languages (Acts 2:6). So it's not the language or the label that's important as God is not restricted to one language but it's Who you are praying to that's important. For example, Jesus is called Savior many times in the English bible (1 John 4:14, Titus 2:13, 1 Tim. 4:10 to name a few). Other languages have different words for Savior but all still meaning one who saves, in this case, One who saves us from our sins (Matt. 1:21). If their language has a different word for Savior but it means the same thing that the bible intended it to mean is it ok if they call Him by it? Of course it is. I'm not sure how those at Pentecost could have preached the gospel in the native languages of those around them without doing so.


God's glory is synonymous with His characteristics, His goodness, His name, and Him. Few will argue that point (though some). These next two point though tend to be a bit more sensitive.


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