On the one hand Moses prayed to the LORD on the mountain to reveal His glory to him (Exodus 33:18) while on the other end Prophet Isaiah cried out ‘Woe to me’ on seeing the ‘Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up’ in the Temple (Isaiah 6:1-5). Since a sinful man could not be in the presence of God, the Old Testament command from God was death to anyone getting near even to the mountain of God. But man is created in God’s image and likeness and God’s glory is closely linked to man and his role on the earth.
What exactly is glory of God? – Scripture provides us a link with God’s glory and man. The psalmist praises God, ‘And blessed be His glorious name forever; And may the whole earth be filled with His glory. Amen and Amen’ (Psalm 72:19). However God promises man that the ‘The sun shall no more be your light by day, nor for brightness shall the moon give you light, but the LORD (YHWH) will be your everlasting light, and your God (Elohim) will be your glory’ (Isaiah 60:19). Hebrew words ‘kabod’ and ‘shekinah and Greek word ‘doxa’ are used to mean ‘glory, splendor, soul, beauty, adornment’. Kabod is about the attributes or weight of God whereas shekinah is supposed to be the totality of all the attributes of God and is always seen. Lord Jesus appeared as the shekinah of God but left behind in the heavens His Kabod. The psalmist prays for God’s attributes to fill the whole earth while Prophet Isaiah is promised that God would dwell in man and His glory will be light to show the right path. God’s glory is referred to as the ‘weight’ of His essence and being. A demonic spirit invariably shows its presence by filling the affected person with itself creating a feeling of great weight in various parts of the body causing fatigue.
Glory of natural objects may refer to their inherent different qualities. It is the brightness of sun, moon and the stars where the stars also differ from each other in their brightness (1 Corinthians 15:41); the fruitfulness of a forest (Isaiah 60:13); the strength and snorting of a horse or the splendor of clothing and ornaments (Job 39:19-20). Glory of human beings includes both internal and external manifestation of the individual’s character. His position in society, possessions, age or length of life and strength are external conditions while the person’s character and behavior reflect his human nature. Joseph’s glory was his position of authority in Egypt (Genesis 45:13) and David’s glory is God given salvation, honor and majesty (Psalm 21:5). In the sense of material possessions, Jacob’s glory was ‘large flocks, female and male servants, and camels and donkeys’ (Genesis 30:43). Wealth of the rich (Psalm 49:16-17) and an ideal wife, learned in various skills is the glory of her husband (Proverbs 31:23-25). Glory of a young man is his physical strength (Job 29:20) and long life or grey hair of the elderly is their glory (Proverbs 16:31).
Man is created ‘a little lower than the angels’ and God has crowned him with glory and honor and given him dominion over all created things (Psalm 8:5-8). That is the intrinsic value God has given to His creation that His Son was sent to restore back.
Lord Jesus referred to the glory that He had with God the Father before the world was and God’s glory is independent of any external manifestation (John 17:5). Moses received revelation about God’s glory in His very nature but could only see His revealed glory in the transfiguration of the Son of God. After the fall of Adam and Eve, God covered them with garments (tunic, coat) of skin and spiritual glory of God that was breathed into man was covered thus restricting them to the worldly realm only (Genesis 3:21). Believers in their final state in the presence of God will regain their lost glory fully (Romans 8:30).
Steps from God to restore man’s lost glory – The garments with which Adam and Eve were covered concealed their God given glory of His likeness and image due to which mankind cannot discern spiritual things. On the other hand, Satan as a spiritual being could see the spiritual protective hedge created by God around all that Job had (Job 1:9-10). Prophet Elisha’s servant could see the Syrian army deployed around them but could see ‘the horses and chariots of fire’ deployed around them on the mountains only after God opened his spiritual eyes after Prophet Elisha’s prayer (2 Kings 6:16-17). Lord Jesus has given His glory, the glory of the second Adam to the believers (John 17:22) and then some of the chosen ones like Apostles Paul and John received great revelations about heaven and future events ((2 Corinthians 12:4 and Revelation 1:10). Right after the fall, mankind went through various phases till the process of sanctification could finally set in.
First, caution – Cain was warned by God, ‘sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it’ (Genesis 4:7). Noah was found righteous in his generation and God tasked him to build the ark and it took him and his sons 120 years to build (Genesis 6:9-12). It had never rained on earth till then and all the people who saw Noah at work disregarded his warning about coming destruction from God.
Second, separation stage – God commanded Abram to ‘Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house to a land that I will show you’ (Genesis 12:1-3). Separation from family customs and way of life was commanded by God to be a witness for the LORD and to be a blessing to ‘all the families of the earth’. Lot separated from the righteous Abraham and ‘pitched his tent as far as Sodom’ a place where ‘the men were exceedingly wicked’ (Genesis 13:11-13). He was supposed to warn the people of their sin but (Genesis 19:1) Lot shifted into Sodom and became one of the elders to be ‘sitting in the gate of Sodom’ where cases were judged. Lot not only lost everything but suffered incest from his own daughters. Isaac and Jacob took wives from their own tribe but Esau took the women of Canaan as wives, causing great grief to Isaac and Rebecca, his parents.
Moses was directed by God to go and tell Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, ‘Israel is My son, My firstborn. So I say to you to let My son go that he may serve Me’ (Exodus 4:22-23). Joshua was also commanded to ensure destruction of everything in the land of Canaan ‘lest you become accursed when you take of the accursed things, and make the camp of Israel a curse, and trouble it’ (Joshua 6:18). God commanded Israel to be totally separated from the other nations and their things, customs and traditions to avoid getting entrapped by that, and which eventually did happen. To ensure their separation from others, God commanded Moses to build the Tabernacle that He would then live among the Israelites (Exodus 25:8).
Third, A new way of life – God laid down the Ten Commandments and rules for daily life of Israelites to give them a new way to live (Genesis 20-23). God provided detailed plans for construction of the Tabernacle, dressing and ordination of High Priest and other priests and procedures of worship. Moses was even shown a plan of the heavenly Tabernacle to replicate that on earth (Genesis 25-31) and Bezalel and Aholiab were equipped by God to create everything related to the Tabernacle as per His given specifications. Moses then provided the list of blessings that will come from God on those who adhere to His commands and also laid down the curses that will befall those who disobey (Deuteronomy 28). The Israelites did suffer all these curses for their disobedience and attempts to be like others.
Four, Messages from God through His Prophets – Whether it was Samuel, Elijah or Elisha or Ezra, Nehemiah or Isaiah and other prophets, all carried specific commands from God to His people to turn to Him. After the efforts of the Prophets failed to turn the people from sin, God finally spoke to us through His Son, ‘through whom also He made the worlds’ (Hebrews 1:1).
Five, Repentance and Redemption – The Son of God not only revealed the glory of God in Himself and through His works but also provided cleansing from our sinful nature through His shed blood on the cross through repentance. The new birth and new life in Lord Jesus is for the just who are forgiven all sins so that they could then ‘live by faith’ (Romans 1:17).
Six, Sanctification – God predestined before anything came into being through His foreknowledge of their life and chose the select of the world to accept His Son as their Savior and be justified (Romans 6:30). On the Day of Pentecost all those were blessed with the indwelling Holy Spirit. Lord Jesus promised us that the Holy Spirit is to ‘teach you all things and bring to your remembrance’ the Word of God (John 14:26). Through the daily process of repentance and seeking help of the Holy Spirit, a believer is the led on to the path of sanctification and purification to be transformed into the ‘image and likeness’ of the Redeemer.
Seven, glorification – The first phase of this was completed by Lord Jesus while we are still on the earth when He restored the original glory of Adam to the believers (John 17:22). Apostle Paul confirms this further that ‘we are being transformed into the image from glory and glory, just as by the Spirit of God’ (2 Corinthians 3:18). The second phase is the final glorification for us is with the Lord in heaven. As children of God we are ‘joint heirs with Christ’ and sharing in His suffering that we may be glorified with Him (Romans 8:17).
The whole process of predestination, justification and glorification is to change mankind to reveal God’s glory to others. First, He gives us a share in His own glory and the glory of His Son – God has made us ‘sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus’ and blessed us with all spiritual blessings (Ephesians 2:6). When God glorifies us we obtain the blessing to witness His infinite beauty and to be transformed into His likeness as much as possible, thus changing our behavior pattern.
Second, Freedom from groaning for we receive a new and glorious body, that is the Temple of God. After the fall, the entire creation was subjected to futility with man but it will eventually be delivered from this ‘into the glorious liberty of the children of God’ (Romans 8:21-23). We are raised in Lord Jesus from ‘perishable to imperishable, from dishonor to glory’ (1 Corinthians 15:42-43). As citizens of heaven there is no more pain, frustration, disease, disability or weakness when we reflect the radiant beauty of the Redeemer.
Third, receiving the inward beauty of holiness – With the process of sanctification, through being set apart for God, we receive the internal beauty of holiness through change in our thoughts, feelings, emotions and desires which will be fully and finally gets fulfilled at Lord Jesus’ second coming. Sanctification is the process of change into spiritual and physical glory in a believer and the beginning of this process is towards holiness and results in glorious bodies at resurrection.
Changes in man after glorification – Lord Jesus walked on water to rescue the disciples from the storm and Apostle Peter sought permission to step out of the boat towards the Lord (Matthew 14:25-33). As long as he remained steadfast in faith by not caring about the surrounding situation his body was not subject to laws of nature. A believer is to look to the Savior Lord with a steady gaze and become like Him. The woman with the flow of blood touched Lord Jesus’ garments and was healed (Mark 5:29-30). The sick were laid out in the streets on beds and couches so that Apostle Peter’s shadow might fall on them and they were healed (Acts 5:15). ‘Even handkerchiefs or aprons were brought from his (Apostle Paul’s) body to the sick, and the diseases left them and the evil spirits went out of them’ (Acts 19:12). The glorification of a believer fills him with various gifts and powers of God through His Spirit to be a blessing to others. As a citizen of heaven we are to shine the light of salvation through Lord Jesus on others to free them from the clutches of the darkness of sin and the devil.
Who are the ones that will be glorified? – The Golden Chain of Romans 8:30 is very clear though one step of sanctification in between is mentioned elsewhere in the Scripture. Those whom He foreknew, He predestined, and those whom He predestines He called, those whom He called, He justified and those whom He justified He also glorified. God saves us and this is much more than salvation and the work is in the past tense as having been already completed and will not be retracted or withdrawn. This chain is unbroken and the justified will be glorified and this is given to all who have been called and enabled to believe and receive the Savior and become part of the family of ‘Avinu malkenu’ – Our Father our King.
How is glorification fulfilled in the New Testament? – At the Last Supper when Lord Jesus said, ‘This is the My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many’ (Mark 14:24), He was referring to the fulfillment of the prophecies made earlier (Jeremiah 31:31-34) about the believers being given a new heart and a new spirit. The prophecy was fulfilled on the day of Pentecost when God’s Spirit was placed in every believer to ‘cause you to walk in My statutes and be careful to observe My ordinances’ (Ezekiel 36:26-27). I am assured that the New Covenant is better than the old, for in the latter covenant, God not only promises the blessing to those who obey but also causes obedience (Hebrews 8:6). I am assured of God given glory for now and in the heavens, for my sins were nailed to the cross and His righteousness was ascribed to me in eternity past and my God given glory will also last till eternity.
The Savior Lord has assured us of plenty of accommodation in His Father’s house in heaven for all the eligible and He has also promised to come back to take us with Him to live with Him. God’s Son came to bring heaven to the earth and till that is accomplished we shall be with Him in heaven. We rejoice for His Spirit now dwells in us and this perishable body has been made His Temple and after the sojourn on earth ends, we shall be with the LORD till eternity. What more can a sinful man desire?