To begin this study it is important that we examine the subject from its earliest appearances in the sacred scriptures so that we might find precedence and follow its development throughout holy writ. The word under consideration (glory) has been applied to both God and man,
however in the interest of this study, only its references to God will be taken into account; hence our title: The Glory of God.
The first reference to the glory of God in the Old Testament (O.T.) is found in Exodus 16:7 “And in the morning, then ye shall see the glory of the LORD; for that he heareth your murmurings against the LORD: …” In this reference the word glory is most accurately transliterated, KeVOD. The upper case letters represent the Hebrew (Heb.) consonants while the lower case letters represent the Heb. vowels as they are most accurately rendered into English from the Tiberian system of vocalization. In the Mesoretic text KeVOD is preceded by the sign of a direct object which makes the word a noun. Its root can be found in Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance under ref.# 3519 of the Heb. dictionary. The second letter in the word can be pronounced as a B or a V depending on whether or not (respectively) it contains dagesh forte (a symbol placed within certain Heb. consonants to indicate certain pronunciations). In Ex. 16:7 KeVOD takes a rare form in that it contains the letter vav or waw. When this letter has holem above it, it becomes long letter o, which is why our transliteration renders the o in upper case. Otherwise the o would be indicated by the lower case. These factors will be reflected in this study when applicable. The definition – Strong’s Heb. Dic. Ref. 3519. from 3513; prop. weight; but only fig. in a good sense, splendor or copiousness:–glorious (-ly), glory, honour (-able).
In the context of Ex.16:7, God’s glory is predicted. The fulfillment of the prediction was seen in the manifested splendor of God appearing in a cloud in the wilderness (16:10) and in the copious supply of a heretofore unknown food from heaven as well as the quail in the evening (16:13-15). The splendor of God’s manifested presence and the copiousness of His provision were both seen as a result of God hearing the murmurings of the children of Israel. From this we can see both explicit and implicit aspects of the glory of God. As we continue our study we will see that God desired to unfold for Moses and the children of Israel and ultimately for the human family those implied aspects of His glory. In order to have a proper context and development of our subject it is vital that we get God’s perspective of His glory. For this perspective we will look to the Ex.33:12-23 through Ex.34:1-8 for a dialogue between God and Moses.
Ex.33:12 And Moses said unto the LORD, See, thou sayest unto me, Bring up this people: and thou hast not let me know whom thou wilt send with me. Yet thou hast said, I know thee by name, and thou hast also found grace in my sight. 13 Now therefore, I pray thee, if I have found grace in thy sight, show me now thy way, that I may know thee, that I may find grace in thy sight: and consider that this nation is thy people. 14 And he said, My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest. 15 And he said unto him, If thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence. 16 For wherein shall it be known that I and thy people have found grace in thy sight? Is it not in that thou goest with us? So shall we be separated, I and thy people, from all the people that are on the face of the earth. 17 And the LORD said unto Moses, I will do this thing also that thou hast spoken: for thou hast found grace in my sight, and I know thee by name. 18 And he said, I beseech thee, show me thy glory. And he said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and will proclaim the name of the LORD before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. 20 And he said, Thou canst not see me, and live. 21 And the LORD said, Behold, there is a place by me, and thou shalt stand upon a rock: 22 And it shall come to pass, while my glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a cleft of the rock, and will cover thee with my hand while I pass by: 23 And I will take away mine hand, and thou shalt see my back parts: but my face shall not be seen.
Ex.34:1 And the LORD said unto Moses, Hew thee two tables of stone like unto the first: and I will write upon these tables the words that were on the first tables, which thou brakest. 2 And be ready in the morning, and come up in the morning unto Mount Sinai, and present thyself there to me in the top of the mount. 3 And no man shall come up with thee, neither let any man be seen throughout all the mount; neither let the flocks nor herds feed before the mount. 4 And he hewed two tables of stone like unto the first; and Moses rose up early in the morning, and went up into Mount Sinai, as the LORD had commanded him, and took in his hand the two tables of stone. 5 And the LORD descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the LORD. 6 And the LORD passes before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, 7 Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation. 8 And Moses made haste, and bowed his head toward the earth, and worshipped.
In Ex.33:18 Moses prayed that he might see the LORD’s glory and responding to that petition the LORD said, “I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and will proclaim the name of the LORD before thee, (Ex.33:19). The fulfillment of this promise is found in Ex.34:6-7 where the LORD passed by before Moses and proclaimed His name before Moses. In the proclamation of His name, the LORD began to reveal His glory to Moses. In proclaiming His name before Moses, God revealed the splendor and honour of His nature (understood in the name LORD, Strong’s ref.#3068), of His acts (understood by the term God, #430),and of his character as understood by the list of attributives which the LORD used of Himself when proclaiming His name before Moses. The immediate and appropriate response of Moses to this revelation of God’s glory was to make haste and bow his face toward the ground and worship. The biblical response to true revelation never bolstered human ego or increased self esteem. This often quoted formula in its various manifestations (Num.14:18-19; Jon.4:2; Joel 2:13; Mic.7:18; Nah.1:3; Ps.85:15, 103:8, 145:8; II Chr.30:9; Neh. 9;17,31), gives us a composite sketch of God’s nature, ways, acts- His glory. These passages lay the foundation of what is revealed throughout the rest of the scriptures.
The next portion of this study will concern Isaiah 6:1-8.
1 In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. 2 Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. 3 And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory. 4 And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke. 5 Then said I, Woe is me! For I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts. 6 Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from off the altar: 7 And he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin is purged. 8 Also I heard the voice of the LORD, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me.
In this passage Isaiah was given a vision of the glory of God and of an angelic order of beings which occupied themselves with the declaration of God’s holiness. These burning creatures, as their name implies (Strng’s # 8314), covered their faces before the glory of Him who sat on the throne.
In The Holiness Of God, Dr. R C Sproul described them thus, “The seraphim are not sinful men burdened with impure hearts. Yet as angelic beings they are still creatures, and even in their lofty status as consorts of the heavenly host it is necessary for them to shield their eyes from a direct gaze on the face of God. They are fearfully and wonderfully made, equipped by their Creator with a special pair of wings to cover their faces in His majestic presence.”
Isaiah’s response was to declare his own woefulness, undoneness, and sin. The prophet was not rebuked or corrected for declaring his own unworthiness. Seeing his own unworthiness was the natural consequence of beholding a vision of the LORD’s glory. The prophet’s response made it possible for him to receive God’s remedy which was administered to him by the seraph, though not directly (vs.6-7). The end result of this vision of the glory of God was a call to service, for when the prophet saw the glory, he recognized his own shame, which led to his confession, which opened the way of purging, which made him fit for service, hence a continuation of the declaration of the holiness and glory of God.
Oh LORD of all creation, let us see you and die to ourselves and our selfish ways that are so destructive to rightness. Let your ways and acts be exalted and extolled. In the name of Jesus Christ, let this be.
Citation: The Holiness Of God by R C Sproul; chapter 2, page 37, paragraph 2.