The Glory of God Part 1 – What is the Glory of God?

Introduction

I’m going to go ahead and give away the ending up front so you, the reader, can decide if this series is something you want to pursue. So, out of respect for you, I’m going to briefly state my main point and then I’m going to list a few of the concepts we’ll discuss on the way to getting to that conclusion.

There is also a seven part videos series on this exact topic that I made on youtube. You’ll find the accompanying video at the end of each article.

So, what am I trying to say or prove in this series?

The glory of God is a field of divine energy that sustains and energizes every “pixel” of reality. The glory of God contains information from God’s mind that controls every process in the universe.  

Now, I realize that statement could come across as some attempt to blend Christianity with New Age, pantheistic ideas, but I assure you, it isn’t. Please read and watch all articles and videos to understand exactly what I’m trying to say here before you assume anything!

God's glory

A sampling of what we will discuss in this series

  • The Light and Glory of God

  • Matter

  • Atoms

  • Quantum Physics

  • String Theory

  • The Higgs Filed

  • The Glory Field

  • Divine Miracles

  • The Anointing of the Holy Spirit

God Emits Light

Have you ever wondered why God emits light? This question flashed across my mind one day in 2005 as I walked on the beach in Singer Island, Florida. I remember how intense the Florida sunshine felt on my skin as I walked along the shoreline and it made me wonder what would happen if God’s glorious light was released upon the earth in its full intensity.

elements melt with fervent heat

A verse of scripture immediately came to mind from the Apostle Peter’s second epistle: “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed” (2 Pet. 3:10).

My imagination ran wild with images of the atmosphere erupting in flames of fire as the glory of God invades our universe.

In that moment on the beach, as the hot sunshine fell on my face, I knew I had to find a scientific explanation to satisfy this new “itch.” For a reason I didn’t entirely understand at the time, I just had to understand why and how God emits light.

It is obvious from even a cursory reading of the Bible that every writer who had a vision of God or some encounter with God always mentioned bright light or fire emanating from God’s being. From Moses in the desert of Sinai, to the Apostle John on the island of Patmos, there is a pattern of God manifesting light, or what the biblical writers often termed “glory.” I found all of this rather intriguing and felt that there had to be a scientific reason that explained the glory phenomenon. Through much reflection and my rabid appetite to learn quantum physics, I did indeed come up with a scientific explanation. But, to my surprise and joy, I discovered so much more. I soon started to see how some of the supernatural events of the Bible had perfectly good explanations if one just understood some of the deep laws of the cosmos.

“For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea” (Hab. 2:14).

It is important for the Church to have knowledge of the glory of God because we are headed for glory! In fact, we are “heirs of God’s glory” (Rom. 8:17) and have been “called to His eternal glory in Christ Jesus (1 Peter 5:10) As members of His body we “boast in the hope of the glory of God” (Rom. 5:2). That hope of glory, as the Apostle Paul wrote is “Christ in us” (Col. 1:27). The life of God is in us in the person of the Holy Spirit, who is the Spirit of Christ (Rom. 8:9), and He is transforming us into the image of Christ in “ever-increasing glory” (2 Cor. 3:18). The day is rapidly approaching when all Christians, “in the twinkling of an eye” (1 Cor. 15:52), will appear with Christ in His glory and become like Him (1 John 3:2). With these truths in mind, the material in this series has been presented.

When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory (Col. 3:4).

The Glory of God

What is the glory of God? Is it light? Is it a substance? Is it energy? Is it the “force” that Jedi learn to master? In the Bible the glory always manifested as fire and bright light and was usually surrounded by a dense cloud. The sight of the glory is so frightening to humans that it caused the whole nation of Israel to tremble when God manifested His presence on Mount Sinai (Ex. 19:16b).

Glory of God on Mount Sanai

Others who saw the glory were so terrified by the experience that they fell on their faces (Ex. 1:28; Matt. 17:6; Rev. 1:17). The brightness of the glory is so intense that the Apostle Paul labeled it “unapproachable light” (1 Tim. 6:16) after experiencing temporary blindness from his encounter with the risen Christ (Acts 9:3-4). Whatever the glory is, it is quite obvious that an encounter with it would be life-changing.

It should be noted that the smoke and clouds that accompanied manifestations of the glory were probably intended to shield the people from the intense light that would have been harmful to fragile human beings. An example of this is seen in the book of Exodus where God surrounded Himself with a dense cloud during the day as He led the children of Israel out of Egypt. “By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night” (Ex. 13:21).

During the daylight hours the sun was bright enough to give the Israelites blistering sunburns, so God, in His mercy and wisdom, surrounded His presence with clouds to filter out some of the harmful radiation. The Israelites were wandering around in a desert with hardly any tress to provide shade, so God shielded the people from harmful light. At nighttime the cloud was lifted and the light of God’s glory could lead them unfiltered because there was no sunlight.

The Biblical Writers and Their Encounters with the Glory

Moses probably had more encounters with the glory of God than any other biblical character other than Christ. Moses described his experiences with the glory in the book of Exodus:

When Moses went up on the mountain, the cloud covered it, and the glory of the Lord settled on Mount Sinai. For six days the cloud covered the mountain, and on the seventh day the Lord called to Moses from within the cloud. To the Israelites the glory of the Lord looked like a consuming fire on top of the mountain (Ex. 24:15-17).

Notice in the above passage that the people only saw the glory of God, not the person of God. They were not allowed to actually see God. Not even Moses was allowed to see the face of God because it is too holy to gaze upon. God told them it would kill them to see His face (Ex. 33:20).

The text states that the Israelites likened the glory of God to a consuming fire. God is the source of this fire, but He is not the fire. The essence or substance of God is not fire. It is spirit, as our Lord taught us (John 4:24), so we must understand that God’s Spirit was the energy that caused the fire, but He Himself was not the fire. This will be examined in much greater detail later in the book.

The prophet Ezekiel also saw an amazing manifestation of the glory and recorded what he saw in the opening of his book. “I looked, and I saw a windstorm coming out of the north—an immense cloud with flashing lightning and surrounded by brilliant light” (Ez. 1:4). Ezekiel further describes the vision:

Ezekiel's Vision of God's glory

Above the vault over their heads was what looked like a throne of lapis lazuli, and high above on the throne was a figure like that of a man.  I saw that from what appeared  to be his waist up he looked like glowing metal, as if full of fire, and that from there down he looked like fire; and brilliant light surrounded him. Like the appearance of a  rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the radiance around him. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord. When I saw it, I fell facedown, and  I heard the voice of one speaking (Ez. 1:26-28).

It is interesting to note from the above passage that the Septuagint Greek Bible uses the word “electrou” for “glowing metal” in verse 27, which is where we get the word “electricity” and “electron.” Ezekiel saw God on His throne and he describes the light of God’s glory as electricity, which is very bright, white light. In a subsequent chapter we will discuss what electricity is and how it works.

Later in his book, Ezekiel records a vision of the future as he saw the glory of God enter the future temple that will be erected during the 1000-year reign of Christ. “Then the man brought me to the gate facing east, and I saw the glory of the God of Israel coming from the east. His voice was like the roar of rushing waters, and the land was radiant with his glory” (Ez. 43:1-2).

Daniel, another Old Testament prophet, saw visions of God and wrote about a similar experience:

As I looked, thrones were set in place, and the Ancient of Days took his seat. His clothing was as white as snow; the hair of his head was white like wool. His throne was flaming with fire, and its wheels were all ablaze. A river of fire was flowing, coming out from before him. Thousands upon thousands attended him; ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him. The court was seated, and the books were opened (Dan. 7:9-10).

Daniel saw God's glory

The New Testament also has similar themes. Matthew, for example, wrote about the transfiguration of Jesus, which was a powerful display of God’s glory that evidently was as bright as the sun.

After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus. Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” While he was still speaking, a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him” (Matt. 17:1-5)

Jesus' transfiguration

Saul of Tarsus was another New Testament figure who had an encounter with God’s glory. As previously mentioned, it was so bright and intense that it blinded him! Here is the Apostle Paul’s story of what happened:

About noon, King Agrippa, as I was on the road, I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, blazing around me and my companions. We all fell to the ground, and I heard a voice saying to me in Aramaic, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? It is   hard for you to kick against the goads” (Acts 26:13-14).

Saul saw the glory of God

Paul experienced what is called “flashed blindness” which happens when the eyes are exposed to a bright flash of light. If you have ever been in a photograph that was taken by a camera with a flash you know what it’s like to be blinded temporarily by the flash of light. There are a few seconds after the flash where you see dark spots. In Paul’s case, the flash of light that shone around the Lord Jesus was of such high intensity that it literally burned the retinas in his eyes leaving them disabled. It took a divine healing three days later to restore his vision.

The Apostle John was another New Testament character who saw the glory of God and wrote about a vision he had of God sitting on His throne in Heaven:

After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And   the voice I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.” At once I was in the Spirit, and there before    me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it. And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and ruby. A rainbow that shone like an emerald encircled the throne. Surrounding the throne were twenty-four other thrones, and seated on them were twenty-four elders. They were dressed in white and had crowns of gold on their heads. From the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder (Rev. 4:1-5).

All of these biblical passages make it abundantly clear that God emits light. Jesus Himself picked up on this and taught the disciples about this light. John the Apostle recorded the teaching in his first epistle: “This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5). John was one of Jesus’ closest friends and if anyone had first-hand knowledge of what Jesus actually said it would be John. Oddly, the Gospels do not contain this teaching by Jesus, but it is consistent with other references Jesus made to God’s glory.

Jesus spoke often of the glory of God. Mark 8:38 records one such example: “If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”

Jesus Returns in Glory

Matthew also recorded the words of Christ: “Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the peoples of the earth will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory” (Matt. 24:30). And then in the next chapter Matthew continues: “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne” (Matt. 25:31).

The brightness of Christ’s glory will easily overpower the brightness of the sun. It will be so bright and intense that “the elements will melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up” (2 Pet. 3:10b KJV).

Not only will Jesus appear in this brilliant glory, all Christians will also appear with Him in this glory. Jesus stated:

The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom  everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father (Matt. 13:41-43).

In order to “shine like the sun” we would have to emit very bright light. To help you understand how much energy our sun emits I want to share a passage from my college astronomy textbook.

Bright Sun

With modern instruments, we have measured its [sun] output with great precision  and found that our star puts out about 4 x 1026 watts (W). That’s a very large figure; what does it mean in human terms? The current population is about 6 billion (6 x 109) people.   Suppose for a moment that all of us simultaneously turned on a thousand 100 –W light    bulbs. Each person on Earth would then be lit up like a Hollywood movie theater on opening night! But all those bulbs surrounding all those people still only total 6 x 1014 W. To use as much energy as the Sun produces, we would have to find 670 billion worlds like the Earth, all doing the same stunt.1

That is amazing to think about! One day, when we get our resurrected, glorified bodies, we will produce enough energy from within our own being that we could provide enough light for our entire solar system!

The Apostle Paul had a revelation that Christians will appear with Christ in His glory when He returns to the earth. Jesus gave us the same glory the Father gave Him (John 17:22) and Paul was surely aware of this and was probably what prompted him to write: “When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory” (Col. 3:4). And concerning the resurrection of the dead at Jesus’s return, Paul wrote: “So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body” (1 Cor. 15:42-44). What an awesome experience this will be! We will shed these sinful, dead bodies and receive a glorified body like Jesus! The glory of God will energize every fiber of our being and we will live forever. No death, no pain, no tears, no curse. Just love from the Father as He lavishes us with the glory of our inheritance (Eph. 1:18).

The Apostle Paul also made several other eschatological statements regarding the glory of God. Paul was a well-educated Jewish scholar and was well acquainted with the sacred scriptures. Paul, no doubt, knew from his studies of the prophets that the King of Glory would one day set up His kingdom and usher in a new age of peace and righteousness. Paul looked forward to the day when the atmosphere dissolves as the glory of God invades the earth in an awesome display of the Messiah’s power. Paul wrote and taught his followers that Jesus will appear in “blazing fire” (2 Thess. 1:7), which is eschatological language taken directly from the scriptures. This “blazing fire” is the glory of God that will destroy the antichrist system and usher in the Kingdom of God. “And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming” (2 Thess. 2:8).

Glory and Holiness

What is the glory of God? If I may be totally honest, I don’t have the words to describe it. It’s more than just light. It has creative potential. It has energy and momentum. It can also be felt tangibly. It has other properties foreign to electromagnetism, so we can’t just say that glory is light and leave it at that. Light contains glory, but glory is not light. Glory is at the heart of everything, including light, but we must be careful not to use the words synonomously. This will make more sense as you read through these articles.

There is no way to accurately define glory because we are talking about a spiritual reality shared only among the Trinity. It is very similar to trying to define the word “holy.” Holiness, like the glory of God, is foreign to the human creature and something we can only come to understand by divine revelation. John Piper made an interesting point regarding the difficulty in defining glory:

“Defining the glory of God is impossible, I say, because it is more like the word beauty than the word basketball. So if somebody says they have never heard of a basketball, they don’t know what a basketball is and they say: Define a basketball. That would not be hard for you to do. You would use your hands and you would say: Well, it is like a round thing made out of leather or rubber and about ten or nine inches in diameter and you blow it up. You inflate it so it is pretty hard. And then you can bounce it like this and you can throw it to people and you can run while you are bouncing it. And then there is this hoop at the end. It used to be a basket. And you try to throw the ball through the hoop and that is why it is called a basketball. And they would have a really good idea. They would be able to spot one, tell it from a soccer ball or a football. You can’t do that with the word beauty. There are some words in our vocabulary, which we can communicate with not because we can say them, but because we  see them. We can point. And if we point at enough things and see enough things together and say: That’s it, that’s it, that’s it. We might be able to have a common sense of beauty. But you try to put the word beauty into words, it would be very, very difficult. It’s the same thing with the word glory.” 2

The glory of God is a manifestation of God’s holiness, which has two dimensions to it. One is His uniqueness or separateness from the rest of creation. God is unlike any other created being, and it is this separateness that makes God holy. The second dimension to God’s holiness is His moral purity. God is perfect and never sins. As a matter of fact, He can’t even be tempted to sin (James 1:13). God has never even given sin a thought in His mind and He has never once compromised His integrity or morals. He always maintains His standard of perfection and never allows the pollution of sin to touch His being. As Christians, we have been called to live by that same standard.

The Bible makes several connections between the glory of God and the holiness of God. For example, in the book of Exodus, Moses writes: “There I will meet you and speak to you; there also I will meet with the Israelites, and the place will be consecrated by my glory” (Ex. 29:42-43). “Consecration” has to do with separation for a divine use and this is exactly one of the meanings of the word “holy.” In yet another passage, Moses writes: “I will display my holiness through those who come near me. I will display my glory before all the people” (Lev. 10:3). The prophet Isaiah also recorded a vision he had where the angels of God shouted, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory” (Is. 6:3).

The glory of the Lord is also His manifested goodness. This is a goodness that is incomparably greater than anything we can comprehend. This is why Jesus made a point to remind us that “No one is good—except God alone” (Mark 10:18). God is so good that He can’t contain it within His own person. He radiates goodness in His glory like humans breathe without having to think about it. God is so good you can literally feel it on your physical body when you are in His presence! His goodness is alive! If you don’t believe me, ask God for it like I did and see if I’m right.

When Moses was leading the people of Israel out of Egyptian bondage he boldly said to God, “Now show me your glory” (Ex. 33:18). God graciously answered Moses’ request by saying, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the Lord, in your presence” (Ex. 33:19). What an interesting way for God to answer Moses by telling him His goodness would manifest. For Moses to see God’s glory, he had to see God’s goodness. So, we see that the glory of God is all that God is, both His intrinsic worth and beauty, and an outward expression of His greatness. We could also say it like this: The glory of God is the Holy One in all of His splendor, beauty, perfection, and majesty.

This first segment documented the fact that God always manifests brilliant light when He enters a region of space. If you are anything like me you probably want to know how and why this happens. Was God trying to put on a magic show every time He manifested His presence? Why all the theatrics, smoke, and lightning? Did God want to scare His people into obedience? To answer these questions we need to understand certain scientific concepts such as matter, light, fields, and so forth. The next section will be an introduction to these concepts and is foundational to the rest of the series, so please read the material carefully and thoughtfully.

If you prefer to watch a video of this material:

Sources

1.  Andrew Franknoi, David Morrison, and Sidney Wolff, Voyages Through the Universe, 2nd ed. (Philadelphia: Saunders College Publishing, 1997), 319.

2. John Piper, http://www.desiringgod.org/interviews/what-is-god-s-glory (accessed September 8, 2014).