Summary: What is the glory of God? It is basically those aspects of God's Character and power, that we can see. Contrary to the idea that all we know of God we must take by faith, the Bible says there is much that we can see of God's glory.
The heavens declare the glory of God, and that is why the
study of astronomy is so fascinating. It is constantly confirming
what God has revealed in His word. Many Christians look at
God's revelation of the heavenly city and conclude that it must be
symbolical and not literal. A fourteen hundred square mile city
of gold with the walls loaded with precious gems seems a little too
extravagant even for God. But then comes the March 1992 issue
of Science News, and it is revealed that scientists have found
literal jewels in the heavens. They have found, not just the
glorious light of stars, galaxies, and supernovas, but actual
diamonds in the sky.
A NASA team in Hawaii, using an infrared telescope, found
what they are convinced are real diamonds and three Milky Way
clouds. They knew there were diamonds out there somewhere
already, for in 1987 diamonds were found in meteorites that fell
to earth. These researchers have concluded that the carbon dust
that gives rise new stars is as much as ten percent in the form of
diamonds. They feel there is likely to be diamonds in every
molecular cloud in the heavens.
The point is, when we read this description of the heavenly city
made of gold and precious stones, we do not have to back away
from the literal interpretation, as if God does not have the know
how or the power to produce such an abundance of precious
stones. If man could get at them he could fill the Grand Canyon
with diamonds that God has already created in stellar spaces.
The reason I take this picture literally is not just because of
any scientific discovery, but because John tells us in verse 11 that
the city shown with the glory of God and its brilliance was like a
very precious jewel. If this is not literal, then it has to be greater
than the literal, for God's glory will never be less than the glory of
the kings of the earth, who splendor will be brought into the city,
as John says in verse 24. I have seen pictures of the crown jewels
of the royalty of the earth. They are awesome in their glory. It is
a valid assumption that God, the king of the universe, will have a
glory that is so superior to theirs, that it will take our entire
vocabulary of words dealing with light and jewels to describe it.
Words like brilliant, magnificent, glorious, lustrous, regal,
resplendent, dazzling, luminous, radiant, gleaming, glittering,
glistening, and a host of others.
It's a city of gold and jewels,
For it's God's glory that we share.
Only the boldest of fools
Would want to miss being there.
In America The Beautiful, we sing the last verse--
"O beautiful for patriot dream
that sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam,
Undimmed by human tears!"
And in the chorus we sing, "May God thy gold refine," and,
"Crown thy good with brotherhood from sea to shining sea." All
these terms of gold, gleaming, and shining are ideals of man. He
wants his cities to shine with the glory of gold and brilliant light.
That ideal will never be complete until God builds the city. That
is just what John saw in his vision of the golden city of heaven.
Man has done some impressive things in his cities, but only the
city of heaven will shine with the very glory of God.
Emerson said, "I always seem to suffer some loss of faith on
entering cities." They can look quite impressive as you approach
and see the new buildings on the skyline. The vast array of
gleaming windows can be awesome, but when you get there you
are hit by the reality that the beautiful city is filled with
corruption. Aristotle felt the government should prevent people
from accumulating in cities, for they become hot beds of
corruption. We see the truth of his conviction in every large city.
Jesus wept over the largest city He ever entered, the Old
Jerusalem, because of it's corruption and resistance to the will of
God. That city and it's leaders killed the very Son of God, and
revealed just how corrupt the city could be, even when the most
glorious works of man are all around. The beautiful temple with
it's treasure of gold and works of art did not prevent such
Jesus loved all the beauty and glory of the temple, but he wept
for the people, for they were rejecting the one all this beauty
pointed to. Hitler and the Gestapo leaders would feast in luxury
with the world's finest art all about them. Then they would enjoy
the exquisite beauty of the best classical music. Yet, from that
setting of grandeur they could go forth to kill, in cold blood,