Summary: How could we perceive the Glory of God?
"For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake. For God, who said, 'Let light shine out of darkness,' has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
Just what is the glory of God?" (2 Corinthians 4:5-6, ESV).
Just what is the glory of God?
One of the things I learned in John 17 is the significant character of God the Father as Jesus Christ described Him.
No one on earth or in heaven knew the Father so well like Jesus. And while we would address God as Loving, Almighty, Merciful, etc.
Jesus called Him as "Holy..." in John 17:11. In verse 24 He used the word, "righteous" but the Greek word from which it was translated could also be rendered, "holy."
Now, what is the connection between the Holiness and the Glory of God?
We read in Isaiah 6:2-3, "Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said: 'Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!'" (ESV.)
Dr. John Piper said that the Glory of God is the manifestation of His Holiness. He also added, "The holiness of God is His concealed glory. The glory of God is His revealed holiness."
One night, my wife and I were in our rooftop and we were surprised by a "wonderful performance" in the sky! Several "shooting stars" (or meteor showers) zipped silently, but swiftly and successively above us. The scene was stunning! My wife who was more expressive blurted out, "Wooww!"
In His prayer in John 17, Jesus said partly: "And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you..." (verse 5.) To be with the "Father of Glory" (Ephesians 1:17) is supremely wonderful! And like Jesus, we ought to long for to be in His glorious Glorious Presence, for in His presence there is fullness of joy; at His right hand are pleasures forevermore (Psalm 16:11).
That's also the desire of Jesus for the elect, as He prayed: "Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me..." (John 17:24.)
It's beyond our human comprehension to fully appreciate the glory of God. We read in Romans 8:18, "For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us."
Paul also wrote, "For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison" (2 Corinthians 4:17).
In the Old Testament, we read that Moses wanted to see God's glory. He told God in Exodus 33:18, "Please show me your glory."
And notice carefully the reply of God: "I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name 'The LORD.' And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy" (verse 19).
God's glory includes all His goodness and His Sovereign choice to be gracious to whom He will be gracious and to show mercy on whom He will show mercy. It displays His irresistible beauty; exhibits His excellence; and proclaims His perfections.
In Exodus 24:17, "...the appearance of the glory of the LORD was like a devouring fire on the top of the mountain." In Revelation 21:23, the Holy City "...has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb."
But, in our time, we could behold the glory of God in a greater degree, as revealed to us in Hebrews 1:1-4:
"Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs."