(March 20, 2023) Dr Jim McClure explains about God’s glory… 

Christians often use the word ‘glory’ but usually do not have much idea of what it means! The Hebrew word for glory, kabod, is found 200 times in the Old Testament and its development is interesting.

The root of kabod actually means ‘heavy’ and is associated with the liver (Exodus 29:13) which is the heaviest of the internal organs. The use of the word as ‘heavy’ is seen in a number of Old Testament passages such as Psalm 38:4, ‘For mine iniquities are gone over mine head: as a heavy burden they are too heavy for me’(KJV).

Glory developed into the concept of splendour.It referred to material wealth, that is, being ‘heavy with riches.’  Note Isaiah 10:3, ‘To whom will you flee for help, and where will you leave your wealth?’  Here ‘wealth’ is ‘kabod.’ 

The word continued to develop to mean honour. In Malachi 1:6 God asks, ‘A son honours (kabod) his father, and a servant his master. If I am a father, where is the honour (kabod) due to me?’ 

Glory also came to be recognised as a characteristic of God’s splendour — ‘The heavens declare the glory of God’ (Psalm 19:1).

Regarding the word ‘Shekinah’, although some people use this when referring to God’s glory, it does not refer to a special dimension of divine glory.  In fact this Hebrew word is not found in the Bible. It literally means ‘presence’ but doesn’t add anything to the concept that God’s glory reveals His presence.

1. The glory of God reveals His presence
The phrase, ‘the glory of God’ is identified with ‘the presence of God.’ 

When the tabernacle was set up at Sinai, we read, ‘Then the cloud covered the Tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle’ (Exodus 40:34).  Cloud is often associated with God’s glory.

This concept is also found in the New Testament, for example, at the transfiguration where we read that as the disciples watched ‘a cloud appeared and enveloped them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud’ (Luke 9:34). 

To encounter the glory of God is to encounter God Himself.

2. The glory of God is present in His guiding
When the Israelites left Egypt, God guided them by His glory in two ways; first by a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night (Exodus 13:21).That these were visible signs of God’s glorious presence is confirmed by Moses’ statement in Exodus 16:7 and 10, ‘“In the morning you will see the glory of the Lord”… they looked toward the desert, and there was the glory of the Lord appearing in the cloud.’ 

Obedience to God’s guidance ensures that we live in the glory of His presence.

3. The glory of God is the theme of our lips
In the psalms David used the word kabod in an unusual way.  Consider the following (Psalm 16:9) in which I have replaced the English word with kabod:‘Therefore my heart is glad, and my kabod rejoices; my body also dwells secure.’ 

In Acts 2:26 Peter quoted this verse in this way, ‘Therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced; moreover my flesh will dwell in hope.’  Peter clearly considered that kabod was used symbolically for the tongue.

This reminds us that we should use our tongues to glorify Him and to ‘declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light’ (1 Peter2:9).

4. The relationship between glory and suffering
The Hebrew words for ‘glory’ and ‘suffering’ are interwoven theologically. Both words come from the same Hebrew root and, as we trace their usage through the Bible, we discover a relationship between them.

‘Heaviness’ in relation to ‘glory’ is often associated in the Old Testament with suffering.  For example, in Job 6:2-3 Job lamented, ‘If only my anguish could be weighed and all my misery be placed on the scales! It would surely outweigh the sand of the seas …’ In this passage the word ‘outweigh’ is from the same root word as ‘glory’ and it is related to Job’s suffering.

This theme is also seen in many of the psalms, for example Psalm 22, and especially in the ‘Servant Songs’ in Isaiah where we find that the office of the ‘servant’ involved suffering. For example, Isaiah 53:3-4, ‘He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and familiar with suffering.’

The scriptures teach that the Messiah’s glory would only be established through suffering. In a few weeks Christians will be celebrating Easter and our Lord’s resurrection. Luke 24:26 tells that on the evening of Resurrection Day, as Jesus walked with the couple on their way to Emmaus, He said, ‘Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter glory?’

For us too there may be a relationship between suffering and glory. Paul wrote in Philippians 3:10, ‘I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings…’  This phrase makes sense when understood in the context of glory.

5. The glory of God was revealed in Jesus
When Jesus was born, God’s glory shone around the shepherds (Luke 2:9) and the angels sang about God’s glory (Luke 2:14).

John wrote about Jesus, ‘We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth’ (John 1:14).  It became apparent that Christ’s glory was also God’s glory. In Hebrew 1:3 we read, ‘The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His being.’ 

Jesus’ death, resurrection and ascension revealed God’s glory. After Judas left the table to betray Him, Jesus said, ‘Now is the Son of Man glorified and God is glorified in Him’ (John 13:32). The cross became a symbol of glory as God demonstrated His love for humankind.

Also Paul wrote concerning the resurrection that ‘Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father’ (Romans 6:4). Glory was also present when Jesus ascended to the Father, ‘… a cloud hid Him from their sight’ (Acts 1:9).

6. The glory of God will demonstrate the triumph of God
God’s plans will be completed and His purposes will be victorious.

The prophets understood this. For example, ‘For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea’(Habakkuk 2:14).

7. The glory of God is the illumination of heaven
In the book of Revelation the word ‘glory’ is found seventeen times.

As we live eternally in God’s presence, the glory-filled heaven will be illuminated by the magnificent light of God’s glory. ‘The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp’(Revelation 21:23). 

Reflecting God’s glory
However not everyone will experience that glorious splendour for the scriptures say, ‘The god of this age [that is, Satan] has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God’ (2 Corinthians 4:4).

Only those who put their faith in Jesus Christ will be among those who will discover the grandeur of God’s glory in the future.

But we may also, here and now, know something about it for, if we live in close fellowship with Him, we will ‘reflect the Lord’s glory,’ while we ‘are being transformed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory, [literally ‘from glory to glory’] which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit’ (2 Corinthians 3:18).


Note: This is an abbreviated version of this topic. A more detailed version is available by contacting Dr Jim McClure, author of several books and Bible studies, offered them in electronic version in EPUB, Kindle and PDF formats. Link:

One comment

  1. As always, an excellent meditation from Dr Jim. Some words from a song by Avis Christiansen — ‘it is glory just to walk with Him whose blood has ransomed me, it is rapture for my soul each day; it is joy divine to feel Him near where’er my path may be, bless the Lord it’s glory all the way; it is glory just to walk with Him, it is glory just to walk with Him, He will guide my steps aright, through the vale and o’er the height, it is glory just to walk with Him.’

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