And above the expanse over their heads [the heads of the four living creatures in Ezekiel’s initial vision] there was the likeness of a throne, in appearance like sapphire; and seated above the likeness of a throne was a likeness with a human appearance. And upward from what had the appearance of his waist I saw as it were gleaming metal, like the appearance of fire all around. And downward from what had the appearance of his waist I saw as it were the appearance of fire, and there was brightness all around him. Like the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud on the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness all around. Such was the appearance of the glory of the LORD. And when I saw it I fell on my face” (Ezekiel 1:26-28, ESV; all Bible quotations are from the ESV).
Yesterday my family and I read what Wayne Grudem says about the glory of God in Chapter 13, “The Character of God: ‘Communicable’ Attributes (Part 2),” of his Systematic Theology (Zondervan, 1994), which we’re reading in our after breakfast Bible reading time. Grudem opens his consideration of the glory of God by distinguishing between two senses of the “glory” of God. In one sense it refers to God’s good reputation and the respect that He receives because of it. Bible passages given by Grudem in which it has this sense are Isaiah 43:7, John 17:5, and Romans 3:23.
In another sense God’s “glory” refers to the brightness that God sometimes causes to surround Him when He reveals Himself, such as He did when he appeared to Ezekiel. He did similarly when He appeared to the people of Israel in Exodus 24 and to John on the island of Patmos in Revelation 4. Other passages that refer to this glory of God are:
– “O LORD my God, you are very great! You are clothed with splendor and majesty, covering yourself with light as with a garment” (Psalm 104:1-2).
– “And an angel of the Lord appeared to them [the shepherds], and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear” (Luke 2:9).
– “And the city [the new Jerusalem] 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 [Jesus]” (Revelation 21:23).
Grudem closes his consideration of God’s glory by pointing out that God made us to reflect His glory, quoting Paul, “And we all, with unveiled face [like Moses in Exodus 34:34], beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another” (2 Corinthians 3:18). Grudem goes on to observe that although we aren’t now surrounded by a visible light there is a beauty about the way of life of a person who loves God which is often evident to those around him or her and to suggest that in the life to come such brightness will be intensified.