THE GLORY OF THE LORD….
WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?
Searching for an answer to that question, I ran across an eloquent attempt to define “Glory.” It was in a sermon by John MacArthur, a very perceptive, capable spokesman for God:
“Let me give you simply this, to begin with. The glory of the Lord is the expression of God’s person. It is any manifestation of God’s character, any manifestation of His attributes in the world, in the universe is His glory. In other words, the glory is to God what the brightness is to the sun. The glory is to God what wet is to water. The glory is what heat is to fire. In other words, it is the emanation, it is the effulgence, it is the brightness, it is the product of His presence, and it is the revelation of Himself. Anytime God discloses Himself, it is the manifestation of His glory. That really refers to His presence.” John MacArthur
Another attempt was by Robert Brault, a writer whom I’ve come to enjoy and respect. He hesitated at first, but answered the question after I posed it on his blog: http://www.robertbrault.com:
“As the saying goes, ‘An author is entitled to his subject.’ There are several dictionary sites, including Wikipedia, that will define glory for you. What they won’t do is wish you a Merry Christmas, which I hereby do. smiles, rb Oh, all right— glory: n, the realization of one’s essential being, as in the blossoming of a rose, the flight of an eagle, the artistic and intellectual expression of the human soul. God’s glory resides in His transcendence of the natural laws He created, as in the appearance of an angel to shepherds.”
Both are profound, beautiful, definitions and are on target. However, I’m still not certain. It seems to me that in the Scripture quote above Luke was trying to express the inexpressible. There are times when I stand in awe at mysterious Majesty and am left at a loss for words. I definitely cannot define this concept fully. Nor do I understand it completely. In coming upon this word and spending time contemplating it, I believe I’ve stumbled upon a rich treasure worthy of being explored long after the scent of cedar has faded and the sound of Christmas carols dies on the crisp winter air.
No words can adequately convey the beauty of a golden sunset or sunrise at the dawning of a new day. The reality of “glory” is far greater than our limited ability to understand or explain. And beyond the “glory” of the Lord, there is The Lord, Himself. Far greater than any expression of His majesty. Especially as we gather around the Christmas tree and exchange presents, we will discover that the gift inside a package is usually far more wonderful and valuable than even beautiful, professionally wrapped, glittering paper which surrounds it.
So it is that the “glory” of the Lord surpasses our human capacity to fully understand what it means. As in many other instances, it does seem to be a valuable enough concept to warrant further investigation and a serious, continuing effort to grasp its significance. You’re surely familiar with forensic science and know how important it is when investigators find fingerprints, or footprints, or the supremely important DNA at some location. For a reason entirely different from our purpose here, it is conclusive evidence that a person really was present on that scene.
Now, as far as real, complete answer to the question I posed, I don’t know. I simply do not know.
However, may I pose this possibility?
I believe the “glory of the Lord” in the evidence of His presence, or His nearness. Beyond that, all I feel really comfortable with is that personal conclusion. He was actually here, “in those days.” At a definite point in time and space, simple, uneducated, probably poor shepherds saw and heard and then told others what they had experienced.
The word “glory” is used many, many times in many ways throughout Scripture. Always, it appears, people are startled (even frightened) at such an occurrence. As they try to absorb the significance, invariably they stare in slack-jawed, wide-eyed wonder. They marvel at the fact that they’ve been in the presence of the Lord. The experience is burned into their consciousness, and forever afterward they seek His presence and try to follow His leadership.
Again, I ask the Lord that my priorities might be straight and my vision might be clear so that perhaps “in these days” I may sense (even if I do not see) the Glory of the Lord. And, of course, I pray the same for you and yours.
Thus, may this become a truly joyous, memorable Christmas experience.
God’s servant and son, your friend and fellow student, ~donkimrey