Glory from First to Last

Illustration: model of the Ark of the Covenant
Photo credit: see below

Glory from First to Last

The glory of God is the fundamental characteristic of God. The theologians make a distinction between the intrinsic glory of God (ad intra) and the communication of that glory (ad extra) as His excellence and praiseworthiness. Jonathan Edwards declared that God created this world as a theatre in which to display His glory. There is a glory in the creation itself but that is the prelude to a greater revelation of His glory in redemption. 

Created for the glory of the Son

Indeed it is true to say that God has created the world for His Son. In Colossians 1:16 we are told that “by him (Christ) were all things created” but the verse goes on to say that all things were created “for him”. God will display His glory through His Son as the glorious Redeemer of His Body, the Church. That work of redemption began as soon as our first parents sinned. The Redeemer, as the angel of the Lord, appeared as prophet (giving the promise) as priest (ordaining the sacrifice) and as king (making them willing).

The glory was seen in the reality of His active presence with His people in their redemption from Egypt. He led them by the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night. That cloud rested above the tabernacle. The shekinah glory dwelt between the cherubim above the mercy seat on the ark of the covenant (Ps. 80:1). God dwelt with His people. He was the glory in their midst.

Glory departing

When Israel sinned (in making the golden calf) Moses took “the tent of meeting” outside the camp and God spoke to him “face to face” (Exod. 33). Then Moses asked God to show him His glory. The Lord said “I will make all my goodness pass before thee”, and he was put in a cleft of the rock and permitted to see the back parts (Exod. 34). Even then when Moses came down from the mountain the skin of his face shone. It was a reflected glory. We see in all of this God’s holiness and therefore His hatred of sin, but also His goodness and therefore his mercy to sinners.

God led his people into the land of Canaan but, as at Sinai, they manifested their rebellious nature and departed from God. In the days before Samuel was born Eli had neglected to discipline his wicked sons Hophni and Phinehas and judgment came upon Israel. They were defeated by the Philistines and the ark of the covenant was captured. The shock was too much for Eli and he fell down and died. Before Phinehas’ wife died in childbirth she named the newborn child ‘Ichabod’, saying “the glory is departed from Israel.” 

Glory returning

The glory returned and in the reign of King David we see the ark of the covenant being brought to the city of David (2 Sam. 6) and on Mount Zion where God desires to dwell (Ps. 68:16). The ark was placed in the temple at its dedication and we see the glory of God filling the house (1 Kings 8:10-11). It is believed that the ark was lost in the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar. After the return from Babylon the promise in Haggai 2:9 that “the glory of the latter house shall be greater than the glory of the former” is ultimately fulfilled in Christ. 

Glory consummated

When Christ, the eternal Word, became incarnate the Apostle John described His presence on earth as that He ‘tabernacled’ among us (John 1:14). He, the brightness of the Father’s glory, was veiled in human flesh but at times that intrinsic glory broke through in a grand display. At the Transfiguration “his face did shine as the sun”, and his garments were as white as no launderer on earth could whiten them. That glory as “full of grace and truth” was seen in the love, wisdom and power displayed in His death, resurrection, enthronement and Mediatorial reign. By His Holy Spirit Christ came to dwell in His Church in order to sanctify and cleanse her and to show forth His glory in her. At the grand consummation that glory will fill her to perfection when the New Jerusalem shall come having the glory of God in it (Rev. 22:2,10).

Christ is truly “the glory in the the midst of His Church.” May it be so for us!

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Photo credit:
A Model of the Ark of the Covenant
By Lancastermerrin88 (Own work)
[GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or
CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0
(http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)],
via Wikimedia Commons