And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
(2 Corinthians 3:18 ESV)
The Hebrew word for glory is derived from the word kaved, which means “heavy.” It was sometimes used to describe people who were wealthy or important, who deserved honor and recognition.
When this word is used to describe God, it carries even more weight—the weight of all things. Almighty God is more substantial, more influential, more worthy of honor than anyone else. When compared to the weight of his glory, everything else is like dust in the wind.
God’s glory is really the sum total of all of his attributes—everything he is and does reflects his glory and serves to enhance his reputation. God’s glorious reputation is largely based on what he has done.
The cloud in which God revealed himself in Exodus, in the Temple, and at the Transfiguration (Exodus 16:10; Ezekiel 10:4; Matthew 17:5) were visible manifestations of the eternal reality of his glory. Although God’s glory was not fully contained by the cloud of glory, God was, in his mercy, showing his glory in a visible way so people would know that his presence was with them. He showed glimmers of his greatness so the people would fear and worship him.
The created world is also a manifestation of God’s glory. The Psalmist almost shouts, “The heavens declare the glory of God” (Psalm 19:1 ESV). Everything we see in creation is heavy with the weight of his fingerprints. This includes the crowning touch of creation: human beings. We were created to reflect God’s glory back to him and to everyone around us. The Westminster Shorter Catechism puts it like this: “What is the chief end of man? Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.” Our entire purpose can be summarized in the phrase “glorify God.”
How can we glorify God?
Well, we certainly can’t add to his weight, since his glory is already infinite, but we can reflect his glory. When Moses came down from God’s presence on the mountain, his face literally glowed with the after-burn of being with God (Exodus 34:30). We might compare it to the way the moon reflects the light of the sun. When we spend time with God, rejoicing in his character and his acts, we will more and more reflect his character in our own lives and naturally imitate his acts simply by being in proximity to him.
Trusting God, worshiping him, and telling others about him are all ways we can glorify him. And while we do those things, we can look forward to the day when we will be with him in glory. Our feeble attempts to glorify God here on earth will one day be complete when we share the weight of his glory in heaven.