The heavens proclaim the glory of God.
Os Guinness writes in Impossible People, “It goes without saying that the biblical counterpoint to weightlessness is glory, for the root meaning of glory is the weightiness and solidity that comes from reality” (125).
As we have written elsewhere we are living in a time where narrative trumps reality. But of course that’s folly and delusion. There is an ultimate reality: the existence of God Himself and the universe He created. This universe is no Hindu Maya – “illusion.” Nor is it a postmodern social construction. The universe is not weightless, not nothingness. It is, in fact, glorious. It has substance and heft. Psalm 115:1-8 is one of many passages that contrasts the weightlessness of idols with the glory of the Creator God.
To deny God is to deny reality and to live in a world of illusion, a world of one’s own making.
Our illusions of false gods and subjective reality are like wisps of smoke that are blown away (Hosea 13:3), like fragile flowers that shrivel in the heat of summer (1 Peter 1:24-25). Cultures that deny God become weightless, shallow, and inconsequential. Eventually the trivial seems all important. Life becomes a meaningless march towards the grave (Ecclesiastes 1:2, et al).
But glory has the weight of reality. The radiance of God’s Beauty, the veracity of His Truth and the perfection of His Goodness … all these carry the immense weight of divine glory. When men and women deny God, they abandon the very source of life’s meaning and substance.
The God we worship identified Himself as the “I am because I am!” He is the Alpha and Omega, without beginning or end. He exists, not because we believe He exists; He exists because He exists! He is the First Cause, the Primary Principle, the Uncreated. He is Glory, because he is God!
The glory of God is rooted in His existence and nature; His glory is intrinsic to His nature. He is the Other. He is Truth, Beauty and Goodness. He is Love and Compassion, Faithfulness and Justice.
God’s glory is revealed in a number of ways, three of which we will discuss here.
First God’s glory is revealed in His creation. The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork, Psalm 19:1. God has revealed His Glory through the work of His hands. Just as a painting reflects something of the painter, the glory of the external creation reveals something of the internal nature of God. So as you marvel at something beautiful in nature–a mountain lake, spawning salmon fighting their way upstream, the canopy of the heavens on a dark night, the immensity and beauty of the Grand Canyon–let your heart and mind move from the finite glory of the created thing to the infinite glory of the Creator. Creation itself is a pointer, day after day and night after night, to the Glorious One.
Second, God’s glory is revealed in His Son, Jesus Christ. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power, Hebrews 1:3. If you want to know what God is like, look at Jesus. If you want to get a glimpse of the Father’s glory, look at the Son. Jesus is the radiance (effulgence, brilliance) of God’s doxa – “splendor, glory brightness, shining.” In addition to the light of His Glory, Christ is the exact imprint (reproduction) of God’s nature. So when we look at Jesus, we see the radiance of the Father’s glory.
After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light, Matthew 17:1-2.
Third, God’s glory will be revealed at the end of history. The glory of the nations will be brought into the city of God to glorify the Glorious King.
The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory [doxa] of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor [doxa] into it. On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. The glory [doxa] and honor of the nations will be brought into it, Revelation 21:23-26.
We get our term “hymn of praise” – doxology – directly from the Greek word doxologos. In this usage the word refers to the praising and glorifying of God.
Pastor John Piper reminds us that “God’s glory is the unifying goal of history.”
We, God’s royal Vice-regents, were placed on earth and given the Cultural Commission of Genesis 1:26-28 to create culture that glorifies God. This is the purpose of our creation.
At the end of history, when Christ returns in all His doxa, we will witness the “great ingathering of the nations” (1 Chronicles 16:24-28; Psalms 47:5-9; 67:1-4; Isaiah 60: 1-3). Righteous kings of the earth will bring the doxa of their nations into the city of God. The fruits of the Cultural Commission will become the DOXOLOGY – the praising and glorifying of God, the great Amen of history.
This passage is remarkable in that the word glory – doxa – is used of both God, i.e. “the glory of God,” as well as the fulfillment of the Cultural Commission – the glory of the nations and the kings of the earth being the great Doxology of man to the Glory of God.
While the modern world, in its rebellion against God, is descending into chaos and weightlessness, there is hope in Deo Gloria. In the midst of their hopelessness, may we be used to bring our friends and neighbors to see the God of Glory and discover the weightiness and inexpressible joy of reality and its Creator!
- Darrow Miller