Sometimes Christians wrongly prize earthly blessings, miracles, or good works above our true inheritance: beholding and therefore reflecting God’s glory (Ps. 16:5–6; Luke 10:38–42). Consequently, they treat these things as though they are the epitome of the manifestation of God’s glory in themselves.
What is God’s glory? When Moses asked to see God’s glory (Ex. 33:12–23), he had seen God use him to deliver Israel from Egypt, witnessed Sinai tremble due to God’s presence, and heard the Lord speak in thunder (19:18–19). If what Moses had seen, felt, and heard was not God’s glory, what was it?
The answer lies in Moses’ prayer and God’s answer. He prayed: “Show me now your ways, that I may know you. . . . Is it not in your going with us, so that we are distinct . . . from every other people . . . ? Please show me your glory” (33:13, 16, 18). Moses’ request was for an intimate knowledge of God. God showed Moses His glory: He made His goodness pass before Moses and revealed who He is, proclaiming His name and character (34:6–7). Thus, God’s glory cannot be abstracted from His presence and who He is.
Moses’ request for God’s glory and presence is fully answered in Christ, Immanuel, who is “the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature,” the image of the invisible God in whom the full deity of God dwells bodily (Col. 2:9–10; Heb. 1:3). In Christ, the perfect image bearer, God reveals the fullness of His glory: His name, character, and presence with His people. Christ displays fully what Moses glimpsed in part (2 Cor. 3:7–11).
Christ’s redemptive work achieves our glorification (Rom. 8:29–30). Fallen man is renewed in God’s image (Eph. 4:24; Col. 3:10), making it possible for man to draw close and behold God’s glory in Christ. Just as Moses shared in God’s glory when he entered His presence (Ex. 34:29), as we draw near and behold Christ, we are increasingly transformed into His likeness and, as a result, share in His glory (2 Cor. 3:18). Our glory, which is Christ’s glory in us (John 17:10; Rom. 8:17), is beholding God, being like God, and reflecting His glory.
Although we are currently imperfect image bearers, we await our perfection (Rom. 8:21–23), when we will be like Christ, fully beholding and reflecting God’s glory (John 17:22–24; Col. 3:3; 1 John 3:2). Like Moses—who, although he saw God’s mighty deeds and was greatly used by God, still desired God’s glory above all else—we ought to make our first priority knowing God in His glory so that we might become more like Him. Let the pursuit and manifestation of God’s glory be our goal.
Let us ask God to show us His glory, aware that we are asking to grow in the knowledge of His glory that has already been fully revealed in Christ, in His Word (2 Cor. 4:4), and that is also presently being dimly revealed in and through the church.