Q&A: God's Glory as His Radiance

God's Glory as His Radiance

Why is God's glory often depicted with the imagery of fire or other bright, radiant things?

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Answer

The glory of God is often in Scripture depicted as brightness, as shining, as light when his presence is made known; often it is accompanied by things like the burning bush, the presence of God as a glorious radiance. And that's important, I think, especially as the Bible speaks about things metaphorically, like light and darkness that is a common theme that is used throughout Scripture. And the concept of light is the concept of being visible, of actually having – We talk about shedding light on some sort of subject matter. It means that it is God's glory is both a sense of he's revealing or making himself visible and known, but also, glory has the notion of – When we look at the concept of the sun, for example, we are overwhelmed by the light, we can't stare at it, and so there's also a notion, ironically, not only of this kind of God's revealing himself in light and giving light to the world, but also there's another aspect of the brightness, or the greatness, or the glory of God in that it is so bright, so majestic and powerful, that it actually obscures or represents the fact that he dwells, for example, in unapproachable light. The light is so overwhelming, his glory is so great that we ultimately cannot get inside or overwhelm it, or the light shines in the darkness and the darkness does not comprehend it. So, that concept of shining glory, greatness and light is a beautiful metaphor for the immensity of God, the unapproachability in terms of his infinity, and yet it is this also beautiful metaphor of his revealing, of being seen, of making himself known, of bringing or giving light to the world. And so, it has a kind of dual, almost paradoxical meaning in Scripture when it talks about when, for example, we read about the glory of the Mt. Sinai experience where Moses came down, encountering God's glory, and he actually had to veil his face because people were terrified. And, of course, we find out also from the commentary in the New Testament of 2 Corinthians chapter 3 and 4 that in fact that veiling represented the fact that as glorious as the Ten Commandments were, as glorious as the law was, that in Christ a greater glory has come. And so, we see the notion of an even brighter light, of an even more amazing revelation of God. So, we become you know, we are changed from glory to glory in the sense that we become increasingly bright. We become a greater and greater light as we become more and more like Jesus Christ. So, I love that fact that the notion of glory is both the incomprehensibility and majesty and greatness of God, but it's also this notion that he's revealing himself and letting himself be known and seen in the world in all these wonderful ways.

Answer by Dr. Lewis Winkler