|Photograph of the Aurora Borealis in Anchorage, AL cc 2.0|
Every moment, literally, is filled with the glory of God. Here at our church services we get to experience some of the glory of God. But we experience it everywhere, if we’ll tune our minds and hearts to it. I see the glory of God everyday, if I have the right eyes to see it. When I’m at work, I experience it in others. When I’m at the nursing home I see it. When I’m at home, and I look at my cats, I’m seeing a little piece of the glory of God.
The glory of God is most certainly beyond our full conception. But, we can perceive some of it.
John Piper, a prominent theologian of our time defines it like this: “the glory of God is the holiness of God made manifest.”
The glory of God is the manifestations of God’s greatness, beauty, and wonder. It is the awe inspiring effect of His mysteries. The glory of God is manifest in the description in our scripture today of the throne of God. In fact the scriptures themselves display the glory of God. Yet God’s glory is also present in the natural world.
The word of God says, “The Heavens declare the glory of God.” I certainly think that’s true. When we look up at the sky at night, or at the sunset, or the sunrise, we are admiring a piece of God’s glory.
For ages man looked up at the stars and wondered. In our age, they built telescopes, like the Hubble and have taken magnified photos of far off galaxies.
"Spread out above the heads of the living creatures was what looked something like a vault, sparkling like crystal, and awesome. 23 Under the vault their wings were stretched out one toward the other, and each had two wings covering its body. 24 When the creatures moved, I heard the sound of their wings, like the roar of rushing waters, like the voice of the Almighty,[a] like the tumult of an army. When they stood still, they lowered their wings. 25 Then there came a voice from above the vault over their heads as they stood with lowered wings. 26 Above the vault over their heads was what looked like a throne of lapis lazuli, and high above on the throne was a figure like that of a man. 27 I saw that from what appeared to be his waist up he looked like glowing metal, as if full of fire, and that from there down he looked like fire; and brilliant light surrounded him. 28 Like the appearance of a rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the radiance around him.
This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord. When I saw it, I fell facedown, and I heard the voice of one speaking.
2 He said to me, “Son of man,[b] stand up on your feet and I will speak to you.” 2 As he spoke, the Spirit came into me and raised me to my feet, and I heard him speaking to me.3 He said: “Son of man, I am sending you to the Israelites, to a rebellious nation that has rebelled against me; they and their ancestors have been in revolt against me to this very day. 4 The people to whom I am sending you are obstinate and stubborn. Say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says.’ 5 And whether they listen or fail to listen—for they are a rebellious people—they will know that a prophet has been among them. 6 And you, son of man, do not be afraid of them or their words. Do not be afraid, though briers and thorns are all around you and you live among scorpions. Do not be afraid of what they say or be terrified by them, though they are a rebellious people. 7 You must speak my words to them, whether they listen or fail to listen, for they are rebellious. 8 But you, son of man, listen to what I say to you. Do not rebel like that rebellious people; open your mouth and eat what I give you.” -Ezekiel 1:22-2:8 (NIV)
Here is another photo aimed toward a different region of our galaxy. God made this. It’s out there right now, a massive reflection of God’s glory. This cluster of forming stars is much larger than our entire planet, or even our entire solar system. An image of God’s glory, describing just how much higher his ways are than our ways. Our ways focus on our home, workplace, the city of Escanaba, maybe even national news and some deeper thoughts, but the mind of God deals not in cities or countries, or even in entire planets, God’s thoughts span star systems, galaxies, nebula, and dimensions beyond our comprehension.
Here’s another photo. These are all photographs, not doctored in anyway, simple snapshots. Could this be a Hubble telescope photo of some far away galaxy? Nope. This is in fact a photograph of brain cells, the little engines in your brain, taken by a microscope.
In fact, you yourself are a manifestation of the glory of God. Your body, the structure of your being, your anatomy and physiology are reflections of the glory of God. They are manifestations of his creative genius and propensity to develop beautiful and harmonious structures in the world. You are a creation of God. In fact, you are a dream in the mind of God.
Habakkuk 2:14 ESV says: “For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.”
Scientists have been increasingly realizing that the universe we exist in seems to be an artificial reality. Some astronomers speculate that the universe is being artificially projected from black holes, because the event horizon of black holes is actually 2 dimensional. Almost like a projector screen. These scientists are now directing more and more of their efforts to trying to “break out” of this artificial universe. Additionally, as scientists look deeper and deeper into cells, they find that the resolution of the universe itself isn’t high enough for them to look any deeper. In other words, its like examining a painting close up and you start to notice the brush strokes of the painter.
And I have to laugh. They recognize that the universe appears to be a designed reality. They recognize that something has put it all together. But they are so obsessed with resisting the notion of a creator, of God, that they have to resort to thinking we live within some sort of videogame reality that they need to break out of.
We fight so hard as humans to escape the inevitability of divine accountability. Yet once we go through that wormhole, we find the very meaning of life and the ultimate purpose of our existence. It’s worth the price.
This is a microscope photograph, via Discovery Magazine of an enzyme produced by your body, called insulin. My goodness when I first came across this photo and stared at it, at the shape of the insulin crystals I was aghast.
I had to mockingly ask myself the question: Does that look designed!? Of course it does. It looks artificially generated in the starkest terms. Those crystals are produced by your body, automatically! It is absolute madness to suggest some sort of evolutionary route over billions of years to get this sort of ordered complexity. Madness. Insulin is designed by the creative and scientific genius of God almighty. Nothing could be more obvious, yet nothing is more intellectually resisted.
That’s in your body right now, regulating your sugar levels, ensuring the most precise balance to sustain your internal organs and blood functioning. Evolved indeed, such silliness!
One of the most sacred reflections of God’s glory we see here. This is a human embryo, 3 days old. Simply astounding. Glory to God. This is someone’s baby picture. That was you, just after conception. A clump of cells or a sacred human life?
Whether by the telescope or the microscope, life itself declares the glory of God.
The scriptures say in Revelation 4:1-6: “Then as I looked, I saw a door standing open in heaven, and the same voice I had heard before spoke to me like a trumpet blast. The voice said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must happen after this.” 2 And instantly I was in the Spirit, and I saw a throne in heaven and someone sitting on it. 3 The one sitting on the throne was as brilliant as gemstones—like jasper and carnelian. And the glow of an emerald circled his throne like a rainbow. 4 Twenty-four thrones surrounded him, and twenty-four elders sat on them. They were all clothed in white and had gold crowns on their heads. 5 From the throne came flashes of lightning and the rumble of thunder. And in front of the throne were seven torches with burning flames. This is the sevenfold Spirit of God. 6 In front of the throne was a shiny sea of glass, sparkling like crystal.– Revelation 4:1-6 ESV
Notice the rainbow is mentioned as part of this incredible description of God’s throne in heaven. Maybe it looks something like this.
I remember I would look up at the rainbows I’d see as a child and I’d be filled with wonder. Then as I began going to school I recall they tried to give us textbook “Scientific” definitions of the rainbow. Something to do with natural gases and blah blah blah. They always do that don’t they? They try to find some way, some reason to take the wonder from life. They try to explain everything away, until we’re nothing but materialist meat puppets fulfilling evolutionary Darwinistic desires for propagation and survival. Science is wonderful is how it can analyze our world, and help make our lives easier. But when science moves into the area of philosophy and starts trying to define the meaning and purpose of all life, it fails to produce accurate results. The rainbow is a reflection of God’s glory, and his promise.
But perhaps the greatest manifestation of God’s glory is in Jesus Christ our savior. The scriptures say: “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. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.” -Hebrews 1:3 ESV.
Jesus himself, in his infinite glory holds the universe together.
I couldn’t help but think of that scripture when I came along this photo. This is a photo of an optical phenomenon often referred to as “glory.” Though scholars debate how exactly this phenomenon forms, it has something to do with the rays of the sun interacting with water particles in the atmosphere.
Yet maybe it gives us a little glimpse of the idea of what it means for Jesus Christ to hold the universe together by the word of his power.
Bu it’s interesting how scientists tend to make discoveries that support the word of God. In fact Scientists in the past 20 years discovered the Higgs-Boson particle, a particle that literally holds the universe together, and allows for mass. It quickly garnered the nickname “the God particle.”
Indeed the natural world is full of magnificent sights that fill us with awe and amazement. This is a photograph of the largest hot spring in the United States. It’s simply amazing. In fact, as I gathered these photos together for this presentation, I found myself increasingly haunted by the fact that despite being such disparate representations of creation, from galaxies to brain cells to rainbows and the natural world, the thought kept coming to my mind that they all look quite similar in aesthetics. As if they were all designed by the same artist.
Our job today, tomorrow, and everyday is to live like Jesus. And to live for Jesus. Jesus being number one. And in so doing, we become like sun, the moon, the stars, nature, animals, and the very cells in our bodies, we become walking manifestations of the glory of God.
So we are called to reflect the light of the son of God. In fact, when are saved, reborn, regenerated by Jesus Christ our Lord he actually comes and lives within us, and we become his hands and feet on Earth.
Colossians 1:27 says regarding this: “To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”
And John 1:14 says “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
So we see that God makes his glory known through the creation. And we see that God makes his glory known through Christ in us.
And finally, we see that in the future we will see the ultimate representation of God’s glory in the eternal city of heaven. When we move past the veil of tears, and our lives end here, we will awake in glory, in the eternal city prepared by Christ for us.
Revelation 21:23 says “The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp.” In our coming reward, our coming eternity, for all time, our future coming existence, which will never end, will be a place lit by the full glory of God. We will see the full glory of God himself, and live within the eternal bask of our creator’s wondrous glow. And in the lamp light of our savior Jesus Christ. Our destiny is to live within the glory of God, the expansive, incredible, joyous glory of God.
Ultimately when we talk about the glory of God, we’re talking about living in the presence of God. The glory of God is what the joy of heaven is. It is living in the joy of seeing God at all times. And living in full peace, becoming so much more than we are now. It is the full coming into the fullness of what we are as people, made in the image of God, restored, having given glory to God, now welcomed into joyousness, the presence of God. We get little tastes of the glory of God, the joy of God today as we carry the gospel and love others, but in our eternal future we shall experience the full glory of God, beyond anything we can fully comprehend. And we ought to look forward in great hope for that day.
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