Glory to God! Part 2: The Glory of God in the Promise of Redemption
December 26, 2016 § Leave a comment
God’s glory shines in his Creation; anyone who has beheld in the wilderness a clear night sky has glimpsed that glory. The Psalmist exults: “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork” (Psalm 19:1). But nowhere is the glory of God brighter in our dark world than in Gospel, the fulfillment of God’s promise:
Thy glory o’er creation shines
but in Thy sacred Word
I read in fairer, brighter lines
my bleeding, dying Lord.
—Annie Steel, “Thou Lovely Source of True Delight”
No one has ever stood on a mountaintop, or at the shore of the sea and “read” the glory of God’s grace in redemption. But God has spoken his glory in his Word, and in the glory of the Gospel God reveals a paradox, of sorts: Christ left the glory of heaven to enter the glory of Creation and to redeem fallen sinners to bring them to the glory of heaven.
God’s promise to his people of a Redeemer was essentially a declaration that he intended them to share in his glory. This, through the voices of the prophets, was an ever-unfolding promise in which God revealed more and more about the glory that would come. But the promise of glory did not mean God’s people would not struggle or suffer. Indeed, as we struggle in this fallen world with our sin and the sin of those around us, we groan and long with deeper appreciation and faith for the fullness of God’s promise of glory:
The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. (Romans 8:16-17)
This is how it has always been for the people of God—for those looking for the glory of redemption. The saints of old were driven by this hope of glory, and found the strength of resting in God’s mercy even in the midst of sin’s strife:
Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
and cry to her
that her warfare is ended,
that her iniquity is pardoned,
that she has received from the LORD’s hand
double for all her sins.
A voice cries:
“In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD;
make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be lifted up,
and every mountain and hill be made low;
the uneven ground shall become level,
and the rough places a plain.
And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed,
and all flesh shall see it together,
for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.” (Isaiah 40:1-5)