One day when I was in college, Clyde Kilby, my favorite English teacher, said something to this effect: “One of the greatest tragedies of the fall is that we get tired of familiar glories.” That simple statement sank deep into my consciousness. It made me sad, because I saw how superficial and unresponsive I was to so many wonders around me. It filled me with a longing to not be like that. I did not want to arrive in the Alps, be filled with wonder for a couple days, but by the end of the week be watching television in the chalet. I lamented my ability to actually yawn during Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus.”
Which means I loathe the thought of speaking of God’s glory in a way that is so familiar or stale or clichéd that it wakens no sense of wonder. Of course, I realize only God can waken true wonder at his glory. Kilby was right. The fall has left us deeply dysfunctional emotionally. We’re excited by trivia and bored by grandeur. We strain out a gnat to admire and swallow a camel of glory unnoticed. Nevertheless, I want to try to use language that helps us see what God’s glory is, if I can. Hence the effort to find other words besides glory—like worth and beauty and value and excellence.
Holiness Gone Public
My understanding of the glory of God has been deeply shaped by its relationship to the holiness of God. I have in mind the way this relationship comes to expression in Isaiah 6:1–3:
In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the LORD sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!”
Why did the prophet not say, “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his holiness!”? My suggestion is that the glory of God is the holiness of God put on display. When God’s holiness shines into creation, it is called “God’s glory.”
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SOURCE: The Gospel Coalition