The Light of Glory
“When Moses came down from Mount Sinai, with the two tablets of the testimony in his hand as he came down from the mountain, Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God” (v. 29).- Exodus 34:29–35
God esteems the glory that is inherent to His divine nature so highly that He will share it with no other (Isa. 42:8). Among other things, this tells us that the Lord’s greatest aim is to see His glory revealed throughout creation and that we should also make exalting the glory of God our highest goal. If the Lord values His glory above all else, then His glory is the most valuable thing in existence, and we would be fools to set a higher value on anything but that which our Creator deems most valuable.
So, we are to make the exaltation and proclamation of God’s glory our chief aim, but that raises the question of what, exactly, God’s glory is. The answer is not a simple one, and there will be limits to what we can say about it. However, Scripture does reveal several aspects of God’s glory, and today’s passage points us in the direction of one of the central aspects of divine glory—bright, refulgent light.
As we see in today’s passage, when Moses met with the Lord in order to receive divine revelation, his face then shone with such intensity that the Israelites could not bear to look upon it (Ex. 34:29–35). That such brightness was a reflection of divine glory is confirmed in passages such as Revelation 21:23, which says that the glory of God will be the source of illumination in the new heaven and earth. There is an incomparable brightness, a dazzling whiteness of light that is inherent to our Creator’s very being. This light is so incredible, in fact, that when the plan of redemption is fully consummated and creation has been transformed, the complete unveiling of this glory will illuminate the entire universe.
When we think of dazzling light, we also think of such concepts as purity, holiness, and truth. The blindness associated with judgment also comes to mind. This is not surprising because Scripture also associates these concepts or attributes with light (Ps. 43:3; Isa. 6:1–7; Hos. 6:5; John 12:41). Because of this, we can think of glory as in some sense summing up all of the divine attributes. In the bright light of the glory of God we find the fullest picture of His holiness, His righteousness, His truth, His justice—of His very character. And since God is incomprehensible—we can know Him truly though not fully and not in the way God knows Himself—it makes sense that we run into some difficulty whenever we try to describe His glory. We can say much about it, but there is much that we cannot say until that day when we see His glory in the new creation.
Scripture gives us many indications of what the glory of God means, but like His other attributes, God’s glory is not fully comprehensible to creatures. There is a greatness and magnificence to the Lord that cannot be expressed, and we won’t ever be able to comprehend God entirely—even into eternity. We are to exalt His glory because it is the highest good and the only thing that can ultimately satisfy human beings.
Passages for Further Study
1 Chronicles 29:11
Psalm 57:5, 11
2 Corinthians 4:1–6