24. Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy,
We have seen that the glory of God is awesome, so awesome that the people of earth cannot fully experience it without being destroyed. So God can only reveal Himself in a non-threatening form such as a man or an angel in order to interact with His creatures.
Where He deals directly with earthly beings He must necessarily mask His glory by fire, light, cloud or by some other means.
We cannot here on earth be in the presence of the unveiled glory of God which is a manifestation of His perfect purity and holiness.
And why is that so? We have the answer in Romans.
23. for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God,
Sin is the problem and we have all inherited the curse of Adam’s sin. We are not naturally perfect and holy as God is and we therefore cannot be in His fully revealed presence.
And even in a veiled presence I want you to notice the reaction.
There was fear. There was a sense of great and imminent danger.
21. The angel of the LORD appeared no more to Manoah and to his wife. Then Manoah knew that he was the angel of the LORD.
22. And Manoah said to his wife, “We shall surely die, for we have seen God.”
10. Go in among the rocks and hide underground because of the LORD’S terrifying presence and the honour of his majesty.
25. Now therefore why should we die? For this great fire will consume us. If we hear the voice of Jehovah our God any more, then we shall die.
9. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
Some bowed down. Bowing down is an attitude of reverence and obedience but I believe it is also the posture of shame and inadequacy
4. Then brought he me the way of the north gate before the house: and I looked, and, behold, the glory of the LORD filled the house of the LORD: and I fell upon my face.
So where does our problem arise? It is our bodies contaminated by sin. They are not fit for the presence of God, so at death they must remain behind on earth,
We have heard the writer to the Romans as he expresses his impassioned cry.
24. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is infected by death?
That is why when we die our bodies must remain behind. They are not fit to enter God’s heavenly kingdom where only perfection can survive.
But Paul gives us the answer to this problem. God is going to fix it in one great, swift, universal action.
50. Brothers, this is what I mean: Mortal bodies cannot inherit the kingdom of God, and what decays cannot inherit what does not decay.
51. Let me tell you a secret. Not all of us will die, but all of us will be changed—
52. in a moment, faster than an eye can blink, at the sound of the last trumpet. Indeed, that trumpet will sound, and then the dead will be raised never to decay, and we will be changed.
53. For what is decaying must be clothed with what cannot decay, and what is dying must be clothed with what cannot die.
54. Now, when what is decaying is clothed with what cannot decay, and what is dying is clothed with what cannot die, then the written word will be fulfilled: “Death has been swallowed up by victory!”
Our new bodies will be, I believe, similar to the changed body of the Lord Jesus, the body in which He ascended into heaven.
We have spoken previously about the steps necessary for us to achieve full and perfect salvation. We have already dealt with two of those steps namely justification and sanctification. Our transformed bodies will be the completion of both of those steps, but that change now also introduces a third and, I believe, a final step, that step being glorification. And having been justified, sanctified and now glorified we will stand unashamed, without guilt, perfected and made fit and holy to be in the very presence of God. Glorification will be the full realization of our salvation
18. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
But again there is also a process involved which starts in this life.
22. I gave them the same glory you gave me, so that they may be one, just as you and I are one:
23. And he also wanted to reveal his abundant glory, which was poured out on us who are the objects of his mercy, those of us whom he has prepared to receive his glory.
Right now, we need to begin to exhibit that glory that we will experience in the future.
12. We encouraged you, we comforted you, and we kept urging you to live the kind of life that pleases God, who calls you to share in his own Kingdom and glory.
We are created for God’s glory and as human beings we are created in the image of God and even now we can share or participate in divine glory as image-bearers. Thus we are instructed to let our light shine before men. We are to be reflectors of the light that is one of the chief characteristics of God. And that reflection should more closely resemble the source as time goes on.
18.Therefore we all, beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord with uncovered face, are transformed from glory to glory into the same likeness, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.
Another translation puts it this way.
18. So our faces are not covered. They show the bright glory of the Lord, as the Lord’s Spirit makes us more and more like our glorious Lord.
And in Colossians we read this.
10, and have clothed yourselves with the new self which is being remoulded into full knowledge so as to become like Him who created it.
So, as time passes by are we being transformed so as to become more like God and His son Jesus, our Saviour? But the process will be completed when Jesus returns and our whole beings, including our bodies, will be made like Jesus and be fit to enter God’s heaven where nothing can exist that does not resemble himself.
And what a sight will await us as we enter that awesome place.
There God will be sitting on a throne. If we are to take that literally then it would seem that God, at some time, will adopt a shape similar to our own.
The apostle John looking through an open door into heaven tells us this.
2. Then the Spirit took control of me. There before me was a throne in heaven. Someone was sitting on the throne.
And later in the same chapter he tells us this.
9. And whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to him who is seated on the throne, who lives forever and ever,
10. the twenty-four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever. They cast their crowns before the throne, saying,
11. “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.”
And there right beside Him will be Jesus.
2. looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
6. Then I saw a Lamb standing in the center of the throne, surrounded by the four living creatures and the elders. The Lamb appeared to have been killed. It had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God that have been sent through the whole earth.
7. The Lamb went and took the scroll from the right hand of the one who sits on the throne.
But whatever God’s presence and the presence of Jesus will be like, it will be magnificent and there will be a full revelation of God’s glory and its identifying characteristics.
3. And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald.
4. And round about the throne were four and twenty seats: and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold.
5. And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.
6. And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal: and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes before and behind.
Speaking of the New Jerusalem which will descend out of heaven we read this.
23. And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.
And there will be no need for God to conceal the glory of His presence. There will be no concealing fire or cloud. There will be no impediment to our experiencing the full glory of God. Every trace of sin will have been removed and being faultless we will not be harmed by exposure to that full glory. It is our purified souls that will make us capable of enjoying God’s full splendour.
In fact the light of God’s glory will not reveal any impediment but rather enhance our own perfection and beauty.
Him eye to eye we then shall see,
Our face like His shall shine;
O what a glorious company
Where saints and angels join!
There will be no need for us to fear. We will not feel guilt and shame or be overawed.
“Without a cloud between;”
To see Him face to face;
Not struck with dire amazement dumb,
But triumphing in grace.
Yes, in fact our reaction will be completely the opposite. There will certainly be amazement, but not amazement producing apprehension and dread but amazement that has as its consequence joy and pleasure.
There are many sources of joy but our full and complete redemption will exceed all others in degree and duration.
“Without a cloud between;”
To see Him as He is;
O who can tell the height of joy,
The full transporting bliss!
Then this promise will also have come true.
8. Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
Shouldn’t we be longing to experience this awesome environment? Can we even begin to imagine what it will be like? Shouldn’t our prayer be as follows?
O Lord, who art Thy people’s light,
When shall Thy face be seen?
When wilt Thou meet our longing sight,
Without a cloud between?
And possibly the best part is that God is eternal and will always be there. But so will we be. Our bodies, we learnt, will be immortal and will never die. We will experience God’s presence for ever.
But having said all this I feel that Jude is not really referring to the glory of God’s appearance which will obviously be beyond our present comprehension but to something else.
C S Lewis said that glory to him meant two things – fame or luminosity, the fame being God’s approval or appreciation.
I am of the belief that it is this aspect of fame that Jude is speaking about in his epistle though I would prefer to use the word “honour” rather than fame.
St Augustine said that glory is brilliant celebrity with praise. Note again the two aspects – appearance and honour
The Old Testament has many references to the glory of God and the word most frequently used is “kabod” which means, heaviness, weight and originally referred to body armaments and their weight. But stemming from this idea of weight it can also mean wealth and honour as well as glory and majesty.
Here are some uses of the Hebrew word “kabod”
7. And in the morning you will see his glorious power, because he has heard your complaints against him. Why should you grumble to us? Who are we?”
This obviously refers to God’s appearance but look at these references in the Psalms.
1. Give to the LORD, you heavenly beings. Give to the LORD glory and power.
2. Give to the LORD the glory his name deserves. Worship the LORD in his holy splendor.
2. Sing forth the honour of his name; make his praise glorious
7. Ascribe to the LORD, you families of peoples, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength!
8. Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name, bring an offering and enter his courts!
1. To you alone, O LORD, to you alone, and not to us, must glory be given because of your constant love and faithfulness.
When the Old Testament Scriptures were translated into the Greek the Greek word used to translate “kabod” was “doxa” and while it is undoubtedly true that both words legitimately point to the magnificence of God’s appearance they also refer to God’s honour. In fact one commentator declares that the word glory is one of the most common praise words used in Scripture.
Doxa comes from a root word which refers to judgment or opinion and hence by extension good reputation or honour. It means to appear, to seem, to think, to accept. It gives rise to our English word orthodoxy meaning right or accepted thinking or esteem.
Here are some places in Scripture where “doxa” means “honour”.
In 1 Corinthians we have the word glory contrasted with dishonor or disgrace. So this gives us one meaning of the word, the opposite of dishonor or disgrace.
43. It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power:
We have already seen how the word applies to God’s appearance such as the shepherds saw at the announcement of the birth of Jesus.
9. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone over them. They were terribly afraid,
But the same word “doxa” is used again in verse 14.
14. “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom he is pleased!”
Then there were the lepers.
18. Were they not found, so as to return and give praise (doxan) to God, except this foreigner?”
And the once blind man whose sight had been healed was told this –
24. Therefore they called a second time the man who was blind, and said to him, “Give glory to God! We know that this Man is a sinner.”
Then there was Herod who accepted for himself honour that belonged to God and God alone.
23. Immediately the angel of the Lord struck him down because he did not give glory to God, and he was eaten by worms and died.
So there are many places where it is clear that the Hebrew word kabod and the Greek word doxa do not refer to appearance but to esteem, reputation and honour.
And I rather think that Jude was alluding to this meaning when he used it in his doxology and certainly this is the meaning in v.25
25. To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.
The scene in heaven has always been one of praise and worship, and the ascribing of honour to God and to the Lamb, God’s Son.
13. And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.
The two words “time” and “doxa”, honour and glory, are essentially two slightly different ways of saying the same thing. They both express the idea of praise and worship.
8. Each of the four living creatures had six wings and were full of eyes inside and out. Without stopping day or night they were saying, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, who is, and who is coming.”
9. Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor, and thanks to the one who sits on the throne, who lives forever and ever,
10. the 24 elders bow down and worship in front of the one who sits on the throne, the one who lives forever and ever. They throw their victor’s crowns in front of the throne and say,
11. “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory, honor, and power, because you created all things; they came into existence and were created because of your will.”
In fact we call heaven “the glory” not only because it is the place where God’s glorious appearance is on full display but because it is the place where God’s Person is fully honoured. He is the sole focus of worship and praise.
So that’s what it is like in heaven – joy, praise, honour and worship.
Now introduce into this scene millions of newly glorified believers. Everyone, not just some, but everyone who has expressed true faith in Jesus will be present. Won’t they be ecstatic that they are finally home and that their salvation is now fully realised?
2. Christ has also introduced us to God’s undeserved kindness on which we take our stand. So we are happy, as we look forward to sharing in the glory of God.
But this sharing with others in honouring God will then be, not an expectation, but a reality.
Don’t you think we will add to the joy and want to honour God and His Son the Lamb as well? What a crescendo of joy and giving honour, of ascribing glory, it will be!
This verse may not specifically refer to us but I believe it contains the context of our giving glory to God. We, too, will cry out with unrestrained exuberance and shout God’s praise.
10. and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”
Yes, we will be there and fully participating in giving glory to God and the Lamb just as Jesus wanted.
24. Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.
And I believe that the glory spoken about includes both appearance and honour.
As we celebrate with the hosts of heaven, and how many of them are there, it will a celebration of the completed work of Calvary. We may well be adorned with crowns of victory and with other rewards
But we need to remind ourselves that ascribing honour or glory to God and to Jesus which we will undertake with unrestrained passion in the future ought to begin right now.
We are God’s creation made for a purpose.
7. They are my own people, and I created them to bring me glory.”
This verse speaks specifically of Israel, but it is certain that God expects that all of His Creation will give Him the honour He deserves
He already has honour but it is not yet complete
13. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.
And God shares His honour with His Son. God honoured Him and so should we.
17. For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
Our present response should be to honour God and, Jesus, His Son as a reflection of the honour given to both in heaven.
13. Now, our God, we thank you, and we praise your glorious name!
And God’s honour, His glory, should be at the heart of all we are involved in.
31. Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.
11. In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will,
12. so that we should be to the praise of His glory, we who first trusted in Christ;
And not just as individuals but collectively as well.
21. to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, forever. Amen.
Therefore I would encourage us to honour Him now, in this life, just as we will one day give Him glory in heaven. These verses would be my prayer for all of us today.
28. Ascribe to the LORD, O families of the peoples, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength!
29. Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; bring an offering and come before him! Worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness;
And my desire is that the words of our hearts would be as follows.
Glory to Thee; Thou Son of God most High,
All praise to Thee!
Glory to Thee, enthroned above the sky,
Who died for me;
High on Thy throne, Thine ear, Lord Jesus, bend
As grateful hearts now to Thyself ascend.
The emotionally charged atmosphere of heaven, with millions giving praise and honour to God, not quietly, but with loud animated exuberant voices will result in rapturous joy and jubilation and it will be overwhelming to be there.
But let us also give God glory, let us honour Him, in our hearts, now, as we walk the Christian pathway leading to that future life in heaven where we will experience eternal joy in the fully revealed presence of our Almighty God.