In anticipation of our time in Luke 2:8-16 and the Angels’ Song, I’ve been reflecting on the glory of the Lord. As I ponder “glory” in anticipation of Christmas, I’d like for us to look beyond Jesus’ first coming and on to His second. At that time, He will usher in the New Heavens and New Earth. In this season of preparation let us consider, and prepare for this picture of glory.
Wednesday, December 18th
Larger Portion of Scripture - Revelation 21
Focused Passage for Reflection - Revelation 21:22-27
Reflecting on the Text:
Some words are easy to define. When I speak of an apple, you have no confusion as to what I am talking about. Oh sure, a few people automatically think of a computer, but most of us think of a red round piece of fruit. We say the word and our mind can comprehend what it is we are describing.
On the other hand, some words are hard to define. How about the word “glory?” Try to define that word. Maybe you are thinking it fits in the category of “you know it when you see it.” That’s fair. But try to describe where you have seen it. Some of us think of a particularly extraordinary athletic accomplishment. Some of us think of a beautiful scenic view. Maybe some of us even think of a memorable meal.
But in all of these cases, is it the thing (or person) which is glorious, or is it our experience of the thing (or person)? Are you beginning to get the point? It is hard to wrap our minds around the concept of glory. As I’ve tried to ponder it, I’ve begun to think maybe the point is not that we comprehend glory, but rather that we imagine it…understanding that when we talk about the glory of God, anything we imagine will fall far short of the actual experience of His glory.
In His first coming, Jesus came with glory veiled. It was necessary as He took on the form of a man, or the form of a servant as Paul writes in Philippians 2:7. Yet even though His glory was veiled, we saw some indication of His true identity as we witnessed the glory of the Lord seen in the presence of the angels who heralded His birth. But maybe the best way to prepare for His glorious coming is to look beyond (or maybe through) His first coming and on to His second.
In Revelation 21, we find one of the most hope-filled and encouraging passages in Scripture as we see the final destiny of all who belong to the Lord. There we see a picture of the city of God. In describing the city, verses 23-24 give us some intriguing insight into the meaning of glory. “And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it.”
I confess I still can not comprehend this concept of the glory of God. Even my imagination falters, but the Word seems to be telling us that the glory of God will shine so brightly that it will render the sun and moon useless. Yet still I wrestle to try and understand. Why does God shine so brightly? It must be the essence of His being radiating light. His holiness is so pure and undefiled that He shines more brightly than the sun, emitting the light with which the New Heavens and New Earth are sustained, and by which they flourish. This is glory! I cannot comprehend it, but I find that merely considering it drives my heart to worship!
We’ve talked about how words can be both easy and hard to understand. Some words fit into one category. Some fit into the other. This Advent, we are preparing our hearts to celebrate the birth of a baby. While you know in your mind how to categorize babies, please don’t mis-categorize this baby. The baby Jesus was glory incarnate. His glory was veiled for a time so that He might rescue His people from their sins, and thus give us the blessing of beholding His glory for all time. While His glory is hard to comprehend, this Advent take time to ponder it. And as you ponder, let His glory shape your heart of worship this Christmas.
Questions for personal reflection:
How does the image of glory in Revelation 21 impact your understanding and appreciation of Christmas?
How does the image of glory in Revelation 21 impact your concept of what it means to “follow Jesus”?
How does the image of glory in Revelation 21 impact your heart for worship?