“In the same way, even though God has the right to show his anger and his power, he is very patient with those on whom his anger falls, who are destined for destruction. He does this to make the riches of his glory shine even brighter on those to whom he shows mercy, who were prepared in advance for glory. And we are among those whom he selected, both from the Jews and from the Gentiles.”
Romans 9:22-24 NLT
We read in Paul’s writings to the Roman Christians the strange concept, that God’s patience with sinners will expose “the riches of His glory”. And that glory will be focused on all those people who have been shown mercy, selected from both Jewish and non-Jewish peoples. What is all this about?
First of all, we have to consider what God’s glory is all about. There is something about our Heavenly Father that emanates all goodness, love, compassion and all the other attributes we can find about Him, and many we can’t. They are all present in His character and are personified with a perfection we cannot ever start to understand. And it’s all encapsulated in His Spirit. We humans often look at another person and marvel at their patience and compassion for someone who is sick, or suffering. Perhaps someone with physical or mental disabilities, and we think that we could never do or be the same as them. But God’s patience and compassion is infinite, to the extent that He even sent His own Son to die for us, and He gives us a lifetime of opportunity to choose His ways. Perhaps that’s a little glimpse of His glory.
We also get a glimpse of the glory of His majesty. The Israelites saw a manifestation of His glory on Mount Sinai, through smoke and the ground shaking. We read in Exodus 19:18, “All of Mount Sinai was covered with smoke because the Lord had descended on it in the form of fire. The smoke billowed into the sky like smoke from a brick kiln, and the whole mountain shook violently”. Moses was prevented from seeing God’s glory. We read in Exodus 33:18, 20-22, “Moses responded, “Then show me your glorious presence.” … “But you may not look directly at my face, for no one may see me and live.” The Lord continued, “Look, stand near me on this rock. As my glorious presence passes by, I will hide you in the crevice of the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by””. In Isaiah’s vision of the Lord in the Temple, we read what the Seraphim were calling out in Isaiah 6:3, “They were calling out to each other, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Heaven’s Armies! The whole earth is filled with his glory!””
In the New Testament, we read about the glory of Jesus in John 1:14, “So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son”. In 2 Corinthians 4:6 we read, “For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ”.
We see a glimpse of God’s glory in a sunrise or sunset. Psalm 19:1, “The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display his craftsmanship”. The delicate construction and beauty of a flower. The beauty of God’s creation is a manifestation of His glory.
But Paul in today’s verses from Romans 9 we read that only some will see His glory. We have to turn to 2 Corinthians 4 again to find out why. “Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God” (2 Corinthians 4:4). We pilgrims are an honoured few. We have seen God’s glory, exposed in our hearts when we decided to turn to Him through Jesus. Yes, the worries and anxieties of our time here on earth will try and hide His glory from us, but it is still there nevertheless. And one day we will see Him as He really is, with a glory so wonderful that no words can describe it. Have you, my reader, lost sight of what we can see and experience today? Have the trials and tribulations of life, or a debilitating sickness taken it away? Be assured – God’s glory is still there to be seen in Jesus. That’s why He came. And He is still with us through His Spirit.
Phil Wickham wrote a song a few years ago – “You’re beautiful”. It proclaims the glory of God, echoing what the Psalmist wrote in Psalm 19:1.
I see Your face in every sunrise
The colours of the morning are inside Your eyes
The world awakens in the light of the day
I look up to the sky and say … You’re beautiful.
Father God. Thank You for Jesus and all He did for us. We look into Your face today and see Your glory. We worship You today. Amen.