The Gravity of God's Glory
by Rick Destree
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The Sun is a beautiful illustration of the radiance of God’s being: the “gravity” of God’s internal glory and the “shining forth” of His external majesty. For years, theologians have described these two kinds of divine glory: God’s internal and external majesty. The internal glory of God is that which is shared between and enjoyed by the three Persons of the Trinity and is totally unknown to us. His external glory, however, has been revealed to us in Creation, the Bible, and in the Person of Jesus Christ.
As an illustration, let’s compare the essence of Who God Is with the mass of a star. God’s internal glory could then be thought of as the unseen gravity a star produces because of its mass. This invisible glory of God is like the inner workings of a star because both are beyond our ability to see and experience, whereas the outward majesty of God is visible, like the blinding light and radiation shining forth from the star!
When we explore nature we experience the glory of God everywhere (Isaiah 6:3). And when we read and study the Bible we come face to face with the beauty of Christ’s character flowing from its pages. This external glory can be understood as the expression of all God’s revealed attributes. Think of Christ’s glory as brilliant sunshine and picture God’s attributes (which are seen in His glory) as the rainbow of colors we see when white light is passed through a prism—the prism of the Gospel.
Now God has perfections or attributes essential to His internal glory that we cannot observe. In the same way, we can enjoy the warmth of sunshine (a reflection of His external glory), but we cannot experience what’s going on inside the Sun. Nor would we want to because it would instantly destroy us (read Exodus 33:20)!
The most common Hebrew term that the Holy Spirit uses in the Old Testament to describe God’s glory is the word kavod. The literal translation of “kavod” is “weightiness, heaviness, or gravity.” So we can understand why God would associate stars with His glory in the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:41). If the word kavod is placed together with Adonai, one of many titles for God, then “kavod Adonai” can be translated the “weight of God’s glory.” But what does this mean?
It is said that Martin Luther trembled before God because he (Luther) was painfully aware of “man’s utter inability to withstand the weight of God’s devastating holiness.” The Puritan pastor Jonathan Edwards warned that the enemies of God would eventually be placed under the feet of Christ, Christ “being gloriously exalted over them.” Scripture says that our Lord “treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty” (Revelation 19:15c).
So, how heavy is Christ’s glory? And how weighty is God’s wrath? Since God is Spirit, and cannot be weighed in pounds or kilograms, we must try to understand His glory by comparing it with something we can grasp. Think about it for a minute—the infinite glory or “weight” of God in Christ standing on His enemies! No wonder Scripture warns us that at the judgment seat of Christ, the condemned will cry out for the mountains to fall and crush them (Revelation 6:15-17). As terrible a thought as this is, mountains are far, far lighter than the weight of Christ’s glory (kavod Adonai). If a star was placed on top of someone, it would be a “feather” compared to the sheer force of God’s holiness! And it is this infinite “gravity” of God’s Son that will trample the sons of Hell forever. Instead of cherishing the sweet light of Jesus’ beautiful face in the safety of Heaven—as we now enjoy sunshine from the safety of Earth—those in Hell will experience the terror of His wrath as one thrown into the seething and ever-crushing heart of a monstrous star. But this does not have to be true for you and for me. Christ’s love can shield us from being consumed by the gravity of His glory (Lamentations 3:22).
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