God’s Glory, Presence & the Holy Spirit










Mag. Claudia R. Wintoch













Bible Doctrines

J.D. King






World Revival School of Ministry

Spring Trimester 2002


1. Introduction


These days many Christians speak about the glory of God; the glory of God descending in their churches, in worship services, entering His glory, experiencing His glory. But what is His glory? What do they mean? Is the glory the same as His presence? And is the glory the presence of the Holy Spirit? Do they mean that the Holy Spirit fills their churches tangibly? Do they mean God fills them with His Holy Spirit? The object of this paper is to examine the relationship between God’s presence, His glory and the Holy Spirit. 


2. Definitions


The word glory appears frequently in the Bible[1]. In the Old Testament it is the translation of the Hebrew word דובכ[2] (kabod), when speaking of God’s glory. The Aramaic word for glory, shekinah, has become the word used for God’s glory by the Jews. When the Old Testament was translated into Greek, the writers used the word δοξα[3] (doxa) for glory; a word which encompasses a much broader meaning[4] and which brought the words kabod and shekinah together, as the translation for both. Sorge (2000:63) defines the glory as “the invasion of God’s reality into the human sphere”.

The Hebrew word סינב[5] (paniym) is translated presence 76 times in the Old Testament, 390 times face[6]. Moses spoke face to face with God, being in His presence. It often speaks about the glory and presence at the same time. As the glory cloud descended, Moses would come into the presence of the Lord and speak with Him.

There is only one passage, where we see the Holy Spirit mentioned specifically together with the glory, which is in Ezekiel 43. Baker’s Theological Dictionary of Biblical Theology defines the Holy Spirit as “the transcendent, omnipresent spiritual and localizable presence of God's personality and power, living in and divinely empowering all of God's true people in diverse and incomplete ways that foreshadow their complete, future renewal at the end of the age”[7].


3. The Glory and the Presence


In Numbers 14:21, the Lord says, as surely as I live and as surely as the glory of the Lord fills the whole earth. The seraphs in Isaiah 6:3 cry out: Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory. God is omnipresent, His glory filling the whole universe. “God is everywhere and is present to every person. But the personal knowledge of that fact and the experience of that presence is what finally really counts.” (Williams 1992:79). Sorge (2000:68) distinguishes between the glory and presence today by saying that “presence is subjective, Glory is objective”, meaning that all mankind together will see the glory (Isaiah 40:5), while experiencing the presence depends on the person’s spiritual tuning. The latter concurs with Jewish thought as seen in the Talmud:

“Although the Shechinah is omnipresent, its reality is more deeply felt in places and circumstances which, by their sacred character, tend to attune the person spiritually to God. Especially in view of the command, ‘Let them make for Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them’ (Exod. xxv. 8), the Tent of Meeting was regarded as a place where the Shechinah was manifest most vividly.” (Cohen 1995:42f.).


Even though the earth is full of God’s presence and glory, many do not perceive it. God made a covenant with the people of Israel, wanting them to be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation (Exodus 19:6). He made His presence visible for them by manifesting Himself in fire, smoke and a cloud, and speaking to them from the fire, through thunder and lightning. God’s visible presence and His glory seem to be interchangeable. His glory was always before them, yet they were afraid and rejected it:

“The Lord our God has shown us his glory and his majesty, and we have heard his voice from the fire. Today we have seen that a man can live even if God speaks with him. But now, why should we die? This great fire will consume us, and we will die if we hear the voice of the Lord our God any longer. For what mortal man has ever heard the voice of the living God speaking out of fire, as we have, and survived? Go near and listen to all that the Lord our God says. Then tell us whatever the Lord our God tells you. We will listen and obey.“ (Deuteronomy 5:24-27)


They recognized that they could not survive in the glorious presence of God. They even could not bear looking at Moses’s face that was radiating with His glory.

While His glory seems to be identical with His presence, it is often used to mean the intense, tangible presence of God beyond the every day experience. Ruth Ward Heflin (1990:133) defines the glory as “the revelation of the presence of God. It is the manifestation of His presence. He is glory. He is everywhere, but glory is the manifestation of that reality … When glory comes down, it’s a bit of Heaven’s atmosphere coming down to us, a taste of His manifest presence.”

Bob Sorge (2000:57) is trying to illustrate the different degrees of His presence and glory in the following table:

God’s omnipresence is represented around zero or one. In a worship service His presence would increase a few degrees, maybe up to nine or ten, where a sensory threshold is crossed and His presence becomes tangible, which would be what most charismatic Christians would call “the glory coming down”. As His glory increases further degrees, there might be healings or other manifestations. However, there comes a point where we humans in our flesh would die. Moses saw God’s glory every day, in the pillar of cloud and fire. However, when on the mountain with God, He experienced a greater manifestation of His glory that shone through him when returning to the camp. Even though he tasted of God’s glory, he still asked God to show him His glory (Exodus 33:18). That is quite remarkable, considering all Moses had seen, more than any other living being before. Yet God was pleased by his request and granted it. Again, we see His presence being identical with His glory: When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by … you will see my back (Exodus 33:22-23) (emphasis mine).


4. The Glory and the Spirit


It is interesting that the Holy Spirit is hardly mentioned in the accounts of Moses, only in terms of being on or in people[8], during God’s most active season with Israel, while His glory and presence is mentioned frequently.

Ezekiel watched the glory of God – that had inhabited the tabernacle and then the Temple, God’s dwelling place – gradually depart from His Temple. In his description of his visions Ezekiel frequently speaks of the Holy Spirit who lifts him up, takes him to places and speaks to him[9]. It is the only place where we see the glory and the Holy Spirit together, yet being distinct.

Moses was a man, on whom the Holy Spirit was. Even though he experienced God’s tangible presence and glory like many today have not, those in the new covenant possess a far greater treasure. The God of glory Himself now lives in us. When His glory descends, it is not only around us, but the Holy Spirit lives in us, permeating every atom of our being. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit (2.Corinthians 3:18). We not have His glory in us, but we are being transformed into His likeness, with the end result of being like Him, being made up of glory.


5. The Glory and Jesus


Jesus left the glory He had with His Father and became man. At His baptism the Holy Spirit descended on Him and empowered Him for ministry. No mention is made of the glory of God in relation to Jesus at this time. The first time His glory was seen was on the mount of transfiguration, which would be better named glorification. Jesus’s face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light (Matthew 17:2). The mention of the cloud and the light remind the reader of Moses. Only Luke mentions the word glory: Peter and his companions … saw his glory and two men standing with him (Luke 9:32). Stern (1999:55) gives the following explanation: “So that his glory would not be less than that of Moshe and Eliyahu, who were speaking with him”, who are also described as having appeared in glorious splendor (Luke 9:31). However, the coming of Moses and Elijah “portends the nearness of the end of the age, and the reference to tabernacles has as its background the eschatological associations of the Feast of Tabernacles in connection with the idea of the tabernacling of God with his people” (Ramsey 1949:103) and Jesus’s glorification was “a fortaste of the glory of Jesus at the Parousia” (ibidem). The disciples may well have thought that Jesus would establish His kingdom at this time, since the appearance of the glory cloud was expected by the Jews at the end of the age[10].

Jesus was glorified in His resurrection from the dead and returned to His father’s glory He had had before, as Jesus had prayed in John 17:5 And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.

6. Conclusion


Stephen saw the glory of God just before He went to be with Him (Acts 7:55). And Jesus will come back with those who are His: When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory (Colossians 3:4). Until then, we are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you (1.Peter 4:14). On Pentecost the glory of God moved from the Temple into His people. The Holy Spirit now lives in us, with all the glory of the Lord. And as we worship the God of glory, we are creating an atmosphere for His tangible presence and glory to be made manifest and change us so we become like Him.


7. Bibliography



Abrahams, Israel, The Glory of God. Three Lectures, Oxford University Press: Milford 1925


Cohen, Abraham, Everyman’s Talmud, Schocken Books: New York 1995


Heflin, Ruth Ward, Glory. Experiencing the Atmosphere of Heaven, McDougal Publishing: USA 1990


Njoku, Stephen Uche, Radical Prayer and God’s Shekinah-Glory, Christian Living Publications: Enugu/Nigeria 1991


Ramsey, Arthur Michael, The Glory of God and the Transfiguration of Christ, Longmans, Green and Co: Plymouth/UK 1949


Sorge, Bob, Glory. When Heaven Invades Earth, Oasis House: Greenwood, MO 2000


Stern, David H., Jewish New Testament Commentary, Jewish New Testament Publications: Clarksville, ML 1999


Williams, Rodman J., Renewal Theology, Zondervan: Grand Rapids, MI 1992


[1] 401 times in 331 verses.

[2] 3519 in Strong’s Concordance.

[3] 1391 in Strong’s Concordance, http://bible.crosswalk.com/Lexicons/NewTestamentGreek/grk.cgi?number=1391.

[4] It appears 151 times in the New Testament, used also for honor, praise, dignity and worship.

[5] 6440 in Strong’s Concordance, http://bible.crosswalk.com/Lexicons/Hebrew/heb.cgi?number=06440&version=.

[6] The total number of occurrences is 1890.

[7] http://bible.crosswalk.com/Dictionaries/BakersEvangelicalDictionary/bed.cgi?number=T346

[8] He is mentioned as being in the skilled workers (Ex 31, 35), on Moses and the seventy elders (Num 11), on Balaam (Num 24) and in Joshua (Num 27, Deut 34).

[9] For example Ez 43:5 Then the Spirit lifted me up and brought me into the inner court, and the glory of the Lord filled the temple.

[10] According to the apocryphal 2.Maccabees 2:8 Then shall the Lord show them these things, and the glory of the Lord shall appear, and the cloud also, as it was shown under Moses, and as when Solomon desired that the place might be honorably sanctified.