Moses had pleaded with God to see His glory (Exodus 33:18). If you read the chapter you’ll see it wasn’t a frivolous, fawning request for a cool spiritual experience—it was the fervent appeal of a desperate man thrust into leading a stubborn and obstinate generation of people into a strange, new land. Moses is sure he cannot do this without Yahweh’s presence with them and he needs assurance from God.
When God revealed Himself to Moses, He came down in the cloud that covered the tabernacle and stood there with Him and proclaimed His covenant name of Yahweh (34:5). Then He put Moses in the cleft of the rock and covered him with His hand when He passed by so that visually all that he could see was God’s “back.” But verbally God used His words to fully describe His glory to Moses. He spoke of Himself as compassionate . . . gracious . . . slow to anger . . . abounding in love and faithfulness . . . maintaining love to thousands . . . forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. This verbal unveiling is repeated numerous times throughout the Old Testament.
John tells us in 1:18 of his gospel that the person who has “seen” Jesus knows God (and His glory—v. 14, 17:5). Jesus tells Phillip the same thing in 14:8ff. For all the benefit it was to share the wonderful revelatory words with Israel, John wants us to know that for the world those words became flesh in the person of Jesus. Jesus is God using all of His words!
We know Him. We have seen His glory. Yes, we’ll see it on a far bigger stage one day in a way we cannot grasp now, but for all of that, John is uncompromising that we know Him and have seen His glory.
What remains is to remain in that glory. What remains is to understand the way we can live in this muddled mess of a world and be a blessing to others is to lose and then find ourselves in the glory of Christ in God. That’s why Moses made the request that He did. That’s why John wants us to understand what we see in Jesus.
Glory is more than a theological construct to help us grasp the infinite awesomeness of deity, it provides us with the perspective for seeing and seeking.
To those who be persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, He will give eternal life. (Romans 2:7).