The glory of God is a phenomenon that the people of God were familiar with, in fact, almost used to. From the moment the Israelites left the land of Egypt, they saw and were led by the pillar of cloud during the day and the pillar of fire at night: the visible sign of the presence and glory of God. From then on, to the wilderness, Mt. Sinai (Horeb) and whenever the Tabernacle was erected, the glory of God followed and descended.
The Ark of the Covenant later became a more enduring symbol and a physical representation of the glory and presence of God. Therefore when the Philistines captured it in the days of Eli the prophet and priest, his daughter-in-law lamented that the glory had departed from Israel (1Sam. 4: 21, 22). Eventually, the Ark was recovered and was relocated to Jerusalem in the days of David and subsequently housed in the Temple of Solomon upon its completion. Coming full circle once again, the Ark of the Covenant was brought into the Temple, built for the worship of God, the “Shekinah” glory of God descended as it was being dedicated and consecrated (2Chr. 6 and 7). It was a sight to behold as God was taking His place amongst His people yet again. It was a sight that had not been seen for generations. It, however, would not last forever. The people sinned against God, defiled His Temple and the glory departed. Nebuchadnezzar destroyed the Temple, the Ark disappeared; it was paradise lost all over again!
Decades later, Ezra, Nehemiah, Haggai and Zechariah would mobilize the people to build a new Temple but this time, the glory would not return as in previous times. Even after the prophets had promised that the glory of the later house would exceed the former (Haggai 2: 9). But of what House did the prophets speak? And what would bring the glory to back to it? The Ark was still gone.
For hundreds of years that became a subject of debates and speculation as God was silent (Amos. 8: 11). A troubling and deafening silence brought about by years of disobedience. Prophecy was practically extinct as they were now reaping the fruits of endless disobedience. The subject of God’s glory was now a legend of days long gone.
Finally, one day, a voice was heard in the wilderness. A prophet was speaking, everyone went forth to see this prophet. Even the elders of the Temple were curious and went to the Judean desert to see and speak with this prophet. This time they were troubled. He seemed genuine. He was different from the ones they had seen in recent times. This one made himself of no significance. He spoke of repentance; the washing away of sin and the glory of God shining upon those who are in darkness and the revelation of the messiah which would happen very shortly as He was now already walking amongst the people.
Now, not only was the glory of God going to be seen in His Temple, but in fact, the King of Glory would come into His Holy House (C. C. C. Hymn 731)! This is not the glory of the cloud or of the fire, neither of a new type of gold-plated Ark, but of the Son of the Living God, “…full of grace and truth” (Jn. 1: 14). The subject at hand was now of an Eternal glory, the glory of the latter House, the Glory that does not fade, diminish or disappear, a glory that would be seen in the church; the Israel of God (Gal. 6: 16). The glory of a different type of Temple, a Temple not built with hands, like Paul said (Acts. 17: 24), but a house purchased with the blood of Him that owns her (1 Cor. 6: 19-20; 1Pet. 2: 4, 5). A different type of glory, not of the sun nor of the moon but the glory “as of the only begotten Son of God”.
This is the eternal glory that is given to all those who believe in and receive Him (Jn. 1: 12). The glory of the chosen ones (Rom. 8: 29); adopted into the Kingdom of God by faith. The glory of “sonship” wherby we become His sons and daughters; we call Him Father and He calls us children (Rom. 8: 14-15)! The Glory of the Eternal God is the Glory of Eternal Life. We become partakers of the eternal glory when we become members of the family, being conformed to the image of the Son. The Father’s invitation is open, what’s holding you back?