“The glory of the Lord shall be revealed” (Isaiah 40:5).
The whole concept of the glory of the Lord surrounds the Christmas scene. At the birth of Christ, the angels shouted, “Glory to God in the highest.” And Luke 2:9 says, “The glory of the Lord shone round about them.” The word of Isaiah 40:5 is the Christmas message. The birth of Christ was the revelation of the glory of the Lord, just as Isaiah had promised. “The glory of the Lord shall be revealed.” What does that mean?
To begin with, “the glory of the Lord” is the expression of God’s person. It is any manifestation of God’s character or attributes. In other words, glory is to God what brightness is to the sun. Glory is to God what wet is to water. Anytime God discloses Himself, He manifests His glory.
The heavens declare the glory of God (Psalm 19:1). The beast of the field gives Him glory. Everything He ever made shows His glory in some way or another. God also revealed His glory in a very particular way through the shekinah. This was a physical manifestation of divine glory that appeared to the Israelites of Moses’ day as a pillar of light by night and a pillar of cloud by day (Exodus 13:21).
But He also spoke through His Word, given to the prophets and recorded in Scripture (2 Peter 1:21). He thus disclosed His glory in a way that communicated truth and gave instruction to His people. This was the highest and most enduring manifestation of divine glory Old Testament saints had access to. You see, God only whispers in His creation. He revealed a shadow of His glory in the shekinah. But He speaks with absolute clarity in His Word. “God … spake” (Hebrews 1:1)—and not in a whisper but in full voice.
Still, there was an incompleteness in it all until “[God] hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son” (Hebrews 1:2). Now, that is God shouting! You can’t mistake it. Christ is God, and you see every attribute of God manifest in Him: His judgment, His justice, His love, His wisdom, His power, His omniscience. It’s all there in person as we see Him walk through the world, working His work, living His life. The fullness of God may be seen as it was never seen before in Jesus Christ.
The writer of Hebrews continues in verse 3: “being the brightness of His glory.” Who is Jesus Christ? He is the glory of the Lord. That is what he’s saying here. Jesus is the “express image” of God (v. 3). He is the personal embodiment of the brightness of God’s glory. That’s why it says in John 1:14, “The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.”
The message of Christmas is that God came into the world in all His glory, and what was only a whisper became a shout. And someday in the future, as we read in the book of Revelation, He will come back in His blazing glory, which Jesus called “great glory” (Matthew 24:30). When He comes back in second coming glory, the Bible says the shout will be even louder so that every voice in the universe will cry and shout and sing His praises (Philippians 2:9-11; Revelation 5:12,13).
—Condensed from “The Glory of the Lord” by John MacArthur.