There’s glory in the boring parts of the Bible.
Our church is reading through the F260 Bible Reading plan again this year. For the last few days I’ve been in the second half of Exodus. Here Yahweh instructs Moses in detail about how to build the Tabernacle and the altar. In Exodus 28, Yahweh tells Moses he’s going to make Aaron and his son priests and therefore they will need holy garments. Again, detailed instructions follow. Two times in Exodus 28, once at the beginning (28:2) and another time at the end (28:40), the Lord tells Moses the holy, priestly garments are for “glory and beauty.”
Glory and Beauty in the Old Testament
In the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Old Testament, sometimes called the “LXX”), the words for “glory” and “beauty” are doxa and timé. Doxa is usually translated as glory, and timé can be translated a variety of ways, usually “honor.” The two words together are used for Yahweh, God, the Almighty.
- The angels are called to ascribe glory and honor to Yahweh (Psalm 29:1)
- The nations are called to ascribe glory and honor to Yahweh (Psalm 96:7)
- Glory and honor surround Yahweh (Job 40:10)
The words together are also used of humans a number of times:
- The priests should be clothed in glory and honor (Exodus 28:2,40)
- Humanity is crowned with glory and honor (Psalm 8:6)
- God gives Nebuchadnezzar glory and honor (Daniel 2:37)
- When Nebuchadnezzar claims glory and honor for himself (Daniel 4:30), God humiliates him for years
So glory and honor belong to Yahweh, the one true God, and as a gift to humanity in general, but especially the Israelites priests and even some pagan kings.
Glory and Honor in the New Testament
In the New Testament the words pair together a number of times. Two passages relate them to human beings:
- Glory and honor are sought and received by those who do good (Romans 2:7, 10)
- The glory and honor of the nations are brought into the holy city of God (Revelation 21:26)
More often, the words are used for God or for Jesus:
- Genuine faith results in Jesus receiving glory and honor (1 Peter 1:7)
- Jesus received glory and honor from God (2 Peter 1:17)
- In Revelation, glory and honor are bundled together with other attributes of praise to God and to Jesus. Both are worthy to receive glory and honor and more (Revelation 4:9, 4:11, 5:12–13, 7:12)
Finally, there is another incredibly interesting passage in Hebrews. The author cites Psalm 8:6, noting that the Lord crowns mankind with glory and honor, and subjects everything under his feet (Hebrews 2:7). The problem is that humanity’s crowning glory and corresponding ruling of the world looks like a failed experiment. “We do not yet see everything subjected to him” (Hebrews 2:8), that is man. Then the author makes his pivot: “But we do see Jesus — made lower than the angels for a short time so that by God’s grace he might taste death for everyone — crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death” (Hebrews 2:9).
Jesus is the one who displays the glory and honor that humanity received from God. And he is also one who deserves the glory and honor that God himself deserves. Jesus is the one clothed in created glory and honor in his humanity. Jesus is the one radiating divine glory and honor in his deity.
In other words, priestly glory and honor in the so-called boring parts of Exodus foretells the incarnate glory of God the Son.