The Hebrew word for glory here is kavod, which means weight or significance.
The whole earth is full of the weight and significance of who God is. The prophets were deeply influenced by this understanding that the earth is drenched with the presence of God.
The writer David said, "The earth is the Lord's, and everything in it." He later prayed, "Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?"
According to the ancient Jewish worldview, God is not somewhere else. God is right here. It is God's world and God made it and God owns it and God is present everywhere in it. In the book of Genesis, a man named Jacob had a dream in which God spoke to him and reminded him of his destiny and purpose. When Jacob woke up, he said, "Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it."
God has been there all along, and Jacob is just beginning to realize it. He's waking up from physical sleep, but he is also waking up from spiritual sleep. I've heard people tell stories about something powerful that happened and then at the end of the story say, "And then God showed up!" As if God were somewhere else and then decided to intervene.
But God is always present. We're the ones who show up.
For the ancient Jew, the world is soaked in the presence of God.
The whole earth is full of the kavod of God.
For the writers of the Bible, this truth is everywhere. It's here. It's there.
It's all over.
And not only is truth everywhere, not only is the whole earth filled with the kavod of God, but the writer Paul makes a fascinating observation about people in his letter to the Romans. He says at one point, "Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves." Gentiles is his word for people who don't follow God, and law is his word for the Scriptures. So he says that people who don't know anything about God are able to do the right thing on a regular basis. Without having any instructions from God or the Bible, these people are still able from time to time to live as God created us to live. For Paul, truth is available to everyone.
Truth is everywhere, and it is available to everyone.
But Paul takes it further, because for him truth is bigger than his religion. Notice what he says in the book of Titus. He is referring to the people who live on the island of Crete when he writes that even one of their own prophets has said, "`Cretans are always liars, evil brutes, lazy gluttons.' He has surely told the truth."
So Paul quotes one of the Cretan prophets and then affirms that this guy was right in what he said. "This testimony is true." What the prophet said was true, so Paul quotes him. For Paul, anybody is capable of speaking truth. Anybody, from any perspective, from any religion, from anywhere.
And these words from the book of Titus, the quote from a Cretan prophet, are in the Bible. So the Word of God contains the words of a prophet from Crete.
Paul affirms the truth wherever he finds it.
But he takes it further in the book of Acts. He is speaking at a place called Mars Hill (which would be a great name for a church) and trying to explain to a group of people who believe in hundreds of thousands of gods that there is really only one God who made everything and everybody. At one point he's talking about how God made us all, and he says to them, "As some of your own poets have said, `We are his offspring.'" He quotes their own poets. And their poets don't even believe in the God he's talking about. They were talking about some other god and how we are all the offspring of that god, and Paul takes their statement and makes it about his God. Amazing.
Paul doesn't just affirm the truth here; he claims it for himself. He doesn't care who said it or who they were even saying it about. What they said was true, and so he claims it as his own.
This affirming and claiming of truth wherever you find it is all through the writings of Paul. In 1 Corinthians, he tells his readers, "All things are yours,... and you are of Christ, and Christ is of God." He essentially says to them, "It all belongs to God, and Christ is of God, and you are of Christ, so...it's all yours."
If it is true, if it is beautiful, if it is honorable, if it is right, then claim it. Because it is from God. And you belong to God.
The philosopher Arthur Holmes is known for saying, "All truth is God's truth." It is such a great statement, because what other kind of truth could there be?