Immortal, Invisible

The Splendor of His Light Unveiled*

I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life. John 8:12

The lyrics of “Immortal, Invisible” were penned by a Scottish pastor, Walter Chalmers Smith. Reverend Smith published several volumes of poetry and hymnals during the late nineteenth century.

Originally, the hymn had five stanzas. All of the stanzas make a reference to the glorious light that surrounds God—what is sometimes called the Shekinah glory.

Moses saw this glory in the desert when he encountered a fire that burned but did not consume the bush. God later made this light visible to the Israelites—the pillar of fire that illuminated their path at night and the cloud that shaded them from the desert heat during the day.

Later, Mount Sinai was enveloped in God’s glory “because the LORD descended on it in fire. The smoke billowed up from it like smoke from a furnace, the whole mountain trembled violently, and the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder” (Exodus 19:18).

The Israelites were terrified and cried out to Moses, “Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die” (Exodus 20:19).

God honored that request. When the Tabernacle was built the glory rested between the cherubim in the Most Holy Place. No one was allowed to enter God’s presence except the High Priest, and he only entered once a year.

God’s glory was veiled by the heavy curtains that blocked the entrance to the Most Holy Place. For centuries, God’s glory dwelt  “in light inaccessible, hid from our eyes.”

Then one day “the true light that gives light to every man” came into the world (John 1:9), and mankind once again witnessed God’s glory, “the glory of the one and only,” the Lord Jesus Christ (v. 14).

With renewed awe and gratitude may we sing: “Most blessed, most glorious, the Ancient of Days, Almighty, victorious—Thy great name we praise.”


When Christ died, the veil of the temple was torn in two. Why was a curtain no longer necessary? (See Matthew 27:51; Hebrews 10:19-22)

Hebrews 9:1-15 explains why the Old Testament sacrificial system was made obsolete when Christ died. Why isn’t it necessary to have a temple or a place of sacrifice anymore?

To understand more about the high priest’s duties on the annual Day of Atonement, read Leviticus 16 or look up “day of atonement” in a Bible dictionary.

Denise K. Loock

*Note: This devotion appears in a slightly different form in Open Your Hymnal: Devotions That Harmonize Scripture With Song. Order a copy at

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