Seeing God’s Face

Jan 24, 2011 by     No Comments    Posted under: Blog, Covenant, Righteousness, Seeking God

I had an interesting thought the other day on the way to work, something I had never really thought about before: Will we see God’s face when we’re in heaven?

You see, the night before, my youngest son had been having trouble sleeping because of bad dreams. So I sat with him at bedtime and read Scripture to him. I found myself reading out of the Old Testament… the sixth chapter of Isaiah where he has a vision of the Lord seated on his throne… Exodus 33 when Moses is on the mountaintop speaking with God.

I wanted Josh to see the bigness of God, so I read the part where Moses tells the Lord, “Now show me your glory,” to which God replies:

“I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the LORD, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.”

The narrative goes on to say that the Lord placed Moses in a cleft in the rock and covered him with his hand until his glory had passed by, then removed his hand so that Moses would see his back because “my face must not be seen.”

So if seeing God’s face spells certain death, will heaven be like Exodus 20:18, with the Lord on a smoke-filled mountaintop and we trembling at a distance, telling Jesus, “Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die.”?

But everything I’ve talked about so far is Old Covenant. Hebrews 7 and 8 says we have a better covenant founded on better promises. One way the New Covenant is superior to the Old is that our very nature has changed. You see, under the Old Covenant, sins were merely covered, not atoned for. That’s why the priest had to continually offer sacrifices. (See Hebrews 7:27.) But under the New Covenant, Jesus sacrificed himself “once for all.” In doing so, he took on the penalty of our sin upon himself and exchanged our unrighteousness for his righteousness:

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Cor 5:21)

That’s why David’s psalms continually exhort us to “seek his face.” I believe David foresaw the day when we, as spirit-filled, born again believers, would be able to see his face and yet live… and also to the ultimate Day when “we shall see face to face:

Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. (1 Cor 13:12)

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