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We Will See God's Face
There are reports where we hear that someone has seen Jesus in a vision. I will not challenge these reports of whether they truly encountered Jesus or not, but I wonder how much of Jesus did they actually see? And, did they see His face?
The Bible describes in the book of Revelation that God's servants will see His face (Revelation 22:4a).
The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and His servants will serve Him. They will see His face (Revelation 22:3b-4a).
I note also that this says there is one throne that is the throne both of God and the Lamb. Before moving on to the topic of seeing God's face, you must know that I believe the Lamb is God and God is the Lamb; the 'Lamb' referring to Jesus. (Note also John 14:11.)
There are places in the Bible where it seems to say certain ones have seen God, and even have talked to Him face to face, but let's consider whether anyone of them actually saw God's face.
Saul was blinded
What Saul saw on the Damascus road
Ananias was a disciple in Damascus to whom the Lord told in a vision that he was to go to a man named Saul, currently staying at the house of Judas on Straight Street. After hearing the further explanation as to the Lord's designs for Saul, Ananias went to that house and said,
"Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road you were traveling, has sent me so you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit" (Acts 9:17).
Ananias says the Lord Jesus appeared to Saul, and Saul had lost his sight when the "light from heaven" had "suddenly flashed around him" (Acts 9:3). It does not say that Saul actually saw Jesus' face and just seeing the light of Jesus' glory had blinded him.
Saul, who became the apostle Paul after this experience, wrote later to the believers in Corinth that he cannot now see God clearly but only indistinctly, like peering through a mist.
"Now all we can see of God is like a cloudy picture in a mirror.
Later we will see him face to face." (1 Corinthians 13:12a)
Even after becoming an apostle sent to Gentiles and Jews alike to make known the good news of the gospel of Christ, Paul still says he cannot see God face to face (let alone know everything.)
Moses on Mt. Sinai
Moses talked face to face with God
Moses was afraid to look at God and so he hid his face when God called to him from the burning bush, telling him to not come closer and take of his sandals while he stood on the "holy ground" (Exodus 3). After all the experiences of freeing the Israelites from Pharaoh and leading them out of Egypt, the Lord speaking with him face to face just as a man speaks with his friend in a tent far from the camp, still Moses could not see God's face (Exodus 33). God said,
"You cannot see My face, for no one can see Me and live" (Exodus 33:20).
Isaiah saw God in heaven
Neither did Isaiah see God's face, though he wrote, "I have seen the King, the LORD All-Powerful" (Isaiah 6:5b). What Isaiah did see was
the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2 Above him were seraphim, each with six wings (Isaiah 6:1a-2b).
However, Isaiah does not say he actually saw God's face. When the Lord asked who he could send, Isaiah could speak in response only having had his lips purified with a live coal from the altar (Isaiah 6:5-8).
Who can see God's face
As hinted by Isaiah when his lips, or mouth, was purified before he could speak in God's presence, holiness is required in order to see God and not be blinded, like Saul had been. Without holiness no one can see the Lord (Hebrews 12:14b).
King David said,
I will see Your face in righteousness (Psalm 17:15).
Jesus is coming back and we who believe will be taken up to meet him (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17). We know, too, that when He appears and we see Him, we will become like Him; righteous. Otherwise, we would not be able to see Him distinctly nor clearly see His face.
One day, however, we who believe will indeed see His face, as stated by John in Revelation 22:4, and also in:
We will be like him, because we will see Him as He is (1 John 3:2b).
Christ by making us pure through His death and resurrection makes it possible for us to one day see His face, God's face.
Blessed are the pure in heart, because they will see God (Matthew 5:8).
Matthew 5:8 as rendered in a translation for a minority group in Asia:
People's whose minds are upright will be truly happy, because those ones will be able to truly see and know God.
"We Shall Behold Him" - Sandi Patty
© 2011 Deidre Shelden