NIV Ex. 33: 18 Then Moses said, “Now show me your glory.”
19 And the Lord said, “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. 20 But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.”
The inspirational gospel singer Sandy Patti once had a song out called “We Shall Behold Him.”* Have you ever wondered what that might be like when we first see him, as the song says, “face to face in all of his splendor?”
In his earthly body, Moses returned from Mt. Sinai severely sunburned — so to speak — after being in close contact with God. In the New Testament, when Jesus became “transfigured,” he appeared in dazzling white.
Exodus 33 says that no man — i.e. no human being in their present state — can look at God and live. The image and presence of God is simply too much. However, the Bible in Deuteronomy suggests something else. Even Moses in other encounters spoke face-to-face with God.
Still; lying in bed the other night unable to sleep, I wondered about the whole subject of what will strike us the first time we do in fact behold Him. Usually the verse is quoted that suggests that God made us to look like Him. I have a hard time taking this literally. In fact, in one period of my life, I was convinced this would be better interpreted that “God made us out of his imagination.” I still believe there are fewer similarities than most of us think.
What if C.S. Lewis’ depiction of God as Lion is more accurate than what many of us have in mind: “He’s not safe, but he’s good” — referring to Aslan, the Lion, in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe?
Or what if God is able to shape-shift or transform or morph into a second form, or many different forms? (Well, of course “is able” isn’t the question…)
I just wonder if some day, as we stand there and God makes His first appearance to us if we will just stand there going, “Holy mackerel;” or “Holy smokes;” or… well I know I’ve probably got the “Holy” part right.
I can guarantee it won’t be a Wizard of Oz moment with God simply being a man — who looks like us — behind the curtain. The concept scares the hell out of me. Literally. It’s supposed to.
So what do you think God looks like?
*I always thought “We Shall Behold Him” would be best performed at the Rogers Centre (aka Skydome) in Toronto or any other stadium with a retractable roof. (At night, of course.) As the roof unexpectedly unlocks and begins to divide into two sections, a powerful soprano begins the lyric of the first verse, “The sky shall unfold…” Even more cool if at that exact moment God makes the whole sky light up like it was daytime. He could do that.
(The picture is a daytime shot with the roof partly opening or closing. )