Moses said to the LORD, “You have been telling me, ‘Lead these people,’ but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. You have said, ‘I know you by name and you have found favor with me.’ If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you. Remember that this nation is your people.”
Then Moses said to him, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?”
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. But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.”
Then the LORD said, “There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock. When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen.”
Exodus 33: 12-23
I like to imagine what God looks like. Some people think that God is just a spirit, and that he has no visible form. Others think God looks exactly like a man; perhaps a distinguished-looking man, like an old guy with a beard as he is depicted in the Sistine Chapel. But I don’t think so.
Many people – Christians included – talk and act as if heaven isn’t real, and as if God is just some old man in the sky. I say this because how many are there who follow God’s word? We sing songs in church about God’s might and power, but do we truly believe it? You’d think that if we did, we would make a better effort to listen to him. And by listening to him, I mean obeying his law as it is written in the Bible, since he says that those who love him will obey his word. Sure, we might obey the Bible when we feel like it and when it’s convenient for us, but God said that we should obey his every word all of the time, and that if we do, we will be rewarded in heaven. So I think a lot of people just don’t realize the reality of heaven and how glorious God is, because if they did, I think they would be more willing to at least try and obey him.
Here on earth God is invisible. This is a sinful place, and sin cannot exist in his presence, therefore we cannot see him. But that doesn’t mean he’s invisible in heaven. And as we saw in the above passage, God himself says that he does indeed have a physical appearance, so I’m sure it must be so.
The Bible says we are made in His image, but that doesn’t mean that your average Joe looks strikingly similar to God. When we get to heaven, are we going to see every creature in all of creation worshiping some old man? I don’t think so. The Bible describes God as being much greater than any human could possibly be, so I’m inclined to think that he also looks much greater than any human.
So what do you think it will be like to see God? If you think God is invisible even in heaven, I guess you don’t think seeing God will be much of anything. Or if you think God is just some old guy sitting on a cloud, I guess that would also be rather underwhelming.
While Scripture says little in the way of describing God’s physical appearance, it does say that he is all mighty, all powerful, and beautiful.
For one thing I ask from the LORD, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the LORD, and to seek him in his temple.”
I think God has human characteristics, as the Bible says, like a head and hands, but I think he’s infinitely bigger and greater in every way. I think we’ll be able to recognize these characteristics as being “human,” but I don’t think he’ll look like anything we’ve ever seen before.
Think of all the prettiest, most beautiful, most attractive and alluring things you’ve ever seen in your life, roll them into one, then imagine it infinitely better in every way. That, I think, must be what God is like. I think God must be like a summer’s day, like the cherry blossoms of April, like autumn leaves of red and gold, yet still more beautiful in every way. I think he’s like fluffy white clouds, like the sunset, like the Milky Way, like the Orion Nebula, like everything beautiful in existence. He who clothes with such beauty the lilies of the field, which are here today and wilt tomorrow, must surely himself be of even greater splendor. No servant is greater than his master, and none of creation could possibly be as great as our God. If the creations of God are so awe-inspiring, how much more must he himself be?
God is inconceivable. One might look at the Grand Canyon and find it breathtaking, or the Great Barrier Reef and find it spectacular. There is something to be said for these things, to be sure, but God must be all these things and more. Mt. Fuji in all it’s magnificence surely could never come close to the majesty of God himself. All the stars in the sky could never match the beauty found in God’s eyes. I imagine all these things coming together like a masterpiece symphony – because God is the ultimate composer – complimenting each other seamlessly and perfectly, all proclaiming the glory of the Lord. I don’t think there’s anything in this life or this world that is better than what is in store for us in heaven.
Here in this world God regularly shows us many beautiful things. Yet this is a sinful world. If we, who live in this world, can experience such beauty, how much more will we experience in heaven, where sin cannot go, where God himself dwells? I think the face of God must be the most amazing, beautiful thing in existence.
When I talk of beauty, I don’t mean just by sight, but also through our other senses, for all these were given to us by God, and through these we experience different joys and pleasures. He must be like every good feeling you’ve ever had, and then some. To be with God must be like to be with family and friends, those you love. It must be like the greatest day of your life that never ends. It must be that which you can’t get enough of. I think that when with God, a thousand years could pass, and you would never notice or care. You could get lost in his eyes forever, and be okay with that.
Have you ever really missed someone or something? Have you ever experienced a feeling of longing? I think one reason why God doesn’t let us see him is that if we did, life in this world would have no meaning for us. We would long to be with God. Likewise, for those who do not make it into heaven, they will suffer much sorrow and anguish, at least in part, I think, due to being painfully aware of God’s magnificence, and being eternally separated from him.
I think God is everything good and more. He’s infinite, and overwhelming. I don’t think the human mind is capable of comprehending him. Perhaps that’s another reason why those who see his face cannot live. I think our minds would literally be blown away by the sheer magnitude of what God is if we were to see him.
However, as it is written: “what no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived,” the things God has prepared for those who love him.
1 Corinthians 2:9
In any case, we can rest assured that those who follow God’s word will be rewarded tremendously when we pass from this world into the next. The greatest pleasures in this life could never match even the least of things in heaven. That being said, we should put aside any selfish habits or sinful ways we might have, and seek to follow God’s word, so that we can partake in the rewards he has for us. If God is who he says he is, that makes him easily the best thing ever, and worthy of our affection and obedience.
So when we die and we see God, are we going to be excited? Or are we going to be scared out of our minds because we knowingly lived a life of disobedience towards God (or perhaps selectively obeying him) and now we have to deal with the consequences? While this world is full of temptations, if we keep in mind the awesome power and beauty of God, the reality of heaven, and the things God has in store for those who obey his word, we are less likely to succumb to temptation. Psalm 34:10 says that “the lions may grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing,” and Jeremiah 29:13 says, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Likewise, I think those who seek – with all their heart, all their soul, all their mind, and all their strength – to see the face of God will one day find what they are looking for.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.”
I want to know you
I want to hear your voice
I want to know you more
I want to touch you
I want to see your face
I want to know you more
– Andy Park