The Bible is replete with theophanies–special occasions when God revealed himself to people in incredible ways. Think of God’s glory passing by as God covered Moses’ face in Exodus 33, for example.
But even at these special times God’s appearance is obscured or mediated in some way so that people can’t see him in all his glory. Apparently, it’s because of this: “No one may see me and live” (Exodus 33:20). There’s something so special about God’s holiness that we–presumably because of our sinfulness–can’t safely see him.
When Christ came, he revealed the Father, of course (John 14:9), so people saw God in that mediated sense.
In the middle of all of this, there’s this inner longing to see God, especially for those who have submitted to him and who love him. Like the psalmist writes, “”As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?” (Psalm 42:1-2).
Will that ever happen? Will we actually get to see God in all his glory?
Near the end of the Bible, as John gets glimpses of the new heavens and new earth, there’s this tantalizing verse: “They will see his face” (Revelation 22:4).
Tomorrow we’re going to explore the intriguing implications of the possibilities implied there.