Able To See God’s Glory

“And [Moses] said, ‘Please, show me Your glory.’ Then He said, ‘I will make all My goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before you. I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.’ But He said, ‘You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live'” (Exodus 33:18-20).


This longing may be buried beneath many layers of self-will and confusion, but it is there. To see the radiant face of our God would be the most profoundly fulfilling joy our minds could imagine, or our hearts could experience. To receive this glory from God and then reflect it back to Him in love and gratitude — these are the very purposes for which we were created.

But we live in a broken world where this joy is not fully possible. Even those who are willing to receive redemption from the sins that have cut them off from God can only enjoy in this world a fellowship that is a foretaste of heaven. The joy of this preliminary fellowship is great (1 John 1:1-4), but at best it is only a foretaste. We long for something more, and we long for it so intensely that we can be said to “groan” for it. Comparing our earthly bodies to a tent, the temporary dwelling of a nomad, Paul wrote to the Christians in Corinth, “For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven” (2 Corinthians 5:1,2). In this body, we groan, longing for God! “Please show me Your glory,” Moses begged God. And while God knew that Moses in his present condition could not survive such an experience, He was sympathetic to Moses’ desire, for that is the desire of all who’ve been created in His image. To those who are willing to come to Him in His Son, ready to trust Him and obey His word, God is willing to grant as much of Himself as can be granted in our frailty. But we desire more. And much more will be possible, in His time. When we’ve been made able to see His glory, His face we shall behold. This is what will make heaven, heaven. We “rejoice in hope of the glory of God” (Romans 5:2).

Come, Lord, when grace has made me meet, thy blessed face to see;
For if thy work on earth be sweet, what will thy glory be!
My knowledge of that life is small, the eye of faith is dim;
But ’tis enough that Christ knows all, and I shall be with him. (Richard Baxter)