Thursday, December 20, 2018

Why God Hides His Face

Glory Cloud, New Hampshire
In my previous article, I explained the ongoing Hide and Seek interaction between God and man, including why God hides Himself from us and why we need to seek Him.  Today I would like to discuss a related topic, which is the fact that God's face is deliberately hidden. Did you ever wonder why He hides His face, even from those who are in heaven. We know that His face is enshrouded with divine glory, so why do you think He does that? Even the psalmist asked this question when He said, "Why do You hide your face?" (Psalm 44:23-4). This is a valid question, so let's explore it in Scripture.

First of all, do you remember when Moses asked to see God's glory? Here is how the Lord answered him. "And He said, 'I Myself will make all My goodness pass before you, and will proclaim the name of the LORD before you; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show compassion on whom I will show compassion.' But He said, 'You cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live!'" (Exo 33:19-20). Then God hid Moses in the cleft of the rock and passed by, but He only allowed Moses to see His backside and not His face. God explicitly told Moses why he could not see His face, when He said, "No man can see Me and live!" Therefore, we may understand from this statement that it is out of love for us that He hides His face, because it is necessary for our survival.

Therefore, we may ask why our survival depends on it, and why we would die if we saw His face. I realize that the holiness and power of God have a lot to do with that. The prophet Isaiah attempted to describe the indescribable scenes around the throne when he saw the Lord seated there high and lifted up.

In the year of King Uzziah's death I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple. Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called out to another and said, "Holy, Holy, Holy, is the LORD of hosts, The whole earth is full of His glory." And the foundations of the thresholds trembled at the voice of him who called out, while the temple was filling with smoke. Then I said, "Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I live among a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts." (Isa 6:1-5)

You notice how Isaiah knew he was ruined when his eyes beheld the King on His throne, the Lord of hosts? I'm sure you or I would feel the same way if we saw the Lord, too. John the apostle described a similar sight when He was taken up in the Spirit to heaven and stood before the throne:

"Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne was standing in heaven, and One sitting on the throne. And He who was sitting was like a jasper stone and a sardius in appearance; and there was a rainbow around the throne, like an emerald in appearance." (Rev 4:2-3)
It's amazing how the luminescent smoke fills the temple during those times of worship, as the light and the glory emanate from God, who is seated upon His throne. John described it as a rainbow around the throne in appearance like an emerald. Apparently there are lovely bands of colors in the streams of light and glory surrounding Him. God wraps Himself in light as with a garment (Ps 104:2a). He enshrouds His head with this glory fog so that you cannot see His face. It's awesome to behold, and extraordinarily beautiful. In fact it is perfect in beauty, unlike anyone or anything else you have ever seen or ever will see. Scripture says, "Out of Zion comes the excellence of His beauty." (Ps 50:2, Brenton Septuagint). Other translations refer to it as "the perfection of beauty."

Glory Clouds, at Pinnacle Mtn, NH
The apostle Paul had also seen the Lord, when Jesus appeared to him at noon time while he was on the road to Damascus. At that time the Lord appeared brighter than the noon-day sun. Paul had also been caught up to Paradise and heard inexpressible words that he was not permitted to speak. He described God like this:

"God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To Him be honor and might forever. Amen." (1 Tim 6:15b-16, NIV)

David said, "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." (Ps 27:4). His one desire was to behold the beauty of the Lord.

As the lyrics say in that beautiful, worshipful song, "I Stand in Awe," the Lord is "beautiful beyond description, too marvelous for words, too wonderful for comprehension, like nothing ever seen or heard." No words, nor sounds, nor sights, nor anything you can touch or smell could ever compare to God's beauty. As that song says, "Who can grasp Your infinite wisdom? Who can fathom the depth of Your love?" The songwriter Mark Altrogge explained how he wrote that song during a period when he was reading some books on God's holiness and other attributes. He says he was blown away at the thought that, "God is an infinite being, and infinite in each of his attributes. He is infinitely holy. Infinitely powerful. Infinitely loving. Infinitely wise. In fact, because he is infinite, there will always be things about himself that only He knows. Throughout eternity, those he redeemed will never come to an end of seeing new vistas of his glory, majesty and beauty."

So please allow me to answer the question I have posed: why does our survival depend on being kept from seeing the Lord's face, and why would we die if we saw it? Perhaps one reason is that you would not be able to withstand the experience of seeing such beauty and glory; you would be overwhelmed with it to the point of being completely overcome. As the Lord says, if you saw His face while in your earthly body, you would die. And it seems that even for the saints up in glory, it is rare to see God's actual face. I'm not saying that they cannot see God, because the Scripture says, "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God." (Mt 5:8). But I am specifically referring to seeing His face.

In fact, there are even some people on earth who claim they have seen God the Father. I recall one brother who said that he once saw God's face and He looked like a very handsome young man. You can read other testimonies like that in my article, The Bodily Form of God the Father, which is one of my all-time most popular articles on my blog Sun of Righteousness.

Summing it All Up
I want to close by saying that Jesus came to reveal the Father to us, and He alone can do so (Joh 1:18). When Philip asked Him to show us the Father, Jesus said that His oneness with the Father is such that if you have seen Him, you have seen the Father, and to know Him is to know the Father (Joh 14:7,9). If you would like to know God more and see the Father, then draw near to Him through His Son Jesus Christ. He said, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him." (Joh 14:6-7). Jesus Christ is the one and only way to the Father. There is no other way to get to see God's face. This is an experience of a lifetime that you don't want to miss for anything. In fact, it's the experience of all eternity, to which nothing else can compare. 

Why don't you begin to seek God's face now, and press in to know Him? He loves you more than anyone else in the universe, and He has prepared a place for you to be with Him where you can love Him. While He does hide His face in a cloud of glory for your own protection to keep you from dying, He still wants you to seek His face. As David said, "My heart says of you, "Seek his face!" Your face, LORD, I will seek." Let that be your heart's cry, too.

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, copyright the Lockman Foundation, used by permission. Other Scriptures taken from The Holy Bible NIV, copyright Zondervan, used by permission. Images are actual photos of genuine Glory Cloud witnessed in my home state of New Hampshire, in New England, USA during a February 2013 weekend at the Pinnacle Mountain New Hampshire U.S.A. Photos copyright The Stewarts. I did not personally attend that event. Used according to Fair Use Act for educational and commentary purposes only.

Author's note: You are invited to read Hide and Seek with God, The Bodily Form of God the Father, Jesus Alone Reveals the Father, The Link Between Two Realms, One ThingSeeking the Lord, Our God is an Awesome God!, Who is God? -- Part I, Who is God? -- Part II, and Obedient to the Heavenly Vision. You may also like the video, Glory Cloud in New England USA. You may access the Main Directory for this Seeking the Lord blog for more articles like this, as well as my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master."

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission.

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