There can be a premature longing among the godly pious on Earth to see the full glory of our Lord.
So it was with Moses who asked, “Please, show me Your glory” (Exodus 33:18). God told His prophet that this was not possible, “for no man shall see My face, and live.” Moses had already seen the glory of God in a cloud atop Mount Sinai, but that was rather impersonal. To see God’s glory even partially, Moses had to be hidden in the cleft of a rock and covered with the hand of God; he was then permitted to see only God’s back as He passed by, “…but My face shall not be seen” (33:23).
Centuries later, on a certain mountain in Palestine, God again made allowances and provisions. Three disciples of Jesus–Peter, James and John–saw a heavenly scene: the transfiguration of our Lord. Also appearing in glory were Elijah and Moses. Elijah, an Old Testament gospel prophet, had been taken alive to heaven accompanied by a chariot and horses of fire. Moses was the Old Testament lawgiver whose body might have been carried to heaven by Michael the archangel (Jude 9) after God had buried Moses on Mount Nebo.
On the mountain Jesus’ “face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light” (Matthew 17:2). Thus the disciples were permitted to see Christ’s glory even in a physical way, although the full impact and realization of it might have been muted by their drowsiness and sleepy eyes.
So impressed and even rattled was Peter by this sight that he wanted to stay and build a tabernacle for each. Why descend again to the plain when one has experienced such glory!?
But it was not to be. As Elijah and Moses knew full well and as they discussed with Jesus, first must come the humiliation of the cross—that is, the willing yet hellish suffering of the Lord by which He would redeem and reconcile fallen mankind. Only then could He return to His glorious heavenly tabernacle.
Do you and I long to see the glory of the Lord? Let us be patient. It will happen. If we saw that glory now with uncovered mortal eyes, we probably wouldn’t survive. As the disciples, we would likely be too frightened and shocked to much enjoy the spectacle. Even staring into the sun can blind a person. Who can imagine maintaining eye contact with Him whose “eyes were like a flame of fire” (John’s vision of the Lord in heaven reported in Revelation 1:14).
To see that eternal glory with physical sight, our eyes will have to be changed, as they will be on the day of resurrection. Until then, we wait on the earthly plain with great expectation to see the face of the Lord.
But that does not mean we are left waiting without certain previews, without indications, without revelation. The psalmist wrote that the very heavens declare the glory of God (Psalm 19). Those heavens we can see. The Bethlehem shepherds saw a heavenly angel “as the glory of the Lord shone about them.” We can imagine the scene as Luke reported it. In his Gospel John declared that “the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory” (John 1:4).
… by faith we do see the glory of the Lord—we see it in revelation, in His Truth, in His saving gospel Word.
Not in a physical sense, but spiritually and by faith we do see the glory of the Lord—we see it in revelation, in His Truth, in His saving gospel Word. The righteous already see Him as He is—the Savior with grace and mercy, truth and power to save us from our sins. Revel in this sight!
By faith each believer is the temple of the Holy Spirit and therefore glorifies God in his body. “For God…has shined in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 4:6).
Blessed are all they who have not seen, and yet believe.
Blessed are they who have not seen, and yet have seen!
Having seen the glory of Jesus in His creative work, in His obedient life, in His atoning suffering and death, in His justifying resurrection; having seen His glory through His works and Word and having the light of such knowledge in our hearts; being reflectors of His glory by our faith and pious works–we stand ready with 10D glasses to behold Him “coming in the clouds of heaven in power and great glory” (Matthew 24:30).
As He leads us off this worldly plain to the heavenly Mount Zion, we shall then fully “see Him as He is for we shall be like Him” (1 John 3:2); then “we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man” (1 Corinthians 15:49).
That’s the more filled-out description of the eternal blessedness of all those who long to see the glorious face of God!