Seeing God

Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
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There they saw the God of Israel. Under his feet there seemed to be a surface of brilliant blue lapis lazuli, as clear as the sky itself.

Exodus 24:10

After the ceremony that sealed the covenant between the Lord and Israel (Ex. 24:1-8), Moses and many other leaders of the people ascended Mt. Sinai. There, “they saw the God of Israel. Under his feet there seemed to be a surface of brilliant blue lapis lazuli, as clear as the sky itself” (24:10). Verse 11 adds that although they “gazed upon God, he did not destroy them.”

The claim in Exodus 24 that the leaders saw God seems to fly in the face of other passages of Scripture. 1 Timothy 6:16, for example, reveals that God “lives in light so brilliant than no human can approach him. No human eye has ever seen him, nor ever will.” So have we uncovered a contradiction in the Bible?

Not if we pay close attention to the text. Although Exodus 24 says that the leaders saw God, it’s clear that they didn’t see all of God. In fact, they seemed to gaze upon his feet, or perhaps only the sapphire-blue surface below his feet. Only a few chapters later in Exodus, the Lord informs Moses that nobody can look fully into God’s face and live (33:20). So what the leaders experienced on Mt. Sinai was some version of seeing God “imperfectly as in a cloudy mirror” (1 Cor 13:12).

If nobody can see God, we might despair of ever knowing him truly. But God has made himself known to us definitively. As it says in John 1:18: “No one has ever seen God. But the one and only Son is himself God and is near to the Father’s heart. He has revealed God to us.” In Jesus, we “see” the unseen God. Because he is the Word of God made flesh, Jesus shines with the very light of God. The more we gaze upon him, the more we will know God in truth.

Of course we are not able to see Jesus with our physical eyes. But we can know him through the Gospels and, indeed, through the whole of Scripture that bears testimony to him. Moreover, we can see Jesus in the faces and actions of his people. When Christians reach out with love and grace, when they forgive, when they feed the hungry and bind up the brokenhearted, Jesus makes himself known.

QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: When have you “seen” God most clearly? In what ways does your life reveal the love and truth of God? If the people in your life (at work or at home) could only know God through you, what would they think about God?

PRAYER: Almighty God, I must confess that I feel a bit of envy when I read this story in Exodus 24. I wish I could see you, even just your feet, or the ground beneath your feet. I long for the day when I will see you, not through a cloudy mirror, but face to face.

In the meanwhile, I give you thanks for making yourself known to me. Most of all, I praise you for the Incarnation, for the Word made flesh. How grateful I am that you stooped to our weakness, revealing yourself in a way we could grasp.

Help me, O God, to know you in truth. Help me to grow in my relationship with you, so that I might “see” you more clearly even in this life.

May I live today in a way that reflects who you are to the world. Though I am indeed a very, very cloudy mirror, may your light shine upon me in such a way that people in my life see you. May I be a light in my workplace, in my neighborhood, in my family, and in every interaction I have with people today. Amen.