And he said, “Please, show me Your glory.” (Exodus 33:18)
Moses understood that it was the Presence of the Holy One who distinguishes His people from all the other nations. When the people gave into the sin of the Golden Calf and God removed His Presence from them, they were essentially nondescript in relation to their calling — in other words, they were just like all of the other peoples of the earth. In a sense, God had turned His face from them the light diminished and they were cast into a type of darkness.
In Hebrew, the word “Presence” is literally “face” and so when we speak of God’s Presence among His people, it is to say that He causes His face to shine upon us; in short, when we seek Him, He turns His face toward us and we are enabled to walk in the light. That being said, in response to Moses’ desire to see His “glory,” he is reminded that none of us can look directly upon the countenance of the Almighty — it would be too overwhelming for a mere human. Imagine looking directly into the sun for an extended period of time. Then consider that the face of the One who created the sun shines much brighter by far.
Knowing this amplifies our point today: one day we will see Him face to face. John expressed this in two different ways. In Revelation, he recorded that, in the New Jerusalem, His servants “shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads (Revelation 22:4). It was also John who encouraged us with these words:
Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. (1 John 3:2)
Though Moses was not permitted to see God’s glory directly, but only from behind, one day we will all behold the glory of God. It is an awesome thing to consider that one day, what we can only imagine at this point will be a reality. And so in that vein of thought, let us also remember that John said those who have this hope must purify ourselves. In expectation that He will appear and we will “see Him as He is,” let us live a life that honors Him — a life that looks like Him — so that others will see Him in our faces.
Blessings and Shalom,