When you talk to God have you ever thought, “This would be easier if we could talk face to face?” The idea seems great. God and you connecting at a coffee shop. It’s an intimate fantasy, isn’t it? I wonder if that’s what the writer of the once popular worship song, “I want to Know You” was thinking when he penned the part that goes, “I want to see your face.” We read passages like Exodus 33:11 where we find that, “The LORD would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend.” (Ex 33:11) We long to be intimate with God in the way that Moses was. But then we read a little further…
Moses said, “Please show me your glory.” And he said, “I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name ‘The LORD.’ And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live.” And the LORD said, “Behold, there is a place by me where you shall stand on the rock, and while my glory passes by I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will take away my hand, and you shall see my back, but my face shall not be seen.” (Ex 33:18–23)
Moses wanted to see God’s glory. Even though Moses had an intimate relationship with God, he wanted to see God in all His majesty, splendor, glory and power. God basically tells Moses that this is not possible but that He’ll let Moses have a glimpse at His back. Wow. Just wow. Moses got the opportunity to see God’s back in all His glory as God passed by Moses. This was enough to make Moses’ face glow so much that the Israelites were afraid of Moses and he ended up veiling his face whenever he wasn’t talking with God (see Ex. 34:29-35).
What did all this glory look like? It reminds me of what Ezekiel sees in chapter one of the book that bears his name. Ezekiel is in a foreign land after being dragged into captivity by the Babylonians along with all his fellow Jews. Then on his thirtieth birthday (when he would have entered the priesthood) he sees a vision of the glory of the Lord. God’s glory is surrounded with these cherubim with four faces (one human and the others like each ruling animal of its domain). There’s this platform with a throne (where God seems to be seated) on it being supported with these spherical wheels that are covered in eyes. It’s pretty weird to be honest. What I find most interesting is that Ezekiel writes…
Such was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. And when I saw it, I fell on my face, and I heard the voice of one speaking. (Eze 1:28)
That’s what the glory of the Lord was like. It’s almost a metaphor, analogy or some kind of representation. That’s not what’s most interesting to me, however. What I find most interesting is Ezekiel’s reaction. He falls on his face to worship the Lord. This likeness of the glory of the Lord is so amazing, so splendorous, so glorious, so powerful, so terrifying, so awe-inspiring that Ezekiel falls on his face to worship God. I wonder if we’re too casual with God. In fact, I’m almost certain of it. We think of God as our little buddy. We think of Him as either angry and disappointed when we blow it or as just a giant lovable giant-teddy-bear-deity. We think of Him like He’s a Genie there to grant us wishes. We put God into so many boxes. Yet God defies all our boxes. God cannot be described. His glory cannot be contained in a box. His splendor is indescribable. His face is unseeable (Ex. 33:20) and His thoughts are unknowable (Rom. 11:34) and His ways are unfathomable (Rom. 11:33).
There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus. Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” While he was still speaking, a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!” When the disciples heard this, they fell facedown to the ground, terrified. (Matt 17:2–6)
When was the last time you let yourself be silent and in awe of who God is? When was the last time you were struck by the complete unfathomable and incomprehensible awesomeness of God? When was the last time you fell prostrate on your face before the Lord realizing how small you were and how awesome He really is?? When was the last time you trembled before our God?