Looking Upon the Face of God

by Rev. Gino Marchetti II, Pastor of St. Peter’s Lutheran Church of Warsaw

I recently spoke with a young man at our congregation about how Moses met God on Mt. Sinai when he received the Ten Commandments from the Lord (Ex. 33 – 34). According to the Scriptures, Moses meet God in person (this is the meaning of ‘face-to-face’ in some English versions), and yet, Moses could not look upon God’s gloriousness directly. Rather, Moses was only able to look upon God’s back when they met, and even then, after Moses came down from the mountain, God’s holy glory had so impacted Moses that he himself began to radiate with glory.

God’s holiness is, in a sense, contagious; being in contact with God’s holiness rubs off on people and things to such an extent that they themselves reflect it. In Moses’ case, so that the people would not be frightened or struck down by God’s rubbed-off glory, Moses veiled his face to cover up the holy glory that he now bore.

Now, this young man with whom I spoke had a great insight into what this means. He recognized that man could not look upon God and his glory directly because of man’s sinfulness. Yet, this young man also recognized that after the resurrection, when Jesus is showing his glory (which is the glory of his Father) constantly, believers can and do look upon it without being destroyed.

The implications of this, dearly beloved, is that you who believe in the Son of God, that he is risen bodily from the grave and stands in the glory of the Father, can look upon the glories of God directly, and indeed, on the Last Day, when Christ returns in the flesh, you will look upon the glory of God directly. This is the preeminent right of the Children of God, to look upon their Father in Heaven without terror and without being destroyed.

Even now, on this side of eternity, we are getting little glimpses through the Scriptures and the Sacraments of what this glory is going to look like when it is fully revealed on the Last Day. On That Day, we will fully know, just as we are already fully known. On That Day, we will no longer look through a dim glass, but a clear one. Until then, we ponder together what exactly it means that we can and, in small ways, do look upon the glory of God already.