I owe the idea for this article to Pastor Wes, and I hope he feels I did a worthy job.
For thousands of years, people have wanted to look upon the face of God or at least some object that is so remarkable that they can say without hesitation, "I have seen God and I am comforted!" Unfortunately, we may read Exodus 33:20 and may decide we've overstepped the bounds.
"You cannot see My face; for man shall not see Me and live." Hold on just a tad. What about Exodus 33:11? "The Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend."
Some very knowledgeable rabbis I know told me that most all rabbinic scholars interpret that to mean that God opened His purpose to Moses in such a way that everything was clear and understandable.
I accept that position because I have always thought of God as so perfect, so indescribable, so extraordinary that to look upon God or being in His presence would be like standing inside the sun. I would be vaporized in the twinkling of an eye, so to speak. Try reading Isaiah's vision in chapter six.
Since even the Bible cannot describe the presence of God except in what theologians call mythology, we do the best we can. Before some get out of sorts, mythology for me is when I would want to describe a rainbow to someone who cannot see. What words could I use to describe the colors? What meaningful words could I use to truly describe God?
Biblical writers have used the same idea to try to tell us just how magnificent heaven might appear to those who believe. We could go to Revelation and here we would find the heavenly city with gates of pearl, streets of transparent pure gold and priceless jewels used as building materials. There will be no fear. There will only be pure joy. How do we know this? God's very Word tells us so, that's why.
Hang in for just a bit longer, please.
I sometimes believe that children have a better concept of God, Heaven and all the other unexplainables (or is that inexplicables) because they suspend all that proof stuff and allow themselves to believe. How can I best say this? I remember when I was very, very young and read Peter Pan for the first time and wondered just how anyone could get to Never Land. Well, all we kids needed was a tad of pixie dust to get us flying and then, "Head toward the second star to the right and straight on 'til morning." What about old Buzz Lightyear, whose words moved us to try space, "To infinity and beyond!"
Pastor Wes moved us to explore our minds, our faith and our need for reassurance when he read from John 14, "Lord, we hear your words about heaven, but we just don't understand. And while we're talking about all this — and please don't be angry with us, — just show us God and we'll be happy. All we want is just a peek, just a split second look, just a momentary glimpse and we'll never ask or doubt again!"
The answer that the Lord Jesus gave was like a parent to a child when that child is afraid of the dark and mom or dad says, "I'm here with you. Trust in me. There is no need to be afraid."
Folks, the questions of Thomas and those of Philip are not their questions. Those questions belong to us! "Is God out there? Does He care for me? I am surrounded by darkness and I am afraid! Please God, give me a sign!"
And God did! We call that sign, Christmas!
We have been decorating our homes with lights, singing carols in our church, enjoying pageants, plays, live manger scenes, music played by symphonies, chorales sung by choirs and waiting in unbelievable expectation for just one more Christmas Eve reminder of God's promise fulfilled! "Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy! The Savior has been born! Listen to the music of the stars! God is with you!"
May you all have the merriest of Christmases!
Thanks, God! We will!