God’s glory and the eclipse of the sun

One month ago today, people all across the U.S. stepped outside, put on some strange-looking glasses and looked up to the sky. The eclipse of the sun had many Americans traveling hours upon hours to catch a glimpse of this natural phenomenon. And by looking at some of the beautiful pictures taken from those few moments, it did not disappoint.

As people prepared for this event, the Internet became overrun with articles about what Christians thought God was telling them through it all. A few people wrote about how the eclipse can be compared to Christ’s humility, and the moon blocking the sun was a reminder of God’s control over nature. Many of these articles proved good reads.

Another thing seen all over the Internet leading up to the eclipse was the safety concern. Glasses, cardboard boxes, pieces of paper. Lists of ways to protect your eyes. Why? Because the one thing everyone knew was this: Don’t look directly at the sun.

What our eyes can handle

This won’t turn into a science lesson. We all know we can’t look at the sun because we will damage our eyes. Maybe even to blindness if we expose ourselves long enough. As tempting as it was to sneak a glance upward when the sky turned dark, everyone knew their eyes couldn’t handle what they would behold if they weren’t protected. The sun and all its brilliance just proves too much.

And so it is with God.

Have you read the passage in Exodus 33 when Moses gets a little insecure and frustrated toward God for not revealing more to him? He explains his worry that God will not distinguish His people among others or protect them. And then he rather boldly tells God to show him His glory. God’s response?

“You cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.”

God goes on to allow Moses to see His back as He passes by him, but never His face. For no man can see God and live. No eye can handle that glory.

The God of the Old Testament and the God of today

If you read any of the Old Testament, you get a good sense of God’s relationship with His people. He had laws, many laws, about coming into His presence. There were strict guidelines about what one had to wear, how they were to present themselves and what caused them to become unclean. If someone broke a law in regards to God’s presence, death was often a penalty.

We don’t think too often about this aspect of our Heavenly Father, because we’re on the other side of the cross. Jesus paid the penalty for our sins, the curtain in the temple tore from top to bottom, and Gentiles could come into relationship with God. No longer is there need for cleansing rituals or animal sacrifice.

But have you ever thought about the fact that the God of the Old Testament is the same God of the New Testament? And the same God we serve today in 2017? This is the same God who killed people when they touched His ark. The same God who did not allow priests to enter the temple if there was but one aspect of His law not followed with how they presented themselves.

And this is the same God we pray to whenever and wherever we desire. Running errands, before a meal, falling asleep. The God of the Old Testament who demanded sacrifice and specific clothing is the same God we worship at church dressed in jeans and, depending on the style of your church, sweatshirts or old T-shirts.

The same God. Have we hidden some of His glory and forgotten the awe and respect we are to have coming before Him? Have we forgotten that we cannot look upon His face with our human eyes or we will die?

The balance of living as God’s child

Jesus’ sacrifice did more than just forgive us our sins. When that curtain ripped from top to bottom, the need for laws and formality before coming to God were, in a way, ripped away for good. Now we just need to wash in the blood of Jesus to have a personal relationship with the Father.

But does that mean we can act like He’s our buddy? Throwing up a prayer or coming to church looking like we just got out of bed are not sinful actions. God accepts us as we are, messiness and all. Do we take into account, though, that we come before a God who sits on His throne, surrounded by beings worshiping Him day and night? Do we think we can forego revering Him because it’s now wonderfully simple to come into His presence?

Yes, we live as God’s children. Having a place in God’s family means we have a familiarity with God. We have a personal relationship with Him. We don’t need to wear just the right clothing or cleanse our bodies before approaching Him. He desires to talk with us and commune with us.

Let us not take this personal relationship, though, and forget that if we were to truly see God in the state we currently live in, we would die. We cannot behold His glory with our eyes. If we remind ourselves of this, maybe we will begin standing in awe of Him once more. Maybe we will put more time and effort into spending moments on bended knee, acknowledging His power and might.

The next time you pray or go to church and spend time with God, picture yourself approaching His throne. Read Revelation 4 if you need help with this image. Picture God actually sitting on His throne in heaven. Then come before Him with prayer, worship or a listening heart.

You will be amazed at how your attitude toward God shifts to one of awe when you picture this. Yes, we are His children, but He is still the God of the universe. He still deserves every ounce of our praise and honor. One day, though, we will see Him face-to-face and behold Him with our eyes.

Let’s Talk About It: How can you balance intimacy with God and honoring Him? 

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