Christ’s Glory

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I appreciate the way you pose your question. These verses really are in agreement, and you are definitely right about not being able to see Christ in His full glory while yet in the flesh. You even quote 1Jn 3:2 as the very scripture which proves it:

1Jn 3:2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.

But the first thing that needs to be understood is that there are degrees of “seeing” Christ.

Mat 5:8 Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
2Co 3:18 But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.

Moses was allowed to witness none of Christ’s glory. He was allowed to see only the “back parts” of Christ and still live in his carnal condition. Not even Moses could look on Christ’s glory in His face and live. The Truth is that no one in the Old Testament, including John the Baptist, could look on Christ’s face in His glory and live.
Let’s look at what God actually told Moses:

Exo 33:18 And he [ Moses] said, I beseech thee, shew me thy glory.
Exo 33:19 And he said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy.
Exo 33:20 And he said, Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live.
Exo 33:21 And the LORD said, Behold, there is a place by me, and thou shalt stand upon a rock:
Exo 33:22 And it shall come to pass, while my glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a cleft of the rock, and will cover thee with my hand while I pass by:

“There shall no man see me and live” is qualified by the sentence before that: “thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live. Moses didn’t see Christ, but in His “back parts.” He never saw the glory that is in His face. Moses was shielded from seeing Christ’s face and His glory. It is the face that reveals who we really are. And Moses saw only Christ’s “back parts.” He could not see Christ’s eyes which are as “fire.” So Moses knew only the back parts of Christ. Moses never saw Christ as John came to see Him:

Rev 1:14 His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire;

Here is what Christ allowed Moses to see:

Exo 33:23 And I will take away mine hand, and thou shalt see my back parts: but my face shall not be seen.

And that is exactly what the Old Testament is. It is “my back parts.” It is the schoolmaster, the tutor and governor that keeps us as immature heirs, no better than a slave to sin. It is the Old Testament with the ten commandments which are “not for a righteous man but for the lawless and disobedient” which make up the law and the prophets.

Mat 22:37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
Mat 22:38 This is the first and great commandment.
Mat 22:39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
Mat 22:40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

It is “the letter.” It is “not of faith.” It is “the rudiments of the world.” It is “the ministration of death” and “the letter kills.”
But as you point out, Jacob claims that he saw God face to face. How can this be made to agree with what God told Moses:

Gen 32:30 And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.

We are also told that Joshua, and Abraham saw God face to face.
How can this be? It is imperative that we understand what is under discussion in Exodus when Christ told Moses that ‘no man can see my face and live.’ What was Moses asking to see? Here is what Moses had asked to see:

Exo 33:18 And he Moses said, I beseech thee, shew me thy glory.

None of the Old Testament patriarchs, king’s or prophets, ever saw Christ’s face in his glory. Moses wanted to go all the way with God long before it was possible to do so. As hard as it is for us to believe, God was not revealing Himself to the patriarchs, kings and prophets of the Old Testament.

1Pe 1:10 Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace [ that should come] unto you:
1Pe 1:11 Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.
1Pe 1:12 Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into.

As hard as it is to believe this is none the less the Truth:

1Co 10:11 Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.

So when we see the gratitude that Jacob had for all that God had shown him:

Gen 32:9 And Jacob said, O God of my father Abraham, and God of my father Isaac, the LORD which saidst unto me, Return unto thy country, and to thy kindred, and I will deal well with thee:
Gen 32:10 (a) I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies, and of all the truth, which thou hast shewed unto thy servant;

The “mercies and knowledge” Jacob received are but types and shadows of the mercies and knowledge which God has, through His spirit, poured out upon us. We “see God” in a way that truly shows us His glory. Jacob thought he was so very privileged to see a ladder extending from earth to heaven with angels ascending and descending upon it. We are privileged to see that ‘ladder’ as it really is and through Christ to know the angels who ascend and descend upon that ‘ladder.’

Joh 1:51 And he saith unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.

We are privileged to “know God and Jesus Christ whom He has sent” in a way that even the apostles of Christ did not know while He was still on this earth. We are privileged to know God and “Jesus Christ whom He has sent.” We are privileged to know what is life eternal. Neither Moses nor any of the Old Testament prophets, kings or patriarchs, including John the baptist, ever knew Christ in His glory.
So we, too, like Jacob, ought to have an even greater appreciation for the even greater truths we perceive with the spiritual eyes and ears God has given us, if indeed we have been given eyes and ears. Christ told His apostles:

Mat 16:28 Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.

And consequently:

Mat 17:1 And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart,
Mat 17:2 And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light.
Mat 17:3 And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him.
Mat 17:4 Then answered Peter, and said unto Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias.

It all sounds like Peter and James and John saw Christ in His glorified form just as Moses had wanted to experience. Peter even talks of building tabernacles in honor of Christ and Moses and Elijah. We are even told that this happened:

Mat 17:5 While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.
Mat 17:6 And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their face, and were sore afraid.
Mat 17:7 And Jesus came and touched them, and said, Arise, and be not afraid.
Mat 17:8 And when they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no man, save Jesus only.

So did Peter James and John see Christ in His Glory? Did a “man see me and live?” No, they did not see Christ in his glory. It was all a vision. The conversations between Christ and Moses and Elijah, the voice from heaven was all a vision. No “man” saw anything in the flesh. No man has, as yet, in the flesh, seen Christ in His glory and lived.
So how about John on Patmos? Did John, as a man, ever see Christ in the glory of His face while yet a man? The simple answer is that flesh and blood cannot see Christ in His glory. What John saw here is the same Christ he saw on the mount of transfiguration. It was a vision of symbols.

Rev 1:10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet,

John was “in the spirit” and “in the spirit he was projected forward into “the Lord’s day.” Now since this is a book which Is, Was and Will Be, and since we were just told in verse three just seven verses earlier that “the time is at hand”, we should be able to see that “the Lord’s day” is not some future event at the end of mankind’s rule on this earth. It is rather “at hand” in the life of all of God’s elect as Christ plagues and burns and chastens and scourges the two horned beast, the man of sin, the seed of the serpent, the false prophet etc. out of each of His elect. This is “the Lord’s day.” This is the judgment which is even now on the house of God.
So no man ever saw Christ’s face in His glory, not even on the isle of Patmos. The only way to see Christ’s glory in His face is given to us in Mat 5 and 2Co 3 which I quoted at the beginning of this e- mail.

But here is how we can and do “see God:”

Mat 5:8 Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
2Co 3:3 Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart.
2Co 3:4 And such trust have we through Christ to God- ward:
2Co 3:5 Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves [ in our flesh]; but our sufficiency is of God;
2Co 3:6 Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.

And what is the spirit?

Joh 6:63 It is the spirit that quickeneth [ gives life]; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.

Christ is that spirit, and it is only in “that spirit” that any man will ever see Christ’s glory:

2Co 3:17 Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord [ is], there [ is] liberty.
2Co 3:18 But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.

“That spirit” is referring back to the spirit that “gives life” which is mentioned in verse six:

2Co 3:6 Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.

Here again is how grateful Jacob was for all that God had revealed to him:

Gen 32:9 And Jacob said, O God of my father Abraham, and God of my father Isaac, the LORD which saidst unto me, Return unto thy country, and to thy kindred, and I will deal well with thee:
Gen 32:10 (a) I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies, and of all the truth, which thou hast shewed unto thy servant;

Jacob was never able to see the glory of Christ in a glass and be transformed from glory to glory as we are able through “that spirit” to do today. It is only in “that spirit” which was not unto themselves [ ministering] but unto us, the things which are now reported unto you by them that have preached unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven.

1Pe 1:12 Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into.

You were right in your assessment of the spiritual meaning of “No man can see me and live.”

Exo 33:20 And he said, Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live.

God’s Word Is, Was and Will Be True. This verse is no exception to that fact. We must be “crucified with Christ” (Gal 2:20) in order to begin the life long process of being “transformed into that image from glory to glory.” But it is equally true that “the pure in heart shall see God.”

Mat 5:8 Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.

I hope this in some small way helps to do that.
Mike

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