Anticipating the Joy of Seeing God
Ancient theologians spoke of the “Beatific Vision,” which meant “a happy-making sight.” The sight they spoke of was God Himself. Revelation 22:4 says of God’s servants in the new heavens and new earth, “they shall see his face.” This would be a shocking statement to anyone who understood the Old Testament emphasis on the transcendence and inapproachability of God.
When he asked to see God’s glory, God said to Moses, “no one may see me and live.” The most God could do was to show Moses his “back,” because “my face must not be seen” (Exodus 33:18-23). The God who lives in unapproachable light became approachable in the person of Jesus (John 1:14). The God who is transcendent became immanent. People could look at Jesus and see God. But Revelation 22:4 appears to speak of actually seeing the face of God the Father.
To see God’s face, we must be fully righteous in Christ, untainted by sin, in the glory of our resurrected beings. “Blessed are the pure in heart for they will see God” (Matthew 5:8).
David said, “One thing I have asked from the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple” (Psalm 27:4). The new heavens and earth will provide the eternal answer to David’s prayer. There will be no temple there, because we will always have direct access to God.
The barriers between man and God will be gone forever. To look into God’s eyes will be to see what we've always longed to see the person we were made for. And we will see him in the place we were made for. Seeing Him will be seeing everything else for the first time. And we will discover that to see God will be our greatest joy, and life itself. Every other joy of heaven will be a derivative joy, flowing from our central relationship with God.
To see God will be to know him, and then to see ourselves, and all other people and events, through God’s eyes. We will spend eternity worshiping, exploring and serving our great God, seeing his breathtaking beauty in everything and everyone around us.