Today: Thursday, November 21, 2019

Beatitudes #6: Blessed are the pure in heart    (8/24/2008 )

'Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.'

Seeing God—well, who's ever done that? Surely no one can look at God and live?

That's what the people of the Old Testament believed. When Moses encountered God in the burning bush, he was afraid to look. Later, when he received the stone tablets (the 10 Commandments), God told Moses:"When my glory passes by, I will… cover you with my hand… Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen."

And when Jacob wrestled with a man [OT] just before he was renamed Israel, Jacob called the place Peniel, " …because I saw God face-to-face, and yet my life was spared." (It is likely Jacob wrestled with an angel).

If seeing God is impossible (perhaps mortally dangerous!), even for the likes of Moses and Jacob, how can seeing him be our reward?

First we need to understand what ‘pure in heart' means. It doesn't mean to be perfect; we can't be that. What we can do is to be besotted with God—to earnestly want to know him more. After all, when you love someone, you want to be with them. It means being tuned into God; seeing the world through the filter of God's love. It means earnestly seeking after God, and after righteousness.

So to go back to the question: how can we see God? As with our article on the 4th beatitude (‘Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness'), I think the answer comes in two parts: a ‘now' and a ‘then':

In the here & now
When we're ‘tuned into' God by being pure in heart, we start to 'see' him in the way our lives are rolled out. Creation and the world around us take on a new significance. We talk to God in prayer—so we see answers to prayer. We see his impact and the imprint of his personality on our lives. Sometimes we see God when we're not even aware, as it says in the book of Job [OT]: “For God does speak—now one way, now another—though man may not perceive it," and "[Man] prays to God and finds favor with him, he sees God's face and shouts for joy; he is restored by God to his righteous state.” (Read passage.)

Christianity isn't a religion, it's a relationship. Christians believe because they 'see' God in their lives. For now, we only see glimpses of God, as the corner of the veil is lifted—just as Moses saw God's back.

In the everlasting future
But one day, we WILL see the face of God. If we are faithful, we will meet God in heaven; that is our promise, as Jesus says in John [NT]: "...whoever believes in [me] shall not perish, but have eternal life."

On the last page of the Bible, in the very last chapter (Revelation [NT] chapter 22), there is an amazing description of heaven, when Jesus and the saints are together at last: “They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads.” What a promise! The hope of heaven: to be able to stand before God in all his glory, and not to be consumed to a crisp—because we shall at last be sinless.

Pray: "Oh, God. Sometimes I think I'm perfect, and at other times I disgust myself. Yet all that matters is what you think. Draw me towards purity of heart: come and live in my heart, because I really do want to be one of the ones who see your face one day."

Think about: Christian songwriter Chris Tomlin wrote this lyric: "In the secret, in the quiet place; in the stillness, you are there. In the secret, in the quiet hour I wait only for you, 'cos I want to know you more. I want to know you; I want to hear your voice; I want to know you more. I want to touch you; I want to see your face. I want to know you more." Is this how you feel about God? If so, is it because you want proof - or because you long to meet him? Hear the song on YouTube.

Challenge: Consider what you think God might look like, and why. If we are indeed 'made in his image', what does that mean?

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